The First World War: A Lookback at the Last Days of the Great War
The First World War was a protracted and brutal conflict that lasted from 1914-1918. The conflict, fought by Allied and Central Powers, resulted in the loss of millions of lives and massive destruction. The war ended with the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. This article takes a look back at the final days of the war, discussing the factors that contributed to the end of the conflict and the psychological toll the war took on soldiers.
Table of Contents
- Failure of peace negotiations
- Reorganization of production
- Russian revolution
- Spring offensives
- Entry of America into the war
- End of Germany
- Psychological toll on soldiers
What factors contributed to the failure of peace negotiations during the First World War?
The German High Command was reluctant to give up occupied territories, which prevented the possibility of peace through concessions. Additionally, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which offered idealistic peace terms such as “self-determination” and “democracy” were ignored by Central Powers, and it did not add to negotiations of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which stripped Russia of a third of its population, territory, and resources and gave Germany most of central, eastern, and southern Europe.
How did the Russian Revolution impact the First World War?
With the fall of the Tsar and Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia and began negotiating with Germany. This distracted Russia from the war effort and led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Germany was then able to transfer divisions from the east to the west, leading to the massive spring offensives.
What were the spring offensives, and how did they impact the course of the war?
The offensives consisted of intense German artillery bombardment and pushed the Allies back 40 miles, but there was no total collapse. The offensive was halted in April 5, and total German losses were around 239,000 men, while the Allies lost around 338,000 men. The Germans were down to their last reserves and could only resort to final attacks on old fighting territory, leading towards the end of Germany.
How did the entry of the US into the First World War impact the war’s conclusion?
American troops joined the Allied forces in 1918, and their contribution helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies. By October, the Allies broke through the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line, and the German army was in full retreat, facing collapsing morale, military defeat, and growing revolutionary sentiment at home.
What was the psychological toll of the First World War on soldiers?
Living through the war was a harrowing experience, with soldiers enduring constant death and brutal killing. Many soldiers were brutalized, and the acceptance of death, even of close comrades, was matter-of-fact. The psychological toll on soldiers was significant, shaped by their temperament, education, rank, social class, material circumstances, and other factors.
The First World War was a devastating conflict that dragged on for four long years, characterized by intense hatred and propaganda against the enemy. The war ended with the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, and the world was forever changed. The psychological toll of the war was immense, with many soldiers carrying the scars for the rest of their lives. However, the war also brought about significant changes, such as women’s suffrage, the end of empires, and the beginning of a new world order. The lessons learned from the First World War continue to shape global events today.