Monday, February 24, 2014

World War I

We are coincidently learning about WWI in AP US history as well. I feel extremely enlightened; learning about the history, art, literature, etc. during WWI at the same time has really given me the ability to comprehend the war on a different level. Mr. Williams recently gave us a powerpoint presentation on the new warfare tactics used during WWI compared to the old style of warfare as used in, say, the civil war in America. Millions of people were killed in battle in WWI compared to thousands in previous wars. In the early and mid nineteenth century, if one side lost 20,000 people in a battle, they were thought to have obviously lost. However, in the Battle of Somme in WWI, more than one million soldiers were died or wounded, and their was no clear winner of the battle. The Battle of Somme is actually notable for the debut of tanks and high use of air power, which were both largely responsible for the extremely high amounts of deaths. As opposed to soldiers riding horses in cavalries, soldiers in WWI rode in tanks, on airplanes, or fought with guns in trenches.

1 comment:

Ian Kuehne said...

I think the reason WWI was so devastating was not necessarily the casualty counts, but the changing nature of the battles. Actually, the fighting in WWI was often less intense than that in earlier conflicts. For example, the massive battle of Verdun incurred some 1,000,000 casualties compared to perhaps 100,000 at Napoleon's pyrrhic victory at Borodino 104 years earlier. However, Borodino was a single-day action, while Verdun lasted around 300 days. I don't think that offensive technology like tanks dominated WWI; rather, the devastating effect was due to trench warfare and the ineffectiveness of generals at offensive action. Battles dragged on for months, creating a sense of boredom, exhaustion, prolonged anxiety, and futility. It is hard to portray a battle as heroic when months pass with only a few feet gained and tens of thousands of lives lost, leading to the disillusionment and cynicism in postwar literature and art.