Political, social, and economical impact of WW1 on European History
Political, social, and economical impact of WW1 on European History
World War 1 had the global impact on drowning of national boundaries, empires’ death and also the birth of new nations. Some countries became prosperous while others faced economic depression. The war influenced European countries socially, economically and also politically.
The war united European societies since they were all working for a common goal. People losing their loved ones led to the cut of social classes. Also due to war, luxurious consumption became a problem and mode of clothing became uniformed hence people would never wear in fancy clothes they were used to. (Palmer and Lloyd, 1995)
Women would now wear skirts above the ankle and performed work previously done by men including teaching, clerical and secretarial work. Most industrial workers in Germany and England were women hence leading to the removal of many restrictions on female gender. Young employed women were allowed to own apartments and publicly smoke. In the labor force, labor unions strengthened up due to strong forces which fought for their legal rights and power. The employers kept union organizers out of their firms and used armed forces to fight against them. Unions were accepted during the time when they rallied to their flag.
More to that, the war led to the stoppage of the striking character of workers who complained of long working hours due to the desire by employers to have increased productivity though it later rose again. Germany, Britain and France had planned for integration to end work conflicts but this was later protested against but after the gain of public bargaining from the integration. Conflicts also rose among skilled and unskilled labor as they secured the best jobs while the unskilled paid with their lives.
Governments in European countries took new powers in order to fight the war. Police power was increased even to those parliamentary governments. This war led to increased demand for individual rights through the imposition of laws and public opposition also grew.
Germany, under the Treaty of Versailles made territorial changes. For example the area of dispute between Germany and France which led to ceding of Alsace – Lorraine to France. Some other areas of Germany were given to Poland and Denmark which were newly independent. Towards the end of the war in Germany, a revolution on socialism broke out. This led to the creation of Republic of Weimar which was left – leaning. The result of World War 1 in Germany led to the creation of Nazi and Hitler party. (Palmer and Lloyd, 1995)
Additionally, there was the breaking up of Austro-Hungarian Empire due to defeat in the war. It broke in several states such as Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria. The remaining part of the empire was left under the control of France and Great Britain and this led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey. In addition, the war led to Russian Revolution of 1917. Here, a socialist government replaced the Russian Empire which was led by Vladimir Lenin. New states such as Latvia, and Lithuania, Finland, and Estonia in the European’s northeastern side came up.
Moreover, propaganda came up during this war. This is where the government used the media to influence the public to unite so as to fight in support of each other. The prime minister in France used the media to defer using his powers which he exchanged for favorable coverage. The Fatherland party created in Germany was funded secretly by the army in order to maintain discipline in the war. This party hence became larger with Germany being more effective in influencing the masses. (Wojciech 1995)
For the economic impact, there were those who profited from the war while others did not. Some people suffered due to effects of inflation brought about by the scarcity of commodities and increased prices of goods. The beneficiaries included the manufacturers of shoddy boots which were used in war. The war also resulted in increased favor by the government on large companies especially the centralized as compared to small ones. Firms created cartels to counter the effect of the war while small firm due to the scarcity of resource were closed down. (Offe & Addler, 1991)
Many consumer goods were in shortage due to increased demand and this led to increased demand for workers. With full employment, increased demand and scarcity of goods led to the severe increase in prices of goods. The French prices doubled, the sterling pound in Britain became one-third more expensive during the war and inflation rate became unbearable. The high standard set by the inflation led to some people starving and this led to economic depression in European countries.
Inflation had the different effect on different people. The skilled people employed in industries had their salaries increased with increase in prices while the unskilled people did not keep pace with the increasing prices. Those with fixed incomes suffered a lot since their dividends and salaries remained constant with increase in prices. This included the old men who depended on pensions, middle earners who received fixed wages and small dividends dependents. This triggered poverty among these people while other people who owned large manufacturing companies became richer. For survival, they repaired their clothes, cultivated and cut costs on less essential commodities.
There was a conflict in the differences in the purchasing power. Those people who had a greater purchasing power at the beginning of the war had lesser power at the end of the war. This was due to the devaluation of the currency. Also, those who had borrowed a large amount of money paid it in devalued currency. More is that the economy was greatly affected by the war as many of the resources were bused to finance the army who fought in the war. (Palmer and Lloyd, 1995)
After the war, there was an improvement in technology as the effect of mass production triggered the use of technology for high mass production. The additional working hours led to the improvement in economic growth however, Europe mostly suffered from property loss and land as well as the use of a large amount of economies’ finances.
In conclusion, the World War 1 had a large impact on social, economic and political sectors of not only European countries but worldwide. Most of these countries in Europe received an economic impact by building unity among the people. It is through this war that some government organizations were formed and the social classes of people were dismantled due to the disarrangement brought by the war. It is hence important for people to work together towards a certain objective such as how these European countries did during the war. These effects are still felt in today’s economies and have had both positive and negative effects in different countries.
Offe, Claus, and Pierre Adler. “Capitalism by democratic design? Democratic theory facing the triple transition in East Central Europe.” Social Research (1991): 865-892.
Palmer, Robert Roswell, Joel Colton, and Lloyd S. Kramer. A history of the modern world. Vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995.
Roszkowski, Wojciech. Land reforms in east central Europe after World War One. Institute of Political Studies, Polish Acadmy of Sciences, 1995.