The First World War, also referred to as the Great War, started in the summer of 1914 and ended in November 1918. All of the world’s major powers were involved through two opposing alliances i.e. the Allies and the Central Powers.
The war had far-reaching effects and many governmental changes occurred throughout Europe after the war; socialistic ideas also became widespread. In addition, “Republic” forms of government became popular and gained a lot of influence. Prior to the war, the European continent had only three republics and nineteen monarchies but after the war fourteen republics emerged. A second political effect of the War focuses exclusively on how Germany was treated in 1919 through the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was forced to sign a degrading treaty taking full responsibility and to compensate all other nations for the cost incurred due to the war. Furthermore, the size of the Germany was reduced, whereas that of France and Italy was enlarged.
The government formed in Germany in 1918 was hated by the majority of citizens and kept little influence in governing the German state. Increasing aggression toward the rest of Europe began to grow; although the German military was drastically reduced, many soldiers didn’t give up fighting. Economic, politics and public opinion changes reverberated in the world for decades after the war. Numerous countries throughout Europe started to implement more liberal forms of governance, while a hostile Germany was mandated to pay for the reparations of the war which eventually led to World War II. One major effect of the war was the numerous debt incurred by European countries due to war cost. In addition, the optimism of earlier decades was discarded and a dreary, gloomy outlook on life was adopted due to the brutality of warfare.
There were also many significant economic and technological changes after the war. The production of airplanes, radios and automobiles skyrocketed. The use of machinery and benefits of mass production became widespread along with the adoption of an 8 hour work day; this led to economic stimulation. Enormous technological progress was made during the war. The English came up with radar technology which would be the predecessor of television. Advancement in computers and electronics, made during the period of war,ÿformed a foundation for additional development which essentially altered the postwar world.
The progress of the atomic bomb by European scientists during World War 1, not only changed the nature of future wars but alsoÿmarked the commencement of the nuclear power industry. However, in an effort to repay the allies, many European governments began to swiftly print money which led to a period of massive inflation. Middle class citizens who had a reasonably comfortable life started to experience an unsteady financial period. Germany was hardest hit in terms of struggling with war compensation; in addition, inflation significantly lowered the value of the German currency. In a period of three months, the German mark skyrocketed from four million to the dollar; to four trillion Dutch marks to the dollar.
Psychologically, the war had similar effects to those of a revolution. Throughout Europe, a sense of distrust of government officials and political leaders encompassed the minds of citizens who had seen the destruction and horror that the war caused. A sense of disillusionment spread across Europe as people decided that their governments didn’t know how to best serve their citizens. The massive loss of loved ones was particularly disturbing, in Western parts of Europe, one out of every four soldiers lost their lives in battle. All in all, the war resulted in the death of over thirteen million people, a third of them being civilians.