World War I was one of the most large-scale weapon conflicts in the world history. The name “World War I” was established only after the beginning of the World War II. According to the official version, the main motive for this war was the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in June 1914. However, this version is still debated in the historical circles. No matter what the reasons of this war were, one thing is certain, it involved almost half of the world and ruined lives of millions of people.
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The conflict arose among two powerful alliances: the Central Power and the Allies, “since the Great War of 1914-18 was fought, on all the oceans of the world and ultimately involved belligerents from every continent, it can justifiably be termed a “world war” (Howard 1) Millions of people were killed on both sides and it influenced lives of many people involving all aspects of modern society. It affected both soldiers and civilians alike, no matter to what nation or culture they belonged. In this paper, we are going to discuss how the World War I affected live of people and what was the life of soldiers and civilians serving and living on the frontlines.
The war is considered to be “a men business”, however, it is too farfetched to assume that only grown-up men served on the frontlines and participated in battles. There were many children under the age of 18 who took weapons and served as soldiers. There were many women who served as nurses in the frontlines and there were women who took weapon and fought for their native land. The war brought many violence, grief and death in peoples’ lives. Many people died as heroes, many people died accidentally and many people died because of the terrible conditions of life. The war influenced all aspects of the social life changing people’s lives, way of thinking and perception of the better world.
Civilians who lived on the home fronts faced all the horrors of war; they were witnesses of mass killings, disappearance, home destructions, hunger, etc.
The war was extremely expensive for civilian people. They had to pay for the war debts. People could not cover these expenses and many people could not earn a living and suicide because of despair. When the voluntary service was introduced, many patriotic people joined the army. Thus, numerous workers left their professions and production of vital good suffered. Such situation brought many drawbacks for the industry and governments of many countries were forced to return people on their work places. People volunteered into the armed forces because they could not earn their living in the home fronts and it was the only way to survive (or, actually, die).
The number of crimes also rose. People killed for food and clothes. Many people shared the philosophy that “each day might be the last, and why not enjoy life today when tomorrow there might be a burial without coffin, without anything except regret… (Heyman 201). The war influenced not only all social sides of peoples’ lives, but their moral and ethical principles. The face of world changed.
Soldiers serving on the frontlines had to suffer not only battles, inconveniences, bad medical treatment and diseases. As an example, the live of soldiers in the trenches can be described. “Death was a constant companion to those serving in the line, even when no raid or attack was launched or defended against” (Duffy n. p.). Many soldiers died when the trenches were just built. They died because of the sniper’s bullets. Rat infestation was another reason for many deaths, as there were millions of them in the trenches and they were very big ones. Soldiers were afraid of them. The other sources of infection were lice and frogs. Lies were the reason of the Trench Fever, a very painful disease that brought away lives of many soldiers. In such terrible conditions, soldiers had to spend for weeks under the watch of enemy snipers.
The anti-sanitarian conditions of life were not the only difficulty that soldiers faced. Strict orders and rules were laid upon them. If someone left the trench for some reason or was wounded trying to carry out the order, he was accused of being a coward.
Technology introduced new weapons. However, it was not perfect and caused deaths of enemy soldiers, as well as soldiers who used it. Soldiers used light machine guns and pistols while helmets were their only protection from bullets. Moreover, the General Headquarters relied on new weapon, rather than on logic and strategy that caused many more deaths. Finally, soldiers suffered great psychological traumas.
Thus, the World War I was a great disaster for millions of people. It brought great and irrevocable changes into their lives, no matter if they were civilians living on the home fronts or soldiers serving on the frontlines. Men, women and children suffered diseases, death of close people, hunger and numerous killing caused by fear and despair.
Duffy, Michael. Life in the Trenches. A Multimedia History of World War One, 2009. Web.
Heyman, Neil M. World War I. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997.
Howard, Michael. The First World War: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.