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Why Did The Attitude Of Soldiers' And Civilians' Change Between 1914 And 1918?

1180 words - 5 pages

(note: this was originally an oral presentation, and can be easily converted to essay form)Until 1914, all previous wars had been confined to small areas involving relatively small armies. World War I was the first ever 'total war' - where all aspects of a country's economic, social and political systems became devoted to the waging of the war effort.In July of 1914, Europe was at war.For the soldiers, the lack of education of the war's possibilities played a huge role in their changing attitude towards the war.Source. A shows a large group of German enthusiasts marching off to join up for the war. Their courageous smiles and celebration shows their obvious lack of knowledge of the gruesome and tragic war that lay before them. This was a common scene in Paris, London, Vienna and Prague, as the source states, and shows the positive attitude of fighting prior the war.Both sides were thrown into a whole new style of warfare never before seen. Technological advances ensured that the Great War would be different to any other before it. The common belief amongst soldiers, and those who stayed home for that matter, was that the war would be over by Christmas 1914. When Christmas came along, many of the British and German soldiers on the Front line arranged a truce between themselves and socialised as friends. This truce displayed the common attitude of soldiers at the time, who saw themselves as pawns dying for unnecessary political feuds.A common enlistment tactic was the idea of joining with a mate. Many of these groups of healthy young men (often students, as Source. A shows) were split apart in wasted attacks with questionable tactics for little to no gain. Eventually, the loss of enlisted friends and family members led to a lot of soldiers questioning their reasons for supporting the war.Soldiers were also becoming increasingly paranoid, of not only dying, but also other serious war-related dangers including shellshock, the loss of limbs, numerous infections, hygienic diseases, trenchfoot, and the risk of being buried alive in the often-horrendous conditions.Source. B shows a photograph of returned World War I soldiers. It is assumed that these soldiers were sent home from battle and shows each of the young men with missing legs.Soldiers on the front were being mutilated.By mid-1916, the determination of all soldiers fell. For the Germans, the Kaiser-model army had gone. For the Allies, questionable offensive tactics had lost many lives. In April of 1917, the failed Nivelle offensives at the Second battle of the Aisne resulted in widespread mutiny after French soldiers revolted. The soldiers refused to continue attacking under the offensive plans of French commander-in-chief Robert Nivelle, and demanded an alteration in his plans.Soldiers continued to die and those fighting wanted to return home. By the time armistice was called in November 1918, 8 millions soldiers from the armed forces alone had died.The effect of total war had also heavily...

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