To What Extent Was World War I A Total War?

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The Great War took place during 1914 to 1918, it was a global war where the world fought the triple Alliance, which was made up of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy. It was one of the first times in history where every resource and weapon was used against an opposing nation. It completely fulfilled all aspects of a total war, as all civilians, both men and women, were affected by the on-going warfare. Specifically in Britain, where everybody 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 who were able to fight against the triple Alliance. The number of volunteers were decreasing, because of circulating news reports of the horrifying experiences and the living conditions the men were expected to live in. War’s glamorous side was destroyed and replaced with fear. With Britain’s army diminishing, they had to bring in conscription to maintain the necessary numbers of troops. Not all men agreed with this measure and those who opposed conscription were known as conscientious objectors. These men were usually pacifists or highly religious individuals, who were treated like criminals by society; many were assaulted and publicly humiliated. These men were forced to take on jobs that aided the military. The men that refused this alternative to fighting were either sentenced to death or put in solitary confinement. This exhibits the extreme measures that Great Britain took to defeat the Triple Alliance, which proves that World War I was a total war.

However, it was not just the male population that were involved, women also took vital action in the war. As most men had to fight, England was left with a meagre workforce, so women had to take over traditional men’s jobs. They worked in factories, joined the women’s naval and air force services and became coal and firemen; in fact there were few jobs that women did not take up. Women were no longer considered just capable for household work, but became a crucial part of society. For instance, thousands of women became workers in munitions factories. These women produced over 80% of Britain’s armaments. Overall, without women’s work, the large unemployment gap would have prevented Britain from having enough resources to fight the war and keep the country functioning. Not only were women important in the working world, but they also helped persuade thousands of men to join the army. For example women would give out white feathers (White Feather Movement) to men who did not join the army. These feathers were a symbol of cowardice. This movement was very effective, as it made men feel insecure about...

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