Bang! Bang! Boom! were a few of the agonizing sounds heard many times during the decade where firearms and explosions were used to express a national idea in an attempt to further a political cause. Within the decade of 1910-1920, many thought that national pride and respect could be gained through harming others, hurting another countrys feelings by taking away their self-respect, and by vanishing the lives of many. Political statements were protested and emphasized by the scientific, historical, artistic, and lyrical contents of this era. Sadly, many influenced their ideas by committing actions the cycled into many tragic events; events that led to a decade of chaos and unrest, a decade that couldnt sleep.
The Great War as it was called, lead to many innovations in many areas. But one area has continued to lend us innovations that were derived some eighty-four years ago. The development in science and technology became quick necessities that, at the time, were needed not only to control the chaos but protect those who were innocent. Although many advancements between 1914 and 1918 we still use today, there are two that have proven to be as important today as they were during the chaotic day of the second decade of the twentieth century.
Imagine the British citizens watching large chaos covered prototypes of the tank being tested in Britains countryside. British officials, in order to conceal their use, told many who asked that new tanks were being built to carry water across the desert and named them W.C. or water carrier. The initials for this stood for the toilet and so the name water tank or tank was born (Uschon 31). In 1915 when Britain built the first tank the French were not far behind in developing their own tanks for the battlefield (Asimov 98). Winston Churchill was responsible for initiating the development of such large vehicles (The New Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia 60). The need for tanks came when machine guns and trenches caused a stale mate war fare. Armored cars were already in use. Military heads realized that by crossing an armored car with the agricultural tracks used in farming, a vehicle that could enter enemy space and be protected could be developed. The first tank to enter the war was of British origin and was known as the Centipede, but later called the Big Willie or Mother. It made its debut in Fille and took a crew to operate it. A coordinator commander, one to change the main gears, and at least two, called gearsmen, to control the tracks. By the end of the war Britain had twenty-six hundred tanks who were up against Frances three thousand seventy of a lighter use. Still, protection in the field wasnt the only kind needed. During 1910 and 1915 two large ocean liners carrying passengers, many Americans, were sunk by an accident in the name of war. A detecting device was needed for the vast ocean to scan any under water dangers. And what better time to develop this type of detector then in a time when the type of technology could determine a countrys status (Asimov 98-101).
Ocean warfare during this time became very popular as a means to destroy an opponent without much loss. That left many people intent on the idea to create a detection device that would stop surprise attacks and help ocean liners from colliding with hidden objects at sea. Sonar was developed in 1916 by the French scientist Paul Langeuin originally as a method for ships to detect icebergs. It was found this device could be used on war ships as well to detect submarines (The New Illustrated Science and Invention Encyclopedia, 60).
The word sonar was derived from the worlds sound navigation and ranging. It worked as it still does or the principle of echo location. Acoustics or sound waves , which are mechanical vibrations, travel through the water and bounce off nearby objects. The waves are reflected back to the sending ship and distanced can then be read. With the chaos of surprise attacks during World War I, further more advanced and readable sonar submarine detection was pursued (Travers 11). Sonar is used on both ships and submarines to track the sea bed and measure depth. Many large fishing vessels are sonar as well to detect large groups of fish. Though it isnt as detailed as radar during the Cold War, it provided a sense of warmth in the cold matters (The New Illustrated Science and invention Encyclopedia, 61). Sonar wasnt developed until after many liners had lost their passengers and a need for a detection device. Though it was originally developed to detect icebergs, it had a greater use during this time to detect oncoming submarines. Had sonar been developed earlier many ships who may have lost innocent lives to war submarines may have survived to carry more passengers across the Atlantic instead of being swallowed up by its ferocious currents.
It was just like a scene from the movie Titanic as the steamship majestically floated out of the New York harbor May 1, 1915 carrying one thousand nine-hundred and twenty-four people. It was ten months into World War I and at the time of the German submarine warfare, when the Lusitania, the floating hotel, began its voyage to Liverpool, England (Uschan 15).
