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Aftermath of World War I

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While most of these efforts focused on support for the home front, a small percentage of female volunteers served with the American Expeditionary Force in France. Jim Crow segregation in both the military and the civilian sector stood as a barrier for black women who wanted to give their time to the war effort. The military prohibited black women from serving as enlisted or appointed medical personnel. The only avenue for black women to wear a military uniform existed with the armies of the allied nations.

A few black female doctors and nurses joined the French Foreign Legion to escape the racism in the American army. Black female volunteers faced the same discrimination in civilian wartime organizations. Black women were forced to charter auxiliary units as subsidiary divisions and were given little guidance on organizing volunteers. They turned instead to the community for support and recruited millions of women for auxiliaries that supported the nearly two hundred thousand black soldiers and sailors serving in the military.

While most female volunteers labored to care for black families on the home front, three YMCA secretaries worked with the black troops in France. In the early years of the war, Americans were generally detached from the events in Europe. Progressive Era reform politics dominated the political landscape, and Americans remained most concerned with the shifting role of government at home. However, the facts of the war could not be ignored by the public.

The destruction taking place on European battlefields and the ensuing casualty rates exposed the unprecedented brutality of modern warfare. Increasingly, a sense that the fate of the Western world lay in the victory or defeat of the Allies took hold in the United States. President Wilson, a committed progressive, articulated a global vision of democracy even as he embraced neutrality. By , American trade with the Allies tripled, while trade with the Central Powers shrank to less than 1 percent of previous levels.

A membership card for the American Protective League, issued May 28, The progression of the war in Europe generated fierce national debates about military preparedness. The Allies and the Central Powers had quickly raised and mobilized vast armies and navies. The United States still had a small military. When America entered the war, the mobilization of military resources and the cultivation of popular support consumed the country, generating enormous publicity and propaganda campaigns.

President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information, known as the Creel Committee, headed by Progressive George Creel, to inspire patriotism and generate support for military adventures. Creel enlisted the help of Hollywood studios and other budding media outlets to cultivate a view of the war that pitted democracy against imperialism and framed America as a crusading nation rescuing Western civilization from medievalism and militarism.

Wilson signed the Espionage Act in and the Sedition Act in , stripping dissenters and protesters of their rights to publicly resist the war. Critics and protesters were imprisoned. Immigrants, labor unions, and political radicals became targets of government investigations and an ever more hostile public culture. Meanwhile, the government insisted that individual financial contributions made a discernible difference for the men on the Western Front.

Americans lent their financial support to the war effort by purchasing war bonds or supporting the Liberty Loan Drive. Many Americans, however, sacrificed much more than money.

European powers struggled to adapt to the brutality of modern war. Until the spring of , the Allies possessed few effective defensive measures against submarine attacks. German submarines sank more than a thousand ships by the time the United States entered the war. The rapid addition of American naval escorts to the British surface fleet and the establishment of a convoy system countered much of the effect of German submarines.

Shipping and military losses declined rapidly, just as the American army arrived in Europe in large numbers. Although much of the equipment still needed to make the transatlantic passage, the physical presence of the army proved to a fatal blow to German war plans. In July , after one last disastrous offensive against the Germans, the Russian army disintegrated. Russia soon surrendered to German demands and exited the war, freeing Germany to finally fight the one-front war it had desired since The German military quickly shifted hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the eastern theater in preparation for a new series of offensives planned for the following year in France.

In March , Germany launched the Kaiserschlacht Spring Offensive , a series of five major attacks. By the middle of July , each and every one had failed to break through the Western Front.

On August 8, , two million men of the American Expeditionary Forces joined British and French armies in a series of successful counteroffensives that pushed the disintegrating German lines back across France. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated at the request of the German military leaders and the new democratic government agreed to an armistice cease-fire on November 11, German military forces withdrew from France and Belgium and returned to a Germany teetering on the brink of chaos.

By the end of the war, more than 4. The United States lost over one hundred thousand men fifty-three thousand died in battle, and even more from disease. After four years of brutal stalemate, France had suffered almost a million and a half military dead and Germany even more.

