World War I

Oct 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Oct 24, 2018 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

World War I

War is one of the most dreadful heartbreaking phenomena with numerous negative impacts characterized by horror, violence and sorrow with no positive outcomes (Ferguson 8). The First World War fought mainly in Europe commenced in July 1914 and ended in November 1918 was one of the most distressing conflicts in history that resulted in excessive damage to humanity including several lives unnecessarily and severe injuries to both soldiers and civilians. There was also wastage as well as the destruction of valuable properties that in turn stirred the economic meltdown that has continued to be a problem in the twenty-first century. The war was characterized by inhumaneness and loss of human life. World War I is attributed to the fight for superiority and power among the Great Nations, Germany, France, Russia and Britain. Some of the deadly battles were the Verdum battle of 1916 that was fought for ten months between German and French armies and the battle of Cambrai of 917 as stated by Yergan (28).

Bourne (7) says that the ideology that being loyal to one’s nation by defending her interest in war is an indication of prestige, and great honor was used by those in powerful positions to manipulate the populace into joining the First World War battle. In response to these appealing ideological lies, people turned up in large numbers to participate in the war either directly in the battlefield or indirectly through manufacture and supply of food as well as weapons since World War I saw the innovation of deadly weapons including chemicals that facilitated the easier mass destruction of people and property. Fighting techniques also shifted from front line to trench warfare where trenches were used as hideouts during the battle. However, as the war progressed the soldiers realized the ideology of honor is a fallacy thus shifting from defending their country to fighting for their existence whose chances were minimal as implied by Bourne (15).

Silkin (21) claims that war poetry that gave a comprehensive description of battle experiences were common during the First World War. The First World War poetry gave a detailed account of what the battle was like in the fields. The poets described the horror, fear, grief and the brutal destruction of thousands of lives both civilians and soldiers. Some of these poems are To Germany by Charles Sorley, Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac Rosenberg and The Soldiers by Rupert Brook. There were terror and sorrow. The poems showed those who remained home exactly how war is; it was a matter of survival, and people’s lives are devalued. Their contribution to their families and the society is undermined by a war that sacrifices them for their gains. They are being sacrificed by politicians for power and other selfish gains. They expressed the meaningless point of that war as they expressed their disappointment and ignorance of the cause of war or their reason for fighting as indicated by Cawood and Mckinnon-Bell (75).

Merkl (165) claims that the First World War had several social, political as well as economic consequences some of which are still being felt up to date. For instance, it was the beginning of economic meltdown that is a major problem experienced in the twenty-first century contributed to the enormous destruction of property as well as inadequate workforce since most of the men were killed in the war. France was greatly affected by loss property at the time since most of the battles were fought on their soil. The war also had historical significance as it led to the United States as new super powers, restructuring of various political orders associated with various revolutions across European nations like Germany and France stimulated by the displeasure of the war events and outcomes and the desire for change. There was also gender imbalance resulting to too many women compared to men. The war mutilated individuals physically as most of the survivors sustained physical injuries and psychological since most of them were traumatized by the experience. Another significant effect was the development of a wedge between the soldiers and civilians as the war created bitterness, shuttered the secure order of life and affected consciousness as affirmed by Young (23).

Soldiers and civilians have since driven apart as the civilians place the blame on the loss of their loved ones solely on soldiers who resorted to isolation as a means of coping with the emotional aftermath of the war. For years since the First World War soldiers and civilians have not been able to coexist freely without fear. In most war movies, civilians tend to fear soldiers such that they are shown running or hiding whenever soldiers are passing or are nearby. The memory of the brutality associated with how soldiers tortured and killed individuals portrayed in the war poems are still fresh in the civilians’ memories creating fear. Civilians also tend to view soldiers as inhumane as they were associated with animalistic characteristics erasing their perception of soldiers as human beings instead viewing them as a simple, cruel, evil authority they desire to get rid of.

Soldiers have been branded cruel and unsociable by the society following their legacy of brutality and role in torturing and killing innocent souls during the war. In addition, civilians shy away from associating with soldiers because soldiers remind them of the cruel nature of war that they developed hatred for consequently its participants (soldiers). Soldiers are perceived as a reminder of the unnecessary pain caused by war as well as a constant bitter reminder of the price the public still pay financially and emotionally for the wrong actions taken in starting and sustaining a meaningless war as indicated by Ruddiman (112).

