The Great War, 1914–18: Essays on the Military, Political and Social History of the First World War

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There has actually been a flurry of new works on non-white soldiers, but these works tend to connect to discrete national histories rather than to the overall narrative of the war. The multiple new works on the African American soldier experience, for instance, are framed within the context of American history and consequently read by few World War I historians without an interest in the American war experience.

The same can be said of works on African and Indian troops. An Imperial History attempted to place the collective experiences of non-white soldiers into a global framework. Are we overlaying these experiences onto pre-existing interpretative frameworks, or using this scholarship to challenge existing interpretative frameworks? Perhaps Santanu would like to take up this question. In recent years, there has been a big swell of interest in the global nature of the conflict. The global and transnational direction in First World War studies was much-needed and now looks irreversible — no serious scholar can ignore the middle word any more — but we may need to clarify and put more pressure on these terms and approaches.

While there have been some military and social studies, cultural and literary history of the war in the colonial non-white sphere is yet to take off. Or indeed works on the processes of memory or its erasure and memorialization of the First World War. Moreover, the colonial home-front, particularly in Asia and Africa, remains one of the weakest links in First World War history.

Lack of adequate or accessible source-material, coupled with Eurocentricism in the past, is largely responsible. For example, the Indian troops would have had more experiences in common with the Senegalese or Vietnamese troops than with the elite Indian nationalists. I agree with Jay that the national and transnational approaches are compatible and can illuminate each other more fully. What can be sometimes frustrating is that the conceptual categories, focal points and timelines important for Europe are adopted as the parameters to understand non-European war experiences.

The ethnic and cultural diversity of the troops in Ypres Indian, Senegalese, Vietnamese is receiving increasing attention which is excellent, but what about the East African campaign which was ethnically almost equally diverse? The Western Front still dominates popular memory. Moreover, for many countries, the First World War may well not be the defining or the only narrative: think of the Easter Rising in Dublin in or the Amritsar massacre in the Punjab in and how they affect war memory in these countries.

Our research of World War I is still based mostly on national archives, and national archives are designed in a way that fits much better the national history perspective. Of course there are some good comparative research projects, and the famous comparison of Berlin, London and Paris is a good example.

Petersburg Petrograd , Istanbul or Vienna into a similar comparative project would be quite problematic. There are specific difficulties for bringing Russian history — my field of research — into a global history of the war. This endeavor faces special obstacles and has special significance at the same time. There is a great interest in the First World War in contemporary Russia, though that curiosity is shaped mostly by a national history discourse. To some extent many contemporary Russian historians of the war are repeating the earlier stages of the Western historiography.

Some public historians just quote the patriotic discourse of and even use it as a substitute for their own description or analysis. And there is no place for the revolution in such a vision of the war. In such an environment the special emphasis on the Eastern front in contemporary research has multiple aims: it helps to bring the region into the global — and comparative — historiography. At the same time it helps also to bring regional scholars into the international community of historians: they could apply different themes and methods elaborated in classical research of the war, they could benefit from previous discussions instead of repeating them.

Until the last third of the twentieth century the history of the First World War was primarily written as a political and military history.

What recent trends do you notice about contemporary research on the First World War? Is there a renaissance of political history and diplomatic history and a return towards former topics, such as the question of war guilt cf. Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers? Are new general trends like the history of the senses, emotions, or objects also reflected in the research on the Great War — or should they be? Jennifer Keene: In one of the most fruitful new methodological trends, cultural and social historians have redefined what constitutes political history.

In time of war, every action in some respect can be considered a political act. This new approach has permanently altered our understanding of how societies mobilized, governments governed, and armies fought. Break-through studies have detailed how implicit negotiations between officers and men defined the terms of obedience and discipline, putting a new spin on the lingering question of whether soldiers were coerced or consented to fight.

Some questions, such as the origins of the war or who was responsible for the ultimate victory, remain with us in part because a conclusive answer seems elusive. Nonetheless the insights provided by social and cultural history have permanently altered how historians collectively approach these questions. Similarly, the question of who won the war now encompasses not just victories on the battlefields or at the peace conferences, but also the postwar commemorative cultures that arose in belligerent nations.

