Jump to content


Photo

Causes Of The Twentieth Century Total War


  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Black_Death

Black_Death
  • Student
  • 1 posts

Posted 29 May 2010 - 04:46 PM

Hi!!!
I need help with a kind of troublesome question.
The twentieth century is a time of opportunities, economic well being (west world) as well as total-war and genocide.
The question is what significant changes in the previous century was made to enable this new form of war and mass-killing of peoples?
Why did the twentieth century turn out as it did?

I'll be pleased if you share your opinions with me :D

#2 MrJohnDClare

MrJohnDClare
  • Moderating Teacher & Admin
  • 5,342 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:County Durham

Posted 30 May 2010 - 09:40 AM

This is a great question, and I'm happy to throw it out to discussion.
Though you need to be warned that smetimes these discussions go less well than one might hope - especially at exam time when members have other things on their mind.

Anyways, to start it off, I would suggest two things:

1. AJP Taylor blamed railways, which got men and weapons to the front in a matter of hours, for the slaughter of WWI
2. Another idea (forget which historian) is that 20th century warfare merely represented the application of 19th century machine technology to warfare - the 'machine' gun, gas made from chemicals used in industry, explosives made initially to help mining etc.

Let's hope that other people have their ideas for you too.

#3 Marx

Marx
  • Student
  • 35 posts

Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:13 AM

1. AJP Taylor blamed railways, which got men and weapons to the front in a matter of hours, for the slaughter of WWI


AJP Taylor also said that "Railways were of great political significance. They helped to break down provincial barriers, brought town and country together and underlined the need for nationalism". I think that the rise of nationalist feeling in the 19th century did cause some of the conflict which happened in the 20th as it united people of certain areas and split people into groups so rather than the "human race" we divided into "the Germanic race" "the British race" etc.

#4 Mr. D. Bryant

Mr. D. Bryant
  • Moderating Teacher & Admin
  • 1,070 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hertfordshire
  • Interests:History teacher, with special interest in military history.

Posted 15 January 2012 - 10:55 AM

I know this was some time ago, but I felt it needed another reply or two.

One reason for the increased the scale of wars was the adoption of conscription by most European countries (not Britain). This was actually an eighteenth century invention, but it developed and spread widely in the nineteenth century.

Each year a proportion of a country's young men (hundreds of thousands each time) were selected for military service. They would be trained as soldiers for one to two years and then released from the army into the 'reserve'. Every year they would be recalled for a few weeks training, then assume their civilian lives. In time of war all the reservists below a certain age (about 40) would be recalled to active service. In this way, although an army might actually number only a few hundred thousand at any one time, in fact much larger numbers of trained soldiers (millions in fact) were available to fight wars.

This meant that armies became much bigger and required more and more support in terms of food, ammunition, clothing etc.

#5 littlemissy

littlemissy
  • Teacher
  • 59 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Glasgow

Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:44 PM

"The twentieth century is a time of opportunities, economic well being (west world) as well as total-war and genocide.
The question is what significant changes in the previous century was made to enable this new form of war and mass-killing of peoples?
Why did the twentieth century turn out as it did?"

The end/ results of the industrial revolution and greed. Just like the opposable thumb meant our ancestors could hold hold instruments to not only make things (good) but bludgeon other creatures we weren't necessarily better than, just had better weapons (bad), so by the 19th century the changes made by the industrial revolution hastened many advances that helped people (good) but also enabled the production of more guns, weapons etc than other countries which resulted in empire building, death, more arms build up, increased competition for dominance. Plus whoever developed guns as they enabled technological supremacy to win over tactical /physical supremacy etc. Maybe.

#6 Mr. D. Bryant

Mr. D. Bryant
  • Moderating Teacher & Admin
  • 1,070 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hertfordshire
  • Interests:History teacher, with special interest in military history.

Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:26 PM

Plus whoever developed guns as they enabled technological supremacy to win over tactical /physical supremacy etc. Maybe.


As Hilaire Belloc put it in a poem from 1898:

Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.


In fact the Europeans weren't always successful, the defeat of the Italians at Adowa in Abyssinia in 1896 being a spectacular example. However, modern technology - the railway, steamship and telegraph - as well as weapons, generally led them to victory.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users