It was six days later that the passengers aboard were startled by the appearance of a German submarine, a U-20 led by Captain Karl Schwieger. The sight surprised many that originally looked forward to a safe and luxurious trip. On May 7, 1915, Schwieger had fired a torpedo to the Lusitania that set off many explosions and set the ship sinking to the ocean floor in less than twenty minutes. Of the one thousand one hundred and ninety-eight who died, one hundred and twenty-eight were Americans (Lusitania Encarta 98); this had offended and influenced the United States to go to war. Many conflicts rose as a few people dealt with peace issues and most dealt with getting back at Germany. Negotiations over submarine warfare were held between the United States and Germany after the sinking, and man issues concerned the United States (Uschan 21).
The sinking of the Lusitania was only one of many logs placed in the fire of war. It was the cause that influenced and encouraged many Americans to either defend their country of fight another, in effort to gain the nation respect that Germany had offended. As many logs had spread the fire of war, the original cause was of less and less concern; the tragic events and conflicts had worsened and increased since that Sunday of June 28, 1914 (Uschan 1914).
The beginning of the great celebration of the royal couples fourteenth anniversary would have never augured the events that were to come that beautiful sunny day in Sarajevo that twenty-eighth of June 1914. Austrian Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie recognized their special day with a ceremony that changed their lives forever.
Ferdinand was to heir the throne of Austria-Hungary and his main purpose in visiting the capital of Bosnia was to review the Austrian troops. The joyous event was filled with cheers and screams as the royal couple, seated in the rear of the convertible, made their way through the crowd. Among the crowd were seven young Serbian men who felt that the Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be freed from Austro-Hungarian rule. These seven nationalists were armed with pistols and bombs. Their purpose was to shoot and kill the royal couple, but their first attempt cause only minor damage when a bomb hit the car and bounced right off, but it sent a motorcade to City Hall. On the archdukes trip to the hospital to visit any victims, a Serbian assassin, Gavrilo Princip, jumped on the car and fired twice hitting Ferdinand in the head and his wife in the abdomen. They died soon after they were wounded (Uschan 8). Their deaths were the political spark that set the fire of the Great War and the piece of string that later tangled into the disastrous web of World War II.
The seven Serbian nationalists obviously made a political statement; they used a political idea to further a cause, or to hurt someone elses, by spreading ideas through such horrifying events as the assassination of the royal couple. These factors also fit the abstract definition of propaganda.
Propaganda is a tool that politically furthers a cause by spreading ideas, information, or rumors, may they be good or bad. Propaganda was a way for people to express the way they were feeling toward the war in an artistical way. Motivational propaganda is often used in wartime. During World War I the propaganda reflected what was happening in the political aspects while it stirred fear and hatred among the people and prepared them for the necessary sacrifices of the war. Both sides involved in World War I mostly used it to dehumanize the enemy (Uschan 14). The British government even created a secret War Propaganda Bureau. The government would monitor newspapers to make sure that they maintained the right purpose (Clare 55). However, propaganda was not only seen through newspapers , it was in magazines, posters, and postcards.
After the assassination in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian office received German assurances of support and then sent a harsh ultimatum to the Serbian government. The reason they sent the ultimatum was that they were holding Serbia responsible for the assassination and required acceptance of the demands within three days. Despite Serbias reply, which accepted all but two demands, and efforts to ease the hatred by European powers, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28 (Austria). In a Punch magazine from July 29, 1914, which features many propaganda cartoons, it showed how they felt towards this situation. The animals represent Austria-Hungary, Serbia, and Russia. However, in this cartoon it doesnt show Germany backing Austria or France backing Russia. The Austrians are attacking Serbia while the Russians are hiding back waiting. The slogan reads, THE POWER BEHIND, which means Russia is the power behind Serbia (Ross 41).