One exciting methodological trend centers on contextualizing and dissecting iconographic and material objects. Historians are now scrutinizing posters, postcards, and photographs to ascertain the politics behind their creation, dissemination and consumption. The visual conversations that occurred within communities about the war offer yet another method for connecting the social experience of war to the politics dictating its prosecution.

In Belgian women embroidered flour sacks as gifts for the American farm communities that had donated the flour to alleviate civilian sufferings in occupied areas. When these farmers in turn displayed these sacks in their town shop windows, they were making a political statement about what role they believed a then-neutral America should play in the war. These types of investigations into material culture force us to acknowledge that political leaders and citizens shared the power to define what neutrality meant.

At present, the historiography of the war is seeing a revival of interest in the civilian experience of the conflict — taking over from the focus on the combatant experience in the s. There is major interest in the experience of civilians as refugees, internees in camps, deportees and also as populations enduring enemy occupation.

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This is particularly the case for the Eastern front. Civilian suffering has also come to the forefront with the recent integration of the history of the Armenian genocide into the history of the First World War. Indeed, historians are now considering the extent to which the civilian sufferings of the Russian Civil War, the Polish-Soviet War and the Greco-Turkish War are also part of a continuum of Great War violence that exploded into these later conflicts. In part this is because since the collapse of Communism we can research beyond Western Europe where most of the fighting was restricted to battlefields: the high death rates of Serbian and Italian civilians in Austro-Hungarian internment camps, for example, can now be studied.

More broadly, in terms of methodology the social history of the war, which pioneered the bottom-up approach in the s and s, morphed, in the s, into cultural history in much of Western Europe, and has since dominated First World War historiography. However, this dominance has varied greatly from country to country: in Italy, for example, social history approaches remained strong. The current dominance of cultural history approaches in First World War Studies overall is unlikely to change but throughout the past forty years, political histories have continued to be published and remained very popular in British academia particular, but also in the United States.

This trend is likely to continue as it relates closely to cultural history methodologies more generally which still dominate in Germany, France, Ireland, Belgium and, to a lesser extent, in Britain. Santanu Das: First World War studies today are characterized by a variety of methodical approaches — military, political, cultural, anthropological, literary, sociological — and each has its own distinct importance. The other is the comparative and interdisciplinary dimension. The work of Jay Winter and John Horne, among others, has played a key role in both. Thankfully it is not a Darwinian struggle: one kind of history does not have to supplant another but each rather helps the other for a fuller understanding.

Moreover, with reference to the recovery of the experiences and memories of colonial troops and labourers — many of whom were non-literate — as well as women in those countries, we need to go far beyond official colonial archives, and devise fresh methodologies nuanced to specific sources and contexts. The emotional and sensuous dimensions are fundamental, I believe, to understanding war, particularly combat, experience — and this is not new. Think of the letters and what moves us about them. This is one of the reasons for the singular power and popularity of war literature, particularly the poetry of Owen and Sassoon which, some historians fear, has almost hijacked First World War memory.

Interestingly it was the literary critic Paul Fussell who with his seminal if controversial book The Great War and Modern Memory may be said to have introduced cultural history to First World War studies, particularly literary criticism. Jay Winter in Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning took issue with its thesis and powerfully pushed it into much wider and comparative directions, thus inaugurating a new phase of WW1 cultural history and memory studies.

One of the reasons for the enduring value of both books is their deeply humane and emotive dimension. Rather than announcing their name, they are gathered into the texture of writing, into the art of evocation. I had a similar aim in Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature where I tried at once to evoke and analyze the emotional and sensuous dimensions of trench warfare and the hospitals.

I realized how central were the touch, feel, smell of particular objects, places, persons to the soldiers and nurses — they pervade their diaries, letters, memoirs, poems, interviews and often structure memory more deeply than maps or battles or places. Boris Kolonitskii: I think that rhythms of intellectual activity — and changes of intellectual fashions — are different in different regions, and that Russian historiography is a good example.

