Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
The overview of World War I is helpful to orient our attention.
The Home Front: The Impact of Total War
On total war the best reference is:
War Made New: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World by Max Boot, pp. 198-201.
The broad impact of the Industrial Revolution resulted in both gains and losses. There was more food, medicine, clothing, more of everything, yet, the new technologies extinguished "life as effectively as they could be used to support it" (Boot, p. 198).
The Industrial Revolution did not cause WW I yet indirectly it "fostered the rise of Germany" (Boot, p. 198). "The figures boggle the mind:
from 1914 to 1918, sixty three million were seriously wounded or disabled.
Millions of civilians also died. . . . they were many orders of magnitude greater than those of any previous conflict. Pre-industrial states could not possibly have fed, clothed, equipped, moved--or slaughtered--so many individuals. Germany and France had 20 percent of their populations under arms. Britain mobilized only 13 percent, but this was still far higher than the 7 percent that Napoleon had been able to marshal with the levee en masse" (Boot, p. 198). Each soldier in addition had far more firepower than an entire regiment possessed a century earlier.
Increased Government Powers
Planned economies were necessary to fuel the increased demands of total war (Boot, p. 199). The pre-industrial state was not equal to the task of equipping and arming such large armies that were required in modern warfare. Governments nationalized industries along with the cooperation of major private companies. In Britain, France, and Germany, military spending shot up 2,000 percent (Boot, p. 199).
Manipulation of Public Opinion
Public dissent was not encouraged. A military dictatorship controlled Germany but even in the liberty-loving U.S. antiwar activists such as the socialist Eugene Debs was subject to arrest and confinement (Boot, p. 199).
Total war also meant controlling public opinion. Even in democratic countries, special boards censored the press. Their aim was to keep complete casualty figures and other discouraging news from reaching the public. Government censors also restricted popular literature, historical writings, motion pictures, and the arts.
Both sides waged a propaganda war. Propaganda is the spreading of ideas to promote a cause or to damage an opposing cause. Governments used propaganda to motivate military mobilization, especially in Britain before conscription started in 1916. In France and Germany, propaganda urged civilians to loan money to the government. Later in the war, Allied propaganda played up the brutality of Germany’s invasion of Belgium. The British and French press circulated tales of atrocities, horrible acts against innocent people. Although some atrocities did occur, often the stories were distorted by exaggerations or completely made up.
Total War and Women
Women of WW 1, 7:36
Women gained more rights as they took jobs previously open only to men (Boot, p. 200). It is not surprising that not long after the war women were granted the right of suffrage.
Women played a critical role in total war. As millions of men left to fight, women took over their jobs and kept national economies going. Many women worked in war industries, manufacturing weapons and supplies. Others joined women’s branches of the armed forces. When food shortages threatened Britain, volunteers in the Women’s Land Army went to the fields to grow their nation’s food.
Nurses shared the dangers of the men whose wounds they tended. At aid stations close to the front lines, nurses often worked around the clock, especially after a big “push” brought a flood of casualties. In her diary, English nurse Vera Brittain describes sweating through 90-degree days in France, “stopping hemorrhages, replacing intestines, and draining and reinserting innumerable rubber tubes” with “gruesome human remnants heaped on the floor.”
War work gave women a new sense of pride and confidence. After the war, most women had to give up their jobs to men returning home. Still, they had challenged the idea that women could not handle demanding and dangerous jobs. In many countries, including Britain, Germany, and the United States, women’s support for the war effort helped them finally win the right to vote, after decades of struggle.
Laissez-faire economic structures did not survive World War I. Social hierarchies broke down under the transformation. Women were granted the right to vote. World War I is "a conflict that could never have been waged on such a titanic, transformative scale were it not for the changes in warfare that had occurred in the previous half-century. This was the bittersweet legacy of the Industrial Age (Boot, p. 201)."
What was the effect of total war on ordinary citizens?
