Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: jannery-ga
List Price: $10.00
16 May 2006 18:09 PDT
Expires: 15 Jun 2006 18:09 PDT
Question ID: 729572
Why was World War I was in its time refered to as the Great War, or the War to End All Wars?
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 16 May 2006 20:30 PDT
World War I was called "The Great War" mainly because it was the first global war of that magnitude. All of the "great powers" were involved in the war- making it unique in the history of warfare. The "war to end all wars" phrase also refers to the magnitude of the conflict and also was used as a justification for continued fighting- that the war would be the one to end them all. It also refered to the enourmous cost of modern warfare as many thought there would never be another one again after witnessing so much violence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I "World War I has also been called "The Great War" (a title previously used to refer to the Napoleonic Wars) or sometimes "the war to end all wars" until World War II. The term "First World War", implying an event distinct from a "Second World War" has fallen into disfavour by some scholars who regard World War I as merely the first phase of a three-decade long war spanning the period 1914?1945.4 "War of the Nations" and "War in Europe" were commonly employed as descriptives in the 1920s." The War to End All Wars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_to_end_all_wars <<World War I (then known as The Great War) was at the time and in the years just after described as the "war to end all wars" (or, in the jargon of the French Poilus: "la der des der", i.e. "the last of the last"). The phrase was in part a reaction to the horrors of the conflict with many believing that with the full cost of modern war so evident no nation would fight one again. It was partially an outgrowth of the original reasons for going to war seeming insignificant as the conflict dragged on, and the notion was adopted as an explanation for why continued sacrifice was needed. The notion of the conflict being a war to end all wars was also closely linked to the portrayal of Germany among the Allies; the country was seen as the heir of Prussian militarism, and a longtime warmonger. To end warfare, the defeat and destruction of this militaristic power in the centre of Europe was a necessity. After the war a number of initiatives were taken to try to assert the promise. This included the formation of the League of Nations, the rewriting of the map of Europe, the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war, and a number of other treaties limiting military power. With the outbreak of World War II the phrase quickly began to be seen ironically; in an episode of M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter remembers his fallen friends, one who died in "the war to end all wars," and one who died in "the war after that.">> Google Search Strategy "the great war" "war to end all wars"
From: pondjumper-ga on 16 May 2006 20:48 PDT
Some very good information posted by adiloren-ga. However, I noted your question asked why WWI was know by various names DURING WWI, not afterwords. That is, if I understand your question, you are asking why did people living in the years 1914-1919 call their war The Great War, or The War to End All Wars? Again, adiloren touched on it. But it boils down to convenience of terms, what we in the early 21st century refer to as "sound bytes." It's simply a shorthand way to reflect what was happening in France, the Baltics, Germany and other places. No special reason, in other words. It could have been called the Trench War, easily enough, and in fact that term was used but does not survive to this day. Primarily it was a news and press convention. Civilians and politicians picked up the new terms and ran with them. Much the same as The Gulf War in 1990-1991. No one "officially" tagged that war by that name. It just came to be, mostly through its common use in the press. Still, unless one actually knew about that war (say, anyone under 12), an American might think "Gulf War" was a reference to the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps, and leave them wondering just why we had a war with Mexico in 1990. You might just as easily ask why people alive in 1990-1991 referred to it as The Gulf War, and fifty years on when it's name may certainly have changed, why did it change? You might think of the naming process the same as we call our sensational trials: The OJ Simpson Trial, The Enron Trial. Nobody officially gave them those names, yet they are what we read in the press and how civilians speak about the trials. Once a common term for a war seems to be in wide use, it merely becomes convention, de facto, and everyone uses it from that point. But to be fair, until that particular war came to be, there had never been a theatre so vast that involved so many nations all at the same time. It truly was "Great" (meaning, BIG, not wonderful). That had a lot to do with selecting the term "Great."
From: answerfinder-ga on 17 May 2006 01:13 PDT
The description ?great war? was a recognition that this was a war which was to involve several countries and was potentially devastating. Throughout the 19th century the Times newspaper refers to the Napoleonic wars as ?the great war?. Note the lower case. Many other publications used the same phrase including a fictional account of ?The Great War of 189-?. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/pityofwar.htm Shortly before the outbreak of war the Times editorial commented that, ?Europe is on the verge of a war more general and more terrible even that the ?Great War? of a hundred years ago.? Jul 30, 1914 Upon the outbreak of war in August 1914 there was a great demand by the public for information, and the Times, always ready to make money, published maps and a serial magazine titled ?The Great War. The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict? edited by H.W. Wilson. It was described as the ?standard history of the stirring events which are now taking place.? Despite the popular feeling that the war would be over by Christmas, it was clearly thought that this was a worthwhile publishing venture. As you know, the war did not finish by Christmas 1914, and the magazine went on to end up in 13 large-sized bound volumes. You can see more information here. http://www.greatwardifferent.com/Great_War/NewsMedia/GreatWar.htm At the same time Madam Tussauds mounted an exhibition called ?The Great War: defenders of our Empire?, with models of various generals and admirals. From the on in the Times, it is described as the great war, or the Great War. Of course, the Times is only one source. You would have to research other sources to see if this was a generally held view. You may not be aware of this recruitment poster of the time: Daddy, What did YOU do in the Great War? http://www.firstworldwar.com/posters/images/pp_uk_07.jpg The first Times reference to ?War to End All Wars? is in 1920. A letter to the Times describes it as a ?catchphrase?. ?War to end wars? is 1931. Hope this has been of additional help. answerfinder-ga
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