From the s on Soviet scholars were traditionally interested in the history of industrial workers and — to a lesser extent — in peasant history. Of course this type of social history was dominated by a Soviet style Marxist approach, rather dogmatic in its method and partisan in its conclusions. Many history writings resembled political propaganda pamphlets. However, even within such ideological constraints some scholars managed to do serious research based on archival sources. Economic history of the war was also popular in Soviet times.

The first World War: the aftermath

Other historians studied Russian political elites in a serious way though decorating their texts with multiple quotations of Lenin though sometimes it was just necessary mimicry in order to overcome the censorship. Unfortunately they were not translated into foreign languages. But some Western scholars of Russian history were influenced by their projects and therefore some Soviet historians could participate — though indirectly — in the international exchange of ideas. The fall of Communism changed the intellectual landscape of the field dramatically; it was influenced by the relative freedom from censorship and the direct impact of new intellectual trends.

Many scholars continued to study Russian political elites; and sometimes they were much more sympathetic towards monarchy and Nicholas II himself. At the same time when social and economic history became less and less popular, it became clear that for many scholars such themes were previously imposed by Soviet academic authorities.

This trend coincided also with a time when social history became less central within other academic cultures in different countries. Foreign policy and the issue of war guilt are still extremely important issues in the contemporary Russian context. In the s Soviet scholars did their best to stress the war guilt of the Tsarist government, and Soviet historians published Russian diplomatic documents in a very explicit way — it was a big political project cooperation between Soviet and German publication projects that involved historians, archivists, and politicians from both sides deserves special research.

However some important Russian scholars challenged the dominant Bolshevik historical discourse about war guilt, inspiring serious discussions, though at the beginning of the s ideological control and political censorship increased. The big Soviet publication of diplomatic documents was interrupted by the war, and it was never resumed afterwards — because of the different political environment.

The general politics of memory mentioned above and the currently dominant historical discourse also do not encourage scholars to cultivate that field. Unfortunately the quality of some recent Western books devoted to the Russian guilt cannot provoke serious discussion either — there are too many shortcomings that make the main theses of the authors too vulnerable. I am afraid of being too pessimistic but I do not expect new interesting projects in the field of the history of Russian foreign policy in contemporary Russia, though some interesting facts could be published e.

I am more optimistic about such fields as internal politics, culture and history of emotions though for different reasons young serious history students do not make the history of the Great War the topic of their research. And there are some recent Russian books devoted to everyday life within the catastrophe, to the history of violence, representations and rumors. Gerhard Hirschfeld: The cultural turn of WW1 historiography began during the early s. Twenty years later this approach has been widely acknowledged and its methodological tools and requirements have been largely accepted.

By and large, concepts of cultural histories mark the plural! The long time existing gap between the old style social history and the new cultural history encompassing inter alia the histories of mentalities, gender, masculinity, senses and emotions has for the most part been bridged due to the more recent adaptation of cultural and performative concepts performative turn by social historians. Whether the cultural paradigm has therefore become the new orthodoxy, as some scholars have suggested, is still a matter of debate. These mostly unpublished sources continue to form the basis for the writing of cultural histories besides all kinds of visualized representations of the war like private photos or drawings.

Besides the dominant cultural historical interpretations and narratives of the Great War there always were and still are a number of very successful attempts to write more conventional, though basically sound and solid, political and diplomatic histories — mostly undertaken by Anglo-American scholars and writers. The elegantly written, skillfully observed, though rather morally argued, diplomatic epos The Sleepwalkers by the Australian born, Cambridge based historian Christopher Clark clearly belongs to this honourable, publically as well as commercially enormously successful genre and tradition.

This historical question has ultimately been laid to rest. Long-term significance and evaluation in contemporary history. Due to the shift of horizons in contemporary history to more recent issues like the overthrow of Communism, the history of the First World War has receded further into the past.

Does this conflict remain interesting in the early twenty-first century? Which overall developments of the twentieth century can reasonably be attributed or related to the First World War — such as the competition between liberal democracy, Communism and Fascism or the attempt at juridification and moralization of international relations? Heather Jones: There is no doubt that the Great War has become more distant since the turn of the twenty-first century in terms of popular awareness. So a generational gap is developing, with younger generations less aware of the conflict and its history.