People in History
Like most ordinary people caught up in war, Edith Cavell (1865–1915) did not plan on becoming a hero. An English nurse, she was in charge of a hospital in Belgium. After the German invasion, Cavell cared for wounded soldiers on both sides. She also helped Allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands.
In 1915, the Germans arrested Cavell for spying. As she faced a firing squad, her last reported words were, “Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone.” Why do you think the British government spread the story of Edith Cavell?
Virtual Lusitania, 4:39
Sinking of the Lusitania 1918 Animation, 8:23
The Great Lusitania, 5:35 (Warning: this version is the most intense and the most realistic; do not view if you feel the sinking of the ship would make you feel uncomfortable.)
Germany used U-boats to create its own blockade. In 1915, Germany declared that it would sink all ships carrying goods to Britain. In May 1915, a German submarine torpedoed the British liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Almost 1,200 passengers were killed, including 128 Americans. Germany justified the attack, arguing that the Lusitania was carrying weapons. When American President Woodrow Wilson threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with Germany, though, Germany agreed to restrict its submarine campaign. Before attacking any ship, U-boats would surface and give warning, allowing neutral passengers to escape to lifeboats. Unrestricted submarine warfare stopped—for the moment.
Section 3 The Russian Revolution
Background to Revolution
“Mr. War Minister!
We, soldiers from various regiments,. . . ask you to end the war and its bloodshed at any cost…. If this is not done, then believe us when we say that we will take our weapons and head out for our own hearths to save our fathers, mothers, wives, and children from death by starvation (which is nigh). And if we cannot save them, then we’d rather die with them in our native lands then be killed, poisoned, or frozen to death somewhere and cast into the earth like a dog.”
—Letter from the front, 1917
Reading Skill: Summarize Copy the time line below and fill it in as you read this section. When you finish, write two sentences that summarize the information in your time line.
Beginnings of Upheaval
The year 1913 marked the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. Everywhere, Russians honored the tsar and his family. Tsarina Alexandra felt confident that the people loved Nicholas too much to ever threaten him. “They are constantly frightening the emperor with threats of revolution,” she told a friend, “and here,—you see it yourself—we need merely to show ourselves and at once their hearts are ours.”
Appearances were deceiving. In March 1917, the first of two revolutions would topple the Romanov dynasty and pave the way for even more radical changes.
The outbreak of war in 1914 fueled national pride and united Russians. Armies dashed to battle with enthusiasm. But like the Crimean and Russo-Japanese wars, World War I quickly strained Russian resources. Factories could not turn out enough supplies. The transportation system broke down, delivering only a trickle of crucial materials to the front. By 1915, many soldiers had no rifles and no ammunition. Badly equipped and poorly led, they died in staggering numbers. In 1915 alone, Russian casualties reached two million.
crucial—(kroo shul) adj. of vital importance
In a patriotic gesture, Nicholas II went to the front to take personal charge. The decision proved a disastrous blunder. The tsar was no more competent than many of his generals. Worse, he left domestic affairs to the tsarina, Alexandra. In Nicholas’ absence, Alexandra relied on the advice of Gregory Rasputin, an illiterate peasant and self-proclaimed “holy man.” The tsarina came to believe that Rasputin had miraculous powers after he helped her son, who suffered from hemophilia, a disorder in which any injury can result in uncontrollable bleeding.
By 1916, Rasputin’s influence over Alexandra had reached new heights and weakened confidence in the government. Fearing for the monarchy, a group of Russian nobles killed Rasputin on December 29, 1916.
The March Revolution
By March 1917, disasters on the battlefield, combined with food and fuel shortages on the home front, brought the monarchy to collapse. In St. Petersburg (renamed Petrograd during the war), workers were going on strike. Marchers, mostly women, surged through the streets, shouting, “Bread! Bread!” Troops refused to fire on the demonstrators, leaving the government helpless. Finally, on the advice of military and political leaders, the tsar abdicated.
Duma politicians then set up a provisional, or temporary, government. Middle-class liberals in the government began preparing a constitution for a new Russian republic. At the same time, they continued the war against Germany.
