sent to war. The total war started when Germans used their first gas attack: Gassing was the start of total war, because it broke all limits, the social taboos, the gentleman’s etiquette of other wars. Sometimes the shot would miss the mark and kill innocent civilians.
Before the introduction of gas bombing, soldiers found it easier to overlook the fact that they were fighting on opposite sides of the field, because they had no personal motivation to fight.In 1916 there 139 British and French Divisions were fighting against 117 German Divisions. Two sides were facing each other across the “no man’s land” of mud, shell holes and barbed wires. Sometimes the distance between two fighting powers was so close that on first Christmas both sides were singing carols to each other. One can find a good description of trenches by reading Erich Remarque’s novel “All Quite on the Western Front” were he gives the reader some insight and a look at a group of young German friends who are also fighting in World War I. It covers the horror of this war through the eyes of a young German solider, Paul Baumer.
This book is not like other books and stories that glorify wars. It tells the horrors of war in detail. The story recalls the bloody details of bombing, gunfire, gas, hand-to-hand combat, barbed wire, trench warfare and etc. Remarque tells the story in the first person that makes the reader feel as if he or she is one of the soldiers, that makes the novel even more dramatic for the reader: We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps into the next shell-hole; a lance-corporal crawls a mile and a half on his hands dragging his smashed knee after him; another goes to the dressing station and over his clasped hands bulge his intestines; we see men without mouths, without jaws, without faces .. The two biggest and horrifying battles of the World War I are the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme.John Keegan, a military historian in his interview tells about the Battle of Somme: “It was the biggest barrage that had ever been. So, they were firing over 100,000 shells a day; relentless, relentless banging and booming of this tremendous bombardment.
So loud, you could hear it in England, if the wind was in the right direction (60 or 70 miles away). Over million soldiers were killed on both sides only in a single battle of Somme during 1916. The second biggest battle of Verdun was fought at the cost of the French Army, and it is often compared to a sausage machine, because 315,000 Frenchman died.The human kind had never sees such battles throughout the whole history, with so many losses, which was quite shockfull experience for the soldiers who fought the First World War. This war resulted shortages in practically everything, and rising prices. By the end of 1916 America was still not involved in the war. Fateful year of 1917 marked the beginning of the modern world.
Several important events took place in 1917.First and the most important event was the Russian Revolution and the rise of a Communist Power in the World. The same year America enters the war against Germany.
Two great non-European leaders with two different ideas of what is good for humanity emerge, and the European History becomes a World History. Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who was hiding in Switzerland at that time, was helped by some German agents to be able to go to Russia in a sealed train. Germans helped Lenin, because they knew that if the Revolution occurs, the war with Russia would eventually finish.As a matter of fact Lenin and the Bolsheviks takes over the country on November 7, 1917. Everything that was planned by Germans came true and Russians made peace with Germany. The Western front was the only ‘show in town’, and Germans moved all their power from Eastern to a Western Front to break through the line of the enemy. In March of 1918 Russia signed a treaty in Brest-Litovsk which put a formal end to the war and agreed to stop fighting.
Russia was also forced to give up some of its land to the enemy. The war that was supposed to be over by Christmas seemed endless; however, in 1918, after great Franco-American Offensive Germany gave up, and became a liberal Republic.It happened at 11:00 am, on November 11, after 4 years and over 8 million military deaths on both sides. Germany agreed to President Wilson’s 14 points, issued in January 1918 where Germany agreed no to have secret treaties with other countries, most importantly to end submarine warfare and to free the seas, to give up their colonial claims and etc. Germany also had to take the responsibility for the cause of the Great War and accordingly pay reparations to Allies.
By signing the treaty Germany also agreed to disarm, and give up the colonies. The world war one had tremendous consequences on the world.”World War I killed fewer victims than World War II, destroyed fewer buildings, and uprooted millions instead of tens of millions, but in many ways it left even deeper scars both on the mind and on the map of Europe. The Old World never recovered from a shock.
” According to many historians, and in particular Edmond Tailor the trench warfare was the cruelest among all wars since the Ice Age. The reason why historians think that way is because the people of the XIX and early XX century were not ready to this kind of war. People were very optimistic about the future with all the great inventions.
“The last twenty years of the 19th Century, say 1880 to 1900, those years were characterized by an immense optimism. It was thought that public health, invention, the telegraph, the telephone, ultimately the wireless and the radio, were going to civilize human life in a way that it had never been civilized before. And, then, all of a sudden, what happens is ghastly war breaks out and spoils everything.” The inventions that were supposed to improve the standards of living for humanity in fact made the war more tragic.”The age that died in 1914 was a brilliant one – so extravagant in its intellectual and aesthetic endowments that we who have come after can hardly believe in its reality.
” In Eric Remarque’s novel “All Quite on the Western Front” one can clearly see what war had done to the people, especially to the young generation who fought it. The soldiers who fought in the Great War often lost their interest in life. The only significance in the lives of the soldiers was comradeship. Eric Remarque also mentions in his novel what was the opinion of the soldiers about the progress, “We are not youth any longer.
We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing.We fly from ourselves. From our life. ..
The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress.We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.” That was the mentality of the soldier of the Great War.
Nothing in the world meant anything to a soldier, other than the “war”. Remarque also shows in his novel how meaningless was the war for the soldier. There is a place in the novel were Paul kills a French soldier, and feels very guilty about it.
It shows one more time how artificial was the cause of the war. There was no real cause why German would hate a Frenchmen and voiceovers. Erik Remarque shows that when Paul talks to a dead French soldier where he says, “Comrade, to-day you to-morrow me.But if I come out of it, comrade, I will fight against this, that has struck us both down; from you, taken life-and from me-? Life also.” Despite being alive, Paul considers his life without any meaning after all the horrible experiences of the war. All people who came out of the First World War were either physically or psychologically wounded. The impact of the First World War is still with us. In many respects the events of modern Europe are a direct result of what happened in 1914 -1919.
“Had there be a World War I, of course have been no Second ..” Adolph Hitler himself was a product of the First World War.
World War I also gave Lenin an opportunity to overthrow the government in Russia and proclaim communism.