There is what might be termed a growing historical deficit emerging in youth culture among the web generation who rely on Google rather than learned dates and who spend little time with the elderly, listening to their stories. This declining knowledge of the war is less true for France where there is enormous public interest in the conflict, which continues to grow and spans all generations. For other states, such as Germany or Poland, the First World War has always been largely overshadowed by the Second and it has never had the same degree of public remembrance as it did in Britain or Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

For the United States, the war remains, in comparison to the Civil War, the Second World War or Vietnam, the poor relation in terms of public awareness and interest. The challenge for historians in all countries — and it is a real one — is to engage the unders in the subject.

There is no doubt that the First World War was the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century from which fascism and Communism sprang, but the unders do not remember a Europe divided by Communism — in fact the current generation of undergraduates, born in or barely remember the twentieth century! So we need to stop assuming they feel a strong personal connection with the twentieth century; the war is a long time ago for them and the century they identify with is the twenty-first. In terms of what overall developments of the twentieth century can reasonably be attributed or related to the First World War, I think there is no doubt that the war interrupted very interesting, significant developments in liberal democracy and globalization that were occurring in the decade leading up to , such as suffrage reform and the rise of a kind of moderate social democracy.

It also allowed particularly virulent forms of radical nationalism that were on the rise around to become dominant after However, the First World War also gave rise to new ideas about European integration, collective security through a League of Nations, destroyed the credibility of dynastic rule, and accelerated pre new trends towards decolonization, international law and racial equality — and these were the trends that ultimately had come to dominate by the end of the twentieth century.

Jay Winter: Unlike Heather, I believe that the Great War is still alive not just in academic writing but also in public discourse. The main reason for this is the overlap between family history and military history. The centenary of the outbreak of the war matters because millions of family narratives about the war get told from grandmother to grandchild to this day. After all, the grandmothers of today grew up in the shadow of the Great War.

Secondly, the institutionalization of war narratives in museums has kept the Great War in the public eye. My work in France and in Australia has reinforced my view that the Great War is a major presence in the life of young people, who learn about it from their grandparents, over the head of that difficult generation — their parents — in the middle.

These family stories are transmitted independently of the work of historians. Indeed, what we scholars write matters little to these microhistorical family circles, but that is not the same as saying that the war matters little. These small family collectives create collective memory, just as Maurice Halbwachs wrote 90 years ago, and that collective memory is very much alive in a number of places. Not everywhere to be sure, and there are some places where talk of the Great War is virtually absent, but in Western Europe, in Canada, in the Antipodes, the Great War as a family story is very much alive.

To some extent the fall of Communism made that task even more urgent, because it is important for several post-Soviet countries to elaborate a new attitude towards revolution. It is difficult to separate the history of war from the history of the Russian revolution, but that is exactly the way some historians structure their narratives. While speaking about Bolshevism some historians ignore the impact of political and economic, social and cultural conditions of the war on all sides of the Russian Civil War. Other scholars try to trace these roots of the Red and White policies which were influenced by the experience of the Great War.

Therefore it is important to overcome the symbolic watershed of Gerhard Hirschfeld: The thesis of a second Thirty Years War between and first expressed by General Charles de Gaulle during his exile years in London and later popularized by Raymond Aron in the s rests on the assumption that the First World War formed the seedbed for the following one. Of course, there has not been an uncontested continuity from one war to the other — politicians as well as peoples during the interbellum certainly had political options — but neither the Bolshevist revolution nor the rise of Fascism and National Socialism would have been conceivable without the experience and the outcome of WW1.

Thus the two wars historically belong together and they explain each other. Besides, both world wars are inextricably linked by a number of historical phenomena: both were mass industrialized wars characterized by a common and lasting experience of uncontrolled and excessive violence, death and destruction. Both wars saw an expansion of the means and methods of warfare including new and powerful military technology and weapons, but also a total Entgrenzung delimitation of the war into all areas of human lives. This delimitation reached its apogee during the First World War with the deportations and mass killings of the Armenian population in , while the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews, presented yet another excelled aggravation during the Second World War.

