The century following World War I has been a century in which blood and ideas have flowed freely. As a consequence of the war and the Treaty of Versailles which ended it:
1. The Russian Revolution ushered in communism, and later the Cold War.
2. Britain and France carved up the Middle East with boundaries that created new countries, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, without regard to the promises that had been made to the Arabs during the war or regard for their sensibilities.
3. The Ottoman Empire fell, making way for modern Turkey.
4. The Austro-Hungarian Empire fell, changing the face of central and eastern Europe.
5. Monarchical rule ended in Europe.
6. Germany was so emasculated by the peace that the ascent of Adolf Hitler was possible.
7. Mechanized war was perfected with industrialized killing by gun, bomb and, for the first time, aircraft was unleashed.
8. The combatants lost the cream of their crop of young men, many of who would have risen to affect the 20th century after the war. The consequences of the loss of a generation of a young men can be speculated upon, but not calculated.
9. The stage was set for the United States — which played a decisive role in the war from the spring of 1917 on, but was not as deeply affected as the European powers — to become the dominant nation in the later part of the 20th century and to this day.
10. The social order throughout Europe began to liberalize. Its feudal underpinnings would remain until World War II, but there was a loosening of the old bonds of class across Europe.
11. Women were beginning to share their gifts with society.
12. African colonies were taken from Germany and handed to Britain for a kind of safe-keeping, but not for the imperial expansion that Britain had been enjoying for two centuries. Britain, France, Portugal and Holland remained the colonial powers — Britain's possessions were many times greater than the rest put together.
13. Fury at the colonial system was building, especially against British control of what are now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The beginning of the end of the colonial concept had begun, but it had many hurdles and another world war to go before it all ended in an avalanche of independencies.
Leave a Reply