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Boston, US
Posts: 288

Sources to peruse:

For this assignment, I’m asking you not to do conventional readings but rather to look at several powerful websites/online exhibitions:

  1. World War I via photographs
  2. World War I by the numbers
  3. 5 Things You Need to Know about World War I
  4. The firsts of World War I
  5. The first World War: The Study of a Global Conflict. For this site, poke around. This site is SIMPLY AMAZING. Pay particular attention to these sections:

#1: Origins [3:16]

#3: Empires [3:29]

#5: Slaughter [5:05]

And make sure you click on the interactives between the horizontal number menu along

the lower part of the screen.

The four BIG questions I’d like you to address in this post depend on your thoughtful and careful examination of the five items above, coupled with the World War I film you watched (from the previous assignment) and considered. As you respond, please make specific reference to these five items AND the film you watched AS WELL AS anything relevant from class.

  • We can debate the whys behind the war, the long-term and short-term causes (and I’m sure you’ve taken tests in other classes about this) etc. but here’s the essential question that matters: What was the point? What was gained from this war? What was lost? Why did it matter?
  • What lessons should we learn from this war? (And by extension, what lessons did the world learn—at the time?)
  • There are folks who argue that there was a world before the First World War and an entirely different world afterwards. Is that true? What changed forever?
  • And finally, why is it important to understand World War I and learn about it, even if we can argue that war = insanity, this one in particular?
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

The Insanity that was World War I

The millions of innocent lives lost due to such a pointless war, was nowhere near worth it. People ended up with severe injures, health issues, and the loss of limbs. This war was seen as "The war to end all wars", so more and more people continued to volunteer to fight. Young teenagers would even go to the extent where they would lie about their age just to go to the war and were even encouraged to do so. On a positive note, this war caused an increase in goods such as new technological weapons as said in, "5 Things You Need To Know About WW1". Aircraft was used in this war to drop weapons such as bombs or gas, and today planes have a huge impact on society today. This war in its entirety was pointless since after they didn't achieve what they strived for as it caused further wars to occur, and millions and millions of lives were lost which ended up causing a worry that reproduction numbers would only decrease.

After the war took place, we learned that another war like this would be very unnecessary as the first one achieved very little. But yet, World War II occurred nearly thirty years later. Today we are very close to engaging in a European war, which shows that we haven't learned anything from the past as we continue to let these devastating wars happen that achieve little in the end.

The world was drastically different before and after World War I. As shown in the first link, the photographs emphasize how desolate the world really was at the time as it had nothing really there. World War I destroyed empires and encouraged independence movements among European colonies. The world may not have the technology and weaponry that it has today if this war didn't occur. This war was supposed to end all other wars, and this has been proven false and ineffective as more have occurred.

It is important to understand and learn about World War I as it has a huge impact on our world today. This war has taught and showed us some of the insanity and destruction it can bring, and even though it occurs it may not achieve what people had wanted in the end.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

The Insanity that was World War I

World War I essentially began because a whole bunch of countries wanted to gain advantage over others whether that be in military terms, economic, etc. In the end, not one country had achieved anything so grand that was worth the extreme violence and tragedy that came from the war. The most obvious thing that was lost in the war was the millions of people who literally lost their lives, and the rest who figuratively lost their lives. 8.5 million troops lost their lives, and 13 million civilians did as well. It was not just people fighting in the war that died, but too many innocent people did as well. Young boys well under the age of 18 were fighting in this war, they spent some of the most formative years of their lives fighting in a war that did not need to be fought. As we saw in the beginning of They Shall Not Grow, some of the boys who fought in the war were as young as 15 years old. Some of them said that this war is what made them the man they became but I could imagine that many others do not see the war as a positive thing, but rather something that took their lives away. “It is far better to face the bullets than to be killed at hom by a bomb” was used to recruit people to the army, which to me sounds like saying you’re going to die anyway, why not just join the army, which is so scary to think that was even a real tactic that was used. Aside from the millions of lives lost, many countries lost money, their armed troops, and/or land. Either because they had no choice or they were taken away from them by other more powerful countries. This war mattered and still matters because the fact that so many countries could partake in such a pointless war that resulted in such disaster isn't something that should just be ignored.

WWI teaches us truly how pointless war is, especially large wars like this. Sure there was a lot of innovation that came from the war like military technology and overall industrialization and it was “a war of innovation”, but I don’t think you could argue that this was worth fighting for. I think it’s very possible that these innovations would have been created even if the war never happened, which is the case for probably every single war ever fought. And I think it probably taught the world a very similar thing at the time when the war was over, almost like a sense of realization.

From just looking at pictures before WWI and after, I think it’s very obvious that the world before the war was very different from the world after. From reading the Firsts of World War One, it makes it seem more possible that many nations were inspired after the war to either use similar tactics that worked in the war or use different tactics than the ones that didn't. So after the war, several countries in Europe began their movements for independence because they saw what being controlled by larger countries could do to harm them in the future. The war destroyed countries which would then end up being created into a whole entire new nation years later. Different forms of government and leadership arose, Hitler for example. So ultimately, the world would never be the same geographically, economically, ecologically, etc.

