Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Number of People Killed Was the Most Significant Aspect of World War I Essay

The number of people killed was the most significant aspect of World War I. To what extent do you agree? It’s 1914 and Gavrilo Princip has just shot the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife. As he fired the bullet, little did he know that he was about to start one of the bloodiest and most tragic wars the world had ever seen. World War I was, for most people, the most horrific event of their lives. There were over 35 million casualties, a war second only to World War II. No other war had changed the map of Europe so dramatically. Four empires disappeared: the German, Austrian-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian. Four dynasties all fell after the war: the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs, the Romanovs, and the Ottomans. Belgium and Serbia were badly damaged, as was France. Germany and Russia were similarly affected. Some may argue that the number of people killed was the most devastating and tragic aspect of the First World War, that the soldiers were a ‘lost generationâ€⠄¢. Others argue, however, that other aspects come into play. Economic crashes, for example, crippled many countries, almost destroying Germany. Significance can be judged in different ways. It can be judged by the number of people affected at the time, or later on in the form of remembrance. It can also be judged by the duration of the effect or the severity. Occasionally, unexpectedness is taken into account. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilised from 1914 to 1918, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. Over 11 million civilians died from a result of direct military action (i.e. military deaths and bombing) with a further 6 million dead due to famine, disease and accidents. Overall, 1.75% of the world’s population were killed in the war. The people at home were hammered by telegrams of deaths and occasionally, were bombed. Wilfred Owen, a famous poet, wrote in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘and each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds’, which denoted that every day someone in the neighbourhood would die. The deaths were also devastating in the fact that for the next 20 years, some women would not be able to get married because of the lack of men. Germany lost 15.1% of its male population; Austria–Hungary lost 17.1%, and France 10.5%. Economic crashes did alarming damage to some countries that played a heavy part in the war and most that lost it. France, which was where most of the war was fought, was in ruins and it took billions of dollars for the government to rebuild the country. All of the Central Powers were heavily affected by reparations caused by numerous treaties, the most notable being: The Treaty of Versailles, The Treaty of St. Germain, The Treaty of Neuilly, The Treaty of Tri anon and The Treaty of Sà ¨vres. Germany had to pay the Allies approximately  £6.6 billion – an enormous sum of money, which, if the terms of the treaty had not been changed by the Young Plan in 1929, would have taken the German government until 1984 to pay. Germany also had problems with starvation, unemployment and general unrest which took a lot of money to fix. Austria also suffered huge economic problems and would have also faced reparations if it weren’t for the fact that it went bankrupt before they could be set. Bulgaria did well compared to Germany, Austria and Hungary. However, it still had to pay  £100 million in reparations. Bulgaria had played a small part in the war and was treated less harshly compared to other major powers. Hungary was also due to pay reparations but its economy was so weak that it never did. The destruction of empires and creation of countries had a resounding effect on some major powers. For example, Germany’s overseas empire was taken away as it had been one of the causes of bad relations between Britain and Germany. Former colonies were taken by the League of Nations, which effectively meant that Britain and France controlled them. Parts of Germany were given to France, Poland and Denmark, and Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Saarland were all created from parts of Germany. Austria and Hungary also lost important land. Formerly controlled by Austrian forces, the states of Bohemia and Moravia were merged to create the new state of Czechoslovakia; Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia became Yugoslavia, which also contained the former kingdom of Serbia. Previously Hungary -controlled, Transylvania became part of Romania, whilst Slovakia and Ruthenia went to Czechoslovakia, and Slovenia and Croatia became the northern part of Yugoslavia. Bulgaria lost lands to Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia and its access to the Mediterranean. The number of people killed was clearly significant because it affected millions of people and their families. It is remembered in most countries that were involved in the war in the form of Remembrance Day. However, whenever you go into a war, deaths are to be expected. Economic crashes were devastating for countries like Germany or France in the short term. Nevertheless, after about 30 years, most countries recovered. The destruction of empires was clearly damaging. 4 or 5 empires were never to be seen again, whilst most empires, except Britain and France, were severely crippled. Overall, I think that, whilst the number of people killed had amazingly tragic effects, the reparations given to the losing powers were even more significant.

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