The First World War which is alternatively known by many names such as the World War 1, the Great War, the Global War, and / or, the War to End All Wars, took place between 1914- 1918 in Europe. It is estimated that over 40 million people died including both civilians and the military service. The full throttle of the war is exhibited by the fact that in Europe alone, over 60,000 soldiers were deployed to fight in the war.
The cause of this war is explained by the historians as touching on economic and military rivalry between Germany and Britain. It held by the same group that the German economy was growing in leaps and bounds so that it was overtaking the British. This translated into military competition which saw rivalry in the construction and the manufacturing of the powerful naval military ships known then as the Droughnut.
However, the war was catapulted into actuality with the Sarajevo Assassination on June 28th 1914, which delivered the death of the Austria Hungarian Archduke, and heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand. The action had been carried out by a Serbian student. This incidence was then followed by series of reactions in the form of alliances, only to culminate into the World War one. Austria Hungarian government consequently set a set of demands that were to be fulfilled by Serb, two of them being that the Serbian government was to hand over the culprits to Austria Hungary, and that Serbia was to open up her borders to Austria Hungary police to carry out inspections. Failure to observe these elicited a declaration of war against Serbia on 28th July. In return, Russia threatened carrying out war against Austria Hungry, should the latter attack Serbia. The affair took a sudden twist when Germany declared war on Russia on condition that Russia attacks Austria Hungary (Ramarque, pp.230). The Entente powers (the France and the Britain) also declared war on Germany, and Austria Hungary- an affair which was concluded by the declaration of war on Russia and the Entente forces. This led to the collapse of diplomatic communication and relations in Europe which is always a catalyst two war.
Events that made America join the Great War.
There are various developments which compelled President Woodrow Wilson who had taken a neutral stand on the war, to consider joining the war in 1917. Mos t of these factors were raised by the emerging German bullying stance towards the US and other countries. For instance, Germany had extended an olive branch to Mexico, promising to restore the land that Mexicans lost to the US in the Mexican American war, but only on condition that Mexico would fight on the side of the Germans against the Allies.
Germany’s quest for victory in the war also seemed to interfere with economic interests of the US. For instance, America had been supplying arms to Britain in the course of the war. Germany attempted to curtail these series of activities so as to weaken Britain by closing the supply routes and exchange points. To this end, the Germany army killed many Americans by sinking the Tuscania and the Lusitania. America did not take this very kindly (Ward, pp.34).
In addition to the above developments, courtesy of the bullying tactics, Germans had taken to attacking even countries that had embraced neutrality towards the war. Germany attacked Bulgaria which was very neutral for instance. There was no surety on the side of Woodrow Wilson that through neutrality, America was therefore automatically insulated from German attacks. German’s attacks were so severe in the sense that German was the first to use poison gas.
German victory also did not seem to carry the prospects that augured well with the American economy. This is because, upon defeat,the Allies (Britain, France and Russia) would suffer financial challenges and imposed responsibility by Germany. America on the other hand had something at stake in this, by the virtue that she had lent financial assistance to countries like Britain. Paying back the money would be difficult for Britain if she lost the war.
Why America hesitated joining the Great War.
America took too long to enter the war seemingly because it was a conglomeration of many nations and races. This is because, even before the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, there were other people who inhabited the land. Most of these people included the Amerindians. More people began to settle in America from Britannia Island and other parts of Europe. The activities of slave trade also sealed the multiraciality of America as she became populated by the black race. This made it hard for America to take sides against or for other nations since she was a nation of many nations.
It is also held by historians that America considered the prospects of the war as profitable given the fact that Britain and her allies were obtaining arms from America. More reluctance on the side of the US according to the historians, must have been also facilitated by self delusion that by taking a neutral stand, America was bound to lose nothing. As the war proceeded, America was to be surprised into action by the economic and political hemorrhage she was suffering.
Factors that led to the high death rates in the War.
