The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century

The Great War and the
Shaping of the 20 Century
Images and Reflections
Other Wars Compared
• 58,000 in Vietnam
• 9.2 M in WWI
• 4.5 M in all wars from
• Shells dropped at Verdun
exceeded all missiles in
warfare throughout
• 6500 killed per day
• ½ of French males aged
18-32 were casualties
Sgt. James John Regan, killed
by IED Feb. 2007 in Iraq
“Jimmy and I were so excited to stand up in front of God,
our family and friends and declare our love for each
other. Only God knows why we were deprived of that
opportunity, but it doesn’t change the sentiments I have.
Jimmy, we never got to wake up next to each other
every morning….[but I] thank God for the opportunity to
love and be loved by you.” --Mary McHugh
“War to end all wars…”
• No war with a greater
sense of enthusiasm
• Proximate v.
structural causes
• WWII is more wellknown
• Symbol of WWI—
• New technologies
“Make the world safe for
The Moral Center of AP Euro
End of Empires
The Modern World
“The Lost Generation”
Demonizing & Propaganda
Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory
John Mosier, The Myth of the Great War
Modris Eksteins, The Rites of Spring
Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War
John Keegan, The First World War
Jay Winter, The Experience of the First World War
Robert Cowley, ed., The Great War
Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory
David Stevenson, Cataclysm: The First World
War as Political Tragedy
• Christopher Clark, Sleepwalkers: How Europe
Went to War in 1914
Key Questions
• Why did the assassination of Archduke
Franz Ferdinand set off the greatest
conflict in European history (to that point)?
• Is the First World War more accurately
described as an inevitable build-up of
tensions over decades or the result of
miscalculation and chance?
Causes of WWI
Militarism and Military Plans
Alliance System
Mass Politics
Intellectual—emphasis on war and struggle
Ingredients of pre-WWI diplomacy
1. Rigidification of alliance system—
two separate alliances
2. Internal nationalist situation in A-H
3. Increasing conflict between Russia
and A-H in Balkans
4. Antagonism between France and
Germany from Franco-Prussian
5. Growing fear leads to dependence
on weaker members of alliances
6. Fear of isolation in G.B. leads to
approach with France and Russia
7. Russian preoccupation with image
and power in the Balkans
Bismarck’s Alliance System, 1871-90
1. Keep France isolated
2. Germany’s goal to “remain among three
in a world of five”
3. Divert attention to imperial conquests
4. Maintain the status quo—war is bad for
5. No great power can count on the support
of another for aggressive war
6. A complexity of interlocking alliances—
”five glass balls in the air”
7. Avoid a two-front war at all costs
Wilhelm’s “undoing of Bismarck,”
Germany needs to find “its place
in the sun” at “full speed ahead”
Aggressive pursuit of colonies
Naval arms race with England that
promotes tension (dreadnoughts)
Neglect of alliance with Russia
(personal ties)
Erratic and bombastic personality
– “you must shoot your mothers &
– 200 uniforms
– visit to Palestine as medieval
– almost to Italy as Julius Caesar