When I was in junior high school, I took a class about World War I, taught by Miss Babashanian (later Mrs. Williams). It’s a shame that World War I doesn’t get more thorough coverage in history class. It set the stage for many of the following conflicts of the 20th century. The more context people have about history, the more they understand our present and possible futures.
The 100th anniversary of the end of World War I occurs Sunday, November 11, 2018. It was the end of 4 years of warfare unlike anything the world had experienced up to that time: trenches, chemical weapons, and aircraft entered the scene. Millions of people died without much territory actually changing hands by the end of it. The final treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, set the stage for events leading to World War II.
Leading up to World War I, Queen Victoria of Great Britain had many children who went on to rule many of the nations of Europe (Great Britain, Prussia (a German state), Greece, Romania, Russia, Norway, Sweden and Spain). Some historians liken World War I to a family spat between the rulers of the European countries involved. The countries of Europe had many intertwining alliances, so once the war started, most of Europe got involved in order to support their allies.
The loss of life and physical and psychological damages done by the war were phenomenal. This is where the term “shell shocked” originated, to describe the post-traumatic stress disorders many people who survived the war suffered. W. Somerset Maugham wrote The Razor’s Edge, a novel whose main character is a pilot traumatized by his experiences in World War I. (I don’t recommend the 1980s movie adaptation, by the way).
So perhaps take some time to think about the consequences of this war on the 100th anniversary of its end.