Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Great War, its effects and Russia

During the late nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire started to decline and to lose its territory closest to Europe. Sometimes, European powers meddled in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire in cooperation with the rivals of the Ottoman Empire. The young Turks conspired to force a constitution on the Sultan, advocate centralized rule and the Turkification of minorities, and carry out modernizing reforms. Looking for assistance, they turned to German, and they hired a German general to modernize Turkey’s military. Alliances such as this will soon play a role in what is now known as World War I. Other causes include Nationalism, Imperialism and Militarism. As many countries acquire territory and build their military, suspicions will rise among their neighboring countries. There would be a decrease in trust and an increase in setting up defense mechanisms, just in case one country declares war on the other. This Great War will last from 1914 to 1918, and it will begin with Serbia and Austria-Hungary. These two nations will manage to pull many countries, and their colonies, into the war. However, will the war deem profitable? Will America maintain is isolation foreign policy? Russia will join the war, but will leave the war to fight for the Russian Revolution. Will Russia fight for communism or for democracy?
Nationalism is a country’s want to take control other countries due to the idea of being superior (hegemony). It is deeply rooted in European culture, as it served to unite individual nations while undermining large multiethnic empires. Because of the spread of nationalism, most people viewed war as a crusade for liberty or as revenge for past injustices. Others believed that war could heal the class divisions in their societies. Alliances, agreements, were formed between countries. These agreements stipulated that one country will help the other in times of war. The major European countries were organized into two alliances: the Triple Alliance, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente, Britain, France, and Russia.  The military alliance system was accompanied by inflexible mobilization plans that depended on railroads to move troops according to precise schedules. Imperialism was the source of tension and completion among countries because they all wanted to acquire the maximum amount of territory possible: territory equals power. Last but not the least, militarism is the building up of a country’s military unit, and it caused suspicion among the alliances. These four main acts led to World War I in 1914.
Furthermore, on July 28, 1914 the alliances finally had a reason to go to war. The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, with his wife, goes to Bosnia, the city of Sarajevo, to visit. This upsets the Serbians because they wanted to annex Bosnia, since they were Slavs. Most importantly, the Serbians felt oppressed by the Austrian-Hungarian people. Thus, the Black Hand, a secret association of Serbia plots to assassinate the Archduke once he arrived to visit. [1]“The Black Hand movement wanted Serbia to be free from Austro-Hungarian rule. The movement was founded by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijevic, better known as ‘Apis’. Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie at Sarajevo on June 28th 1914, was a member of the Black Hand movement.” This assassination sparks great tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Both country pull alliances to fight for justice. Austria-Hungary’s alliance comprised of Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. They had the upper hand because Germany had the best army, and also because the Ottoman Empire had the largest territory. Serbia’s alliance comprised of Russia, who wasn’t quite as industrialized as the other European countries, France, Britain, Japan, China, and later the United States of America. [2]“The nations of Europe entered the war in high spirits, confident of victory. German victory at first seemed assured, but as the German advance faltered in September, both sides spread out until they formed an unbroken line of trenches (the Western Front) from the North Sea to Switzerland. The generals on each side tried to take enemy positions by ordering their troops to charge across the open fields, they were killed by machine gun fire. For four years the war was inconclusive on both land and at sea”. The demands of trench warfare led governments to impose stringent controls, such as food rationing, over all aspects of their economies. Africans, Indians, Chinese, and women were hired to work in factories to help support the war and economy. This glory for women was only temporary, as they were made to vacate their jobs when the men came back from war. German civilians paid a high price for the war as the British naval blockade cut off access to essential food imports. As the need for laborers and troops increased, the Europeans turned to their African colonies. There, they requisitioned food, imposed heavy taxes, forced Africans to grow cash crops and sell them at low prices, and recruited African men to serves and porters and soldiers in the Great War. This of course, took a toll on the African nation once again. The United Stated grew rich during the war by selling good to Britain and France. What happened to staying neutral? After several threats form the German government, the United States abandoned its neutrality, and it engaged in the Great War in 1917. Prior to that, the Turks had signed a secret alliance with Germany in 1914. They engaged in unsuccessful campaigns against Russia, deported the Armenians (causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands, and closed the Dardanelles Straits. At the end of the war, the Treaty of Versailles was issued. Its purpose was to weaken Germany. The Treaty blamed Germany for the war and ordered it to pay reparations. It also broke up the Ottoman Empire, and it gave mandates to the British and French. This led to the creation of new countries such as the modern Middle East. The unfair Treaty of Versailles, and the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations, will lead to WWII.
World War I is considered to be the first modern war. It certainly changed warfare forever. How? It introduced many Advances in Science and technology into modern warfare, which changed the battle tactics and strategies. World War I was the first war where the airplane was used. [3]“Initially, airplanes were used to observe enemy troops. However, by the end of the war they were used to drop bombs on troops and cities. They also had mounted machine guns that were used to shoot down other planes”. Much of the war was fought using Trench Warfare. Both Sides dug long trenches that helped protect the soldiers from artillery. The areas between the trenches of two enemies was known as No Man’s Land. This strategy of fighting resulted in log stalemates with high casualties. Tanks, armored vehicles, were used to cross “No Man’s Land” between the trenches. Although the first tanks were hard to steer, they became quite effective by the end of the war. [4]“The most dangerous ships during World War I were large metal-armored battleships called dreadnoughts. These ships had powerful long-range guns, allowing them to attack other ships and land targets from a long distance. The main naval battle in World War I was the Battle of Jutland. Besides this battle, Allied naval ships were used to blockade Germany to prevent supplies and food from reaching the country.  World War I also introduced submarines as a naval weapon in warfare. Germany used submarines to sneak up on ships and sink them with torpedoes. They even attacked Allied passenger ships such as the Lusitania.” Ultimately, new weapons such as large guns, machine guns, flame throwers, and chemical weapons were used for the first time in war.
