Was World War One a total war? Why? Why not?
The First World War of 1914-1918, also known as the Great War, was the first total war in history. What began as a European struggle over the balance of power between the triple alliance of France, Britain and Russia on one side and the central powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other, soon became a global conflict that involved the imperial powers of Europe, their colonies and lands such as the Ottoman Empire, Japan and the United States. Although the sheer number of countries involved in the conflict is enough to describe the First World War as a mass war, what makes it total is the fact that it was waged not only against the enemy's armies, but also against the civilian
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The First World War was total because every area of the economy was focused on one aim - the complete mobilisation of all forces for war. All belligerents faced the task of clothing, feeding, housing and arming millions of men and without the efforts of non-combatants, this could not be done. The need for manpower led to the mobilisation of women in the labour force, with female employees taking up a wide range of occupations usually reserved for men. They worked as blacksmiths, grave-diggers, dentists, ambulance drivers, bank tellers and most importantly (for the war effort) in munitions production, which produced virtually everything that the armies needed. Despite the positive effects of employment for women, family life was disrupted during the war and fatherless children (even though it may have been temporary) were also left without a mother. Children were also affected at school as many male teachers answered the call for the need for soldiers. A high-productivity, industrialised economy was needed to maintain the levels of mass mobilisation throughout the First World War, and because this involved large portions of society, which inturn affected other parts of the population, such as the youth, this war was indeed a total one.
The First World War