It’s important to understand WWI and learn about it because as I said before, the fact that any country could be capable of doing what they did in the war is something we shouldn't be comfortable with. Along with anything else in history, this has the potential to happen again. Maybe not in the same exact way or not on as large of a scale, but many things that influenced the beginning of the war are still apparent today. Overall I think anything that causes such destruction in our world, is important to learn about and understand, even if it’s just the very basics of it.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Despite the acknowledgment that a world of peace is a better place, our world continues to revert to war and violence to solve conflict. World War I was a monumental part of our history. With more than 30 nations taking part, World War I was a global and total war, affecting everything.

So if war is that bad for us, why do we keep coming back to it? Well, there are supposedly some benefits. World War I brought a strong sense of nationalism. People identified closely with their country and felt a strong connection with it, ready to do whatever they could to defend their home. World War I also led to a technological explosion, as countries desired to have an advantage of one another, they made advances in weaponry and military technology such as tanks and poisonous gas. These few and small benefits stand weak against the huge negative consequences that followed the war. Even these positive aspects of war have their downfalls. The nationalism led to marginalization and extreme hatred of other groups such as people of color or Jews living in Nazi Germany. In fact, nationalism, which is often seen as a positive, is responsible for fueling violence and disagreement. Nationalism also led to propaganda, which aimed to persuade citizens to have this sense of pride for their country so that they were willing to do anything–even fight–for their country. Although the advancement in innovations propelled forward the technological and scientific fields, they were responsible for the millions of deaths that followed.

World War I, like most other wars, came as the result of building tension and disagreement amongst nations. Although the war literally started with a Serbian nationalist killing the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, the conflict was deeper than that. There was tension and division amongst countries, and the war was their way of solving them. After all, one of the main purposes of war is to solve conflict when agreements and discussions don’t suffice. No matter how complicated the relations between nations are, there should always be a way to solve the situation without violence. As we can see from World War I, violence makes problems even worse, leading to death and darkness.

When learning about this darkness of war, it is often hard to fully comprehend just how dark war really was. In a time of war, little is gained because it is mostly centered around things being lost. The major loss that comes from war is lives. In World War I alone, 8.5 million troops died, 21 million were wounded, and 13 million civilians were killed. The amount of death during World War I alone is shocking. Not only were lives lost, but their dreams, stories, and ideas were lost with them. Of the people that didn’t die, there was still so much taken from them. War was the perfect way of removing important values–hope, happiness, and freedom–from the lives of those surviving the war.

The purpose of war is to reach a solution, and in the case of World War I, the solution was the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the war. It is ironic, however, because the Treaty of Versailles didn’t even solve the situation. If anything, this treaty left more dissent and tension than before the war began. And in terms of territory and power, little changed once again. By the end of the war, the Central Powers only gained about 9 miles of Western territory. This shows the utter pointlessness of World War I. It resulted because of tension and ended with the entire world affected and very little change. In fact, World War I left Germany even angrier than before, as they had to face all the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles.

War brings devastating consequences and little solution, so if there’s anything we can learn from wars, specifically World War I, it is that they are unnecessary. When learning about World War I, it is also important to look at it not just through facts and numbers, but also through stories and experiences. The soldiers fighting in World War I weren’t simply pawns on the battlefield, but they were real people who each had their own stories, dreams, and relationships. Throughout World War I, more than 2 billion letters were delivered. The Trench: Last Days before the Battle of the Somme, perfectly captures this idea. It showed the personality of each soldier– some were brothers, husbands, or sons. They worried about their families at home, struggled with the rough war environment, and wondered about their futures. All of these soldiers, however, eventually died in the Battle of the Somme, and when they died, their stories, love interests, and dreams died with them.

It is clear that World War I changed the world. 65 million people fought, and they were either killed, wounded, or left with PTSD for the rest of their lives. After all, Soldiers during World War I had to go through so much more than just physical violence. Many were victims to shell shock, leaving them with psychological trauma and PTSD from the war, changing their lives forever. Even those that weren’t soldiers were affected. The war left people without their loved ones, with little food or place to live, and constant disruption to their lives. After the war ended, the world was a completely different place than when it began. It was a world torn apart and disoriented. We must remember the lives lost during World War I, and also learn from the mistakes of our past. Despite World War, I’s traumatic effects, World War II progressed around only a short 20 years later. This cannot happen in the present. We need to remember to value peace and well-being over power. After all, the way to avoid war is to recognize our values. We must learn to value peace and care for one another because this is the only way we can move forward.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The Insanity That Was World War I

