How did Britain and France emerge from WWI as both victors and losers?  

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great Britain and France were on the winning side in World War I. Yet, in some ways, they weren’t winners in this conflict.

The British and French prevailed in World War I. They were on the winning side. They were able to protect their form of government and to defeat countries that didn’t have democratic forms of government. They also were able to get some land as a result of winning in World War I. For example, France regained Alsace-Lorraine. They were also able to reduce the immediate threat from Germany and from Austria-Hungary by reducing their military power and taking land away from them.

However, in some ways, the British and French didn’t prevail as victors. The deciding factor in World War I was the entrance of the United States into the conflict. The British and French won this war mainly because of the entrance of the United States into the war on their side. Both sides suffered tremendous casualties in this war. The number of people who died was extremely high. Much land in France was destroyed, and it took years for that land to recover from the damage caused by World War I. The purpose of the Versailles Treaty was to help prevent another war from starting. Yet, in part because of the harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty, another world war began just twenty-one years after World War I had ended. This was the ultimate insult for the Allies. The goal of the Versailles Treaty was to prevent another war, yet it led to the start of another war instead.

While Great Britain and France were on the winning side in World War I, in some ways they came out as losers in the war.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The victors part here is easy.  Both of these countries were on the Allied side and the Allies defeated the Central Powers.  They got to dictate terms to the Central Powers.  They were the clear winners.

At the same time, both countries can be seen as losers.  The biggest reason for this is the horrific toll in human lives.  Both France and Britain suffered huge losses in the war.  The British lost over 880,000 men killed and over 1.6 million wounded.  The French lost almost 1.4 million soldiers dead and over 4.26 million wounded.  In addition, an estimated 260,000 civilian died because of the war.

Between this and the financial cost of the war, both France and Britain can be seen as losers as well.

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