During the Second World War many German soldiers still harboured powerful images and perceptions of the First World War, in particular the Kosakeneinfall the invasion of Cossacks into East Prussia in August with an ensuing widespread fear of Russian soldiers. As we enter the centennial years, colonial service in the First World War is attracting a lot of attention and not just within academia. I have been present in some of the screenings and I am always struck by the intensity of the discussions and debates that followed, particularly from members of the diasporic and ethnic communities who rightly feel that their contributions have so far been largely invisible.

In many ways, we are still living out the political legacies of the First World War but I would briefly like to mention some of its cultural legacies. One of the main things which keeps the First World War alive — generation after generation and in large parts of the world — is its literature. The poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are not just objects of cultural memory but are part of the structure of feeling of growing up for many people in the English-speaking world.

For example I read their poetry in Calcutta and it drew me to the history of the war — and I see that happening with countless others.


Jennifer Keene: It almost goes without saying that the war redefined the history of the twentieth century, leading in one way or another to the rise of communism, fascism, the end of empire, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. With these historic developments fading in importance, does the war continue to be relevant to understanding contemporary history?

The answer is yes, perhaps more so than ever. Suddenly the war once again offers important cautionary tales about the diplomatic and political missteps that caused a catastrophic, and likely, unnecessary war in The cascade of events following September 11, that led to a wider war with tremendous civilian suffering and an unclear political resolution recalls the blunders of diplomacy in the summer of when expectations of a short war proved erroneous. The violent civil wars that greeted the dissolution of empires in — suddenly interest us anew, inviting comparisons to present-day conflicts in the Middle East.

The resurgence of ethnic nationalism, the psychological trauma experienced by veterans, and the concerns over the use of chemical weapons all have parallels with the — tragedy. Remembrance and the Politics of Memory. The First World War is not only a subject of historical research but also of public memory and the politics of memory. Yet, the Great War has remained stronger in the collective recollection of some nations than in others, where it was overshadowed by the remembrance of World War II. How do you see recent developments of memorialization and musealization?

Can we, for example, speak of a Europeanization or even internationalization of memory? What function in the politics of memory does the public remembrance of the Great War have today — a century after its outbreak? How do historical research on and public perception of the Great War relate to one another in general? Jay Winter: There are three memory regimes in the world today: in the Western European memory regime, the Great War and the Second World War form one story of disaster; the balance between the two is unstable, but both matter to large publics.

There are screen memories of the conflict, but always filtered by the later conflict and by Stalinism. Some steps have been taken, particularly in Poland, to commemorate if not the war, then the war of independence after it, but these are bound to remain small efforts compared to the massive presence of the Second World War. In the third memory regimes, in Asia, the Great War is virtually non-existent.

Again, there are minor steps being taken to mark the centenary of the war, but these are virtually inaudible alongside the chorus of voices commemorating the Second World War. In China, so far as a brief visit showed me, the Holocaust is virtually unknown.

The war against Japan occupies not the centre stage, but the entire stage of remembrance. Gerhard Hirschfeld: Already during, but more so after the Second World War with its hecatombs of lives, cut-off biographies and enormous scale of destruction, the First World War lost its central memorial position in German society.

America in World War I: Crash Course US History #30

Meanwhile, although population growth continued during the war years, it was only half that of the prewar rate. Per capita incomes also declined sharply, failing by 16 percent. South Africa's main economic role was in the supply of two-thirds of the gold production in the British Empire most of the remainder came from Australia. When the war began Bank of England officials worked with the government of South Africa to block any gold shipments to Germany, and force the mine owners to sell only to the Treasury, at prices set by the Treasury.

This facilitated purchases of munitions and food in the U. S, and other neutrals. By London lost control to the mining companies which were now backed by the South African government. They wanted the higher prices and sales to New York that a free market would provide. The Germans invaded Belgium at the start of the war and Belgium remained occupied for the entire war. There was both large-scale spontaneous militant and passive resistance. Over a 1. Belgium was heavily industrialized; while farms operated and small shops stayed open some large establishments shut down or drastically reduced their output.