By the late 1916 the larger but incompetent and poorly equipped Russian Army is forced to abandon the Great War, as they had experienced numerous defeats and they had run out of ammunition and other essential supplies. The Russian economy was in a state of collapse, as they faced fuel and food shortages. Czar Nicholas II had proved to be an ineffective leader. Czar was married to a German lady, who was greatly influenced by Rasputin. Most Russian folks felt uneasy about this because Rasputin led a reckless life in town. They found it despicable that such as man had great influence on their Queen. In March 1917, the Czar is overthrown and replaced with a Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky. On November 6, 1917, Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks staged an uprising in Petrograd and overthrew the Provisional Government. This is considered the first phase of the Russian Revolution: the formation of the provisional government. In the fall of 1917, the second phase starts. Lenin, a Marxist, believed in communism. However, he changed the ideas of Karl Marx. He believed in the creation of a vanguard party and a group of professional revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks gain the support of many people, as they take over the government. However, their power isn’t solid because of the opposition from groups like the Mensheviks, who didn’t believe in radical change. This leads to the Russian civil war in the 1920’s. The world, US, France and Germany, support the Mensheviks because they opposed communism and advocated for democracy. The Bolsheviks defeats the Mensheviks, and the USSR (Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) is formed. This is considered a turning point in history because it establishes the first communist country in the world. Years of warfare, revolution, and mismanagement had ruined the Russian economy. Beginning in 1921 Lenin’s New Economic Policy helped to restore production by relaxing government controls and allowing a return of market economics. This policy was regarded as a temporary measure that would be superseded as the Soviet Union built a modern socialist industrial economy by extracting resources from the peasants in order to pay for industrialization. When Lenin dies in 1924, his associates struggled for power. Trotsky, Lenin’s preference, was expelled and forced to flee the country by Joseph Stalin, who took over the government. Stalin, a very self-centered man, focuses on power, dictatorship, and on himself. He corrupts many of Lenin’s ideas, and he creates a totalitarian government. Brutal, he executes anyone who deems a threat to his government, position, and ideologies. Approximately, 20 million people were killed under his reign.
Stalin goes ahead to set up the Five Year plan to increase agriculture and industrial output in Russia. In the name of Communism, Stalin seized assets, including farms and factories, and reorganized the economy. However, these efforts often led to less efficient production, ensuring that mass starvation swept the countryside. [5]“The first Five Year Plan (1928-1932) was declared completed a year early and the second Five Year Plan (1933-1937) was launched with equally disastrous results. A third Five Year began in 1938, but was interrupted by World War II in 1941. While all of these plans were unmitigated disasters, Stalin’s policy forbidding any negative publicity led the full consequences of these upheavals to remain hidden for decades. To many who were not directly impacted, the Five Year Plans appeared to exemplify Stalin's proactive leadership” (McKinney, 3). Stalin also set up collectives, which proved ineffective because the more people work on one job, the less output is produced. The Russian Revolution is now depicted the George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This novel parallel the events in the Russian Revolution. Old Major’s vision of a farm where animals ruled, where there were no human oppressors, is a direct match to Marx’s vision of a communist society. [6]In his Communist Manifesto, Marx envisions a world where everyone is equal, and where those on the lower rungs of society have as much say as those on the upper rungs. Although both concepts are nice in theory, “Animal Farm” shows that too much power can corrupt anyone. When Old Major’s vision, later called “Animalism,” was put into practice, the pigs in charge took over and became selfish and violent, twisting the philosophy until it barely contained an echo of the original intent. The same thing happened with communism, as Stalin left much of the country penniless and helpless, and put people to death if they showed the slightest resistance to his regime.
Pen ultimate, in the 1920s women enjoyed more personal freedoms than ever before, and women won the right to vote in some countries between 1915 and 1934. This did not have a significant effect on politics because women tended to vote like their male relatives. Class distinctions faded after the war as the role of the aristocracy (many of whom had died in battle) declined and displays of wealth came to be regarded as unpatriotic. The expanded role of government during and after the war led to an increase in the numbers of white collar workers. The working class did not expand because the introduction of new machinery and new ways of organizing work made it possible to increase production without expanding the labor force. WWI resulted in stalemates with huge casualties and no profit. The unfair Treaty of Versailles together with the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations will lead to WWII. Russia, the underdeveloped European nation, will start a revolution in attempt to industrialize. Stalin would later drag the Russian economy through mud, with his 5 year plan. WWI and the Russian Revolution are turning points in history. Both events change people’s perspective on government and war. The Revolution established communism, while WWI established better and more effective war tactics.

[2] file:///C:/Users/Charlene/Downloads/ap-wh-chapter-28-1210274710252461-9.pdf
[3] "World War I for Kids: Changes in Modern Warfare." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <>.
[4] "World War I for Kids: Changes in Modern Warfare." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Mar. 2015. <>.

No comments:

Post a Comment