Was World War I A Total War?

1076 words - 4 pages

Was World War One a total war? Why? Why not?

The First World War of 1914-1918, also known as the Great War, was the first total war in history. What began as a European struggle over the balance of power between the triple alliance of France, Britain and Russia on one side and the central powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other, soon became a global conflict that involved the imperial powers of Europe, their colonies and lands such as the Ottoman Empire, Japan and the United States. Although the sheer number of countries involved in the conflict is enough to describe the First World War as a mass war, what makes it total is the fact that it was waged not only against the enemy’s armies, but also against the civilian population. Military attacks, the use of propaganda and the fact that governments had to mobilise every available human and material resource for the conduct of war affected non-combatants and made World War One a war not fought between armies, but entire societies.

Civilians became targets of warfare because their efforts were crucial to the outcome of the war. While fifteen million soldiers died , untold millions suffered off the battlefield. One weapon that had a major effect on warfare in 1914-1918 was the submarine. Since all Britain’s supplies were seaborne, enemies such as Germany resorted to starving the population by destroying British supply ships. The British also found it an effective tactic to blockade supplies to Germany, starving the German war economy and population. Air raids were also a reality for citizens and the general populace had to be ready for the enemy to strike at any time. Attacks were not always so random. An Armenian woman tells of her experiences of being taken from her city with her children, knowing that she was going to be killed - “I was in the last caravan to leave the city; we knew they were leading us to our deaths…there was a well wide open where the executioners immediately threw the women they were stabbing.” This is an example that shows how women and children suffered in a conflict that many did not understand or want to be a part of.

The use of propaganda and the war of words between belligerents played a big part in making the First World War total, as “the orgy of killing on the battlefield took place against the backdrop of an orgy of loaded words.” The government and press were able to manipulate public opinion during the war using words as tools to inspire national spirit, breed hatred, sacrifice, courage and endurance. Such propaganda included posters asking people to “Wake up America! Civilisation calls every man, woman and child!” A British poster that emphasises the involvement of the total population in the war effort shows different kinds of people engaging in war responsibilities – men at battle, women in the workforce making uniforms, men making weapons – and it asks “Are YOU in this?” This kind of all-embracing propaganda had the aim to brainwash whole nations....

Find Another Essay On Was World War I a total war?

What Makes a Total War? Essay

1594 words - 7 pages World War I was a total war because it involved many nations, and was fought on multiple fronts where battles engulfed the European landscape and the population. Because of the scale of World War I, nations had to rally all of their resources and began to target civilian populations in order to successfully defeat enemy nations. The scale of the war and rallying of national resources led to a blurring of private and political spaces

What Makes a Total War? Essay

1733 words - 7 pages lives. Much of Europe had to endure under a constant atmosphere of death, loss, and other hardships, like food shortages, and military occupations. This suffering was an important element in Brittain’s definition of her generation. She wrote that if her fiancé had been of the postwar generation she could not have married him, because “a gulf wider than any decade divides those who experienced the War as adults” and those “who grew up immediately

World War I

2376 words - 10 pages in reparations. These negotiations are important because the allied powers knew the requirements would be difficult for Germany to adhere to. It shows how even off the battle field the allied powers were determined to destroy Germany. Analyzing the events prior to 1914 and the events that occurred from 1914 to 1918 is important because it explains the ways in which World War I was a total war. Beginning as a regional war and transforming into a world war, effecting nations who were both directly and indirectly involved in combat, and resulting in the devastation of Germany are all ways in which the First World War was a total war.