World War I was a long time coming, even before it began. The official "beginning" of the war, the assassination of the Archduke (and heir to the throne) Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, was just one action that piled on top of many other things that had happened before it. The point of the war seems simple: multiple countries fighting for power. Countries allied with one another to give themselves an advantage at winning the war, and getting to set the terms of a treaty, perhaps. (I'm not very well-versed in foreign government.) As we learned in class, only 7 miles of territory was gained on the actual Western Front. After the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to give up 13 percent of its territory in Europe, but only because it lost the war. There also was the introduction of chemical and aerial warfare, and this was the first war that was fought in land, sea, and in the air. The war mattered as a whole because it caused the deaths of millions of people, many of whom were young boys pretending to be older. Actually, the age of the men who "joined up" was something I noticed in the movie I watched last week, All Quiet on the Western Front. The boys in that movie were fresh out of school, and they were being encouraged to fight for Germany by their jingoistic teacher. I also found it interesting how nationalistic and heroic England made their soldiers seem, and by extension, fighting in the war. In the movie They Will Not Grow Old, it showed how young men basically lined up to fight in the war, and to "kill Germans." They also didn't take it seriously, as shown by the movie, until they were actually fighting. It is important to note that the mental health of soldiers was sort of "discovered" in this war, if that makes sense. It wasn't a priority because it wasn't really known about, until many soldiers began to suffer from "shell shock."

From this war, I feel like people learned a lot. The military advancements made in this war changed the way the world fights. The Treaty of Versailles changed the geography of Europe, and it made Germany an even bigger enemy than it was before, for the Allies, at least. The effects of this war initiated the sentiments that caused World War II. Nationalism increased within countries, and people definitely learned to not expect world wars to last only six months.

It is always important to learn about human conflicts, if only to help us not make the same mistakes in the future. I think we can learn from the past, so it is crucial to learn about it. That being said, so many people were involved in this war, and, especially for the countries that lost the most, people need to know the details. It is also important to know about World War I because the sentiments and positions of the countries involved, which we can say are the current world's "global powers," can say a lot about where their actions nowadays come from.

West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

The Insanity that was World War I

World War I was one of the most devastating and personal wars ever. The main reason for the war was to maintain balance of powers in Europe. Different countries were fighting over power and WWI was supposed to solve this. WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Unfortunately, this war did not go according to plan. WWI was supposed to last about 6 months, it lasted for over 4 years. Over 20 million people died during this time of war. And overall, nothing was really gained. Neither side of the war achieved its' goals and millions of people suffered because of it. The casualties and loss that people suffered from this war was nowhere near worth the "reward".

I think that from this war we should have learned that wars this large and excessive can be pointless. Nothing was accomplished and an insane amount of people suffered because of it. Clearly, considering World War II happened only 20 years later, we have not learned our lesson. I think at the time the world learned how tragic this war war, but I do not think it changed their minds about war.

I think that the world before and after World War I are two completely different worlds. There are geographic differences, like the creation and destruction of states/countries, and the swing in power across the sea to the United States. But there are also technological differences. The level of destruction that came from technology in WWII showed how much people learned from WWI. Militaries learned from their mistakes and became much more powerful and destructive in the future because of it.

It is important to understand the effects of WWI so that we do not make the same mistakes. WWI was such a pointless and devastating war so it is important that we understand that and the lasting effects because without it, we would ruin the lives of many families through war over and over again.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 29

Really when it comes down to it there was no point to the war and nothing positive was gained but at the time it felt like everything or rather everyone, was lost. I say nothing positive was gained because there was still the development of new technologies and types of warfare that were gained which are obviously negative. Not to mention the mental and physical toll the war had on the soldiers in the war. The website “World War One in numbers” gave some really interesting statistics on the human toll of the war. One of the statistics that I found most compelling was how 8.5 million troops were killed and 21 million more were injured. Those numbers are just unimaginable and impossible to visualize especially when you consider that each soldier was an individual that had their own life and family. There was so much potential too for these soldiers to have done amazing things that could’ve helped people instead of dying in a pointless war but that too was lost. Watching 1917 also really helped to humanize the soldiers in the war and realize how they were individuals that fought and died in WWI. The heroism of the protagonists is particularly compelling as well as their compassion when they elect to help the German soldier whose plane crash lands but then one of the boys is stabbed. This is kind of a metaphor for the recruitment process for soldiers. The recruiters beckon in boys that just want to do good and serve their country but they end up stabbed in the back by sending them off to war to die.

There are so many lessons that could be learned from this war. We could take away the fact that we have a detrimental effect on the environment. That is shown by the desolate landscape depicted in the first photograph of the Atlantic article and emphasized by the images of industry throughout the website. We could take away that we are all human and can be unified in peace. We see this in the photograph from the Christmas truce of 1914. We could also take away that we have a horrific impact on each other as humans. This is clearly shown in all the photographs but especially those depicting dead soldiers and civilians. These are just a few of the lessons that can be learned from the images of this war. But unfortunately, none of these lessons have really been learned, or at least the people in power that need to learn them have not. It is in this context of not learning from mistakes that history repeats itself.

The First World War truly changed the world forever. The end of monarchies in Europe came with the end of WWI. It also caused lots of economic problems in various countries like The Great Depression here in the US. It also lead to the rise of fascism with the Treaty of Versailles being one of the major causes for Hitler to rise to power. Both links to emphasized the importance of technology in the war. It was the first war to use aircraft and chemical warfare and it was a war of industrial production. This completely changed warfare for the future and set the scene for WWII.

