The first big war of the 20th century was Word War 1 (WWI) also known as the Great War. The war began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The murder of Ferdinand fueled a war across Europe that lasted for four years. WWI caused unprecedented levels of destruction and carnage. By the time the war ended, more than 16 million people (soldiers and civilians) had lost their lives. Besides the colossal death toll, Word War 1 also caused major social, cultural, political, and economic fallouts as demonstrated in this paper.
Sociocultural Fallouts Word War 1
WWI had several social and cultural fallouts. To start with, the war led to the death of millions of people. According to Taylor (2013), at least 16 million people (both soldiers and civilians) died as a result of the war. Also, the war led to the spread of influenza, which killed millions of people. Due to troops traveling all over the world, influenza spread fast leading to an epidemic that killed more than 25 million people across the globe (Sondhaus, 2020). Additionally, the cruel approaches used during WWI and the losses suffered by various nations caused a lot of bitterness among countries; this significantly contributed to the eruption of WWII decades later. Lastly, Word War 1 caused birth rates to decline. Birth rates declined because millions of young men died in the war (Taylor, 2013). Thus, WWI had major social and cultural fallouts.
Political Fallouts of Word War 1
Word War 1 had significant consequences on the global political realm. Firstly, the war caused the downfall of four monarchies. Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The war forced the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and Emperor Charles of Australia to step down (Judge & Langdon, 2016). Secondly, the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles contributed to the eruption of WWII. The treaty’s conditions caused dissent in Europe, especially among the Central Powers who were compelled by the treaty to pay harsh penalties in reparation. Notably, the treaty held Germany responsible for starting WWI, consequently imposing harsh penalties that included loss of territory, demilitarization, and massive reparations payments (Sondhaus, 2020).
Lastly, the war made people more open to ideologies such as fascism and those of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks came to power in Russia and fascism became popular in Italy and Germany. These political ideologies largely contributed to the eruption of WWII (Falls, 2014). For instance, In Italy, the rise of fascism began during Word War 1, when Benito Mussolini formed a political group with other radicals to support the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Thus, the major political fallouts of WWI fueled WWII. Fascism entails radical authoritarian nationalism characterized by one-party totalitarian regimes run by dictators who glorify violence and racist ideologies (Sondhaus, 2020). It is such ideologies that fueled the eruption of WWII.
Economic Fallouts of Word War 1
WWI had horrid economic consequences. The war caused the involved nations a lot of money. For instance, Great Britain and Germany spent approximately 60 percent of what their economies produced on the war. As a result, the participating countries had to raise taxes as well as borrow money to fund the war (Judge & Langdon, 2016). According to Judge and Langdon, besides altering the economical balance of the world, WWI also left many countries deep in debt. All across Europe, economies crashed and companies had to close down since the men had left their jobs and joined the war. During this period, the US was the leading industrial superpower and creditor worldwide. The US joined the war considerably late and, as a result, did not suffer the adverse economic consequences of WWI the way the European countries did (Falls, 2014).
Participating countries also printed money to fund the war; this led to inflation. Falls elucidates that, after Word War 1 , inflation shot up in most countries; Germany’s economy was the most affected since it had to pay reparations as required by the Treaty of Versailles. Moreover, after the war, the participating countries incurred a large cost in rebuilding what had been during the war. The warfare left buildings, railway lines, and bridges in ruins. Additionally, it destroyed large sections of land, especially in Belgium and France. The destruction had significant adverse economic consequences for the countries. Moreover, the gun shells and chemicals used during WWI left lands unusable for farming for many years (Taylor, 2013). Therefore, Word War 1 adversely impacted the world economy.
To sum up, World War 1 caused more damage than any other war that occurred before. Besides the death of millions of people, soldiers and civilians, the war’s unprecedented levels of destruction caused major social, cultural, political, and economic fallouts. The adverse impacts of the war especially on the social and political realms were felt after the war and they largely contributed to the eruption of World War II.