The effects of World War 1 are still being felt a century after its conclusion. It was the deadliest war which involved more countries and was more expensive than any other war before it. The weapons used during WW1 were also more advanced than any previous war, using tanks, submarines, poison gas, airplanes and long range artillery. Over 9 million military personnel died during this war, and over 7 million men were left permanently disabled. It is not surprising that the effects of WW1 were still evident decades later.
Specific Effects of World War 1:
- WW1 caused the downfall of four monarchies: Germany, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Russia.
- The war made people more open to other ideologies, such as the Bolsheviks that came to power in Russia and fascism that triumphed in Italy and even later in Germany.
- WW1 largely marked the end of colonialism, as the people became more nationalistic and the one country after the other started colonial revolts in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
- The war changed the economical balance of the world, leaving European countries deep in debt and making the U.S. the leading industrial power and creditor in the world.
- Inflation shot up in most countries and the German economy was highly affected by having to pay for reparations.
- With troops traveling all over the world, influenza was spread easily and an epidemic started which killed more than 25 million people across the world.
- With all the new weapons that were used, WW1 changed the face of modern warfare forever.
- Due to the cruel methods used during the war and the losses suffered, WW1 caused a lot of bitterness among nations, which also greatly contributed to WW1 decades later.
- Social life also changed: women had to run businesses while the men were at war and labor laws started to be enforced due to mass production and mechanization. People all wanted better living standards.
- After WW1, the need for an international body of nations that promotes security and peace worldwide became evident. This caused the founding of the League of Nations.
- WW1 boosted research in technology because better transport and means of communication gave countries an advantage over their enemies.
- The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles caused a lot of dissent in Europe, especially on the side of the Central Powers who had to pay a lot for financial reparations.
There are many other effects one can attribute to WW1, but the fact of the matter is that after this devastating war, the world would never be the same again. Many historians agree that WW1 created an atmosphere that allowed the rise of the Nazi Party and the start of WW2.
How Many People Died in World War 1?
World War One was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race, in which over 16 million people died. The total number of both civilian and military casualties is estimated at around 37 million people. The war killed almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel.
Military and Cilvilian Deaths on Both Sides
The Allies, or Entente Powers, counted around 6 million deaths, the Central Powers 4 million.
Many people died, not from combat, but from diseases caused by the war, a figure estimated at around 2 million deaths. 6 million people went missing during the war and were presumed dead.
Two out of three soldiers died in battle, the rest died due to infections or disease. The Spanish flu also killed a lot of people in prisoner camps.
The total number of civilian deaths is very hard to determine, unlike military deaths, which were better documented. Because of the war, many people suffered from disease and malnutrition because of food shortages brought about by a disruption in trade. Millions of men were also mobilized for the war, taking their labor away from farms, which cut down food production. In the Ottoman Empire there were also the genocides that killed thousands of people. The Spanish flu also killed a lot of people, but historians often left these figures out of accounts accounts.
Finally, there are even more indirect deaths caused by the wars that are not accounted in such reports. The Armenian Genocide, which left 1.5 million dead in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, was precipitated by the Ottoman political leadership believing that the Armenian people would side with Russia in World War One, leading to the empire’s ruin. To secure their borders, they put Armenian men in work camps, which became extermination centers, and forced marched the elderly, women, and children to Northern Syria, which became a death march.
Remembrance Day, often referred to as Poppy Day commemorates the sacrifice made by servicemen in times of war.
In the United Kingdom the day was first commemorated in 1919, when it was known as Armistice Day, with two minutes silence at 11am on 11th November. The day marked the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that brought World War One to an end in 1918. Its name was changed to Remembrance Day after World War Two. The day is also observed by other commonwealth countries.
In the United Kingdom two minutes silence is observed each year on the 11th November. On the second Sunday in November, Remembrance Sunday, special services are held and poppy wreaths laid at the Cenotaph in London and at war memorials in towns all over the country.
The poppy is used to symbolise to symbolise remembrance and in the United Kingdom the Royal British Legion sell poppies in the weeks prior to 11th November to raise money for servicemen and their families.
During World War One some of the most intense fighting took place in Flanders (west Belgium). Buildings, roads, fields, bushes and trees were destroyed. However, despite the devastation, poppies flowered each spring. Poppy seeds that had been buried for years were brought to the surface by the churned up mud and germinated.
John McCrae a Canadian fighting in the trenches in Flanders wrote a poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poem was published and the poppy was adopted as a symbol for those who had lost their lives in battle.
In Flanders Fields by John McCrae May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
This article is part of our extensive collection of articles on the Great War. Click here to see our comprehensive article on World War 1.
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