Compare and contrasts the impact of World War I and World War II

In 1939, Neville Chamberlin was following a policy of appeasement concerning Hitler’s foreign policy. In September the 3rd, when the British government declared war on Germany, everyone predicted the worse; another war which was to be very resembling to the Great War. Nevertheless, there were many contrasts between the two wars. In this essay, I will seek to prove that the most important difference between the two wars was t he use of the air force in both sides (Allies and Axis). This question still remains important today, because it was since World War II that new fighting tactics were developed and have leaded to present day’s modern warfare.

In the First World War, Germany was “the aggressor” since following the Schlieffen plan she attacked Belgium in order to reach France. This gave her a propaganda disadvantage since it made Germany look evil giving Britain the moral high ground. Hitler made a note of this in his book Mein Kampf were he states that “But it was not until the War that it became evident what immense results could be obtained by a correct application of propaganda.” In contrast, during world war two though, the Frueher made a similar mistake (even though it was deliberate). Germany invaded Poland following its Hitler’s foreign policies, involving in this way Britain in the conflict (Churchill’s declaration of war ending appeasement). This was different from WWI because Hitler hated to Poles, and wanted to destroy them. After the Versailles Conference, Poland was created as a new state with the only intention of hurting and dividing Germany, for this reason, Hitler highly disliked them. In addition, German advance over the Polish territory could have been or was justified because of the “lebensraum” program (space for living) giving them again very bad propaganda.

When wars break out, one of the most important things to do if not the most, it’s to maintain a solid economy, yet, in the two wars, different countries handled the situation in different ways. In the First World War, Germany failed economically, it had prepared for a short was who was to surrender France in moths through the Schlieffen plan, but eventually lasted over 4 years. Due to its bad preparation, Germany used up all its resources and suffered numerous shortages who were made worse by the British blockade in 1917. As a result, the Government put forward a series of measures such as using subsidies in food or K-bread but nothing avoided the “Turnip or Hunger Winter” were 700,000 civilians died. In contrast, in the Second World War, Hitler planned the war much better and what ’s more important looking to the future, at the long term weaknesses of Germany in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Concretely, he, Hitler put in place the 4 year plan which increased production undertaken by the public works under the direction of Fritz Todt.
However, were there is less of a contrast between the two wars; is in the recovery of Germany. In both wars, America dived in for the rescue of Germany. After the first conflict, Germany was destroyed, it was very harshly punished by the Versailles conference but; internally, it also face extremist revolutions who tried to overthrow the young government (Freikorps and Spartakists and eventually Nazis) but also an immense hyperinflation crisis. In this case, American aide to Germany came in the form of a loan called The Dawes Plan (Loan meaning that is kept strings attached/the hands on the money) “We are dancing on a volcano” . The Dawes plan (named after the banker Charles Dawes) was eventually a rescue buoy for Germany since thank to it; the reparation set upon Germany were heavily reduced. The plan also forced allied troops to leave Germany’s industrial area of the Ruhr ending passive resistance and therefore the inflation crisis. In the second conflict, the situation was different. Germany was cut in half, a new government had to be installed and the country had to be rebuilt (perfect scenario for a revolution). This time, America gave $12,500,000,000 to Europe with no strings attached (which differs from the Loan in WWI) through Marshall Aid in order to prevent the spread of communism. Thank to this, the GFR was able to settle and West Germany to gain its political, military, geographical and economical independence.
The wars had very similar impacts on Britain and had common factors. In both wars, alike Germany, Britain came out with serious economic difficulties. However, Britain responded better than Germany during the war. The government introduced rationing, encouraged personal growing of own vegetables and mobilized women into workforces like the “Munitionettes” who worked in munitions factories or the “Woman lands army” who organized and participated in the county’s agriculture. In the Second World War, actions undertaken were similar; the government put forward a campaign which was called “dig for victory” which encouraged families to grow crops.
After the first conflict, Britain was bankrupted, evidence of this is for example Lloyd George’s project called “Homes for Hero’s” who failed and who’s objective was to provide a home for every solider the fought in the were when they returned. Other evidence is the passive attitude of appeasement showed by “The League” concerning Italian, Japanese of German military abuses to their neighbouring countries. On the other hand, due to the war, women in Britain won the vote in 1918. However, are we right when we say that the war was the cause of this change? Debatable…
In contrast, Britain handled the situation differently in the Second World War. After the second conflict, British politicians managed to obtain fructuous and useful reforms across. An example of this; is the settlement of the Welfare State (NHS, council housing). However it would be interesting to further research and consider if this improvement in the social in Britain, was down to the British reformers, or if it was linked to the American economic aid (Marshall Aid). On the other hand, after the second conflict, women did not obtain further political gains.

