Conventional wisdom suggests that the First World War an unnecessary and futile war characterised by the Great European powers stumbling or sleepwalking (Clark, 2012) into a war that no nation really wanted and which resulted in the devastating slaughter of 11 million soldiers in the stalemate of trench warfare of the Western and Eastern fronts. On the other hand WW2 has been portrayed as the 'good war '; a righteous war of good versus the evil of the Nazi regime; in other words a war to protect and preserve freedom. However, I believe that these perceptions are inaccurate in that World War One (WW1) was necessary and unavoidable in order to stop German expansion at the time and that the moral ambiguities of the Allies conduct in World War Two(WW2) means that it was certainly not the good war portrayed by many political commentators and historians both at the time and in the years following the war.
WW1, a necessary but unavoidable war
WW1 was caused by Germany in its attempt to become a world power and that it had been carefully planned over a considerable period of time
It is quite clear that the Germans were determined to wage war and had been planning war for many years in advance. In this sense it was an unavoidable war and one which was necessary to fight to stop German domination of Europe. Fischer(1969) supports this theory and argued that the war was ‘entirely Germanys fault due to their aggressive foreign policy of “Weltpolitik”’(world policy). He provides some crucial evide...
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...of the Holocaust.
In conclusion, although WW1 is portrayed as a futile and bloody war where countless young men died in the most appalling conditions as the same failed military tactics were employed time after time, I believe that this perception is misleading and that WW1 was actually a necessary and vital war to stop a carefully planned and resolute attempt by Germany to dominate Europe. Similarily the perception of WW2 as a ‘good war’ is also inaccurate, for brutality and moral ambiguities were perpetrated by both sides in a war far more destructive than WW1;18 million people died in WW1 while more than 70 million died from 1939 to 1945 with up to 50 million of the dead were civilians. As Wheatcroft(2014) suggests 'second world war was not only sacralised, it was sanitised and even softened, and that could only be done by forgetting much reality '.
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