World War I

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The causes, consequences, and political effects of World War I

Summary:

World War I was caused by a complex web of alliances, militarism, imperialism, and nationalism, ignited by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The consequences included massive casualties, economic turmoil, and the redrawing of borders. Politically, it led to the downfall of empires, the rise of totalitarian regimes, and set the stage for World War II due to unresolved tensions and the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

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What were the political effects of World War I?

It would be difficult to overstate the political effects of World War I. It was, after all, a “world war,” and one that fundamentally transformed much of the existing international structure while planting the seeds of another, more devastating war that would follow. For one, the old empires—Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German, and Russian—all collapsed, although the Russian Empire would be painstakingly and bloodily rebuilt by the regime that replaced the monarchy. In their place emerged the international order that would remain largely intact for the next 70 years.

Borders shifted as the Great War’s victors seized territories from the losers. The modern Middle East was forged out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, although the French and British diplomats who drew the map of the newly-reconfigured region planted the seeds of future conflicts among Arabs, Kurds, Persians, Jews, and others.

The formation of the Soviet Union (in effect, a reassembling of the old Russian Empire with the added phenomenon of mass forced migrations of nationalities like the Tatars) represented a serious challenge to the empires that survived the war, mainly that of Great Britain, due to its avowed support of what came to be called “movements of national liberation.”

One of the most consequential effects of World War I was the evolution of Germany, shorn of important territories like the region on the French border known as Alsace-Lorraine, which was turned over to France, as was control of the vital Ruhr industrial region. The loss of these deprived Germany of the means to pay the onerous reparations that were demanded of it in the Versailles Treaty. The treaty’s stipulations are viewed as one of the main reasons that the Weimer Republic—Germany’s short-lived democratic government—failed, opening the door to the National Socialist Party of Adolf Hitler.

As a direct result of that disastrous war, the old monarchies of Europe either disappeared or were sublimated to other forms of government. The Bolsheviks, of course, slaughtered the Russian czar and his family to ensure that the Romanov Dynasty would never rise again, replacing one dictatorship with an even more brutal one, especially following Joseph Stalin’s rise to power. Conversely, the fall of the Ottoman Empire opened the door to the establishment of a Turkish Republic that would survive the next world war but whose founding doctrine of secularism would be wiped away with the emergence of the Islamist Justice and Development Party in the early 2000s.

These could be considered the main political effects of World War I. The collapse of old empires, the emergence of a communist regime in Russia, the failure of the Weimer Republic in Germany (accompanied by Adolf Hitler’s rise to power on a platform of hate and expansionism), and the redrawing of borders across the Middle East.

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What were the political effects of World War I?

World War I had a profound political impact across the world. For one thing, consider the sheer number of casualties and suffering inflicted by the wartime experience (a loss of life that would be further exacerbated by the Spanish Flu). It was a profoundly destructive experience.

In Russia, World War I resulted in the downfall of the monarchy and (when the provisional government still tried to continued the war) the rise of the Bolsheviks and creation of the Soviet Union. Across Europe, the economic strain of the war resulted in extensive inflation and economic turmoil. This was perhaps most strongly expressed in Germany, which additionally had to make heavy reparations payments to the Allies. Hitler was able to take advantage of the anger and economic distress within Germany to rise to power and create a totalitarian state.

Finally, to give a positive political impact, it was in the aftermath of World War I that women's suffrage was achieved in a great many countries.

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What were the political effects of World War I?

There were political effects of World War I both in the United States and around the world. At home, during World War I, the power of the federal government increased. The government, through the War Industries Board, regulated the production of materials. The government also controlled people’s speech with the passage of the Sedition Act. The government also drafted soldiers to fight in the war as a result of the Selective Service Act. Another impact at home was that people were tired of the United States being involved in world affairs. This helped Warren G. Harding get elected on a platform of returning to normalcy.

Around the world, there were also political effects. A weak republic, the Weimar Republic, was established in Germany. However, because of the excessive reparations Germany had to pay, $33 billion, the economy of Germany collapsed, and the Weimar Republic failed. This helped lead to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Another international impact of World War I was the creation of many new countries. As a result of the policy of self-determination, new countries were created based on ethnicity. The goal was to have people being ruled by their own ethnic group. Thus, countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were created.

A final political effect was the creation of a world organization designed to try to prevent war from occurring. The League of Nations formed so countries could talk about their issues instead of fighting over them. Unfortunately, the League of Nations was not successful in accomplishing these goals.

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What were the political results of World War I?

This depends on what you would call a "political result" and the time frame that you are asking about.

In the very short term, WWI had two major political results.  It resulted in the fall of the monarchies of Russia and Germany.  Russia's monarchy fell during the war and was replaced by the communist government of the Soviet Union.  Germany's monarchy fell after the war was lost and was replaced by a democracy.  A lesser political result  (from the European/American point of view) was the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the republic of Turkey.

In the longer term, the major political result of was the rise of Nazism and fascism.  The chaos of the post-war world helped to cause people in Germany and Italy, for example, to embrace fascism.  Their embrace of this form of government helped to lead to WWII.

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What were the consequences of World War I?

World War I had many consequences.  It is likely that, if you are asked to “list” them, your textbook provides such a list.  I suggest that you look in your book or your notes for such a list.

For our purposes here, I will list three important consequences of this war.  First, the war led to a loss of faith in humanity and the human potential on the part of many people.  Europeans had come to believe that science and modernity could lead to constant human progress.  The war seemed to show that this was not true.  Second, the war led to a policy of isolationism in the United States.  The US felt that it had been forced into a war that was none of its concern.  It felt that it should have let Europeans deal with their own problems rather than getting involved.  Therefore, as a result of the war, it withdrew from international affairs in the 1930s.  Finally, and most importantly, WWI led to WWII.  The aftermath of WWI made leaders in Germany and Japan, in particular, upset with the status quo.  They pushed to change things and to give their countries positions of greater power and respect in the world.  This led to WWII.

These are a few of the many consequences of World War I.

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What are the causes and effects of World War I?

World War I was a direct result of a tangled system of secret alliances. Beginning after the unification of Germany in 1871, many European nations began secretly allying themselves with each other. Starting with the Dual Alliance between Austria-Hungry and Germany in 1879, the nations of Europe allied themselves in mutual protection pacts in such a way that if any one nation became the target of aggression, all of Europe would be pulled into war. That act of aggression occurred in Bosnia in 1914 when a young serb, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Austria-Hungry declared war on the nation of Serbia soon after. Within a year, Austria-Hungry, Germany and Italy had allied themselves against France, Britain, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

The after-effects of the war are numerous. Four empire disappeared; Austria-Hungry, the Ottomans, Germany and Russia. Four age-old royal lines were shattered; the Hapsburgs, Romanov’s, Hohenzollerens and the Ottman turks. Of the 60 million soldiers mobilized during the war, 8 million were dead, 7 million were disabled in some way and 15 million were seriously injured. 15% of German’s men aged 18-40 were gone, as were 17% of Austria-Hungry. A global famine also came after the war, killing 100,000 people in Lebannon and 10 million in Russia! One of the most important effects was that Germany was saddled with a huge war debt that bankrupted the nation and provided fertile ground for the rise of Hitler and the Nazi's, so one could argue World War I caused World War II

There were some positive effects as well. There were vast improvements in the way armies cared for wounded soldiers and veterens. Mental health care for soliders with PTS syndrome was beginning to be introduced and the League of Nations was formed. While the League itself proved to be ineffective, it was the precursor to the United Nations, a much more effective international organization.

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What were the consequences of total war in World War I?

Total war targets both civilians and the military. Total war changed European attitudes towards WWI, and at the peace table at Versailles the British and French looked for revenge for what they called barbarism. Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare can be considered total warfare, as it was a promise to attack all ships in coastal waters of the Allies. The Lusitania was one of the most famous examples of this kind of warfare, as 128 American civilians perished when the ship was attacked in 1915. While Americans cried foul, German officials claimed the ship carried rifle rounds. During total war, food can also be considered contraband and kept from the enemy. This led to Britain putting a minefield around the North Sea, which by 1918 caused starvation in Germany and led to the revolution there that ultimately ended the war. Germany also executed Belgian partisans during the war, and the Allies claimed that many innocent Belgians were killed when they were rounded up along with the guerrillas. Both sides also used terror weapons such as airplanes and zeppelins to bomb civilian centers in the hopes of hitting military barracks or factories. Strategic bombing was still at least twenty years in the future, so more civilians died in these attacks than military personnel. Germany even developed what they called a "Paris gun" which was a massive piece of artillery which could lob shells into Paris from over ten miles away. It was nearly impossible to aim it precisely, so this could also be a weapon of total warfare. At the end of the war, Germany was forced to pay for waging this type of warfare and to assume responsibility for causing the conflict. Total warfare waged by both sides was the main reason why the belligerents hoped this would be the last war, but these tactics only proved it was as important to hurt the will of civilians as it was to defeat armies on the battlefield.

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