History would point at the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb student as the turning point in European history which in several weeks led to a full-blown war than spanned the whole region. Yet the First World War is an occurrence that finds its roots decades prior to the 1910s, as tensions were already beginning to escalate between the powers of Europe. One of the factors that led to this heightening of tension is the Arms Race between countries like Britain, Germany, Russia, and other countries.
Technological innovations in military warfare were gradually being discovered and countries invested much resource in financing military development. This arms race of the military in Europe was coupled with political tensions that resulted in strategies that only created fears of aggression among neighbors. Examples of such are the Schlieffen Plan of Germany, Plan XVII of France and Plan XIX of Russia, which gave rise to fears that there are coercive plans from these countries, thereby escalating regional tensions.
(Gilbert, 2004) Also, the policy of Balance of Power during the late 1800s has resulted to policies that only created friction among countries. For instance, Britain sided with Germany, and France with Russia, with these alliances constantly shuffling to give way to the balance of power objective. (Gilbert, 2004) Another reason for the Great War was historical rivalries, like that of Austria-Hungary and Serbia, which only made the war a foreseeable occurrence.
The alliance system that was developed by countries during the Great War produced two factions: the Central Powers, with Germany and Austria-Hungary as members, and eventually Bulgaria; and the Entente Powers, consisted of the British, French, and Russian forces. (Stevenson, 2004) The Allied forces (Entente Powers) would emerge as the victors of war, although this would be contested by Germany. The failure of the Central Powers is due to miscommunications between Germany and Austria-Hungary on interpretations of treaties, and towards the end of the war, the decline of military forces.
2. ) The Treaty of Versailles is the agreement signed between Germany, the Allied Forces and Central Powers, which state that the on-going aggression would be put to end. Parties to the treaty were the countries of France, Britain, and other Alliance members, and the opposing side led by Germany. The German government initially rejected the provisions of the treaty, which generally states that Germany and its allies should take “full responsibility” for the Great War. (Gilbert, 2004) Eventually, the new German government led by Chancellor Bauer accepted the terms of the treaty.
(Keegan, 2000) The Treaty of Versailles essentially penalized the Germans, who were made to compensate financially for the damages of the war, as well as having to comply with territorial and military restrictions. In 1918, Russia and the Central Powers signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that allowed end to Russian participation in the First World War. This was due to the fact that internally, there was civil war, and the treaty gave space and focus to the Bolsheviks.
The treaty declares that Russia is withdrawing claims on Finland and the Baltic countries, as the agreement took a large percentage of Russian population and industry. (Keegan, 2000) These territories were transferred to the German powers. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk eventually collapsed. The long-term effects of both treaties contributed to the further weakening of the European system. The Treaty of Versailles is criticized to be lenient, and in fact strengthened the Germans, as they violated the provisions of the treaty.
Also, it has deepened the cleavages between countries, which would then be the motivation of the Nazi Germany to repair the embarrassment of the Great War. Similarly, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk did not actually elicit peaceful and positive outcomes, as Russia had withdrawn from negotiations, citing unjust and threatening provisions that undermine the country. Lasting less than a year, aggression between Russia and Germans resumed, and tensions remained. 3. ) The implications of the Great War in Europe would last not only during that particular decade but also long after the war is over.
The tensions that existed during those times would be sustained and inherited, which would eventually lead to the Second World War. The peace that was experience after the Great War was volatile and temporary, as countries were still in very fragile states. The psychological, social, and economic impacts of the war in Europe were truly great, as the social and political landscape of the region would change following this war. The Great War was one that was unprecedented in human history, for this was the time when technological innovations were manipulated to be utilized for the military battles.
The armed conflicts were basically conducted on air and water, and more high-technology weapons were employed, giving rise to the death tolls. Each country kept prisoners of war, often numbering to hundreds of thousands and most of the time being treated harshly and brutally. The war would recall countless incidents of carnage and massacres that killed millions of innocent people. The psychological effects of such incidents would remain in the minds of the people for decades.
The economic burden of the Great War would affect the region for decades following the event. During the war, rationing was not uncommon in European countries, as the scarce products like meat and fats were distributed and allocated by the government. The World War also gave rise to the trade unions, whose members doubled even tripled; these trade unions became vocal in articulating grievances. Industries experienced much difficulty, as most of the workforce was abroad, fighting in the battlegrounds, while the remaining citizens suffered from overwork and underpay.
Apart from the problem in manpower, much finance were being diverted to the military that the domestic condition was adversely affected, as supplies and sustenance become very limited, and the prices continually increasing. The social landscape of Europe was vastly altered, owing to the large-scale psychological and social impacts of the War. One example is the decline in the numbers of men, who were drafted to participate in the war, leaving women to earn their livelihood, and keep alive the industries in their countries.
Aside from the rise of workingwomen, the emotional ramifications are deep and encompassing, as families are broken and shattered. The psychological outcome of the Great War is massive indeed, for in the grassroots level, the individual became the greatest of the victims, as lives were forever changed and scarred.
Gilbert, Martin. (2004). The First World War, Second Edition: A Complete History. United States: Holt Paperbacks. Keegan, John. (2000). The First World War. United States: Vintage. Stevenson, David. (2004). Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy. United States: Basic Books.