In what ways did the attitudes of soldiers and women change towards the war and towards the enemy between 1914 and 1918?

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Robert Haines

In what ways did the attitudes of soldiers and women change towards the war and towards the enemy between 1914 and 1918?

        The attitudes towards the war and the enemy changed drastically from the start of the war in July 1914 and towards the end in 1918. From the start of the war the Germans were seen as evil and the war as a great way to crush the evil Kaiser, especially as everyone believed the war was going to be over by Christmas. But as the reality of war became apparent not just in the trenches but at home in Britain too, peoples attitudes started to change for worse.

        When Britain joined the war in early August 1914 men rushed to join the army as they saw the war as an opportunity for an adventure, women too pushed the men they knew too join the army as they believed it was not a dangerous thing and would be over by Christmas. The propaganda spread about was very effective as portraying the Germans as a merciless enemy who wanted to take over the world.

        Many soldiers believed that when they arrived at the western front they would be treated as heroes, they thought it would be over by Christmas. When they got bogged down in trenches they realised that it was a static war, neither side gaining any land or losing. The soldiers were not prepared for the onslaught that awaited them - new inventions such as the machine gun which could fire up to 600 bullets per minute cut down swathes of people when they went over the top. The trenches they quickly became waterlogged, in many cases people were up to their knees in filthy muddy water which caused the vile trench foot in which peoples feet would swell two or three times their original size and went numb and if the swelling did stop then the pain is intolerable and in many cases legs were amputated. The smell added to the horrible atmosphere, dead bodied rotted. This really brought attitudes to the war down as many people became disillusioned about what they were fighting for as all they could see around them was dirty mud.

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        Christmas 1914, in some areas along the Western Front there is an unofficial truce, the Christmas Truce, German and British troops go over the top to meet each other in the middle of no-mans land they talk to each other and exchange presents. This was because both sides were fed up with fighting due to the conditions they were in. This really changed the British opinion of the Germans, they started to view them as human beings, not the brutal merciless barbarian brought across by propaganda. But in many cases when soldiers tried to go over the top they were ...

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