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World War I and its consequences on the society

Srishti Bisht

World War I was also called “the war to end all wars” because of the destruction and gore that it left behind felt unparallel to anything that had ever happened before and was considered the last of its type, though we all know that was not the case.

The reason why it began is still debated but the facts and events that point towards why did it occur does give us a starting point even if debatable.

The conflict started when Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist assassinated the Austro- Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914.

Austria- Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia, to which Serbia gave a dissatisfactory reply.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe.

The great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: The Triple Entente, consisting of France, Russia, and Britain; and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

But rather than discussing the history of what happened and why did it happen, this article focuses more on how it affected the people and various aspects of our society.

The consequences of war

On the people

World war one was one of the deadliest conflicts faced by the human race with approximately 16 million deaths.

Total number of civilian and military deaths were estimated to be around 37 million.

Though we can not be sure of an exact number and thus it could be more as civilian deaths are not well documented.

6 million people were reported missing and were presumed dead.

The Spanish flu became another reason for deaths in prison camp. Two out of three soldiers died on battle field and the rest would pass away due to diseases or infection.

Mobilization of men towards battlefield also meant shortage of workforce for agriculture.

Apart from that, people involved in war had to go through extreme trauma. Many who survived struggled mentally also they might be physically injured as well.


Women had always been perceived a certain way in society and had been mainly tied to their houses and families.

When the war started and the men left, it was the women who took up the jobs in their stead. By 1918, nine out of ten workers in munition factories were women. They took up jobs like tram conductors, typists and farming.

There was also a change in the dressing style with corsets being left behind and introduction of pants and short haircuts.

Some women even got the right to vote and a positive political change for women was noticed.


WW1 caused the downfall of four monarchies: Germany, Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Russia.

It also marked the end of colonialism with one country after another getting independent.

The harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles caused a lot of dissent in Europe, especially on the side of the Central Powers who had to pay a lot for financial reparations.

Under the treaty, Germany lost a tenth of its lands as well as Bulgaria, Austria and Hungary lost parts of its territory.

Some lands are still under dispute.


The economic balance of the world changed with European countries left in debt and US taking the role of the leading industrial power and creditor.

Germany had to pay reparations of around 6,600 million Euros for the damage caused as well as for provide other compensation.

Before the war, Britain was the economic super power but wars are expensive. The expense of war per day was estimated to be 3.8 million euro by September 1918.

Inflation shot up in most countries and the German economy was highly affected by having to pay for reparations.


WW1 boosted research in technology because better transport and means of communication gave countries an advantage over their enemies.

Around 1914, planes were still a new invention but were quickly adapted according to the needs. At the star of war, France only had 140 aircrafts. By the time the war ended, they had used 4,500.

Tanks, U-boats (device to detect German submarine) were created. There was also advancement in photography and sound recording.

There was also a rise in the field of medicine.

Donating and giving blood started in WWI. A special rod called Thomas splint, which was used on soldiers who had broken their bones was also developed.


On 11th November, the war came to an end but the loss and destruction it left in its wake could be felt for a long time.

Even though WWI cannot be blamed for the way WWII proceeded with its own disastrous outcome but the Treaty of Versailles had brought down Germany to its knees and thus made it feel humiliated as well as vulnerable.

At this moment Adolf Hitler rose like a ray of hope, to return to people what was lost and the rest is history.

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