World War I

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What was the effect of WWI on European society after the war?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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World War One had a huge and lasting impact on European society. In one fell swoop, all the old certainties were undermined. Europe's royal houses had gone to war with each other, a cataclysmic conflict responsible for death and destruction on a hitherto unimaginable scale. Growing numbers of people began to question whether the traditional social hierarchies were desirable or sustainable. In the initial post-war period, it seemed that they weren't. The ruling houses of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary collapsed, not to mention the Ottoman Empire. All of a sudden, change was in the air. People started looking to more radical political alternatives.

At the social level, a noticeable trend towards greater egalitarianism emerged. This was the age of the masses, in which all aspects of society became more democratized. As a consequence, the relative unity of European high culture was undermined and irredeemably fractured, a development reflected in the work of Modernist artists and...

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