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The History of Great War Essay

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Updated: Aug 26th, 2019

World war one also known as the Great War took place between 1915 and 1918. It involved the major powers of Europe of that time (Henig, 2002). Its causes were as varied as the nations involved in the war. But it is widely believed that it was a battle for supremacy.

The Germans wanted to exert their authority in Europe but the British resisted them (Henig, 2002). The war had a major impact on what is known today as the western culture. It introduced a new perspective of war into Europe. War was widely regarded afterwards as undesirable.

One of the most prominent lessons for humanity from the war was that war always wins (Fusell, 1975). The magnitude of destruction that this war left behind was enormous. To begin with, millions of soldiers were involved in this war. Several hundred thousands died in the war and other large numbers of soldiers were maimed.

It has been argued that the lifespan of a British fighter pilot at the time was reduced to a couple of days (Chikering, Forster, Greiner, 2005). Civilians were not spared either. Many people who did not directly take part in the war often found themselves in the middle of heavy fighting. Empires collapsed and others almost collapsed.

The war left a trail of destruction in Europe (Chikering, Forster, Greiner, 2005). There was no clear winner amongst humankind. It seemed like war had won because in more ways than one war had retained its destructive nature. The Great War turned out to be more expensive than earlier anticipated. The realization that war was causing more harm than good might have prompted the warring sides to seek peace.

After the war, attempts to nurture long lasting peace were made. For instance, the League of Nations, a precursor of the current day United Nations was formed. This was a reaction to the realization that future wars would be more expensive and more destructive.

The Great War also clearly brought out the irony of war (Fusell, 1975). War is a punishment for a wrong committed against a nation or a country yet it is also a wrong in itself. The nations which took part in this war wanted to punish their enemies.

A country would invade another country because it failed to sign a peace treaty with them or was friendly to an enemy state. A lot of innocent lives were lost during these invasions. Therefore, war became a punishment for a crime and a crime by and in itself.

World war one was a dividing line between ideals of the warring nations. This war demonstrated the sadism and brutality of humankind. War may make soldiers impulsive and brutal. It is clear that in the Great War the enemy was always demonized giving rise to two sharply divided sides. In World War One it appears that the urge to fight was drawn from already established divisions.

This division was similar in manner and character to the ‘us versus them’ ideals that characterized other previous and later wars. However, it has been observed that these ideals were not unique to world war one. It is human nature to put forth some divisions based on certain ideals. Therefore, world war one was just a reflection of human nature.

The truth was largely hidden from the public during World War One. The purveyors of information did not want the public to find out how much the war had cost. This information would have encouraged public resistance of the war. Withholding information was a powerful tool of war. During the war, propaganda became an integral part of fighting the enemy.

Each side wanted to be seen at home as the winner. What the public got to know was seriously controlled by the governments of the time. It was thought that sharing of casualty information freely would affect the number of recruits to the armies. The nations at war needed more military personnel owing to the heavy losses each had suffered.

The Great War represented a pivotal point in the development of military technology. Before world war one military technology had developed at a slow rate. Nevertheless, by the time it begun military technology had become more lethal than before. There was an arms race between the warring sides to develop the best weapons at that time during the war.

This prompted particularly the Great Britain and Germany to invest heavily on military development. By the time the war ended, tactics had shifted to reflect the new developments. For example, this war saw the introduction of war planes or fighter jets. The use of planes revolutionized the war. It conferred an enormous advantage over ground troops.

Early forms of chemical warfare began to emerge during the Great War. Poisonous gasses were developed and used to annihilate the enemy. There was also a contest for naval supremacy.

The British and Germans battled at sea. Of particular importance are the design, construction, and use of submarines towards the end of the war. World war one also provided an opportunity to test new innovations. The war saw the emergence and the use of the machine gun.

New developments in military technology brought old war tactics to an end. The war was largely fought in trenches because the available technology could not break the protection they offered. However, as hand grenades and tankers were developed, the trenches become vulnerable.

In the trenches troops had been organized in groups of hundred individuals. However, with new realities troops were now organized in groups of ten troops each. This was a change that offered both tactical and operational advantage.

World war one eventually spread to other parts of the world. The Great War had begun as a conflict between the powerful nations of Europe. But towards the middle of the war it had attracted many countries. At first it was confined to Europe. As time went by the geographic area in which it was fought expanded. It spread to Africa and Asia. Many of the colonies and protectorates joined the war.

World war one began around 1914 and ended in the late 1918. It was mainly seen as a battle of supremacy between the powers of Europe. It later became a contest between the British and the Germans. The Great War was a dividing line between the powers. It showed that man is sadistic and brutal in nature. The soldiers often demonized the enemy. World war one accelerated the introduction of new military technology.

By the time it ended new military machines and equipment like tankers, machine guns, grenades, planes, and submarines had been introduced. This war marked the beginning of attempts to seek long lasting peace.


Henig, B. (2002). The Origins of the First World War. London: Routledge.

Fusell, P. (1975). The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Chikering, R., Forster, S., Greiner, B. (2005). A world at Total war: Global Conflict and the Politics of Destruction. Cambrige: Cambridge UP.

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