The faculty closed the universities; many publishers shut down their newspapers. Most Belgians "turned the four war years into a long and extremely dull vacation," according to Kossmann. Germany then stripped some factories of useful machinery, and used the rest as scrap iron for its steel mills. At the start of war, silver 5 franc coins were collected and melted down by the National Bank to augment its silver reserves. It shipped in large quantities of food and medical supplies, which it tried to reserve for civilians and keep out of the hands of the Germans.

The government set up judicial proceedings to punish the collaborators. New resources were opened, especially copper mining in Katanga Province. The war caused a heavy demand for copper, and production soared from tons in to 27, tons in , then fell off to 19, tons in Smelters operate at Elisabethville. Before the war the copper was sold to Germany and, in order to prevent loss of capacity, the British purchased all the Congo's wartime output with the revenues going to the Belgian government in exile. Diamond and gold mining also expanded during the war.

The Anglo-Dutch firm Lever Bros. New rail and steamship lines opened to handle the expanded export traffic. But thousands of little factories opened up across France, hiring women, youth, elderly, disabled veterans, and behind the lines soldiers. Algerian and Vietnamese laborers were brought in. Plants produced , 75mm shells a day. Considerable relief came with the influx of American food, money and raw materials in The economy was supported after by American government loans which were used to purchase foods and manufactured goods.

The arrival of over a million American soldiers in brought heavy spending for food and construction materials. France's diverse regions suffered in different ways. There was a permanent loss of population caused by battle deaths and emigration. The economy of Algeria was severely disrupted. Internal lines of communication and transportation were disrupted, and shipments of the main export, cheap wine, had to be cut back. Crime soared as French forces were transferred to the Western Front, and there was rioting in the province of Batna.

Shortages mounted, inflation soared, banks cut off credit, and the provincial government was ineffective. The French government floated four war bond issues on the London market and raised 55 million pounds. These bonds were denominated in francs instead of pounds or gold, and were not guaranteed against exchange rate fluctuations. After the war the franc lost value and British bondholders tried, and failed, to get restitution.

However its dealings became strained because of growing misunderstandings between the Wall Street bankers and French bankers and diplomats. French colonies supplied workers for munitions factories and other jobs in France. A famous example was Ho Chi Minh who worked in Paris, and was highly active in organizing fellow Vietnamese, and even demanding a voice for them at the Paris Peace Conference in The French army enlisted hundreds of thousands of colonials. From Africa came , soldiers, of whom , fought on the Western front. The rapid unplanned buildup of French military operations in Africa disrupted normal trade relations and all the colonies, especially disrupting food supplies for the cities and distorting the local labor markets.

French administrators, focused on supporting the armies on the Western Front, disregarded or suppressed protest movements. The Russian economy was far too backward to sustain a major war, and conditions deteriorated rapidly, despite financial aid from Britain. By late there was a severe shortage of artillery shells. The very large but poorly equipped Russian army fought tenaciously and desperately despite its poor organisation and lack of munitions.

Casualties were enormous. By , many soldiers were sent to the front unarmed, and told to pick up whatever weapons they could from the battlefield. A show of national unity had accompanied Russia's entrance into the war, with defense of the Slavic Serbs the main battle cry. In the summer of , the Duma and the zemstva expressed full support for the government's war effort.

The initial conscription was well organized and peaceful, and the early phase of Russia's military buildup showed that the empire had learned lessons from the Russo-Japanese War. But military reversals and the government's incompetence soon soured much of the population. Enemy control of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea severed Russia from most of its foreign supplies and markets.

Russia had not prepared for a major war and reacted very slowly as problems mounted in Inflation became a serious problem. Because of inadequate material support for military operations, the War Industry Committees were formed to ensure that necessary supplies reached the front.

But army officers quarreled with civilian leaders, seized administrative control of front areas, and refused to cooperate with the committee. The central government distrusted the independent war support activities that were organized by zemstva and cities. The Duma quarreled with the war bureaucracy of the government, and center and center-left deputies eventually formed the Progressive Bloc to create a genuinely constitutional government.

