World War I

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What are three factors that made World War I a total war?

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World War I (1914–1918) was a total war because of its casualties, geography, and weaponry.

The first factor that made World War I a total war was the unprecedented number of combatants, battle casualties, and overall human losses. The victorious Allies mobilized 42,000,000 men, and more than 52% of those became casualties. Nearly 23,000,000 men fought for the Central Powers, and nearly 58% of them were casualties. Conscription created huge armies, and the length and intensity of the fighting led to unparalleled carnage. The war left millions of widows and orphans. After the war finally ended...

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As a total war is defined as a war in which every available resource of a nation is dedicated to the war effort, World War I was clearly a total war. Military resources, war of attrition, and non-negotiable end to the war are three excellent characteristics of this war that further support this argument. 

Every available military resource was dedicated to the war effort. When you examine the various nations involved, a plethora of resources were utilized in this war. The first major military use of submarines, tanks, planes, and chemical warfare were introduced during this war. 

Coupled with the extensive use of military resources, trench warfare led to a war of attrition. The resulting high death toll of this trench warfare required significant portions of the male population to participate as soldiers, thus also requiring the female population to contribute to the war effort in the medical field, promoting war propaganda, or working in factories. A significant portion of the population was heavily involve in the war effort. 

The fact that Great Britain, France, and the United States forced extensive punitive damages upon Germany in the Treaty of Versailles can also be viewed as an argument for total war. The punishments inflicted upon Germany and the unwillingness of the "Big Three" to negotiate on any of the terms, forced Germany to dedicate much of its economic resources to repaying the debts it incurred as a result of this treaty. 

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