Both nations lost about 4 percent of their population to the war. And death was not done. Even as war raged on the Western Front, a new deadly threat loomed: In the spring of , a strain of the flu virus appeared in the farm country of Haskell County, Kansas, and hit nearby Camp Funston, one of the largest army training camps in the nation. The virus spread like wildfire.

The camp had brought disparate populations together, shuffled them between bases, sent them back to their homes across the nation, and, in consecutive waves, deployed them around the world. Between March and May , fourteen of the largest American military training camps reported outbreaks of influenza.

Some of the infected soldiers carried the virus on troop transports to France. By September , influenza spread to all training camps in the United States. And then it mutated. The second wave of the virus, a mutated strain, was even deadlier than the first. It struck down those in the prime of their lives: In Europe, influenza hit both sides of the Western Front.

Reports from the surgeon general of the army revealed that while , soldiers were hospitalized from wounds received in battle, almost half a million suffered from influenza. The worst part of the epidemic struck during the height of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the fall of and weakened the combat capabilities of the American and German armies.

During the war, more soldiers died from influenza than combat. The pandemic continued to spread after the armistice before finally fading in the early s. No cure was ever found. As the flu virus wracked the world, Europe and America rejoiced at the end of hostilities.

On December 4, , President Wilson became the first American president to travel overseas during his term. He intended to shape the peace. The war brought an abrupt end to four great European imperial powers.

The German, Russian, Austrian-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires evaporated, and the map of Europe was redrawn to accommodate new independent nations. As part of the the armistice, Allied forces followed the retreating Germans and occupied territories in the Rhineland to prevent Germany from reigniting war.

As Germany disarmed, Wilson and the other Allied leaders gathered in France at Versailles for the Paris Peace Conference to dictate the terms of a settlement to the war. After months of deliberation, the Treaty of Versailles officially ended the war. Earlier that year, on January 8, , before a joint session of Congress, President Wilson offered an ambitious statement of war aims and peace terms known as the Fourteen Points. The plan not only dealt with territorial issues but offered principles on which a long-term peace could be built.

But in January , Germany still anticipated a favorable verdict on the battlefield and did not seriously consider accepting the terms of the Fourteen Points. The Allies were even more dismissive. President Wilson labored to realize his vision of the postwar world. But the fight for peace was daunting.

Allied leaders sought to guarantee the future safety of their own nations. Unlike the United States, the Allies endured the horrors of the war firsthand. They refused to sacrifice further. The fight for the League of Nations was therefore largely on the shoulders of President Wilson.

By June , the final version of the treaty was signed and President Wilson was able to return home. The treaty was a compromise that included demands for German reparations, provisions for the League of Nations, and the promise of collective security. For President Wilson, it was an imperfect peace, but an imperfect peace was better than none at all. The real fight for the League of Nations was on the American home front. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an influential Republican Party leader, he could block ratification of the treaty.

Lodge attacked the treaty for potentially robbing the United States of its sovereignty. Never an isolationist, Lodge demanded instead that the country deal with its own problems in its own way, free from the collective security—and oversight—offered by the League of Nations. During his grueling cross-country trip, however, President Wilson suffered an incapacitating stroke.

His opponents had the upper hand. The League of Nations operated with fifty-eight sovereign members, but the United States refused to join, refused to lend it American power, and refused to provide it with the power needed to fulfill its purpose. They were limited to a maximum of k soldiers and 15k sailors. Conscription was abolished, they were forbidden to participate in the arms trade, they were banned to own or produce chemical weapons, tanks, military aircraft and submarines.

Their number of ships in the navy was also limited according to class of ship and they had to demilitarize the Rhineland. In other sections, Germany and the Central Powers were blamed for the start of World War 1, and that was the basis for asking reparations of war. Between and , the Weimar Republic paid 21 billion marks of the 50 that were supposed to be paid, and in between Germany suffered hyperinflation and many economic problems that eventually made the claims of reparations quite useless.

The Wilsonian idealists that thought that the peace would actually recognize national self-determination rights and reconcile with Germany were disappointed, while the French right-wing thought that the treaty was too lenient. In Germany, everyone condemned the treaty, especially because it put all the blame on Germany and for the high economic burden that reparations represented.