The casualties in the World War One were statistically and alarmingly high due to the fact that the weapons that were used, unlike those that had been used before, were more technologically sophisticated. For instance, the Germans had already came up with M1913 bombs , the discus bomb and the M1913 dark powdered baller kugel grenade which were all detonated by mere friction. There was also the rifle grenade which was used by both sides.
Poison gas were used in the war, having the capacity to kill the victim who merely inhales it. For instance, the Germans used the Chlorine gas which worked against the victim, by attacking the lungs and consequently leaving the victim dead in his own bodily manufactured fluids. The French also invented and used the Phosgene gas.
Action rifles with the ability to fire more than 10 rounds/ min. were also used. Some of these were the German 7.92 mm. Gennehr and 98 Mauser rifles which had a lot of accuracy and speed. The Germans were also the first ones to use the snipers in the battle. The maxim gun was also used in the battle for more effectiveness. Starting from 1916, tanks began to be used in the war.
In addition to all these, zeppelins were also used to drop bombs while submarines were also used to capsize the enemy ships. All these, combined with the use of electricity and fire throwers, really caused a lot of unprecedented numbers of deaths, harm and extensive damage of capital (Frank, pp. 77).
World War 1 Elements that promoted World War 2.
The Worlds War One promoted the World War Two in the sense that it had sparked the need for the stocking of weapons for future display of political and military strength. The more lethal the weapons were, the better it would be for the possessor. In a nutshell, the world war one placed an insatiable thirst for military power. In between the First and the Second World War, there was secret manufacturing of weapons and proliferation of military formulas. This fact is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the World War Two was fought with more advanced weaponry, though they were the same. For instance, the US sunk the Japanese war ships using the sub marines. In addition to this, gun fires and the airfield firing were used- but at an advanced level.
The First World War was also fought on issues that were serious such as the military race. Yet, after the conclusion of the Great War, the were no international efforts to deal with weapons and global safety. The League of Nations and president Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points were noble attempts at global peace but these lacked stringent instruments of coercion , and thus leaving loopholes for further manufacturing of weapons. During World War One, America did not appear to have the atomic bomb it used to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki since it never used them.
Even the tactics that were used to lure or provoke other nations into war in the Great War are the same ones that were used in the Second World War. The Nazi Germany had again provoked the US through cartoons, and by declaring war on US. Japan also attacked China that was neutral, with a high population also being US citizens. Competitive interests were real in the sense that japan and America were both interested in the Pacific (Lesaffer, pp. 400).
Factors that led to the collapse of the Post World War 1 Institutions.
The institutions of the World War One failed because of the financial constraints that existed in the US ( and other parts of the world), otherwise known as the Great Depression. This is chiefly because the the First World War had huge financial impacts on the US. For instance, the loans worth 22 billion dollars that were given to the Allies before and during World War 1, was never returned due to the fact that the Allies were also under financial distress.
America also involved herself in the war during and after 1917, thereby making the mistake of shifting attention to the manufacturing of the military weapons. In some instances, some factories were transformed from the manufacturing of consumable products to the manufacturing of weapons. After the war was over, there were cases of very high demand for consumables, compared to their distribution.
Financial institutions fell after the war because, in order to reverse the financial distress, these institutions gave out high risks loans to the farmers, business men and to the soldiers who had returned from the war. Most of these loans were never recovered, and thus exposing the institutions to bankruptcy. The matters were made worse by the nation wide drought which mostly affected the Mid West farmer. Given that the drought was so severe, the farmers were left with no crops to sell, against debts to pay (the loans). The drought also caused more financial constraints stemming from dearth in food supply.
The US government also tried to reverse the situation around by instituting high tariffs to protect businesses. However, the US multinational corporations that specialized in foreign trade were left to suffer more setbacks at the hands of high tariffs. In the same wavelength, Some of these financial firms such as banks and cooperatives were not insured against bad debts- an issue that was further aggravated by the fact that the majority of these loans were not paid back (Ungvary, pp.450).
The dangers of Allied Reparations against Germans.
