The Study of the First World War - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The First World War (1914-1918).
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#874079
I have come across and interesting thought about the study of the First World War. Is the study of the First World War dead? By this I mean do people study World War One for the sake of studying the first Total War, or do people only study the Great War for the sake of being able to get a context for World War Two. I asked several people in my World War One subject why they are studying the Great War. All replies were based around this premise. “I’m studying World War One so that I can understand the treaty of Versailles and how that led to the rise of Fascism/Nazism and then the outbreak of World War Two.”

To me the study of World War One is now just a stepping stone into the world of study of the Second World War. Don’t get me wrong. To study the causes of World War Two you must study the Great War and the Treaty of Versailles, and the study of World War Two is good too. It was one of the two major events in 20th Centaury history. But the art of studying World War One in its own right and own implications seemed to be lost to me.

The fact that World War one was the first Total War, the fact that it was a ‘liberating’ experience for women, and the fact that it was the first industrialised war and in effect completed the industrialisation of the ‘West’ seem to be loosing their strengths in the study of the First World War.

Does anyone else feel the same way about this? I feel that the study of the Great War has a much to offer as any other event in ‘modern’ history. And that the study of the First World War shouldn’t be overshadowed, or passed over as a lead into, the Second World War.
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By The Immortal Goon
#874119
I'm a student of World War I and I know jack shit about World War II more than anyone else.

Most of my studies today orbit around Ireland during the First World War; and in the past Russia in the same conflict.

In my view, World War II was something of an addition to the crisis in capitalism that came to a head in and around the first world war - the opposite perspective of most people who see WWI as a mere warning light for WWII.

Regardless, it's not really a dead study - it depends on where you go. In Ireland, I'd say WWI had a much greater impact that WWII - and the same could probably be said for many smaller countries.

I told someone once before that World War I was the death of the old world and World War II was the birth of the new world. It's not a perfect analogy by a long shot, but I tend to think that the modern era starts with World War I, and it's something that hasn't been resolved yet. The capitalist and imperial ambitions of the big powers continue with no regard for the past (that's the nature of the beast). The world as it is today is much closer to dying in a WWI than it is to being reborn in a WWII.

-TIG :rockon:
By ZeusIrae
#874285
I don't think WWI really suffer of neglect.Plenty of historians like to consider WWI and WWII as just one bloc with twenty years of truce.

It can be explained by the fact for exemple that the power balance didn't really change after WWI.Germany had still a bigger population and a bigger industrial potential then any other powers in europe.


IG's anology is intresting but not exactly true.AFter WWI one the old world isn't dead yet.He's dreaming that he has a future when the historian can already see who are the new powers.
WWII also erased most of WWI consequences since it's the same war on a larger scale.We still live under the shadow of WWII(some say that it only ended in 1989),WWI has left no legacy separated from WWII.
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By Red Star
#874399
Yes, as long as the view that World War I swept away the 19th century prevails, it will be studied for its own sake. It is an important turning point in modern history - it instituted so many social reforms that we now take for granted.

Also, there will always be military historians, who will keep it alive purely for interest's sake.
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By Red Rebel
#874537
I have always found WWI intresting. I also feel that it is highly under-rated compared to WWII. Espically from an American history stand point.
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By The Immortal Goon
#874881
IG's anology is intresting but not exactly true.AFter WWI one the old world isn't dead yet.He's dreaming that he has a future when the historian can already see who are the new powers.


Right - I mean, like I said - it's not fully true.

But the French in the summer of 1914 went in to battle with chest plates and with the bright blue and red colored uniforms still. The British had the swords at their sides and a very artistocratic centered army as well. The Germans still had plumes on some of their helmets.

When WWI started, there were two steady republics in the world and the kings still (offically) ran Europe. By the end of it, the Parliment Act in England put the HoC ahead of the HoL (this was a few years before the war, but still) and there wasn't really a authoritarian monarchy left standing.

A lot of it is kind of basic, vesitges of the old world with no real power - true - but the last of this came to an end in WWI.

-TIG :rockon:
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By GandalfTheGrey
#874961
Why study anything? Ultimately everything in history precedes something else, but we don't just study one topic to understand the context for something more interesting. WWI is a topic worthy of studying in its own right - not just because it preceded WWII.

All replies were based around this premise. “I’m studying World War One so that I can understand the treaty of Versailles and how that led to the rise of Fascism/Nazism and then the outbreak of World War Two.”


Then why study WWI - why not just study the treaty of versailles if thats all they are interested in? You don't really have to have an in depth knowledge of WWI to understand Versailles - other than to understand that Versailles was born out of an unprecedented long and bloody conflict.

But the French in the summer of 1914 went in to battle with chest plates and with the bright blue and red colored uniforms still. The British had the swords at their sides and a very artistocratic centered army as well. The Germans still had plumes on some of their helmets.


And the Germans calmly marched shoulder to shoulder against British machine guns at Mons. Even at the Somme - some two years later - the British were marching in an orderly fashion over the trenches into German machine guns and artillery - losing over 20000 dead on the first day.
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By Red Rebel
#875240
And the Germans calmly marched shoulder to shoulder against British machine guns at Mons. Even at the Somme - some two years later - the British were marching in an orderly fashion over the trenches into German machine guns and artillery - losing over 20000 dead on the first day.


The sad thing is that even if the Franco-Prussian war, the Prussians realized they could win battles with artillery. They didn't even need to do a glourious charge. They did it then and they did it in WWI.
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