While the central government was hampered by court intrigue, the strain of the war began to cause popular unrest.

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Food shortages increasingly impacted urban areas, caused by military purchases, transportation bottlenecks, financial confusion, and administrative mismanagement. Food riots became more common and more violent, and ready the angry populace for withering political attacks on the czarist regime. The countryside also was becoming restive.

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Soldiers were increasingly insubordinate, particularly the newly recruited peasants who faced the prospect of being used as cannon fodder in the inept conduct of the war. The bad situation continued to deteriorate. Increasing conflict between the tsar and the Duma destroyed popular and elite support for the old regime. In early , deteriorating rail transport caused acute food and fuel shortages, which resulted in escalating riots and strikes.

Authorities summoned troops to quell the disorders in Petrograd as St. Petersburg had been called since September , to Russianize the Germanic name. In troops had fired on demonstrators and saved the monarchy, but in the troops turned their guns over to the angry crowds. Public support for the tsarist regime simply evaporated in , ending three centuries of Romanov rule. Italy joined the Allies in , but was poorly prepared for war. Loans from Britain paid for nearly all its war expenses.

The Italian army of , men was poorly led and lacked heavy artillery and machine guns. The industrial base was too small to provide adequate amounts of modern equipment, and the old-fashioned rural base did not produce much of a food surplus. Before the war the government had ignored labor issues, but now it had to intervene to mobilize war production. With the main working-class Socialist party reluctant to support the war effort, strikes were frequent and cooperation was minimal, especially in the Socialist strongholds of Piedmont and Lombardy.

The government imposed high wage scales, as well as collective bargaining and insurance schemes. The workforce at the Ansaldo munitions company grew from 6, to , as it manufactured 10, artillery pieces, 3, warplanes, 95 warships and 10 million artillery shells. At Fiat the workforce grew from 4, to 40, Inflation doubled the cost of living.

Industrial wages kept pace but not wages for farm workers. Discontent was high in rural areas since so many men were taken for service, industrial jobs were unavailable, wages grew slowly and inflation was just as bad. In terms of munitions production, the 15 months after April involved an amazing parade of mistakes, misguided enthusiasm, and confusion. Americans were willing enough, but they did not know their proper role. Wilson was unable to figure out what to do when, or even to decide who was in charge. Typical of the confusion was the coal shortage that hit in December Because coal was by far the most major source of energy and heat, a grave crisis ensued.

There was in fact plenty of coal being mined, but 44, loaded freight and coal cars were tied up in horrendous traffic jams in the rail yards of the East Coast. Two hundred ships were waiting in New York harbor for cargo that was delayed by the mess. The solution included nationalizing the coal mines and the railroads for the duration, shutting down factories one day a week to save fuel, and enforcing a strict system of priorities. Only in March did Wilson finally take control of the crisis [64]. The war saw many women gaining access to and taking on jobs traditionally assigned to men. Many worked on the assembly lines of factories, producing trucks and munitions.

The morale of the women remained high, as millions join the Red Cross as volunteers to help soldiers and their families. With rare exceptions, the women did not protest the draft. Samuel Gompers , head of the AFL, and nearly all labor unions were strong supporters of the war effort. They minimized strikes as wages soared and full employment was reached.

The AFL unions strongly encouraged their young men to enlist in the military, and fiercely opposed efforts to reduce recruiting and slow war production by the anti-war labor union called the Industrial Workers of the World IWW and also left-wing Socialists. The AFL membership soared to 2. In , the Union tried to make their gains permanent and called a series of major strikes in meat, steel and other industries.

The strikes, all of which failed, forced unions back to their position around While Germany rapidly mobilized its soldiers, it had to improvise the mobilization of the civilian economy for the war effort. It was severely handicapped by the British blockade that cut off food supplies, machinery and raw materials. Walter Rathenau played the key role in convincing the War Ministry to set up the War Raw Materials Department Kriegsrohstoffabteilung—"KRA" ; he was in charge of it from August to March and established the basic policies and procedures.

