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Rated: E · Essay · Drama · #2003602
Compare and contrast essay on World War I and World War II.

Louis Seales

Prof. Darius Frasure

English 1302-66002


Chaos vs. Madness

WWI and WWII are two of the biggest wars and the most impactful outcomes that resulted. The First World War took place between 1914 and 1918 and The Second World War took place between 1939 and 1945 ("World"). The two world wars started from the wars that preceded them. Hall said "Balkan Wars virtually set the stage of warfare, tactics and beginning of the First World War". The instability that WWI caused mixed with the political instability in Germany created an inevitable Second World War ("World"). Both wars were brutal as the death toll was quickly piling up while the wars raged on. In the First World War the Bulgarians and Ottomans lined up alongside the Central Powers, though by the end of the war, the former enemies were close to renewing hostilities between themselves ("World"). The trench warfare made the First World War an all-out dog fight. Guns, tanks, and poisonous gas were used in WWI and were very effective. In WWII Guns, tanks, and poisonous gas were replaced by larger aircrafts and atomic bombs. WWI and WWII had similarities and differences in the way they began, the tactics used, and the outcomes.

Hall said, "The outbreak of the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 initiated a period of conflict in Europe that has endured off and on for almost a century". Hall also pointed out the Balkan Wars involvement in conscripted armies that opened with large flanking movements that featured the use of massed artillery, concentrated machine guns, assaults on entrenched positions and airplanes. According to Hall, "this resulted in huge military losses numbering over 150,000 dead". Hall continues to say that "the effects and unresolved conflicts of the Balkan Wars lead to WWI and the effects and unresolved issues of WWI lead to WWII". Civilian dead from disease, displacement and deliberate atrocity were numbered in the tens of thousands ("World"). Balkan War battlefields at Doiran, Gallipoli and Kosovo again saw fighting during the First World War ("World"). The issues at the end of the Balkan wars stirred up a conflict that led to WWI. By the end of the Second Balkan War, Serbia was isolated militarily against its rival Austria-Hungary, a development that eventually doomed Serbia in the coming war a year later ("World"). When a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand Austria-Hungary determined that the proper response was to prepare for a possible military invasion of Serbia, which was the outbreak of the First World War ("World"). The instability created in Europe at the end of the First World War set the stage for another worldwide clash. World War II broke out two decades later and would prove even more devastating ("World").

Different political issues in countries initiated both World Wars. According to Hall, the consequence of the Balkan Wars was the erosion of the Russian position in the region. Hall also says "that due to the collapse of the Balkan League and Russia's failure to save Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War caused the government in Sofia to turn to Berlin and Vienna for redress". Hall spoke about Bulgaria being more important for Russia strategically than Serbia. Hall said "after the loss of Bulgaria only Serbia remained as a viable Russian ally in southeastern Europe". Hall also says "when the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia the war in the Balkans entered the First World War". Tensions had been brewing in Europe and the Balkan region for years before conflict actually broke out ("World"). The spark that ignited World War I was struck in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was shot to death along with his wife by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914 ("World"). Austria-Hungary and other countries blamed the Serbian government for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the question of Slavic nationalism once and for all ("World"). As Russia supported Serbia, Austria-Hungary waited to declare war until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention, which would likely involve Russia's ally, France, and possibly Great Britain as well ("World"). This conflict pitted the Central Powers, Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, against the Allied Powers, Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan ("World").                                                              

The Second World War was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945 ("World"). It involved the massive majority of the world's nations including all of the great powers eventually formed two opposing military alliances, with more than 100 million people serving in military units from over 30 different countries . Bloom says "in a state of total war, the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial... [And] scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources".          

Due to the economically and politically instability in Germany, Adolf Hitler and his National socialist rose to power and rearmed the nation and signed strategic treaties with Italy and Japan to further his ambitions of world domination ("World"). Hitler had long planned an invasion of Poland, a nation to which Great Britain and France had guaranteed military support if it was attacked by Germany ("World"). The pact with Stalin meant that Hitler would not face a war on two fronts once he invaded Poland, and would have Soviet assistance in conquering and dividing the nation itself ("World"). On September 1, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland from the west two days later, France and Britain declared war on Germany, Beginning World War II ("World"). Hui says "leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of which would likely involve Russia's alternate protocol appended to the Nonaggression Pact". During the six months following the invasion of Poland, the lack of action on the part of Germany and the Allies in the west led to talk in the news media of a "phony war ("World"). At sea however, Hui says "the British and German navies faced off in heated battle, and lethal German U-boat submarines struck at merchant shipping bound for Britain, sinking more than 100 vessels in the first four months of World War II ("World").

The massive counts of deaths in the World Wars were both recording ("World"). This was a result of the military weaponry and the alliances that formed during the brutal battles of the wars (Hui). WWI and WWII used little similar weaponry like airplanes, tanks, and machine guns ("World"). The biggest comparison of the two wars was the involvement of military alliances between different groups of countries ("World"). In the First World War, the Allied Powers, which were Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan, fought the Central Powers, Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Thomas Hone wrote in his article that "the Central Powers renamed their group as the Axis Powers and fought the Allied Powers again in the Second World War".

