Effects of the Great War Upon Germany and Russia
In 1914 both Germany and Russia had large and expanding populations.
Germany was the second most populous Great Power with 66 million in
1913. Both countries had considerable natural resources and both were
dependent upon fragile export and import trades. A problem that both
countries had were that little preparation had been made by either for
the dislocation that the war would bring. Both countries had
increasingly active socialist parties as a result of rapid industrial
Russia’s main weakness was its failure to exploit its rich resources
of oil, coal and iron ore. A main problem for this was a poor
transporting network and coal could not easily be transported north
from the coalfields of the industrial cities of Moscow and Petrograd.
A senior Russian official said in 1904, “We are a rich country with
all conceivable natural resources, simply ill-governed and prevented
from unlocking these resources”
Despite the confidence of the War Minister that “Russia is ready”,
Russia’s army was ill-equipped with few trained officers and short in
munitions supplies and weapons. To put together with this mobilisation
took skilled workers away from the factories and put into the army.
The government also crippled itself financially by banning the sale of
Vodka – which was a huge financial boost on Russia. The reason for the
banning of selling Vodka was to avoid drunkenness amongst the Russian
people; however this had little effect as the peasants in the
countryside simply brewed their own.
On the other hand there is Germany, who unlike Russia, had a strong
industrial output. They created more steel than Britain, France and
Russia combined. However the Germany economy relied on imports of
important raw materials such as oil and rubber, they also relied upon
a great import of food due to a massive urban population. Most of
Germany’s imports came from the USA. Another advantage for Germany was
their army which was well trained and well equipped.
Despite these advantages there was a problem occurring in Germany. The
naval building had bankrupted the government and this was to have huge
consequences in the non-too distant future in Germany.
In both countries industry stopped almost completely with the outbreak
of war. The strikers of St Petersburg in Russia returned to work to
“protect the motherland”. In Germany the trade unions proclaimed to
“the right to strike for the duration of the war”, the Kaiser reacted
in front of a huge crowd in Berlin that “there are no more political
parties; for me there are only Germans”
Many Germans were positive about their involvement in the war, the
chancellor Bethmann Hollweg had given the German people the sense that
the war was a purely defensive measure and this led to enthusiasm