His senior staff were on loan from industry. KRA focused on raw materials threatened by the British blockade , as well as supplies from occupied Belgium and France. It set prices and regulated the distribution to vital war industries. It began the development of ersatz raw materials. KRA suffered many inefficiencies caused by the complexity and selfishness KRA encountered from commerce, industry, and the government. Cartels were created and small firms merged into larger ones for greater efficiency and ease of central control. Even though there is a believe that the inequality among the German population only increased during the WW1 , a number of studies have shown the opposite.

It was proved that the income of the majority of the enterprises declined proportionally to the loss in the real wage. Moreover, the international corporate profits e. The only companies that have undergone the rise in profits were related to the chemical , metal and machinery industries. The military took an increasingly dominant role in setting economic priorities and in direct control of vital industries.

It was usually inefficient, but it performed very well in aircraft. The army set prices and wages, gave out draft exemptions, guaranteed the supply of credit and raw materials, limited patent rights, and supervised management—labor relationships. The industry expanded very rapidly with high quality products and many innovations, and paid wages well above the norm for skilled workers. Eight national war loans reached out to the entire population and raised million marks. It proved almost impossible to borrow money from outside.

The national debt rose from only 5 billion marks in to billion in These bonds became worthless in because of hyperinflation. As the war went on conditions deteriorated rapidly on the home front, with severe food shortages reported in all urban areas by Causes involved the transfer of many farmers and food workers into the military, an overburdened railroad system, shortages of coal, and the British blockade that cut off imports from abroad. The winter of — was known as the "turnip winter", because that vegetable, usually fed to livestock, was used by people as a substitute for potatoes and meat, which were increasingly scarce.

Thousands of soup kitchens were opened to feed the hungry people, who grumbled that the farmers were keeping the food for themselves.

The Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945

Even the army had to cut the rations for soldiers. Morale of both civilians and soldiers continued to sink. In the Ottoman Empire Turkish nationalists took control before the war began. They drove out Greeks and Armenians who had been the backbone of the business community, replacing them with ethnic Turks who were given favorable contracts but who lacked the international connections, credit sources, and entrepreneurial skills needed for business. Turkish wheat was in high demand, but transportation was rudimentary and not much of it reached Germany. The war cut off imports except from Germany.

Prices quadrupled.

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The Germans provided loans and supplied the army with hardware, especially captured Belgian and Russian equipment. Other supplies were in short supply; the soldiers were often in rags. Medical services were very bad and illness and death rates were high. Most of the Ottoman soldiers deserted when they had the opportunity, so the force level shrank from a peak strength of , in to only , in The Austro-Hungarian monarchical personal union of the two countries was a result of the Compromise of Kingdom of Hungary lost its former status after the Hungarian Revolution of However following the reforms, the Austrian and the Hungarian states became co-equal within the Empire.

In comparison with Germany and Britain, the Austro-Hungarian economy lagged behind considerably, as sustained modernization had begun much later in Austria-Hungary. The Empire built up the fourth-largest machine building industry of the world, after the United States , Germany, and Britain. Except for the Pragmatic Sanction of , common laws never existed in the Empire of Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. There was no common citizenship: one was either an Austrian citizen or a Hungarian citizen, never both.

However, by the end of the 19th century, economic differences gradually began to even out as economic growth in the eastern parts of the Empire consistently surpassed that in the western. The strong agriculture and food industry of the Kingdom of Hungary with the centre of Budapest became predominant within the empire and made up a large proportion of the export to the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, western areas, concentrated mainly around Prague and Vienna, excelled in various manufacturing industries. This division of labour between the east and west, besides the existing economic and monetary union , led to an even more rapid economic growth throughout Austria-Hungary by the early 20th century. Austria could preserve its dominance within the empire in the sectors of the first industrial revolution , but Hungary had a better position in the industries of the second industrial revolution , in these modern industrial sectors the Austrian competition could not become overwhelming.

The empire's heavy industry had mostly focused on machine building, especially for the electric power industry , locomotive industry and automotive industry , while in light industry the precision mechanics industry was the most dominant.