Outside the provisional government, revolutionary socialists plotted their own course. In Petrograd and other cities, they set up soviets, or councils of workers and soldiers. At first, the soviets worked democratically within the government. Before long, though, the Bolsheviks, a radical socialist group, took charge. The leader of the Bolsheviks was a determined revolutionary, V. I. Lenin.
The revolutions of March and November 1917 are known to Russians as the February and October revolutions. In 1917, Russia still used an old calendar, which was 13 days behind the one used in Western Europe. Russia adopted the Western calendar in 1918.
Develop a sequence of events leading to the March Revolution.
The Rise of Lenin
A Brilliant Revolutionary
As a young man, Lenin read the works of Karl Marx and participated in student demonstrations. He spread Marxist ideas among factory workers along with other socialists, including Nadezhda Krupskaya (nah dyez duh kroop sky uh), the daughter of a poor noble family. In 1895, Lenin and Krupskaya were arrested and sent to Siberia. During their imprisonment, they were married. After their release, they went into exile in Switzerland. There they worked tirelessly to spread revolutionary ideas.
Lenin’s View of Marx
Lenin adapted Marxist ideas to fit Russian conditions. Marx had predicted that the industrial working class would rise spontaneously to overthrow capitalism. But Russia did not have a large urban proletariat. Instead, Lenin called for an elite group to lead the revolution and set up a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Though this elite revolutionary party represented a small percentage of socialists, Lenin gave them the name Bolsheviks, meaning “majority.”
In Western Europe, many leading socialists had come to think that socialism could be achieved through gradual and moderate reforms such as higher wages, increased suffrage, and social welfare programs. A group of socialists in Russia, the Mensheviks, favored this approach. The Bolsheviks rejected it. To Lenin, reforms of this nature were merely capitalist tricks to repress the masses. Only revolution, he said, could bring about needed changes.
In March 1917, Lenin was still in exile. As Russia stumbled into revolution, Germany saw a chance to weaken its enemy by helping Lenin return home. Lenin rushed across Germany to the Russian frontier in a special train. He greeted a crowd of fellow exiles and activists with this cry: “Long live the worldwide Socialist revolution!”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Lenin (1870–1924) was the son of a teacher and his wife who lived in a little town on the Volga River. Vladimir lived with his parents and five siblings in a rented wing of a large house. By all accounts it was a happy home. Vladimir excelled at school and looked up to his older brother Alexander. But when Vladimir was 16, his father died. When he was 17, his beloved brother Alexander was hanged for plotting to kill the tsar.
Still reeling from the death of his brother, Vladimir enrolled at Kazan University. There he met other discontented young people. They united to protest the lack of student freedom in the university. Within three months, Vladimir was expelled for his part in the demonstrations. How do you think Lenin’s early life affected his later political ideas?
What was Lenin's plan when he arrived in Russia?
The Bolsheviks Seize Power
Lenin threw himself into the work of furthering the revolution. Another dynamic Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, helped lead the fight. To the hungry, war-weary Russian people, Lenin and the Bolsheviks promised “Peace, Land, and Bread.”
The Provisional Government’s Mistakes
Meanwhile, the provisional government, led by Alexander Kerensky, continued the war effort and failed to deal with land reform. Those decisions proved fatal. Most Russians were tired of war. Troops at the front were deserting in droves. Peasants wanted land, while city workers demanded an end to the desperate shortages. In July 1917, the government launched the disastrous Kerensky offensive against Germany. By November, according to one official report, the army was “a huge crowd of tired, poorly clad, poorly fed, embittered men.” Growing numbers of troops mutinied. Peasants seized land and drove off fearful landlords.
The Bolshevik Takeover
Conditions were ripe for the Bolsheviks to make their move. In November 1917, squads of Red Guards—armed factory workers—joined mutinous sailors from the Russian fleet in attacking the provisional government. In just a matter of days, Lenin’s forces overthrew the provisional government without a struggle.
The Bolsheviks quickly seized power in other cities. In Moscow, it took a week of fighting to blast the local government out of the walled Kremlin, the former tsarist center of government. Moscow became the Bolsheviks’ capital, and the Kremlin their headquarters.
“We shall now occupy ourselves in Russia in building up a proletarian socialist state,” declared Lenin. The Bolsheviks ended private ownership of land and distributed land to peasants. Workers were given control of the factories and mines. A new red flag with an entwined hammer and sickle symbolized union between workers and peasants. Throughout the land, millions thought they had at last gained control over their own lives. In fact, the Bolsheviks—renamed Communists—would soon become their new masters.
What was the impact of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on Russia?
Civil War in Russia
After the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin quickly sought peace with Germany. Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, giving up a huge chunk of its territory and its population. The cost of peace was extremely high, but the Communist leaders knew that they needed all their energy to defeat a collection of enemies at home. Russia’s withdrawal affected the hopes of both the Allies and the Central Powers, as you read in Section 3.
withdrawal—(with draw ul) n. the act of leaving
For three years, civil war raged between the “Reds,” as the Communists were known, and the counterrevolutionary “Whites.” The “White” armies were made up of tsarist imperial officers, Mensheviks, democrats, and others, all of whom were united only by their desire to defeat the Bolsheviks. Nationalist groups from many of the former empire’s non-Russian regions joined them in their fight. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania broke free, but nationalists in Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia were eventually subdued.
The Allies intervened in the civil war. They hoped that the Whites might overthrow the Communists and support the fight against Germany. Britain, France, and the United States sent forces to help the Whites. Japan seized land in East Asia that tsarist Russia had once claimed. The Allied presence, however, did little to help the Whites. The Reds appealed to nationalism and urged Russians to drive out the foreigners. In the long run, the Allied invasion fed Communist distrust of the West.
Brutality was common in the civil war. Counterrevolutionary forces slaughtered captured Communists and tried to assassinate Lenin. The Communists shot the former tsar and tsarina and their five children in July 1918 to keep them from becoming a rallying symbol for counterrevolutionary forces.
Who opposed the new Bolshevik regime?
Triumph of the Communists
The Communists used terror not only against the Whites, but also to control their own people. They organized the Cheka, a secret police force much like the tsar’s. The Cheka executed ordinary citizens, even if they were only suspected of taking action against the revolution. The Communists also set up a network of forced-labor camps in 1919—which grew under Stalin into the dreaded Gulag.
The Communists adopted a policy known as “war communism.” They took over banks, mines, factories, and railroads. Peasants in the countryside were forced to deliver almost all of their crops to feed the army and hungry people in the cities. Peasant laborers were drafted into the military or forced to work in factories.
Meanwhile, Trotsky turned the Red Army into an effective fighting force. He used former tsarist officers under the close watch of commissars, Communist party officials assigned to the army to teach party principles and ensure party loyalty. Trotsky’s passionate speeches roused soldiers to fight. So did the order to shoot every tenth man if a unit performed poorly.
The Reds’ position in the center of Russia gave them a strategic advantage. The White armies were forced to attack separately from all sides. They were never able to cooperate effectively with one another. By 1921, the Communists had managed to defeat their scattered foes.
Why did the Red Army prevail over the White Army?
War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 1921 by Dr Jonathan Smele
Section 4 End of the War
Cassell Military Classics: Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare by Bryan Perrett
One helpful animation is:
Animated Map: The Western Front, 1914 - 1918
Animated battle of the Somme
Among other animations, you can view: Life in the Trenches
You can try your luck during several front line missions with
By the time the Yanks get involved there is a popular song which memorialized American involvement:
American involvement in WW I, 4:11
The Great War #1, World War 1 Era Period Music and Pictures. WW 1 spanned from August of 1914 to November of 1918 and raged across the globe. The United States was officially involved in the war from April 1917 to the end.
