Italy, however, fought against the Central Powers in World War I -Nationalism – At the settlement of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the principle of nationalism was ignored in favor of preserving the peace. Germany and Italy were left as divided states, but strong nationalist movements and revolutions led to the unification of Italy in 1861 and that of Germany in 1871. Nationalism posed a problem for Austria-Hungary and the Balkans, areas comprised of many conflicting national groups. The ardent Panslavism of Serbia and Russia’s willingness to support its Slavic brother conflicted with Austria-Hungary’s Pangermanism. Imperialism – By early 1900, Britain and France had set up a number of colonies across the world. The British Empire had established profitable colonies on every continent, and France’s African colonies contributed to its wealth and prosperity. Germany’s colonial conquest threatened the two nations and was the cause of a bitter rivalry. Germany, on the other hand, looked forward to invading neighboring European countries and parts of Africa. The rise of imperialism was a potent cause leading to the outbreak of World War I. Immediate causes – The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on June 28, 1914, triggered a diplomatic crisis in Europe. Austria-Hungary retaliated by serving Bosnia an ultimatum on July 23, 1914. Serbia failed to comply with all the terms. Austria-Hungary, assured of Germany’s support, declared war on July 28. This was the start of the War. The series of events through July that precipitated the onset of World War I is referred to as the July Crisis of 1914. 2. Life of the soldiers on the battlefield Throughout the war millions of soldiers experienced and endured the horrors of trench warfare. Death was a constant companion to those serving in the line, even when no raid or attack was launched or defended against. In busy sectors the constant shellfire directed by the enemy brought random death. Many men died on their first day in the trenches as a consequence of a precisely aimed sniper’s bullet. It has been estimated that up to one third of Allied casualties on the Western Front were actually sustained in the trenches. Aside from enemy injuries, disease wrought a heavy toll.
Rats in their millions infested trenches. Gorging themselves on human remains, they could grow to the size of a cat. Men would attempt to rid the trenches of them by various methods: gunfire, with the bayonet, and even by clubbing them to death. However, it was useless, a single rat couple could produce up to 900 offspring in a year, spreading infection and contaminating food. The rat problem remained for the duration of the war. Rats were by no means the only source of infection and nuisance. Lice were a never-ending problem, breeding in the seams of filthy clothing and causing men to itch unceasingly.
Frogs by the score were found in shell holes covered in water; they were also found in the base of trenches. Slugs and horned beetles crowded the sides of the trench. Trench Foot was another medical condition peculiar to trench life. It was a fungal infection of the feet caused by cold, wet and unsanitary trench conditions. It could turn gangrenous and result in amputation. Trench Foot was more of a problem at the start of trench warfare; as conditions improved in 1915 it rapidly faded, although a trickle of cases continued throughout the war.
Rotting carcasses also lay around in their thousands. Men who had not been afforded the luxury of a bath in weeks or months would offer the pervading odor of dried sweat. The feet were generally accepted to give off the worst odor. Trenches would also smell of creosol or chloride of lime, used to stave off the constant threat of disease and infection. -The men that went to war were expected to do so, by their king and their country. They thought that if they were to go to war, it would make them seem like they were facing war like men and even their loved ones wanted them to go to war.
They expected that they would bring their country together. They assumed that they were being patriotic. Those who did not want to join the military could be targeted by people as cowards -Their expectations of war came from their societies. Their countries portrayed that soldiers were noble and that to fight for your country was glorious and honorable. Many believed that the war would be over by Christmas 1914 and many young men rushed to answer the call to arms – as did many men who were too old to serve but wanted to show their patriotism.
The government asked for 100,000 volunteers but got 750,000 in just one month. The public was quickly deluged with numerous propaganda posters to encourage everyone in their nation’s time of need. Propaganda was used by the British government to misinform and withhold information from the population about events in the war that would not be of high public opinion, such as the massively high casualty figures. -This is significant because since the soldiers had higher expectations, their views of the war, became darker and more depressed.
Their belief that fighting in the war would bring honor did not make up for the harsh conditions. This is also significant, because it emphasizes the length of the war. The men, who volunteered to serve, assumed that they would have returned home by Christmas of the same year, but in reality the war ended after a period of 4 years. 3. Life of those on the home front -As the war progressed, the entire nation’s population and resources were harnessed to the war effort in one way or another, so most people came to feel involved in the conflict.
Wearing a uniform of some kind (whether in the forces or as a male or female police officer, postal worker or bus conductor) was an obvious way of contributing, but civilians working in a factory making uniforms, guns, ammunition, tanks or ships had every right to feel they were contributing as much to the war effort as a man with a gun. When food rationing was introduced in January 1918, previously uninvolved housewives could also feel they had a part to play, as they pulled out their modest supplies. There was a widespread restructuring of primary industry with a large orientation towards militarism.
There was massive political change where new systems of power were introduced that gave governments a range of new powers including the control over industry. The civilian population had severe restrictions placed upon their rights and liberties due to the necessities that total war required. The scale of the war forced all sectors of society to change and adapt to the growing scale of the war. The Defense of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed in August 1914. DORA allowed the government to take over the coal mines, railways and shipping.
Lloyd George became Minister of Munitions and set up state-run munitions factories. The government worked with the trade unions to prevent strikes. Women were recruited as nurses into the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) or First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), and as drivers, cooks and telephonists. The aerial bombing of civilians was another characteristic of the Home Front. -After the war, men took back their jobs and most women returned to the family. However, the War did bring about political and social changes. Specifically in Britain, women over 30 years old got the vote in 1918.
Women over 21 years old got the vote in 1928. Women were also allowed to stand for election as a member of parliament. 4. How did the war end? -World War 1 came to an end when the balance of power shifted in favor of the Allies (Serbia, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, the United States, and nineteen other nations) against the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire). Although the United States had not been fully prepared to enter the war, the American government mobilized quickly to rally troops and citizens behind the war effort.
In April 1917 the U. S. Army numbered slightly more than 100,000 men. By the end of the war, however, the number had soared to about 5,000,000. The arrival of U. S. troops in Europe gave the Allies the manpower they needed to win the war. In November 1918 Germany agreed to an armistice (truce), and the Central Powers finally surrendered. In January 1919, Allied representatives gathered in Paris, France, to draft the peace settlement. By the time the combat ended, almost 10,000,000 people were dead. The war ended on November 11, 1918 with the treaty of Versailles.