In the political aspect, some very interesting contrasts occur between the two wars. Germany suffered a great deal after the wars. After both wars, Germany was torn between democracy and dictatorship. Preceding the first war, Germany was under the absolute rule of the Kiser (dictatorship) then after the Peace Conference, the democracy entered Germany in the form of the Weimar republic, and then due the crisis, dictatorship appears again with Hitler and the Nazis.
However, there is an interesting contrast when looking at the outcome of both wars. In the First conflict, Germany is divided chronologically from a democracy to a dictatorship. Before World War One, the Keiser Wilhelm ruled the country in a very authoritarian manner; he was an absolute ruler who was assigned by the lineage (power passed on from father to son) and not by election. Following the war, a young, fragile and inexperienced democratic republic was installed by the “November criminals” which was known was the Weimar Republic. After 15 years of unstable democracy, the Nazis seized power, leading to Hitler becoming absolute ruler and Furer of Germany becoming again a dictatorship. In contrast, after the second conflict, Germany is divided geographically into a dictatorship on one hand and a democracy on the other. In 1945, when the Red Army liberated Berlin (debatable), the occidental countries managed after though negotiations at Yalta and Potsdam to keep control of West Berlin and West half of Germany creating so the FGR. Here again, Germans shifted towards democracy on one side Governed by Theodor Heuss at first, and with and dictatorship in the other Governed by Wilhelm Pieck and eventually Walter Ulbricht.
During both wars, Germany has always fought against Russia complicating very much the situation for her. During the First World War, due to its poor leadership and army organization, Russia lost Ukraine and the Baltic countries to Germany. Battles such as Tannenburg were disastrous for the Russians (78 000 Russian men were killed or injured in seven days). This eventually, in 1917 lead into a civil war who’s outcome was the rise of communism and later, the creation of the USSR. On the other hand, in the Second World War, even though Germany attacked importantly Stalin’s lines and reached Stalingrad, the Soviets were able to twist the situation and win over the Germans. In this case, Operation Barbarossa commanded by Hitler and Franz Halder, illustrates the Nazi failure.
There is an interesting contrast between outcome of both wars in Russia. In the first conflict, Russia surrendered to Germany after suffering a Bolshevik revolution leaded by Lenin, and is forced to sign the unfair Brest-Litovsk agreement were she lost huge amounts of her former empire. In contrast, in the second conflict, the Soviet Republic is victorious over Germany (the Red Army was the first to reach Berlin) and this time, Stalin is the one that imposes a treaty upon Germany (Yalta and Potsdam conferences) and takes control over most of Eastern Europe.
In Britain, both wars undertake drastic changes in the British party system. Before and during world war one, due to the situation, the British Government imposed very tough conditions upon the population. In the naval race, Lloyd George was forced to increase taxes in order to match German rapid advance, later on, during the war, rations and social cuts had to be establish due to the war. The social conditions in Britain were disastrous by 1915, the German blockade prevented food from entering the country, and people were starving. This scenario didn’t please the British population who blamed the government for the problems. As a result, we could say that; World War One destroyed the Liberals as a political force (divided between Lloyd George and Asquith) and led to interwar Conservative dominance when in 1922, Andrew Bonar Law (then succeeded by Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlin) succeeded Liberals in the Government. In contrast, after the second conflict, the Labour party made its grate entry in the British politics. After the end of the war, Churchill’s great charisma, which had been very popular during the war, was rapidly changed to Clement Attlee’s seriousness.

