Q8. What was the Role of technology in World War 1? Or Discuss the role of Technology during the First World War
Technological and industrial developments in Europe were advancing with unprecedented speed. Military technology was at the forefront of this trend. World War I turned out to be a showcase of new technologies that would change the nature, speed, and efficiency of warfare in the century to come. Tanks, airplanes, and submarines changed the way wars were fought. Other types of motorized vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and especially trains, vastly improved the speed with which troops and supplies could be deployed and increased the distance over which they could be transported. Guns in all categories, ranging from pistols to major artillery, greatly improved in accuracy and range of fire, enabling armies to fire upon each other across long distances and in some cases without even having to see each other. The machine gun made it possible for a single soldier to effectively take on multiple opponents at once. Chemical warfare was seen on a large scale for the first time, with results so gruesome that most countries vowed never to use such weapons again.
A large number of new weapons were introduced. For the first time, aircrafts were used in warfare and for bombing the civilian population. The British introduced the use of the tank which was to become a major weapon later. Both the warring groups tried to block each other’s supplies of food, manufactures and arms and the sea warfare played an important part in this Submarines called U-boats were used by Germany on a large scale not only to destroy enemy ships but also ships of neutral countries heading for British ports. Another horrible weapon used in the war was poison gas.
Describe the process of formation of Peace Treaty after the World War I.
The victorious powers or the Allies, as they were called, met in a conference first in Versailles, a suburb of Paris, and later in Paris, between January and June 1919. Though the number of countries represented at the conference was 27, the terms of the peace treaties were really decided by three countries — Britain, France and USA. The three persons who played the determining role in framing the terms of the treaties were Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Britain, and George Clemenceau, Prime Minister of France.
The defeated countries were not represented at the conference. The victorious powers also excluded Russia from the conference. The terms of the treaty were thus not the result of negotiations between the defeated and the victorious powers but were imposed on the defeated by the victors.
The main treaty was signed with Germany on 28 June 1919. It is called the Treaty of Versailles. The republican government of Germany was compelled to sign this treaty under the threat of invasion. The treaty declared Germany and her allies guilty of aggression.
Alsace Lorraine was returned to France. The coal mines in the German area called Saar were ceded to France for 15 years while that area was to be governed by the League of Nations. Germany also ceded parts of her prewar territory to Denmark, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The area of the Rhine valley was to be demilitarized. The treaty also contained provisions for disarming Germany. The strength of her army was to be limited to 100,000 and it was required not to have any air force and submarines.
It was dispossessed of all her colonies which were taken over by the victors. Togo and the Cameroon were divided and shared by Britain and France. German colonies in South-West Africa and East Africa were given to Britain, Belgium, South Africa and Portugal. German colonies in the Pacific and the spheres under her control in China were given to Japan. China was aligned with the Allies during the war and was even represented at the Paris Conference. But her areas under German possession of control were not restored to China; instead they were given away to Japan.
Germany was also required to pay for the loss and damages suffered by the Allies during the war. The amount of reparations was fixed at an enormous figure of $6,500,000,000.
Separate treaties were signed with the allies of Germany. Austria-Hungary was broken up and Austria was required to recognize the independence of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland. It had to cede territories to them and to Italy. Many changes were made in the Balkans where new states were created and transfers of territories from one state to another took place. Baltic states which earlier formed parts of the Russian empire were made independent.
The treaty with Turkey stipulated the complete dismemberment of the Ottoman empire Britain was given Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Syria went to France as what were called ‘mandates’. In theory, the ‘mandatory’ powers, that is, Britain and France were to look after the interests of the people of the ‘mandates’ but actually they were governed as colonies. Most of the remaining Turkish territories were to be given to Greece and Italy and Turkey was to be reduced to a very small state.
However, there was a revolution in Turkey under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal. The Sultan was deposed and Turkey was proclaimed a republic in 1922. Turkey regained control of Asia Minor and the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Allies were forced to abandon the earlier treaty.
An important part of the peace treaties was the Covenant of the League of Nations. Wilson’s Fourteen Points included the creation of an international organization for the preservation of peace and to guarantee the independence of all states. The League of Nations was created. It was intended as a world organization of all independent states. It aimed at the preservation of peace and security and peaceful settlement of international conflicts, and bound its members ‘not to resort to war’ One of its important provisions was with regard to sanctions. According to this provision, economic and military action would be taken against any country which committed aggression. It also bound its members to improve labour and social conditions in their countries. For this the International Labour Organization was set up which is now one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations.