HOW WAS WORLD WAR I DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS WARS IN HISTORY?

Except for Spain, the Netherlands, the three Scandinavian countries and Switzerland, all the European nations were involved in a war which connected the whole world in its violence and suffering.

Troops from other areas-specifically colonies- were also made to fight in this war for countries which ruled over them. For example, Indian soldiers had to fight for Britain outside the territory of India. It is estimated that over three million men came from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India on the side of Britain (Britain ruled over these areas).

The regions involved i. e., the territories of the war zones were also widespread: the war engulfed Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific. For the first time almost the entire people of the world were involved in a war, which they also knew was a world war.

There were new technologies used in warfare, not seen in earlier wars: airplanes, tanks and submarines. But it was fought on the ground in the ordinary way as well and most people remembered it that way later because most images of war depicted soldiers fighting in trenches on ground.

Sea battles took place in the South Atlantic and the Pacific. USA for the first time got involved on a world scale, with more than 100,000 troops on the side of Britain and her allies. The World War led to huge mobilizations of men as soldiers, while women took on many jobs back in the cities and also as nurses in the battle zones.

Governments took many measures to ensure that their own armies do not run short of any supplies. Just as they mobilized men they also mobilized grain for food from peasants. They curtailed workers’ rights to make them work longer hours and for same wages to meet the needs of army equipment and ammunition. There was a rise in prices of food and
articles of daily consumption because major investments were only in industries related to war and other requirements of war.

There was a general sense of despair among people.
We must also remember that there were 10 million who were killed in war or due to hardships caused by war, another 20 million who were wounded, and millions who became refugees or unemployed as towns and industries were destroyed. Homelessness resulted not just on border areas of countries, but all over.

Civilian populations were involved and became casualties for the first time in war history: bombings of civilian areas, and the famines and epidemics caused by war, led to millions of civilian deaths.
When it began most people thought the war would be short: it lasted four years. We can imagine what life would have been like for people in countries involved in a war for four whole years.

It dismantled quite a few of the existing socio-economic and political structures. It affected the economy of the entire world. Because of the spread and the mobilization of all resources by the warring states on such scale for the first time, it is known as the First World War. For all these reasons the war marked a turning point in world history.