1. The point of World War I was mainly power, and the defense of alliances. This is a high point for imperialism, colonialism, and European power. Each country was attempting to prove that it had the biggest military, or occupied the most land, or had the most power over a certain trade. Once Franz Ferdinand was killed, the Austro-Hungarian felt extremely threatened, and at that point, had formed an alliance with Germany, which had also been under tension for some time, as explained by the website “The First World War: The Study of a Global Conflict”. As it states, the countries surrounding Germany had begun to ally against it, and so it felt extremely threatened. The Assassination of the Archduke of one of its allies was the one thing it needed to launch a full-scale war in order to prove its power and retain, or gain more of, its dominance. It could be argued that nothing was gained from this war, while so much was lost. Even politically, no one country was able to obtain significantly more power after the ending of the war, while it caused an immeasurable amount of suffering. The BBC estimates that about 8.5 million soldiers were killed in action, but for those who lived to fight, it almost seemed like hell. Throughout the documentary we are watching in class, it makes references to the harsh (to put it lightly) conditions faced by soldiers (especially British ones) throughout the war. They were constantly sick, forced into small trenches with bullets and shells constantly raining down on them, and were fighting next to the dead bodies of their friends and comrades. The idea of weapons was entirely redesigned for maximum suffering, especially with the use of poison gas(according to “5 Things You Need to Know about World War I”), and the widespread use of bombs to destroy mines or massive shells. This war mattered because of the amount of suffering it caused for such a small resolution. Because nothing was gained, all this suffering seemed to be for nothing. Death was especially prominent with this War because of the rise in manufacturing and standardization, which made it easier to produce many more guns and weapons capable of doing much more damage than ever before. World War I matters because it was such a dark time that disrupted so much for such a lackluster benefit.
2. Because so little was gained from this war, there is much to be learned, and not just from the political side, but also from the human side. Politically, so many nations lost so much for such little benefit. Therefore, they may have learned that here, diplomacy is key, and that war is not the answer. Beyond that however, many lessons were learned from the human side, one of the major ones I took from this being that many people will fight for their country even when they don’t know exactly what they’re fighting for. Throughout the documentary in class, as well as the 1917 film, there is a humaneness to the soldiers. In 1917, two British soldiers help save a German Soldier, while the British soldiers in the documentary play games with each other, as if everything is ok, or “normal”. With this, one gets the sense that these soldiers don’t particularly know what they are fighting for, but that it is patriotic to fight for their country and so it is therefore the right thing to do, despite the fact that they are putting their life on the line.
3. I would completely agree with those who argue that the world was completely different. Firstly, 8.5 million people died. That is no small number by any means, and there was most definitely a mass period of grieving after the war across the world for all of those lost. For those that survived, however, post-World War I was the first widespread recognition of Shell Shock, according to “Firsts of the First World War”. Millions of people suffered from what it known today at PTSD, which is both physical and psychological stress or trauma caused by shell explosions, as well as the general nature of war. Mass casualties and suffering had never been seen on this scale ever before, and so the world never went back to the mental state it was in before the war. Not only did soldiers suffer, but their families were also most likely affected, as the people that returned to them were not the people that left to go fight at the start of or during the war. World War I also expedited the increase in manufacturing and standardization in the world, and so in that sense the world was completely different as well.
4. It is extremely important to understand World War I because, as stated throughout this post, the suffering and death was insurmountable. Not only that, but most of the effects were felt by civilians. The most striking photographs in “World War I via photographs” were the first two. The first one is a picture of a no-mans land in Belgium. It is completely desolate, and devoid of any life. The very next picture is one of 9 European sovereigns in uniform, adorned with jewelry, gold, and decadence. Those that were most affected by this war were not these extremely powerful and wealthy figures, but everyday people and society. In order to recognize the true impact of the war, and to ensure it never happens against, we must learn about it. There really was no point to it, and for so many people to die and suffer for no real cause is- well, there are no words for that. We must ensure that this does not happen again, and to do so, we must understand and learn about World War I.