This is related to the question about what can we learn from the war. It is important to learn about it because there are lessons to be taken away from it. It is also important to learn about the wide range of the war. In the Empires section of the online exhibition, it showed so many soldiers from many different countries. These were images I had never seen before so it was really interesting to see soldiers from India marching to war. The image of WWI that I have often seen is that of young white men going off to war rather than any people of color. The lack of images of people of color in the war is frightening because without that representation it erases that aspect of history. I would also say that it is important to learn about so we can prevent war in the future but that seems pretty futile given that we are now on the brink of war.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

The Insanity that was World War I

The first world war was caused by individual countries’ conflicts and the need for power which pulled in their allies who wanted to maintain their alliances. There is no question that this war transformed an entire generation. A generation’s childhood was lost because of this war. We learned from the film They Shall Not Grow Old about the frequent occurrence of young boys lying about their ages so that they would be allowed to enlist. The boys all shared the same mindset that there was no other option except to fight for their country yet this choice led to the loss of millions of lives. So much that men began impregnating multiple women to continue the population. In the end, there was no real point or reason for this war. Millions of troops were killed and wounded and billions were spent just for barely any little land to be gained. Not only were troops killed, but millions of civilians were also killed as well. According to "World War One in numbers," an estimated 13 million civilians were also killed. The aftermath of World War I after it was ended by the Treaty of Versailles eventually led to the second world war. World War I was simply responsible for unnecessary mass destruction and casulaties without many gains.

World War I produced many innovations in technology and machinery. World War I was the first war that used barbed wire, machine guns, and tanks to name just a few. It was also the first time gas was used. According to the article "Firsts of the First World War," gas was first used on a major scale by the Germans in 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres. These inventions and innovations are not necessarily a good thing considering the countless lives that have been lost because of these innovations since then. The destruction of land caused by air raids and these new inventions was especially apparent in the movie 1917 as Lance Corporal Schofield traveled through deserted towns, especially in the scene where he ran through a French village’s blazing ruins while flares were seen in the night sky. The severity of wars and destruction have been changed forever as a result of these innovations. The number of people who died during battles before World War I is minuscule in comparison to the mass casualties of the fights during and after World War I.

One of the main characteristics of World War I was the usage of trench warfare which wasn’t at all effective. Picture 26 from “World War I in Photos: Introduction” proves the ineffectiveness because it shows soldiers crawling out of trenches directly into German gunfire. The soldiers never stood a chance when they were outside of the trenches because of how close the opposing sides were. The only protection these soldiers had was luck. Not only did trenches not help gain any land, but they also caused severe health issues for soldiers such as trench foot as they spent days in the wet mud. These health issues also teach us about the physical toll wars have on individuals. The lives of the soldiers were completely altered when they had barely even begun their adulthood. According to "5 Things You Need To Know About The First World War," the First World War left an estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians dead and countless others physically and psychologically wounded.

As pink12 mentioned, we are on the brink of another world war possibly beginning. It is more crucial than ever to understand the true costs of war and that not much can be gained through bloodshed as proven by World War I. It is easy for us to talk about war and brush it off as a simple topic if we don’t know the severity and the ripple effects of war. Only by understanding what happened in past wars, specifically World War I, can society learn from its mistakes and avoid making them again because there is no reason for people to die over things that can be resolved peacefully.

Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

The Insanity that was World War I

World War I was not only an utterly pointless war but violent confusion among countries that lost millions of troops for practically no gain whatsoever. Unlike the Second World War where it is apparent the motivation of Nazi Germany and leader Adolf Hitler to spread white supremacy and claim German people as this "master race", WWI was overall fought blindly and immaturely with new technological weaponry used against countries that simply fell into this cycle of defending another. With only a seven-mile land gained in the entirety of the four-year war, nearly thirteen million people were killed and millions of others were left injured and traumatized by the aimless and absurd acts.

In the two films, "Paths of Glory" and "We Shall Not Grow Old", a simple message was spurred about WWI which is the unfortunate yet truly unnecessary grasp it had on soldiers. In "Paths of Glory", after a mission ends in a disaster, the general demands three random soldiers to save others' lives -- so foolhardy to the point of suicide. In the other film watched in class, adolescents between 14-18 years old had to lie about their ages in order to be recruited into the army. This exemplifies WWI's absolute uncertainty and genuine chaos. During class, the growth of enlistments into the army among various countries was highlighted with practically double the amount of people. WWI held so much power with new warfare and numerous armies put in place, yet, there ultimately was no clear goal nor winner.

In The Atlantic's World War article and photography, it explains the horrific battlegrounds captured. The images vary from the muddy fields to Austria-Hungary's anger towards Serbia after Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated to attacks happening on the streets of Bosnia and to even altercations happening between Serbian women and German troops. The conflict between these two countries can arguably be the cause for why and how WWI started and grew to a separation of allies -- Triple Alliance and Triple Entente.