On the other hand, soldiers have been unable to fit properly into the society following their traumatic experiences during the war. Ben-Merre and Scholes (6) says that most of the soldiers left their nation to join the fight in defense of their respective nations supported by the ethics of nationalism and patriotism that defines one’s overall identity based on his/her national identity only to be disappointed. The soldiers realized later that the notion of nationalism is hollow and hypocritical used by those in power as a control mechanism of their subjects following their discovery of nationalism ideology irrelevance in the face of war as it cannot offer physical and emotional protection or comfort in the battlefield. As a result they focus on fighting for their own existence as they nurse their disappointment in themselves for being ignorant and in politicians who sacrificed their lives for their selfish gains like amassing more power and the bitterness of having to undergo pain for no significant reason thus contributing to their isolation from the public as claimed by Dwyer and Grant (24).

War has negative impacts on soldiers’ emotional well-being and completely destroys their social lives or their ability to socialize thus their inability to fit properly in the society as implied by Stuart (25) in his analysis of the poem Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac. The ugly experiences of war including appalling conditions dominated by lack of basic needs like food, shelter and medical supplies, regularly being caught in a state of panic as well as despair having to come close to death especially in front line fighting technique makes them develop undesirable coping mechanisms that completely isolates them from the real world. For instance, they find themselves in a situation where their only means of survival surprises their emotions and disconnecting their feelings and developing animalist traits that in the end strip them of their humanity and turns them into a beast. They start perceiving killing and torture as ordinary and hide in behind harsh faces as they integrate themselves into the war atmosphere where survival is their only goal as implied by Ruby (78). These survival mechanisms they adopt becomes difficult to shed off when they are not at war thus making it difficult to connect with the civilians hence contributing to the creation of the civilian-soldier gap.

Ramold (167) suggests that the ever widening gap between soldiers and civilians could be minimized by through education by disregarding the misconceptions surrounding soldiers characters and stressing the need for the two parties’ social interaction. The public need to understand that World War I occurred decades ago and there is a new breed of soldiers driven by the desire to protect them and not to cause them harm thus should stop passing harsh judgment on them and their nature of their jobs and make an attempt to integrate them into the society. This would eliminate fear and hatred that has been the cause of the gap as the civilians begin to view soldiers from a positive new perspective. Soldiers should be helped to overcome their emotional trauma caused by the nasty experiences they went through in order to survive through counseling and other forms of psychological therapies like rehabilitation through social groups. The soldiers also need to learn to separate their war life from their social lives; in that they need to learn how to cope with war and still retain their human traits like the ability to feel as recommended by Lampton (170).

In summary, war is horrible as portrayed the First World War poets who attempted to describe the ugly incidences that occurs during war giving a detailed description of brutality associated with loss of lives. The poems tend to depict the meaningless point of the war that cost several lives yet supported by useless, hypocritical nationalism ideologies that describe participation in war as an adventure, an indication of glory and honor of which the soldiers deem irrelevant upon reaching the battlefield as they fight for their survival. World War I was one of the worst wars associated with the pointless fight for more power among the then world’s super powers. The war resulted in decline economic loss of lives, and physical and emotional negative impacts on both the soldiers and the civilians that in turn created the unbridgeable gap between the two parties. Civilians tend to fear soldiers to an extent they hide from them while the soldiers have been unable to fit into the society due to emotional breakdown and the animalistic survival mechanisms they adopted in an attempt to cope with the challenges of war with education seen as a way of minimizing the wedge.

Works Cited

Bourne, J. M. Review of The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War One by John Mosier. The English Historical Review (2004). Print.

Cawood, Ian, and David Mckinnon-Bell. The First World War. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.

David, Ben-Merre, and Robert, Scholes. War poems from 1914. PMLA (2009). Print.

Dwyer, John, and George Grant. The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War. Denton: Bluebonnet Press, 2005. Print.

FERGUSON, NAILL. “Political Risk and the International Bond Market Between the 1848 Revolution and Outbreak of the First World War.” Economic History Review (2006): n. pag. Print.

Lampton, M. David. “Soldiers and Civilians.” Following the Leader. University of California Press, 2014. Print.

Lee, Stuart D. A Case Study: Teaching on the World-Wide Web: Isaac Rosenberg’s Break of Day in the Trenches. Support Initiative for Multimedia Applications, 1996. Print.

Merkl, H. Peter. “The Impact of War and Defeat.” Political Violence under the Swastika: 581 Early Nazis. Princeton University Press (1975). Print. 154-172

Ramold, Steven. Across the Divide. NYU Press, 2013. Print. 172

Ruby, Mary. Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Print.

Ruddiman, A. John. “Feared by Many, Loved by None: Relationships between Soldiers and Civilians.” Becoming Men of Some Consequence. University of Virginia Press, 2014. Print.

Silkin, Jon. The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry. London: Penguin Books, 1996. Print.

Tucker, Spencer, and Priscilla M. Roberts. World War I: Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Print.

Yergan, Max. “World War One.” David Henry Anthony III. NYU Press (2006). Print.

Young, Louise. “World War One and the City Idea.” Beyond the Metropolis. University of California Press (2013). Print.