The Economic, Social, and Political Impact of the First World War on Europe

1843 Words 8 Pages
The Economic, Social, and Political Impact of the First World War on Europe

At the end of the First World War in 1918, the economic, social and
political state of Europe was such that the potential rebuilding of
the continent seemed a distant and unrealistic vision.

The war had affected much of Western Europe, in particular France and
Germany, not to mention Belgium, Italy and Austria. In addition vast
regions of Eastern Europe also suffered dearly as Russia’s bloody
involvement in the war took its toll. Consequently over 8 million
people were directly killed in fighting and many more millions were
injured or unaccounted for. It’s no surprise therefore that the
impacts of the war were so strong
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Although the USA was well into its industrialisation programme and its
economy was growing steadfast, the impact of the war effectively
ground Europe’s economy to a halt, thus allowing the US to catch up.
In the period that followed it is estimated that the US economy grew
by triple that of Europe’s in relative terms[2]. As a result
investment in Europe fell, enhancing the problems already facing the
economies of the continent. Newly established Japanese firms decided
to relocate to the US, and many European firms decided to cross the
Atlantic to save their businesses. In addition to moving to the US,
many firms also left for Canada and Australia whose economies were
significantly growing at the time. The impact of this mass movement
was to inflict more misery on the governments of war torn Europe. Less
investment meant less money in the economy and much less to rebuild
with. Inflation rose as the French and in particular German
governments printed more and more money.

Many economies of Europe were somewhat saved by the resurgence and
growth of various industrial sectors. Although industries such as
textiles and shipbuilding were effectively diminished forever,
construction industries and their suppliers grew. Bricks and tools
were needed, and a guaranteed outflow of resources was…