As a global war, mentioned in "5 Things You Need to Know about World War I", fighting may be known to occur on the Western Front, however, the geographical scale was larger than that -- ranging to eastern and southeast Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. With 65 million people around the war involved in fighting -- "World War by the numbers" -- starvation, disease, and malnutrition were detrimentally causing more harm than the attacks from others.

This was a war of many firsts: it was the first war to be fought on land, air, and sea; first air attacks on British civilians; first major use of poison gas -- and much more. This was also one of the first wars to have absolutely no true purpose. From this war, the urgent lessons learned are how unpredictable war is. Folks who argue that there was a world before WWI and an entirely different world after are correct. The PTSD, disease, and separation of allies became completely apparent once the war began. It is crucial to learn and understand WWI as it is the beginning of many fallouts amongst countries; we see betrayal take place as well as the amount of power leaders and governments have.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

The Insanity of WWI

War is often the result of either tension or the threat that another nation/group may pose against a country/government. It demands participants to decide between taking to defense or offense; the fear quickly sets in as the fate of a country can easily depend on their every move. However, War was always considered the last resort as it required the mobilization of entire countries and the deprivation of resources, people, labor, and spirit. However, the preservation of a country--of nationalism--was deemed a worthy cause to fight. I saw this way of thinking in an image from “World War I with Numbers” in which an enlistment poster stated that, although the legal age for enlistment was 18, the youngest British soldier was a 12-year-old who purposefully concealed his age. Such an action from a 12-year-old is extremely reckless and absurd, but it was the result of Britain’s emphasis on WWI being a battle of nationalism and patriotism; the major ‘gain’ from the war was the massive influx of nationalism and patriotism because it would ultimately fuel a country’s army. Another central gain from the war was the competition for innovation since the process resulted in several advances/inventions in military weapons, radios, etc. This could be seen in images in “5 Things You Need to Know about World War I” and “The firsts of World War I” where there are factories filled with great amounts of weaponry and mentions of thousands of workers. The competition for better military weaponry and equipment in the war was electric and intense as advanced weaponry could lead to a country’s ultimate success. Additionally, the race towards great inventions and increased production led to major gaps in the workforce which women began to fill up, and women began to have bigger roles outside of the household, including the military (as seen through a promotional enlistment poster for women in “the firsts of WWI.” However, this advanced weaponry would only increase a war’s death count; World war had an extreme death toll because of new weaponry like airplanes and poison gas which brought the battle into all 3 fields: sea, land, and air. Nonetheless, the obvious loss of war is the death toll and the destruction that ensues. Millions of soldiers were left unidentified and/or didn’t receive proper funerals as most died during combat or disease; this can be seen in an image of a soldier looking at a mass burial in a field on the Washington Post. Moreover, the mass decimation of people, houses, neighborhoods, and cities in WWI had also led to soldiers' immunity to this degree of destruction and loss. I noticed this trend in the movie 1917, as several scenes took place in ruins that several soldiers casually inhabited; I also noticed this routine in an image of a soldier casually relaxing next to a destroyed house in “World War I via Photographs.” Furthermore, the environment suffered mass amounts of destruction and imbalance, for example, several areas were (and still are) labeled dangerous as they contained undetonated bombs or landmines, trenches resulted in the overturning of soil/removal of plants and animals, and bodies of water were once heavily contaminated. To say less, countries’ views on war significantly changed as WWI revealed the true costs of large-scale mobilization and violence.

Although WWI brought in immense grief and destruction, there were some important lessons that one should take away. One lesson that resonated with me was that there are no true winners or losers after a war. All countries and people would endure extreme losses over nationalism, land, resources, or a political figure. ‘Glory’ would only last so long before it’s ultimately the equivalent of a rusted medal. Therefore, when a political, social, or economic situation makes war seem like a possible solution, there should be a great reluctance. Moreover, at the time of WWI, the world learned that war never truly ended once someone was declared victorious, instead, there are several repercussions that follow; a prime example is how WWI--thought to be the war that would “end all wars”--became the prequel to a second world war. This fact still rings true as it has been one of the vital aspects world leaders have considered in various moments of history and the present.

After WWI broke it, it was clear that life afterward wouldn’t be the same. As patriotism fueled the minds of millions of citizens, enlisted soldiers were faced with the high possibility of dying or watching their comrades fall in combat as warfare was taken to new heights. Ultimately, millions of soldiers around the world died in this Great War and millions were scarred by the loss of friends, family, and their innocence. In 1917, the protagonist, Will Schofield witnessed the death of his best friend, Tom Blake, after being stabbed by an enemy airpilot. By the end of the movie, Will was given time to process the entirety of what he had gone through after he delivered news of Blake’s death to Blake’s brother after leaving his body behind so that he may continue his mission. Soldiers in WWI were exposed to horrible conditions both mental and physical, and these experiences lingered after the war’s end, therefore leaving an entire generation scarred. Moreover, in 1917, as Blake was trying to save the injured enemy pilot from the fire, the pilot’s violent reaction to the aid revealed the extreme anxiety every country held against one another because of the lack of trust. Every country’s government diluted rival countries to a threat that could bring about the end of their nation, success, and livelihood; all generations were exposed to and soon lived by this way of thinking, thus people around the world were ultimately condensed into two separate categories based on their heritage/background: enemy or ally. The Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente defined a country’s enemies and allies, but the sheer existence of these alliances only worsened international anxiety that one’s resources, people, livelihoods, armory, etc, were always at stake. Sadly, this fear was purposely fueled by the government as they continuously brought emphasis on the looming death that threatened everyday civilians and areas; the perfect example of this is an image in “World War One in Numbers,” in which neighbors stand in front of a residence that had been bombed and killed a senior couple. The image is extremely melancholy, eerie, and anxiety-inducing since the bombing had occured in an everyday neighborhood, and this effect would have been felt by all those who saw this photo shortly after it was taken.

World War I is one of the greatest examples of war mentality, patriotism, increased industrialization/militarization, and the ‘nobility of war.’ Before this war, there hadn’t been anything like this when you consider the new military inventions that heavily contributed to the total death toll as well as the mass amounts of propaganda and severe mentalities that drove men to enlist. Patriotic fervor spread like never before and ultimately drove people to easily condense citizens from enemy countries as untrustworthy, violent, and unforgivable. It’s important that everyone learns about the several mentalities that were at work during the Great War since they’ve constantly reappeared throughout our history and were the cause for several negative effects long after battles have ceased. Considering the current tension with Ukraine and Russia and the possibility of war breaking out, such mentalities are bound to appear once again; whether they can be stopped is debatable if not impossible, however, if we use wars like WWI as a lesson, we can potentially hinder the ripple effects. Nonetheless, major human conflicts like WWI should always be taught because they’ve shaped all the countries/nations involved and still have significance in modern day society; Much of our own government’s decisions/way of thinking has roots in WWI and beyond.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 27

The Insanity of WW1

World War 1 was a huge turning point in world history and was war unlike we’d ever seen before. This wasn’t a conflict between two countries, this was absolute total global warfare. Naturally many things were lost by a war of such a scale with the primary one being the sheer amount of lives lost to the brutalities of warfare. As mentioned in the BBC article, that is a whopping 8.5 million lives that we will never get back. Not to mention their families, the countless other wounded soldiers, the teenagers whose lives were cut short, and absolutely everybody who had to deal with the constant stresses of prolonged warfare. When we talk about these losses we often talk in big numbers, which does serve a purpose to show just how many lives were lost, but we often lose the humanity within those numbers. The 2019 film, 1917, provides a direct look at one soldier’s journey throughout the war. The movie is filmed as if it is being shot in one continuous take that constantly follows the main protagonist, which makes the audience really focus on the experience of just one individual during this time and reminds them of the humanity within each and every number and statistic from that war. Conversely, WW1 also brought a lot of gains in the form of military technology, which in turn also brought along a lot more deaths. World War 1 was the first time that we saw barbed wire being used in a war setting, as well as planes, flamethrowers, machine guns, tanks, major use of gasses, and many more (that you can find in the IWM articles). It also brought about improvements in both manufacturing and medicine.

I think one lesson we should learn from this war, and from every war, is that the sheer destruction brought upon by warfare should be avoided at all costs. As I mentioned in my earlier paragraph, war is absolutely devastating and the series of images in the Atlantic makes that abundantly clear. The sheer amount of destruction surrounding the soldiers in absolutely every image is absolutely horrifying. That said, to this day we have still clearly not learned this lesson. What I do think they learned following WW1, however, was the potential dangers of alliances. The conflict that incited WW1 could have easily been just another war between two countries. What turned it into a global affair was all of the pre-existing alliances that drew other countries into the issue.

With an event as catastrophic as WW1, it would be impossible for it not to have deeply changed the world. Not only was warfare completely different and more destructive than ever before with all the new things discovered and implemented, but the medicine and manufacturing industries also completely changed, which changed the world as we know it. Leading up to and after the war, nationalism was also at a whole new height. The kind of propaganda and nationalistic pride that is needed to be able to get an entire society willing to fully commit themselves and their lives to total war is absolutely obscene, and that kind of national unity didn’t leave once the war did. Furthermore, once you’ve had one world war, that kind of possibility never fully leaves the picture, evident by WW2 that happened just decades later. Even today the possibility of a third world war is certainly not out of the picture, especially considering how interconnected countries are now due to globalization. This is exactly why it is so crucial that we learn and try to understand WW1 - so that we can prevent it from happening again. Additionally, it is a big learning point about the dangers of alliances, strong nationalism, and shaky international relations. As well as a reminder of the horrific dangers that humans can inflict upon themselves and each other.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

The Insanity that was World War I

Overall, 7 miles of land were gained through the violence; the treaty of versaille later outlined the ‘prizes’ of the war. However, no one learned anything new, illustrated in the subsequent WWII, millions died, reconciliation didn’t take place, Serbia never apologized, and everything remained the same; barring the billions of dollars spent, the limbs lost, the lives lost, the families destroyed, the scarring of many soldiers and leaving the world in pieces by the end. The sad truth is that there was no point. Political and social anxieties to the rise of socialism, nationalistic tendencies, the shaky unification of Germany and the alienation of other cultures created the perfect storm of WWI (The First Wrld War: The Study of a Global Conflict). Throughout the movie They Will Not Grow Old the soldiers refer to the call to duty as being an obligation to Britain, stemming from a national pride in their country, but nothing was spoken of the goal of the war or the reasoning behind it. This illustrates the meaninglessness of WWI.

