Impact of the First World War

Impact of the First World War

Economic Impact

  • Loss of Industrial Heartland: Germany lost 10% of its land, including the industrial region of Alsace-Lorraine to France.
  • Reparation Payments: Germany was obliged to pay £6.6 billion (in gold) to the Allies, significantly straining the economy.
  • Hyperinflation: The German government printed more money to pay reparations, resulting in rapid devaluation of the currency.
  • Impact on Employment: Massive job losses and high levels of unemployment were prevalent.

Social Impact

  • Physical and Psychological Casualties: Over two million German soldiers died and four million were wounded. Many survivors suffered from “shell-shock” (now known as PTSD).
  • Demographic Change: The loss of so many young men affected the birth rate and led to a decrease in population.
  • Women’s Role: As men were away fighting, women took over jobs traditionally held by men, challenging societal norms.
  • Widening of class divisions: The divide between the rich and poor increased significantly due to economic difficulties.

Political Impact

  • Abolition of Monarchy: Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated, leading to the establishment of the Weimar Republic, making Germany a democratic country.
  • Treaty of Versailles: Many Germans perceived this treaty as unfair, contributing to political unrest and dissatisfaction with the new democratic government.

Impact on International Relations

  • Loss of foreign territories: Germany’s overseas colonies were taken over by Britain, France and Japan.
  • League of Nations: Germany was not initially allowed to join, heightening feelings of humiliation and resentment.
  • Power shift: The balance of power in Europe shifted, with new nations being created and Germany’s power greatly reduced.