The First World War (1914-1918), hereinafter referred to as WWI, was fought between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria – Hungary & their allies) and the collective forces of Britain, France, Russia and their allies. The reasons for the breakout of war are vary extensively and depend largely upon the angle of study that any particular historian commits himself to.However, general agreement is found on the points that bitterness over the treatment of France at the hands of Germany in 1871, rising nationalism coupled with the vast ethnic nature of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Arms race between the major powers, economic and colonial rivalries, military alliances between nation states and the perceived threat of an imbalance of power in Europe falling the rise of a united, economically and militarily strong Germany after the Franco Prussian war of 1871.The long-term effects of WWI were mixed for Europe. The defeat of the Central powers and the breaking up of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires paved the way for the emergence of democratic independent states in central and eastern Europe. However, the ill treatment of the Central Powers esp. Germany, only sowed problems for the future.
They were made to pay war reparations; their empires were broken up and made independent states thus reducing their economic and social infrastructure. Moreover, in an ill advised bid to weaken Germany, the victorious powers made the mistake of limiting the military might of Germany and demilitarizing bordering areas so as to provide a buffer zone to bordering states against any perceived German aggression. This ill treatment only culminated into greater dissent amongst the German race of which , according to Katseros & Schiro (1978), “Hitler made full advantage of and waged a more deadly war just 20 years later” (P.254).Thus, it can be argued that although WWI was the beginning of a long lasting struggle for the democratic tradition to firmly root itself in Europe and was a war worth fighting for, the fact that 20 years later, a more aggressive Germany rose to avenge itself resulting in a large scale destruction of human life and economic value overshadows the positives that the war achieved.Reference:Katsaros, T.
& Schiro, G. (1978). A Brief History of the Western World. New York: University Press of America.