A heady rush into war is never the answer. Violence is a barbaric and outdated form of retribution or reconciliation that we have long since outlived. Pride is a dangerous fault that in the case of WWI incited a war. As seen in World War I via photographs, the picture of Gavrilo Princip next to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, puts into perspective the origins of the war, compared to the millions of soldiers who only knew they fought for their country.

The world before the First World War was one with emerging technology, cosmopolitan cities, and cultural growth, but immediately after the conclusion of the war countries were left in severe debt, economic ruin, population decimation, and destroyed sense of hope. Outside of the immediate ramifications “the world lost innocence”, it ended society as it used to be, the use of war on a social scale terrified the world, and the blatant disregard for life forever ripples into the modern world. This generation of soldiers were promised this would be the world to end all worlds and they were lied to. The intense realization that the leaders of countries, once thought to be divine, were just men ruled by emotions, rashness, hubris, and vanity created an uneasy distrust in governments across the world.

World War I spanned four years, killed 8.5 million troops and 13 million civilians, wounded 21 million troops and left countless soldiers and families to pick up the pieces of the trauma wrecked by war (World War I by the numbers). It is important to reckon with these numbers the gravity of them, the short time it took for men to do this to one another, and the threat of global destruction. Learning from the sacrifices the soldiers made, the havoc wreaked, the debts payed, the value of a human’s life gives a purpose to the millions of people who died in WWI. We owe the dead the promise that this kind of large scale loss never reoccurs and their deaths weren’t in vain.

iris almonds
Posts: 29

The Insanity that was World War I

In all of the world history classes that I have taken, we often discuss the long-term and short-term effects of the war and we talk about how tragic it was. We would talk about how the Serbian nationalist killed the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary as he visited Sarajevo, which was the main catalyst for the war. But we never really talk about how pointless World War I really is and I never realized how pointless it was until I looked at these resources. The point of World War I is that there is absolutely no point. This war began as a small conflict within Europe but escalated quickly due to the multiple alliances formed within countries. Eventually, over 65 million soldiers from 30 different nations were involved in the war. It turned into a worldwide war which resulted in a large number of deaths and tragedies. This war helped us gain the knowledge of how wars can get out of hand and be completely pointless. Quite a bit was lost during the war: a large number of soldiers, towns, neighborhoods, and the mental stability of many people during and after the war. The respect among countries was lost and the ideas of respect and empathy within humans were lost.

As I scroll through the images, some of the images that stood out to me the most were image 13 followed by image 14, which shows a dead soldier and the hanging of soldiers. Soldiers were treated less than humane and they battled in horrendous conditions. There were several images showing the trenches that the soldiers stayed in. These trenches were filled with rats, other animals, and skulls of dead people. There were images showing gas attacks and various soldiers practicing for the attack strategies they were planning to use in war.

The lesson we need to learn from this war is that it is a war that involved practically everyone around the globe and still has detrimental effects to this day. In the war in numbers article and as we learned in class, soldiers were supposed to be at least 18 years of age before being able to fight. But we learn that many 15 and 16-year-olds, with the youngest being a 12-year-old fought in the war. 12 years old? 8.5 million troops were killed and 65 million people were involved with the fighting of the war. Fighting was not the sole reason for the death of many, two million soldiers actually died from the disease. Through the war, the world learned that so many people were involved in the war, not for glorious reasons, but for the reason of solely defending their country. Many felt like they had the duty to defend and they would rather die trying than sitting around and getting attacked. Many soldiers did not have glorious endings. Many were pushed to their physical and emotional limits. I think the world also realized how quickly events could change.

The world before the first world war is most definitely different from the world after. There is no going back and the number of deaths and tragedies that occurred during world war I could never be made up for. Focusing specifically on the soldiers, many of them experienced shell shock, which is the physiological trauma that soldiers suffered during and after the war. The movie 1917, talks about two soldiers who were sent on a journey to deliver an important note to a colonel in a different platoon. The horrors that one of the soldiers experienced as he watched his friend die in his hands will be a scene never be forgotten. But this is an all too common scene during WWI. At the scene where the soldier was dying alone, all the soldier had to remember his family by was his family photo. In addition to this part of physiological damage, one of the soldiers did not want to return home because he didn’t know what to do with his life. The horrors and experiences that soldiers get from war change them as a person completely.

This war changed innovation and the production of weapons. As World War I took place during a time when England was going through industrialization, there was a huge increase in the number of weapons that could be used. For example, as stated in the 5 things you didn’t know about world war I article “industry produced nearly 4 million rifles, 250,000 machine guns, 52,000 airplanes, 2,800 tanks, 25,000 artillery pieces and over 170 million rounds of artillery shells by 1918.” This comes to shows that the increase in the number of weapons allowed for the more deadly war.

Although wars shouldn’t be fought and world war I was fought for absolutely no reason, it is important to learn about these events. Based on the classic saying that you should learn from history, we in the present day should most definitely learn from this event and not let history repeat itself. It basically serves as a warning to us and the details and tragedies that occurred during World War I show us how detrimental war can be. This war also comes to show how powerful countries can be in terms of making alliances. For example, once Great Britain was in the war, this allowed for many of the colonies of Britain to join. As stated in one of the videos on the study of world conflicts, many Indian troops were sent to help Britain fight. In an army, there was so much diversity. People didn’t care about who they were working with at this point but all they cared about was that they were on the same side. In the end, we can conclude that this was an absolutely pointless war as only 7 miles were gained. 7 miles is not worth a large number of horrors and deaths involved with this war.

Posts: 25

The insanity that was world war 1

World war 1

World war 1 is considered to be “the war to end all wars”, this is with good justification, as it was the largest and most widely involved war to ever take place in modern history. The war was truly fought for what can be argued as no reason. There was no true valuable or justifiable reason for the war to begin, and for it to go on for the amount of time that it did. Nothing was gained from the war, and the comparison between what was lost, and what was gained. Nothing was gained, and there were millions of lives lost. On top of the lives lost, many of the soldiers fighting who did not die, left with severe injuries or diseases. The conditions of the war were absolutely horrible, and these conditions were what caused many of the diseases soldiers caught, including things like trench foot.

Even though it was extremely unnecessary, I think that there are some lessons that can be learned from the tragedies that happened from the war. I think that World War 1 is a prime example of how violence and war can not and will not solve every political problem. It can also be a teaching point to the dangers of many countries getting involved in wars that originally did not involve them. At the time, I don't really think the world learned much from world war 1, considering that there was another world war not too long after.

The photographs linked help highlight the drastic difference in the world before world war 1 and after the war. They show how the war really isolated the world and countries, and destroyed so many lives. The war forced and encouraged European independence movements after the war. But the statement of how it was supposed to end all other wars did not stand true, as even just America alone has been involved in many other wars since the end of World War 1.

Although the war was pretty much pointless and useless, it is still very important to learn about. This is because history repeats itself, so learning about something this insane will hopefully help prevent things like this happening again in the future. It is also important to learn as this war helped shape many countries and their identities, whether those being for the better or worse.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

The Insanity That was WWI

  • So many lives were lost during this war. Many people, if not killed, were severely wounded both physically and mentally; because there was no term for PTSD back then (only called shell shock), many veterans and their families after the war suffered because veterans were constantly reliving their experience. A lot of teenagers barely older than our age (and even younger) lied about their age to sign up since they believed they were helping the country, and ended up either dead, traumatized, and with the realization that the enemy soldiers did not want to fight either. They had to live in really terrible conditions and their previous innocence of the world and the safety of their job disappeared as their friends died right in front of them from either battle or simply sickness (which was the case for about 2 million people, see Article 1). Countries lost money and land aside from men, and also lost resources; trees were burnt down, and a lot of land was rendered unusable (Article 2). One of the only "plus sides", if you can even call it that, of the war is that there was a lot of technological innovation because of it (as mentioned in Article 3). Aircraft was more developed, and had it not been for the war, we would not have them today. The first gas attack was during WWI, and it shaped a lot of future battles around the world (see Article 4). All of this matters because even though there was technological advancement, it was at the cost of tens of millions of wounded and killed, and really just shows the price for progress (which is really terrible).
  • I think that WWI just taught everyone how stupid war is. None of the benefits that the winning side got was really worth the millions of soldiers dying, leaving families heartbroken and having a massive waste of resources. The biggest lesson that I've gotten from the war is that it's terrible. Obviously there wouldn't be some things today that weren't developed for war but was it worth hundreds of millions of lives?? And also, what's to say that it wouldn't have been developed, just later? It's just very difficult to excuse any of this even if it would be drastically different.
  • When I ask why we have to learn history (because I am personally not great at it), the answer I get most often is that "so we don't repeat our mistakes again". But yet, mere decades after WWI, WWII happened, even though the former was supposed to be the war to end all wars. I see this happen so much with the things I've learned throughout history, and while I currently don't think that humanity will ever stop repeating its mistakes, I do hope that by understanding WWI and the horror of it we can realize just how terrible it really is, because sometimes it feels as though war has been a term that has been tossed around lightly and I feel like it shouldn't be the case because it's such a terrible thing. And we can, at the very least, honor veterans' memory and respect it all, not treat it as a joke.
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