In the military aspect, the most interesting contrasts occurred between the two wars. In both wars, technology dictated the nature of the conflict. In the First World War, stagnation resulted from a lack of understanding of how to deploy the technology and weapons became the masters rather than the servants. In terms of infantry, the First World War was disastrous. Both sides had been surprised by the destruction capacity of their weapons forcing them to dig the mud and hide under the ground like coward rats in order to preserve their lives from being obliterated by machineguns. Before the Great War, warfare was much different, the cavalry had always been the best card to play up to then, but with the fire of the new machineguns, the battlefield had been converted into a slaughter “fighting machine guns with the breasts of brave young men” . As a result, generals were paralysed and stagnated in the trenches ignoring what to do. Artillery was wrongly used (failure of the creeping barrage) and air forces were underdeveloped. As a result, atrocious attacks were performed like gas bombs or Messine ridge battle (were the massive bombs are detonated under the enemy lines). In contrast, during the Second World War, new fighting techniques were developed. In terms of infantry, Hitler’s troops adopted the blitzkrieg strategy which eventually dynamited the movement of troops avoiding them from stagnating and slowing like in World War One. Other improvements like the panzershreks (very effective anti-tank rocket launcher) enabled dynamic movement of the troops. This allowed Nazi troops to invade France in six weeks, and force the British troops to withdraw from Dunkirk.
During the Great War, the control of the seas played a major role in starting and deciding the war. Before the war had started, Britain and Germany had disputed and incredible naval race. During the War though, the strategies were leaning more towards defence and strategic blockades than open battles in the sea. For example, Britain adopted a convoy system in order to prevent German U-boat attacks and maintain her trade. In contrast, World War Two leaned more towards offensive strategies such a the very well known Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military camping campaign of World War Two. The battle of the Atlantic pitted U-boats and other warships of the German Navy against Allied convoys coming from North America.
During the First World War, the air forces were under developed; they only served for reconnaissance purposes, and rarely for an attack. Scarborough was one of the rare British city who was bombarded by the German Zeppelins during the First World War. In contrast, the Second World War relied principally on air attacks to weaken the enemy. World War One had shown that face to face combat was fatal, and therefore had to be avoided. Consequently, both sides developed their air forces. The RAF counted above 500 aircrafts at the best of the conflict and the Luftwaffe, commanded by Lieutenant General Arne Kreuzinger-Janik above 400. Over the war, the two air forces were constantly put in action in the skies. The Nazi’s used their air force mainly to weaken the British by aiming at strategic military bases and also by destroying the cities (very well known Blitz of London) in order to demoralise the population and destroy them economically (in response to this, the British heavily bombed the city of Hamburg over 7 days. In one night, more bombs had exploded in the German city than the total amount of bombs in London over the whole period of the Blitz). In order to achieve this, German engineers constructed the very well known and fared stuka bombers who had a very important role in the Blitz. In addition, towards the end of the war, the Nazi’s developed the V1 and V2 rockets which effectively were rockets that were fired from the other side of the Canal whose objective was bombing London (and other cities). The particularity that they had is that they were pilot free and were remote controlled from a base. In addition, countries other the Germany and Britain developed there are forces. Japan put forward an offensive against Pearl Harbor in 1917. It also consisted of heavy bombing over the strategic military emplacements and ships. Finally, the ultimate weapon was developed and used during the Second World war. These were the atomic Bombs that were thrown by the American air forces onto the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are many diplomatic contrasts between the First World War and the Second. At the end of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles decided upon the decision of territory and the future of the Colonies. As a result of world war one, all German colonies were surrendered as League of Nations mandates. Alsace Larraine was handed back to the French, the Polish Corridor was created, and the Rhineland was to be handed in to the French for 15 years. This made Germany lose a bit of land (considering Clemenceau aimed to divide it into 5 small provinces), but maintained its main structure and solidity as an important European stated. After the Great War, the major Empires of Britain and France were given “mandates” by the League of Nations. Furthermore, after the first conflict, international organizations emerge to prevent war. In this case, it was the League of Nations. Its was a peace keeping organization mainly leaded by the USA and Britain, but; it eventually came out as a weak organization that faced many problems in hard times. In contrast, after the Second World War, the last Empires rapidly dissolved due to nationalism now being mature as a concept in their colonies (Algerian war of independence in 1962 or Indian independence from the British Empire 1947) and the increased pressure of the USA upon old Europe to decolonise. In addition, and other contrast, is that after the second conflict, Germany was divided in half, one was controlled by the Soviets under a puppet stated called the Democratic Republic of Germany and the West side was given its independence shortly after the end of the was, existing as the Federal Republic of Germany. After the Second World War, also international organisations emerged. Notably, the United Nations was set up which was a new version of the League, but was much more powerful than the League had been. In addition, numerous military organizations were created to avoid another conflict such as the World war and maintain allies due to the Cold War. These were eventually called the NATO (which was an alliance between occidental capitalist countries) and the Warsaw Pact (which was an alliance between communist nations in the East). To finish, there were also organizations established on an economic basis such as the ECSC, favor sing the trade of coal within Europe, which eventually became the EEC and finale the present and well known European Union

In conclusion, both world wars had been very similar .Both of them had been extremely costly in terms of the human lives, both of them a threatened to destroy humanity. However, the fact that so many contrasts are found between the two World War suggests that there has been an evolution between the two wars and that people learned from past mistakes. But above all, what people learned from both World Wars, is how atrocious humans can be when it comes to war, an how World peace has the be conserved at all cost, and never again fall into the mistake of an other War such as those ones.