World War I

1060 words - 4 pages formed the rival Triple Entente Powers, which was later called the Allies. The Balkan States sided with Serbia and the Allies. Serbia?s enemies were on the side of the Central Powers. The alliances were brought into action when Austria declared war. It took a week for all Europe to be at war. (Bender) Germany won early victories in World War I on the main battlefields. The western front hardly moved for three and a half years

World War I

1636 words - 7 pages By 1917, World War I was the most brutal conflict that had ever been seen on the world stage. It was no longer a war that only involved the European powers, but also countries from all over the world including the United States. During the war, the total number of casualties reached over 37 million and over eight million lives were lost (“WWI Casualty and Death Tables” 1). The extremely high number of casualties was mostly caused by new

World War I

1607 words - 6 pages World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918, and was initially thought to be the “war to end all wars”. Roughly 14 million people had died, and the war had cost over $280 billion in total, since over 30 nations from each of the six continents were involved. Alliances, one of the main factors of World War I, played a big role in forcing nations to become engaged in the war. During the majority of the war, the clear alliances were between countries part

World War I - 1336 words

1336 words - 5 pages World War I, also known as the First World War, and (before 1939) the Great War, the War of the Nations, and the War to End All Wars, was a world conflict lasting from August 1914 to the final Armistice (cessation of hostilities) on November 11, 1918. The Allied Powers (led by the British Empire and France, and, after 1917, the United States) defeated the Central Powers (led by the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire), and led

World War I - 725 words

725 words - 3 pages the Allied Powers, which included France, Russia, and Great Britain. Italy was part of the Central Powers but switched to the Allies during the war. During the last nine months of the war, the United States decided to join the Allied Powers. After many months of fighting, the Allies had won. The United States faced a dilemma after World War I: whether they should return to isolationism or take the steps to become an international power. The

World War I - 1262 words

1262 words - 6 pages Millions of soldiers died during the period from 1914 to 1918 when one of the bloodiest and most terrifying wars in history broke out. One by one, starting with Germany, the nations of Europe picked up their weapons and entered a four-year period of annihilation and destruction. Germany was by all means responsible for the conditions that led to the outbreak of World War I due to their hunger for sovereignty which crippled the balance of power

World War I - 548 words

548 words - 2 pages World War I or otherwise known as The Great War began in 1914 and ended in 1918. It was a battle between the Allie forces and the Central Powers. The United States tried to remain neutral during this war but eventually it collapsed and gave in to Germanys push. They entered and joined the allied forces in defeating the central powers on April 6, 1917.There were many reasons as to why the United States remained neutral during the first three

World War I - 869 words

869 words - 3 pages DBQ Essay      World War I was the result of leaders' aggression towards other countries which was supported by the rising nationalism of the European nations. Economic and imperial competition and fear of war prompted military alliances and an arms race, which further escalated the tension contributing to the outbreak of war. One cause of the World War was militarism, which is a policy in which military preparedness

Similar Essays

To What Extent Was World War I A Total War?

1081 words - 5 pages was driven to defeat the triple Alliance. Using their political power, the United Kingdom used censorship, propaganda and established the Defence of the Realm Act to govern all aspects of the country, in order to achieve victory on the battlefield. Hence why, World War I was a total war. Men were by far the most affected by the war, due to the Conscription Act that was passed in 1916. This included all men aged 18-40

A Comparison Of World War I And World War Ii

980 words - 4 pages . Both world wars were started, ultimately, by nationalism. World War I was set up by the complex entanglement of alliances created by this newfound nationalism and World War II, in many ways politically a continuation of World War I, began as Germany’s nationalistic aspirations forced it to break the rules set down at the end of the first world war at the Treaty of Versailles and the other European nations were not able to

To What Extent Was Imperialism A Cause In The Outbreak Of World War I

1289 words - 6 pages The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th, 1914 is often referred to as the beginning of World War I. However, it was only a catalyst. Instead, events from the late 19th century had created tensions and conflict amongst the European powers that could only be solved through war. Imperialism- the taking over of another country territorially, militarily, economically, and culturally- in the late 1800s was a significant cause of

Letter From A World War I Soldier

1555 words - 6 pages could fire in less than a minute and could kill a person that 1,400 meters away .We thought the war was going to end fast, but the worst has just begun. Colonel Andrew ordered our battalion to enter No Man's Land and what I saw was nothing I've ever seen before. Swiftly, we ran past the trenches and into the infamous land. A rain of bullets was passing down on us. Soldiers got bullets in their eyes, lungs, and legs before them even past half of