         The First World War was fought from lines of trenches and battleships at sea and was supported by artillery and machine guns, infantry assault, tanks, early airplanes and poisonous gas ("World"). Neither side proved able to deliver a decisive blow for the next two years. Around 1.1 to 1.2 million soldiers from the British and Dominion armies were on the Western Front at any one time ("World"). A thousand battalions, occupying sectors of the line from the North Sea to the Orne River, operated on a month-long four-stage rotation system, unless an offensive was underway ("World"). Each battalion held its sector for about a week before moving back to support lines and then further back to the reserve lines before a week out of line, often in the Poperinge or Amiens areas. Naval Warfare in the First World War was mainly characterized by the efforts of the Allied Powers ("World"). The Allied Powers used larger fleets and surrounding position to blockade the Central Powers by sea, and the efforts of the Central Powers to break that blockade or to establish an effective blockade of the United Kingdom and France with submarines and raiders ("World"). Trench warfare made WWI a brutal and gory war. Less an offensive was underway ("World"). The front contained over 9,600 kilometers of trenches ("World"). In the first battle of World War I, the Germans assaulted the heavily fortified city of Liege, used enormous siege cannons to capture the city in a short time ("World"). German trenches snaked for hundreds of miles through the countryside near the Somme River ("World").

After the First World War, WWII moved into effect with upgraded weapons and aircraft.  WWII used nuclear power, missiles, modern concepts of covert and special operations, submarines and tanks were also more heavily used ("World"). WWII replacing battleships with aircrafts brought the ability to strike enemy ships and bases from sea, with the ability to gain information about the enemy while preventing enemy from doing the same with regard for friendly forces ("World"). Hone stated that "WWII used raids and ambushes to win battles and take control of war territories".

WWI was a war between countries for acquiring colonies or territory or resources. The nature of the First World War caused for trench warfare. The countries armies dug into the territory of the colonies to use the resources to help fight ("World"). The nature of WWII was more political. The instability in the politics of Germany made WWII was a war of ideologies, such as Fascism and Communism ("World"). The weaponry and warfare WWII brought made the war more deadly and fast-paced. Blitzkrieg, aerial bombardment, and the use of aircraft carriers made World War II a war of movement ("World").

At the end of WWI, the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were all defeated. Both Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires had ceased to exist ("World"). World War I resulted in peace treaties radically changing the face of Europe and precipitated political, social, and economic changes ("World"). By the Treaty of Versailles Germany was forced to acknowledge guilt for the war ("World"). Later, prompted by the Bolshevik publication of the secret diplomacy of the czarist Russian government, the warring powers gradually released their own state papers, and the long historical debate on war guilt began ("World"). It has with some justice been claimed that the conditions of the peace treaties were partially responsible for World War II ("World"). The front contained over 9,600 kilometers of trenches ("World"). A large part of mankind placed its hopes in the newly created League of Nations ("World"). The League of Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another worldwide conflict. The rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and its aggression can be dated directly back to World War I ("World"). Following that war, Germany was economically devastated because, the Treaty of Versailles unfairly placed the full blame for the war on Germany and demanded heavy reparations payments in return ("World"). Germany never paid the main part of these reparations, the treaty humiliated the German people and obstructed the nation's efforts to rebuild and move forward economically and technologically ("World"). The resentment with the onerous terms of the Treaty of Versailles fueled the rise of Adolf Hitler's party in Germany ("World). This would lead to the Second World War broke two decades later.

The Second World War ended with the Allies winning again, reigning victorious over Germany and Japan in 1945. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers ("World"). Greece gained Bulgaria's Aegean coastline, but by being driven by the same nationalist ardors that marked its participation in the Balkan Wars and the First World War, suffered a catastrophic defeat in Anatolia ("World"). Bloom stated "Bulgaria occupied Macedonia but failed to maintain it and lost the Thracian coast and small territories to the new Yugoslav state". Similar to the League of Nations, the United Nations was formed to prevent further international conflicts. WWI estimated to have 10 million military dead, 7 million civilian deaths, 21 million wounded, and 7.7 million missing or imprisoned ("World"). While the Second World War had over 60 million people deaths, with 38 to 55 million civilians  dead from war-related disease and famine ("World").

World War I and World War II were both devastating and destructive to Europe and America. Millions of lives were lost and the severe economic consequences for all nations involved, and the public grew war weary as both went on for extended periods of time. Events of the Balkan war lead to WWI and the result of WWI lead to WWII ("Progonati"). WWII was fought for six years, while WWI was fought for four years ("World"). WWII had the highest death toll of the two World Wars. WWI and WWII were the largest wars fought in human history ("World"). The wars started differently but they were both part of a war-related domino effect that the Balkan wars started. WWI and WWII had similarities and differences in the way they began, the tactics used, and the outcomes.

Works Cited

Bloom, Jonathan. "An Island within an Island V. S. Pritchett during World War II."                                    Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 June 2013.

Cooper, Stephen. "Taking Sides on the Great War." History Today 64.3 (2014): 19-22. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

Gannon, Paul. "The First Intelligence War." Engineering & Technology (17509637) 9.6 (2014): 48-51. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

Hall, Richard C. "Balkan Wars." History Today 62.11 (2012): 36-42. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4-August-2014.

Hone, Thomas C. "Replacing Battleships with Aircraft Carriers in the Pacific in World War Ii." Naval War College Review 66.1 (2013): 56-76. Academic Search Complete. Web.             

Hui, Wang. "The Transformation of Culture and Politics: War, Revolution, and the 'Thought Warfare' Of the 1910S." Twentieth-Century China 38.1 (2013): 5-33. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4-August-2014.

Progonati, Erjada. "The Chronicle of the First World War and Its Impact on the Balkans." Journal of Gazi Academic View 7.14 (2014): 97-116. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

"World War I." 2013. The History Channel website.  4-August-2014, 9:10 http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i

"World War I." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1-4. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4-August-2014.

"World War II." 2013. The History Channel website.  4-August-2014, 9:10 http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii

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