On August 4, 1914, German troops crossed the frontier into Belgium, ignoring its neutral status. Their government tried to resist the invasion by appealing to France, Britain, and Russia for help. The Belgian army had to put up a fight against the stronger forces for four years and held onto the silver of Belgian territory (Belgium). In a Punch propaganda cartoon it shows brave little Belgium trying to block the path of the German bully (Ross 45). The small boy looks inferior to the much larger man and the weapons are different too. Punch was representing the invasion of Belgium in this cartoon.
By 1917, the success of government propaganda had begun to cause problems. As the war dragged on, disappointment would set in that danger. The governments realized that if their people were going to keep fighting, they need to know what they were fighting for. Later propaganda tended to stress that this was the war to end all wars and that after the end of the war the League of Nations would ensure peace (Ross 41).
During this decade of war there was much hate and hurt which in turn made a time for expressionism. The pain that everyone was feeling was deeply felt by the artists of this decade, as seen in some propaganda. Some of the artists were effected so much they would never paint again and some would never paint the same, while others would change their type of art completely. However, the few that wanted to express themselves after the war turned to dada. According to Robert Short, dada was artists and other intellectuals from a dozen countries during World War I who wanted to focus their hatred and ideals into a program of cultural action (Short, 7). Dada was an artistic and literary movement reflecting a widespread unbelievable protest against all aspects of Western culture, especially militarism during and after World War I. The Dadaists usually used methods that were purposely very hard t understand (Dada). For them, reality was chaotic, it was opposite to human notions.
With the feeling of freedom the war left, it started a new beginning. One artist of the dada movement was Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp too everyday object and made them art by just choosing them. When he chose things such as a hat-rack or a snow-shovel, he turned it into a work of art; in a way he was equally breaking down the high standards of art to the level of normal things. One of his famous artworks was Fountain, when he tried to submit it to the Independents exhibition, it was rejected on the grounds that it was plagiarism and plain pieces if plumbing (Short 47). Relating to the war, this new way of art was another way of saying that things were back to normal again, while expressing ones feelings toward it. Duchamp used everyday objects that he found to express the pain and the relief of the war being over.
While the war was still going on and well after it was over, artists and other intellectuals expressed their pain through various types and forms. During the war there was a significant amount of pain and grief that everyone had to go through, whether you were a soldier on the battle field or a worried mother praying for her son to come home safe. Everyone had different experiences with the war, thus many different ways of expressing emotions about the war. The Dadaists used methods of painting and symbols that were hard to understand while writers expressed their emotions with poetry and even novels.
The World War was so new to the people all over the world and brought out many different emotions from everyone. What better way than expressing your feelings through writing? Anyone who had an education could express themselves through writing. Even the common soldier could take his first hand experiences from the war and make a simple poem about them. The same soldier could also take his war stories and turn them into a novel.
The impact of the first World War inspired a wealth of English poetry. The war poets came from an educated backround and were faced in battle with unimaginable horrors and a life expectancy of a matter of weeks. Siegfried Sassoon came from a well-to-do family and grew up with dreams of joining an army. Sassoon began writing poetry as a child , but his first poems written during his wartime service show little more than his deep love of the countryside. It wasnt until later, when he experienced the brutality of war, that his highly sensitive nature began to feel the truth about soldiers life in trenches and what he saw of death and suffering around him must be recorded (Lehmann 38-39). The Leveller is a typical piece of Sassoons poetry. It begins by explaining
Near Martinpuich that night of hell
Two men were struck by the same shell,
Together tumbling in one heap
Senseless and limp like slaughtered sheep.
He goes on to explain the soldiers appearance and how they died. At the end is what their Sergeant will say at their funerals (Lehmann 65). There is no gory details in this piece but it reveals the truth; the truth of what men and their families had to go through during harsh times of war. Siegfried Sassoon is a successful poet that basically revealed the truth about the war and how he viewed.
Another well known writer let his emotions flow onto paper. Of course he used characters and a plot, but he let his feelings show about how brutal war was and how it affects everyone. Erich Remarques novel All Quiet On the Western Front is an in depth look about how the war really was. As explained through the main character, