1. Define and describe the phenomenon of "total war" and discuss its impact on the
social, political, and economic structure of Europe during and after WWI.
I think that it is hard to define “total war” with a single word, but there would
be general agreement among historians that the First World War is one of the
representative examples with the French and Industrial Revolutions. As we have learned
from the First World War, the phenomenon of “total war” would be described as the
military conflict in which nations involved the mobilization of entire populations and all
available resources in order to destroy the other nations. And it also can be
distinguished by its unprecedented scope and intensity of battle. Since total war requires
the mobilization of whole population not only of armed forces but also of men, women
and children, it finally resulted in the mobilization of the home front which describes
the civilian populace of the nation at war as an active support system of its military.
And consequently, the home front brought about many changes not only to the social
structure of Europe but also to the economic and political structure.
First of all, it caused enormous changes in Europe society, such as the role of
labor unions, the role of women, and social equality. The power and prestige for labor
unions were strengthened by their loyalty in 1914 so they became an indispensable
partner of government and private industry in the planned war economy (pg 902).
Therefore, labor unions were able to involve in important decisions of work rules,
wages, and production schedules cooperated with governments. And this strengthened
role of labor leaders and unions enabled to be paralleled with the role of socialist
leaders. With the changes of the role of labor unions, the World War I brought about the
dramatic changes in the role of women. During the war, large numbers of women began
to work outside of their homes. For example, they began to work in industry,
transportation, and offices (pg 902). According to our text book, “By 1917 women
formed fully 43 percent of the labor force in Russia” (pg 902). Therefore, many women
worked not only in war factories, mine but also worked as a nurses and doctors during
the war. Consequently, the war gave many opportunities to women to be more in equal
position with men by supporting the war effort. Besides the promoted women’s
position, social equality was also promoted. The war lessened the gap between rich and
poor and it was most apparent in Great Britain. According to our text book, it says that
“the bottom third of the population generally lived better than they ever had, for the
poorest gained most from the severe shortage of labor” (902).