In Germany, the country was under a revolution until late The revolution was mostly pro-parliamentary democracy under the leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, who instead of pushing for a Soviet-style revolution that would cause an all-out civil war, opted for what became known as social democracy.

The political unrest was pacified, but the Weimar Republic remained under great pressure from both left and right-wing radicals during its lifetime. In the former Austro-Hungarian territories, peace negotiations were more complex since there were many new states with their own political agendas.

About the treaty concerning Austria, as in the Treaty of Versailles they were forbidden to join the federation of Germany, even though the provisional constitution named the country German-Austria with the intention to do precisely that. Austria had to accept military restrictions, the blame for the war and recognize the independence of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia. South Tyrol was given to Italy, but the promised lands of Dalmatia were given to Yugoslavia instead.

Czechoslovakia received the German-speaking Sudetenland to complicate things even more. So instead of having a nation-state of around 10 million German-speaking people, Austria was left with a population of less than 7 million.

Their peace, unlike Germany, ended all the hopes for the restoration of Austrian power, but to be fair the empire was dissolved even before peace negotiations began. The losses for Hungary were equally high. Similarly, Bulgaria lost Western Thrace to Greece among other small territories apart from all the territory occupied. In the Near and Middle East, the Ottoman Empire became an object of competing interests and was partitioned.

The Ottomans recognized the Kingdom of Hejaz that controlled Mecca and Medina, although it was conquered later in by the Sultanate of Nejd of the House of Saud, they had to recognize an enlarged Armenia, which was supposed to be ruled as a US Mandate, but the Senate rejected it, and the Turkish Kurdistan was to make a referendum to decide its faith. Furthermore, the Dardanelles Strait was to be internationalized and Thrace and some islands were ceded to Greece, excluding Constantinople.

The British, French and Italians were to control the finances of the Ottoman Empire, freedoms of trade and movements were guaranteed, the size of the military was severely restricted, and Italy, Greece and France were given large zones of influence.

Violence between the different ethnicities of the empire and confusing Allied policy towards the region made the situation more complicated. Turkish nationalists, led by war veteran Mustafa Kemal, started organizing their own forces of resistance. In March the Grand National Assembly that was convoked in Ankara recognized Mustafa Kemal as the president and was the basis for the modern Turkish nation-state.

The leaders of the nationalist movement knew that they needed foreign help, so they approached the great country that was left out from the Paris Peace Conferences: Turkish nationalists received financial and war material aid in exchange to recognize the Soviet claim on the Caucasus to restore the former territories of the Russian Empire.

The Turkish nationalists had multiple fronts open: In the war ended, and the Ottoman sultanate was abolished by the nationalists. The signing of a new revised treaty just three years after the previous one was signed reflected how fragile was the postwar order.

With the weakening of Western power and the idea of national self-determination, there were colonial revolts everywhere during or after the war: The British Empire faced several uprisings and independentist struggles.

In Egypt thousands of people demonstrated against British rule and even attacked some facilities, which led to the eventual recognition of independence in Closer at home, the Irish War of Independence started and ended with the partition of Ireland in The interests of both countries clashed and that started the Polish-Soviet War, which was the most critical conflict of the new Polish Republic.

The Bolsheviks entered Poland proper and advanced towards its capital, Warsaw. With that not only Poland gained territories in the east but repelled the spread of communism westwards. In the Baltic states German paramilitaries known as Freikorps remained there after the armistice and participated in their wars of independence against the Soviets, although the Germans were ultimately forced to withdraw in late The difference between civilians and combatants became less and less clear in Eastern Europe, something that would be even more true for WW2.

The establishment of German puppet states in the east required the allocation of manpower there that could have been used in the Western Front instead, so we can say that the overambitious German pretensions backfired. The quick collapse of the German occupation regimes in Eastern Europe fueled the image for German nationalists that Eastern Europe was a land of chaos and populated with inferior people.

States were more exclusive and radical than ever, which put out of question the possibility of federations and other inclusive forms of territorial organization. At the same time, the increasing importance of the public opinion increased the pressure on delegations to gain as much as possible in little time, something that of course caused revanchism and the chain of hate continued.

