World War 2
World War 1
Adolf Hitler

What impact did World War 1 have on the contemporary world?

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2006-07-15 12:34:51

The biggest consequence was that World War I set into motion

events that would lead to WWII, which in turn basically established

the world order during the Cold War, which in turn continues to

shape our world today. World War I was essentially the catalyst

that got the entire 20th century as we know it rolling. Technology,

especially military but also medicinal (WWI was the first war where

battle-dead outnumbered dead from disease, due in large part to

superior medicinal technology...along with far more lethal

weaponry) exploded, and the old world order was shattered. Four

monarchies were destroyed: the Hohenzollers (Germany), the Romanovs

(Russia), the Hapsburgs (Austria-Hungary), and the Ottomans

(Turkey); Europe lay in ruins with nearly 16 million war dead and

millions of mentally and physically scarred veterans who had lost

nearly all hope in humanity during the war. Although Europe rose up

again one more time in 1939, the idea of a great European war ever

happening again has become so remote, due in large part to the

destruction wrought by the first World War, that it is now

unthinkable that the powers of Western Europe would ever again go

to war with each other. After the war, all the warring nations'

economies (with the exception of the US, which had been spared and

the USSR which was completely excluded) were so drained from the

war, that they collapsed into depression that would create such

bitterness, especially in Germany, that radical and/or reactionary

doctrines flourished. During the Weimarer Republic, Germany could

have gone either fascist or communist depending on who won the

street battles raging throughout the country. We all know which way

it did go, but at the time the outcome was far from certain. World

War I also established the US as one of the great powers of the

world. It was already a world power after defeating Spain in the

Spanish-American War, acquiring the Philippines, and taking part in

opening up China, but after World War I no one could deny that the

USs' power was now at the same calibre as Britain, France, or

Germany. The US also made moves to establish itself as the world

leader with the magnanimous plans of Wilson and his League of

Nations, but European arrogance and desire for revenge shot down

American hopes. This is still just a very small sampling of the

importance of World War I; I would say that it basically defined

the course of the century.


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