Most people would think that the war that changed everything was World War II. But, this historian explains that actually it was World War I that led to the many sea changes that affected the entire world – yes, the entire world. What is fascinating is that not that much land was conquered in World War I. The maps of Europe and Asia did change, but not that much – as a result of the Great War. That’s what it was known as – not World War I. It only received that name after World War II.
The Spark that Set Off the War
In June 1914, in Sarajevo, a Serbian nationalist killed Archduke Ferdinand. Germany supported the Austro-Hungarian Empire when it declared war on Serbia. But Russia and France joined their ally, Serbia, and decided to defend them. Amazingly, a relatively minor assassination turned into a full conflagration in Europe.
Following 3 years of battle, the War was a stalemate. The United States did not plan on joining in on the battle. But it was drawn in in order to bring things to an end once and for all.
Despite millions of people that were killed in World War I, World War II would be worse in nearly every way. The instability at the end of World War I was not only caused by the Treaty of Versailles. It was caused just as much by the Russian Revolution which brought Communism into the world on a massive scale. The weakened German nation would end up seeing hyperinflation which would lead to the gradual Nazi takeover. And American isolationism would grow even greater. This would set the stage for a conflagration that would disrupt the entire world and bring massive death to tens of millions of people – more non-combatants than combatants.
One lesson that must be learned is to realize that small matters sometimes can lead to massive issues. We do need to have a much better body than the United Nations to insure that small issues stay contained. An experienced and respected international group of world-class diplomats need to be unleashed on all locations where a threat to world peace exists. We must learn many lessons from the Great War.