Moreover, the horror didn’t end. It simply begot more horror.
Here’s what the modern world should know about World War I: This wretched war, whose reasons still baffle, enabled Hitler in Germany and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. It helped lead to World War II and the Cold War. The famous British historian A.J.P. Taylor put it plainly: “The first war explains the second and, in fact, caused it, in so far as one event causes another.”
The bloody disaster would be a mere warm-up, the first of two worldwide wars, fostered by the “punitive peace” imposed upon the surrendering Germans at the unforgiving hands of the French and other Allied leaders at the Versailles Conference. That punishing peace did not produce a peaceful heart among the Germans, many of which mistakenly believed they had won the war and surrendered only to agree to acceptable conditions of peace. Instead, the conditions at Versailles helped sow the seeds for Hitler’s rise.
The war not only permitted the cataclysm in Germany; it also enabled the fall of Czar Nicholas II in Russia. It’s difficult to imagine the Bolsheviks supplanting the Romanov dynasty without the intervention of WWI.
Ultimately, World War II far surpassed World War I’s carnage; and the Soviet global communist ideology killed even more still– both precipitated by a “Great War” in which no great moral issues were at stake.
World War I unleashed death, principally death. It was a result that Mr. Princip could have never imagined when he pulled that trigger 100 years ago.
Photo credit: State Library of South Australia (Flickr)
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