Why were the Two World Wars so destructive?



Ø  French Revolution - nationalism was becoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had the same culture, language etc wanted their own country. And that was the problem for the government of Austria-Hungary that did not want to lose their power and control. The Slavs in the southern part of the empire were their main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.During WW1 France pursued claims on the region of Alsance Lorraine that had been lost by France to Germany at the end of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871.

Ø  Industrial Revolutions - The 19th century saw the industrial transformation of much of Europe, with vastly increased populations (more people to kill – to go fight – to produce armaments), developing urbanization, (more people in one area – easier to wipe out numbers in one target) and new scientific inventions. In particular, this was the age of iron and steam. Railways and steamships led to a revolution in transport, allowing large armies with their supplies and ammunition to be moved long distances in days rather than weeks. Developments in metallurgy, chemicals and electricity led to new forms of explosives and propellants for improved firearms and artillery, and to a revolution in communications with the electric telegraph. It lead to the fast production of arms and increase in supplies and arms for war.

v  POLITICS: ideologies e.g. Nazism,

Ø  The Nazi regime attempted, to establish a system of rule based upon race. The National Socialists saw themselves as a revolutionary movement and their goal was a radical reshaping of existing society into a racially homogenous, 'Aryan' national community.

Ø  Nazi rationale was heavily invested in the militarist belief that great nations grow from military power.

Ø  Lebensraum – need for German living space and to expand. Racial struggle – to get the lost land back, create a vast new Nazi empire. Eliminate slavs in Eastern Europe.

Ø  Remember Clausewitz…(war is a continuation of politics by other means)

Ø  On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to seek a Declaration of War against Germany in


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