The dough boys are nearly forgotten today in the shadow of World War 2, Vietnam and Iraq. Millions of American men and women, black and white, served our country in The Great War. This series of shorts shows the music of their time and photographs from the Great War.
BBC Schools Links
GCSE Bitesize Revision - History
A secondary revision resource for GCSE exams covering the First World War.
The Bitesize series features audio clips from history and commentators:
Standard Grade Bitesize Revision - History
A secondary revision resource for Standard Grade covering the First World War.
BBC History - World War One
This World War One site from BBC History features interactive movies, animations, feature articles and 3-d models.
One helpful animation is:
Animated Map: The Western Front, 1914 - 1918
History Trail – How to do History
Follow in the footsteps of professional historians and find out how they do history. Discover how postcards, council records, tapestries and people's memories of the past are all valuable sources for the historian.
Learning Curve – The Great War
This is a comprehensive offering from the Public Records Office, which tells the story of the First World War through six different source based investigations. It aims to show how the War developed and includes teachers' notes.
Spartacus Educational – The First World War
Spartacus' World War One website offers a growing encyclopaedia of entries about the war, as well as links to other websites.
First World War.com - The war to end all wars
This site gives a general overview of the First World War. It offers a collection of insightful feature articles, photos and footage, memoirs and diaries.
Spark Notes – World War 1 (1914-1918)
Gives a summary and commentary on each main study area of the First World War.
Art of the First World War
Presents 100 paintings from international collections from around the world to commemorate the First World War.
The World War One Document Archive
The World War One Document Archive presents primary documents concerning the Great War.
World War 1 - Web Links
This site lists links to in-depth articles on all aspects of the First World War, including a large collection of links to primary source material.
National Curriculum Online: History
Information about the National Curriculum for History, QCDA and DfEE schemes of work, pupils' work and information about standards and support materials.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority (QCDA) History section.
Examine key issues with the help of original documents.
The best overall war reference for the entire modern period:
War Made New: Weapons, Warriors, and the Making of the Modern World by Max Boot
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Cassell Military Classics: Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare by Bryan Perrett
Day of the Assassins: A Jack Christie Novel by Johnny O'Brien
War in the Air 1914-45 (Smithsonian History of Warfare) by Williamson Murray
The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare From Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts by Robin Cross, pp. 170-193.
The Encyclopedia of Weaponry: The Development of Weaponry from Prehistory to 21st Century Warfare, Ian V. Hogg, pp. 112-139.
Battles and Campaigns (Mapping History) by Malcolm Swanston
A documentary about the battle of the Somme 1916 part 1, 9:58
War and Revolution in Russia 1914 - 1921
By Dr Jonathan Smele
World War I in Popular Culture
In 1966, the "Ace" was immortalized in song by the Royal Guardsmen with their hit, Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron. This was followed in 1967 by Return of the Red Baron, in which it is revealed that the Baron survived their previous encounter but runs away when Snoopy challenges him to a duel with pistols, and then by Snoopy's Christmas, in which the two foes temporarily set aside their differences for a Christmas toast, as per the Christmas Truces that occurred during World War I. Snoopy's Christmas continues to be played as a holiday favorite on many oldies radio stations.
During the 1968 U.S. Presidential election, the Guardsmen released two additional songs, "Snoopy for President", in which Snoopy's bid for the nomination of the Beagle party is tipped in his favor by the Red Baron, and "Down Behind the Lines", which does not mention Snoopy specifically but describes the attempts of a World War I pilot to fly his damaged Sopwith Camel back to friendly territory.
In 2006 the Guardsmen recorded a song called "Snoopy vs. Osama" in which Snoopy shifts his focus away from The Red Baron and captures Osama Bin Laden.
Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, 2:08
1966, The Royal Guardsmen - Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, 2:40
The group from Ocala, FL with the British moniker rose to fame in 1966 with its single, “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron,” which became the title track of its debut album. The album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and remained there for 12 weeks. It went on to sell one million copies, earning it gold certification from the R.I.A.A. in 1967.
p. 513, Interpreting the Past, #1-3.