20 Key effects of World War I

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World War I caused a lot of devastation and destruction. World War I originated in 1918 and lasted for over four years. During the war, the world went through major changes which had a lasting impact. The war was responsible for the overthrow of great empires, old regimes, the formation of new territories and the dissolving of the old. Subsequently, the political, economical and social effects of World War I was felt all across the globe.

Let’s take a look at the 20 key effects of World War I.

1) The collapse of four empires

One of the prominent effects of World War I was the downfall of four empires: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey.

A picture of Germany post World War I
Germany post World War I

2) After World War I, the Austria-Hungary empire broke down into several independent states. These nations are Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria.

A pciture of the tombstone of the Austria-Hungary empire indicating its downfall

3) The Weimar Republic

One of the major effects of World War I was the establishment of the Weimar Republic in Germany. After the war, Kaiser Wilhelm II lost all his military support and was forcefully abdicated from the throne. Germany also experienced a civil conflict known as the German Revolution. This marked the fall of the constitutional monarchy in Germany and gave rise to a parliamentary republic. The parliamentary republic was known as the Weimar Republic.

A picture of the Weimar Constitution- one of the effects of World War I
The Weimar Constitution

4) Another political effect of World War I was the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Republic of Turkey.

5) The war also caused colonial revolts in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the war marked the end of colonialism. After the war people became more nationalistic.

A picture of a colonial revolt

6) The war was beneficial for the Bolsheviks to rise to power in Russia in 1917.

A picture of the Bolsheviks meeting- another one of the effects of World War I was the Bolsheviks rise to power
A Bolsheviks meeting

7) As a consequence of the war, a fascist government triumphed in Italy.

A picture of Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini- The fascist dictator of Italy

8) The war had a devastating economic effect on European powers. Although it left the European countries in deep debt, the United States emerged as a leading superpower.

A picture of U.S. troops

9) Before the war the U.S. was a debtor nation, but it was World War I which took it out of recession and put it into a 44-month economic boom. Thus post the war the U.S. became the leading creditor and industrial power in the world.

10) Countries started treating foreigners with suspicion and imposed trade protectionism and restricted capital flow. These practices set the stage for the Great Depression.

A picture from the Great Depression- one of the effects of World War I

11) The war also caused inflation in the European nations. Germany for one experienced hyperinflation. By the end of 1918, the Deutsch mark had fallen more than 50% against American dollars.

A picture of Hyperinflation in Germany
Hyperinflation in Germany

12) The German government was printing money to pay for the war and increased the Deutschmarks in circulation from 13 billion to 60 billion. The war also increased Germany’s sovereign debt from 5 billion marks to 100 billion marks.

13) Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany faced harsh reparations for the war and had to pay up 132 billion gold marks as financial reparations of World War I.

14) The spread of the Spanish flu

The 1918 Spanish flu affected almost a 3rd of the world’s population at the time. The large mobilisation of troops from different parts of the world caused the flu to spread faster. The influenza pandemic is another one of the deadly effects of World War I. Moreover, the epidemic caused more deaths than the war itself.

A picture of the spanish flu- one of the effects of World War I
The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic

15) In the United Kingdom, the Women’s suffragette movement was a success and women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote. The main reason was that during the war women were doing the traditional ‘men’s jobs’ hence proving they were capable of voting.

A picture of the UK women's suffrage movement
UK women’s suffrage movement

16) Development of new technology and chemical warfare

New technology and development in chemical warfare were other key effects of World War I. Although, the participating countries used primitive communication methods like carrier pigeons, the technology during the war was ever-evolving. The war made use of fighter aircraft, submarines and tanks. Additionally, the weapons used during the war also evolved. The nations made use of modern artillery, flame throwers and poison gas. This became the modern warfare.

A picture of modern warfare of World War I- one of the effects of World War I

17) The social effects of World War I

The war had a terrible social impact on the world. The soldiers who fought in the war were called the ‘Lost Generation’ and a collective trauma was felt across the participating countries of World War I. At the beginning of the 20th century the Europeans people were looking forward to a future of prosperity in Europe but World War I changed that and it was a war that few wanted or expected.

A Picture of the Lost Generation
The Lost Generation

18) The League of Nations

World War I caused the deaths of 9 million military personnel and 10 million civilians and left at least 7 million people permanently disabled. The devastation and destruction caused by the war heralded the birth of an organisation called the League of Nations. The League of Nations was established for the sole purpose of maintaining World Peace. It was formed on January 10 1920, following the Paris Peace Conference.

A picture of a meeting of the League of Nations- one of the effects of World War I
A meeting of League of Nations

19) Mental health and World War I

World War I caused a lot of mental stress on the soldiers who went to war. Many of them developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the term Shellshocked was used to describe them. Shellshock caused them to panic, become helpless and develop an inability to reason, sleep or talk.

A picture of a shellshocked soldier- PTSD was one of the effects of World War I
A shellshocked soldier

20) The last prominent effect of World War I was that it separated many families and caused a lot of ruin. Additionally, the losses suffered during the war caused a lot of bitterness among the nations, this resentment among the nations greatly contributed to the forthcoming World War II.

A picture of helmets of troops- another one of the effects of World War I was the bitterness amongst nations

The U.S. entered World War I only briefly but that decision made quite an impact on the outcome of the war. Read  Why did the U.S. enter World War I? – Reasons | Key facts | Brief Overview

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