The exclusion of the defeated countries and many others in the League of Nations, in addition to the lack of effective mechanisms to enforce decisions, provoked the failure of this forum to ensure world peace.

Since the Allies made contradictory promises of territory in the Balkans and Middle East, some countries got inevitably disappointed. This sentiment that they had been betrayed by the Allies was exploited by Benito Mussolini, and the fascists were able to take control over the country.

China was also dissatisfied, since the Western powers were fine with the Japanese increasing power at the expense of China, and there was discontentment in the Middle East.

The only real victor of the war was the United States, that greatly increased their economic and diplomatic power. Most eastern and central European countries fell into the Soviet sphere of influence, which led to establishment of Communist led regimes there, with full or partial support of the Soviet occupation authorities.

By contrast, Communist Yugoslavia conducted fully independent policy which had eventually lead to significant tensions with the USSR. Post-war division of the world was formalised by two international military alliances, the United States-led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact; the long period of political tensions and military competition between them, the Cold War, would be accompanied by unprecedented arm race and proxy wars.

Separate republics emerged on both sides of the 38th parallel in , each claiming to be the legitimate Korean sovereign, which led ultimately to the Korean War.

In China, nationalist and communist forces resumed the civil war in June Communist forces were eventually victorious and established the People's Republic of China on the mainland, while nationalist forces ended up retreating to Taiwan in late While the European colonial powers attempted to retain some or all of their colonial empires, their losses of prestige and resources during the war rendered this unsuccessful, leading to rapid decolonisation.

Aftermath of World War II 2: China, following the conclusion of its civil war, was essentially a bankrupt nation. By , economic restoration seemed fairly successful as production had resumed pre-war levels. This growth rate mostly persisted, though it was briefly interrupted by the disastrous Great Leap Forward economic experiment. At the end of the war, the United States produced roughly half of the world's industrial output; by the early s though, this dominance had lessened significantly.

Aftermath of World War II: The Allies established occupation administrations in Austria and Germany. The former would eventually become fully independent and neutral state, non-aligned with any political bloc.

The latter was divided onto western and eastern occupation zones controlled by the Western Allies and the USSR, accordingly. A wholesale denazification program was started in Germany immediately after the war ended, leading to prosecution of major Nazi war criminals and removal of many ex-Nazi from power, although this policy would be replaced soon by the policy of broad amnesty and re-integration of ex-Nazi into new West German society.

Germany lost part of its eastern territories: Silesia, Neumark and most of Pomerania were transferred to Poland, whereas East Prussia was divided between Poland and the USSR, followed by the transfer of the German population from these provinces, as well as from Czechoslovakia, to Germany.

The global economy suffered heavily from the war, although different WWII participants were affected differently. The US emerged much richer than any other nation involved in World War II; by its gross domestic product per person was much higher than that of any of the other major powers and it dominated the world economy.

However, economic recovery following the war was rather fast, though it varied in differing parts of the world. In most of West Europe, recovery was fast, partially due to massive American economic aid:


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The aftermath of World War I saw drastic political, cultural, economic, and social change across Eurasia (Europe and Asia), Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved. Four empires collapsed due to the war, old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, international organizations were.

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Aftermath of World War One Article created by: David Stevenson; Theme: Origins, outbreak and The debate on the origins of World War One; Other Related Articles. Europe on the move: refugees and World War One; Aftermath.

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Many of the causes of this disorder had their roots in World War I and its aftermath. The path which Germany took would lead to a still more destructive war in the years to come. See Also. Article World War I. Series: World War I. 1 World War I. 2 World War I: Aftermath. Welcome to The Aftermath!: The terms of the Treaty of Versailles imposed upon Germany at the end World War 1 sowed the seeds of World War 2 by stripping Germany of territory and requiring her to pay huge reparations to the victorious powers.

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Exploring the impact of World War One on British, German and French art Marking the years since the end of World War One, Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One looks at how artists responded to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe. Art was used in many ways in the tumultuous. Learn about the consequences of World War 1 in terms of human losses, economic costs, social changes and politics. Listen about the Treaty of Versailles and the other peace treaties, what technological changes the war provoked, how fragile was the postwar order or how the 19th century liberal state died.