World War 1 was one of the most profound events that affected the world as a whole from 1914 to 1918, fracturing its future. “It was only men who fought in World War 1 that saw change between 1914 and 1918,” to this statement, it is partially agreed.
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World War 1 didn’t just change men on the battlefields, it revolutionised the world! Firstly, soldiers were living with the pros and cons of war! From 1914 to 1918 soldiers were the key figures fighting for their country; all volunteers, travelling to the front line for nationalism in their country, adventure and getting revenge for their loved ones. 65% of approximately 416,809 Australian soldiers (recorded as being enlisted) faced injuries or death during World War 1, from this information it is evident change would’ve been seen daily. Across at the motherland, England had recruited 1,186,337 men into their all-volunteer army called Kitchener’s Army. These numbers were recruiting after 54 million posters, 8 million personal letters, 12,000 meetings and 20,000 speeches delivered by military spokespersons. In 1916 a law was passed in England where all men were forced to fight in any war (conscription) which changed the way future wars would be fought.
In addition, soldiers worldwide who lived to tell the tale or died in the battlefront during World War 1 faced severe shell-shock (a stress disorder from battles). This made the soldiers hypersensitive to noise and in extreme cases caused amnesia. Furthermore, men had to live the rest of their lives in trauma knowing they were murders.
“Wars have such profound effects on everybody; it’s not just the fallen, it’s not just the soldiers, it’s everybody!” – Benno Glockeman, detainee’s grandson (held at a German detention camp in Australia). Many people like Glockeman are proud Australians; however, their ancestry may not have received the same treatment! In Australia during the extent of World War 1 internment camps were created to house all the Germans who were living or visiting Australia as they were not allowed to leave the country. This treatment is very similar to that of the Nazis treatment of the Jewish; however, at a much smaller scale. With such harsh conditions and Australians fearful of an attack on home soil, people were dobbed in. No matter whether you looked German, had German inheritance or had a German-sounding last name you would be held in an internment camp with 7,000 other people who were considered ‘Germans.’ Out of the 7,000 supposed Germans, only 300 weren’t deported back to Germany (approximately 4.28%). This left thousands of families without a father, mother, widowed mothers, widowed fathers and children who had to live with the fact their father/mother would never come home. Future generations are looking back at this horrid past and undoubtfully this affects how they live. How they feel about their ancestry and the hardships their grandparents and mothers/fathers had to go through; living without their parents.
Families were affected by World War 1; it wasn’t just the soldiers! Lastly, the identity of individuals, nationalities, and society was revolutionised. Relating back to internment camps, 2/3 of the 7,000 supposed ‘Germans’ were Australians and instead of being treated like Australians they were treated like criminals, with no trust or freedom of speech. There was a hierarchy of individuals with all the soldiers being at the top, women in the middle and ‘enemy aliens’ (citizens or visitors with foreign backgrounds, in this case, Germans) at the bottom. This caused a separation of nationalities where everyone throughout 1914 to 1918 feared the Germans and forced them to be locked away. Evidence of this is ‘The War Precaution Act,’ established in Australia on the 29th of October 1914. This was where the government created strict laws and regulations to increase its control over ‘enemy aliens’. This act prevented trade with enemy countries which caused many businesses to shut down started taxing income and denied attempts to transmit letters from the Commonwealth through the post; stopping ‘enemy spies’ from communication. This caused many strikes between 1916 and 1917 as 36,000 Germans lived in Australia; they were fighting for their rights since the act was implemented more severely on the ‘enemy aliens.’ In addition, the identity of women changed as they were able to show their skills when they were completing jobs established for men; however, they were paid half the salary because men were considered to be the worker for the family. This gave women an opportunity to work and the first time they may have had an experience with the workforce. Women still applied for jobs; even when the men came back and even though they were getting paid 50%. ‘Yes, yes; possibly I did say something about keeping your position vacant, but it has lately been capably filled by a charming young woman (to whom wages are no object); and I feel sure that you, as a soldier, will not be so unchivalrous as to ask me to discharge her to reinstate YOU!’ – ‘The Promise’ by soldiers’ who just arrived home from war. When companies realised how much cheaper and, in some circumstances, how much better women were at jobs than men. Women were hired over them; leaving many men jobless. The identity of society, nationalities, and individuals was transformed by the war.
To conclude, “it was only men who fought in World War 1 that saw change between 1914 and 1918,” to this statement, it is partially agreed. Firstly, men were fighting for their country and living with all the pros and cons of war. Secondly, families were forever fractured by the loss of their closest loved ones. Finally, the identity of society, nationalities, and individuals was revolutionised. World War 1 didn’t just change men on the battlefront, it revolutionised the world!
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