Essay on Was World War I a total war?

Good Essays

Was World War One a total war? Why? Why not? The First World War of 1914-1918, also known as the Great War, was the first total war in history. What began as a European struggle over the balance of power between the triple alliance of France, Britain and Russia on one side and the central powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other, soon became a global conflict that involved the imperial powers of Europe, their colonies and lands such as the Ottoman Empire, Japan and the United States. Although the sheer number of countries involved in the conflict is enough to describe the First World War as a mass war, what makes it total is the fact that it was waged not only against the enemy’s armies, but also against the civilian …show more content…

Such propaganda included posters asking people to “Wake up America! Civilisation calls every man, woman and child!” A British poster that emphasises the involvement of the total population in the war effort shows different kinds of people engaging in war responsibilities – men at battle, women in the workforce making uniforms, men making weapons – and it asks “Are YOU in this?” This kind of all-embracing propaganda had the aim to brainwash whole nations. The combination of the public’s thirst for information about the war and various governments’ urgent need to mobilise entire civilian populations for the war effort led to a moulding of the public’s thinking through the printed word. In Germany, for example, the military had the right to censor the press and any information that could distress the people was suppressed, while unfavourable news about a situation on the front was passed over silence, delayed or toned down. This was the same in Britain and France. The First World War was total because propaganda and censored news were used as weapons that could reach whole populations and intervene into everyday lives. Even though not all people were physically involved in battle, even children could look at a newspaper or propaganda poster and feel the impact of war through words that evoke fear, sadness, anger or give the urge to join the army. The First World War was total because every area of the economy was focused on one aim -

Get Access