The German Reparation Program was carried out in the Inter war period, facilitated by conferences such as the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, and were branded the Economic Consequences for Peace. The danger of the Allied Reparation against Germany was that it could lead Germany into a massive case of economic doldrums. This is because, the program was too laborious in a financial sense, given the fact that it was to be fulfilled by Germany in three phases, also known as the bonds. The Bond A meant Germany making the restitution for the direct damages that had been caused in the course of the war. Bond B was supposed to facilitate the issuance of financial provision to the allies, while Bond C was to ensure that Germany facilitated rigorously, the economic recovery of the states she considered enemies (Stabler, pp. 200).
The glaring fact of this undertaking being so dangerous is seen in the fact that the Allies came up with the Sovereign Debt Theory to ensure that Germany paid in full for the reparations. Otherwise, this concept allowed the imposition of sanctions and embargoes against Germany if she defaulted payment.
Therefore, the dangers that the Allied Reparation policy posed against Germany included, the high likelihood that since this bill was too high for Germany, it would therefore cause Germany to undergo economic depression, political instabilities, hunger and the return of militarism. Others who looked into this matter with a cool head saw in this, an artifice to debilitate Germany both economically and militarily. This was especially true by the fact that among the Reparation orders, Inspection orders were also included to monitor the, manufacturing of arms in Germany. To this end, Germany was susceptible to loosing some geographical territories which were very rich in minerals, such as the Alsace Loraine. It is an obvious case that a country with a plummeted territory and inundated budget will definitely be very weak. Another fear a part from the two, was that Germany in defiance to these draconian measures, would resort to another war. However, it is true to state that the overall goal in this affair was to contain the strength of Germany.
Realization of the fears of the Reparations.
Fears were realized about Germany losing some political and military weight. For instance, Germany had her Ruhr District occupied by Belgium and France, upon having defaulted the payment in 1922. However, this was more temporal than permanent. Therefore, there is lucidity in saying that these fears were realized but not in full. This was because Germany also had immense economics knowledge which was displayed when she chose to disperse these burdens by making credit payment. On the other hand however, Germany experienced internecine communist insurrections, thus, threatening its political cohesion. Albeit, it seems as if the Allies were not so successful in exterminating their fears by trying to debilitate Germany since Germany sill had the military might which it displayed well by being the antagonist to America in the course of Word War Two.
Failures of Wilson’s Fourteen point.
The Fourteen Points were crafted by Woodrow Wilson and delivered in speech to a United States congress joint session on January 8th 1918, with a dominant aim of ensuring that the war in Europe was fought with a just cause. Although Europe welcomed the Fourteen Points, Woodrow’s Allied colleagues such as Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando held reservations towards the proposition, citing some loopholes.
For instance, Wilson’s Freedom of the seas was not going to auger well with many nations given the fact that the World War One was sill in progress. Even after the conclusion of the Great War, there was still acrimony among nations which was evident in some nations wanting to cut down the powers of other nations that were considered as being too strong. It is to this end teat instead of the adoption of the Freedom of the sea concept, nations resorted to the Reparation policies as a way of diffusing diplomatic tension. The concept of the Freedom of the seas, although crafted and proposed out of good will, yet portrayed pitfalls since at that time (1918), any nation that would adapt it, would be very vulnerable to external attacks via the sea.
The concept of Free trade also does not auger well with the Least Developed Countries (the LDCs) since it facilitates the global transfer of capital from one country to the other through the open or free market. This leaves the LDCs who are less developed shortchanged since the LDCs compete with the developed economies who due to industrialization, have much superior products. These superior products invade and flood the markets of the LDCs making the products of the LDCs lack market. Consequently this frustrates the industrialization process of the LDCs.
However, the Fourteen Points also did well since it catalyzed the conclusion of the Great War when the German imperial, Maximilian of baden in 1918 came across the Fourteen Points and decided to call off the war. It is also out of the Fourteen Points that the League of Nations was formed as the United Nation in embryo. Propositions such as Freedom of the seas and equality of trade have brought about foreign trade, while the concept of open mindedness have also promoted democracy.