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Social Effects of WWI

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  1. Social Effects of WWI

  2. Social Effects During the War - Disillusionment • Most had gone to war in 1914 believing in heroism and nobility • Trench warfare and the wartime experience changed these feeling to anger and disbelief • A mood of desolation and emptiness prevailed at the end of a war where great sacrifice had brought little gain • Church attendance dropped during and after the war

  3. Social Effects During the War - Disillusionment • The anger of the soldier-poets was directed against those who had sent them to the war, not their enemy • Generation Gap - The generation conflict was also widened by the war as Veterans' disillusionment fed off of anger towards the older generation for sending them to the trenches • British poet, Wilfred Owen, who was killed in 1918 was transformed from a young romantic into a powerful denouncer of those who had sent young men off to war

  4. Social Effects During the War –Artillery and Disillusionment • Artillery killed more people than any other weapon between 1914-18. The biggest guns used in the Great War could fire shells as large as a soldier • The troops were terrified of them. Men watched their fellows being blown apart or dreadfully wounded by shrapnel • Generals ordered artillery to bombard enemy trenches for hours on end before sending their own troops 'over the top' to attack. The idea was that the artillery would: • Kill many enemy soldiers • Terrify others • Destroy barbed wire defenses • Destroy machine gun positions

  5. Social Effects During the War –Artillery and Disillusionment • In fact, enough enemy machine guns usually survived to mow down the infantry when they finally attacked • In many ways, artillery fire made it even harder to attack enemy trenches as it destroyed all cover and created the famous barren landscape of blasted trees and shell holes that was known as 'no man's land’ • Many soldiers ended up with Shell Shock

  6. Social Effects During the War – Technology and Disillusionment • Zeppelins and bombers were developed and began dropping bombs on towns, but only 1,500 died from this • Tanks were also being developed, but broke down quite often • Gas warfare was used but was unreliable; caused much fear • Very little damage was done to the homefront since this technology was in its infancy

  7. Social Effects During the War - Schlieffen Plan & Disillusionment • In theory, it would allow Germany avoid a two-front war • Most of the fighting would be against France in the beginning, then once they are defeated they would throw all their resources against Russia • The Germans would go through neutral Belgium to reach France to avoid the Maginot Line • Germans officials put all faith into this plan and had no other alternative


  9. Social Effects During the War - Technology and Disillusionment • Arms races developed & arms manufacturers became major enterprises • Were too big and imperfect to end the stalemate • Generals were reluctant to discard old ways of thinking (importance of the machine gun and trenches) • All this caused the countries on the defensive to have the advantage • There were many deaths and little gains to be had

  10. Social Effects – Class System • The result of working together for a common goal seemed to be unifying European societies: • All belligerents had enacted some form of a selective service which leveled classes • Wartime scarcities made luxury an impossibility and unfavorable • Reflecting this, clothing became uniform. Europeans would never again dress in fancy, elaborate costumes

  11. Social Effects – Women • Became more of a part of society than ever • They undertook a variety of jobs previously held by men • They were now a part of clerical, secretarial work, and teaching • They were also more widely employed in industrial jobs

  12. Social Effects – Women • Because of their efforts, it was only a matter of time before women received the right to vote in many belligerent countries • Many restrictions on women disappeared during the war. It became acceptable for young, employed, single middle-class women to: • Have their own apartments • Go out without chaperones • Smoke in public • Women's skirts rose above the ankle permanently

  13. Social Effects - African Americans • One week of Wilson’s declaration of war, the War Department had to stop accepting black volunteers because the quotas for African Americans were filled • Blacks could not serve in the Marines, and could only serve limited and menial positions in the Navy and the Coast Guard • By the end of World War I, African Americans served in cavalry, infantry, signal, medical, engineer, and artillery units, as well as serving as chaplains, surveyors, truck drivers, chemists, and intelligence officers • They introduced their culture, especially jazz, to Europeans, but gained no civil rights

  14. Social/Economic Effects – Labor Unions • Employers fought to keep union organizers out of their plants and armed force was often used against striking workers • The universal rallying of workers towards their country at the beginning of the war led to wider acceptance of unions • A long war was not possible without complete cooperation of the workers with respect to putting in long hours and increasing productivity

  15. Social Effects – Restriction of Rights • Governments took on many new powers in order to fight the total war. War governments fought opposition by increasing police power • Authoritarian regimes like tsarist Russia had always depended on the threat of force, but now even parliamentary governments felt the necessity to expand police powers and control public opinion

  16. Social Effects – Restriction of Rights in Britain • The Defense of the Realm Act authorized the public authorities to arrest and punish dissidents under martial law if necessary • Later acts grew to include: • Suspending newspapers • Use of lights at home • Food rationing • Bar hours limited • Strikes made illegal • Running of factories and railroads • Police powers tended to grow as the war went on and public opposition increased as well

  17. Social Effects – Restriction of Rights in France and Germany • The government cracked down on: • Anyone suspected of supporting a compromise peace, giving military secrets, or airing dangerous opinions • Censorship of newspapers • Censorship of personal mail • In Germany, laws were passed requiring males ages 17-60 to work in the factories • They also imported workers from occupied France and Belgium

  18. Social Effects – Restrictions of Rights in the U.S. • Espionage Act of 1917 – Made it illegal to make any criticism of the government, interfere with the draft, or to encourage disloyalty • Red Scare of 1919-1920 • A strike and 38 mail bombs set off the scare • June 1919 – Palmer’s home was bombed • Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer suspected almost anyone of being communist; many innocent people were deported • May 1920 – Palmer announced the threat of large Communist riots on May 1st of 1920 (the Socialist Labor Day), but none materialized. This ended the scare

  19. Social Effects - Propaganda • Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people. They influenced people: • To enlist • Support the war • Plant gardens • Conserve • Join workforce • Buy bonds • Instill fear • Don’t tell secrets • Ration or else • Huns/barbarians

  20. Social Effects During and After WWI - Armenian Genocide • In 1908, the Young Turks led a revolution and seized power from the sultan • The new rulers, who had promoted a platform of equality and constitutionalism, quickly turned to extreme nationalism • They were afraid of conquest by another nation or ethnic group, so they drummed up support for an entirely ethnic Turkish state • The Armenians were seen as an obstacle to their goal

  21. Social Effects During and After WWI - Armenian Genocide • 1915-1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed • After WWI, 400 Young Turks were arrested and tried • Most were sentenced to death, but fled the country – other countries, including the new Turkish government, did not pursue them • Killings resumed • With the Ottoman Empire being renamed Turkey, a new republic was declared and the Turkish-Armenian issue was forgotten • Encouraged Hitler to start the Holocaust

  22. Social Effects During and After the War - Influenza • In 1918 and 1919, the so-called "Spanish flu" killed an estimated 20-40 million people worldwide • The strain of influenza virus that caused the 1918 global epidemic ("pandemic") was exceptionally aggressive • It was brought back to the homefront by the soldiers and was spread among civilians • Life expectancy was lowered and caused countries to have further economic problems due to a lack of workers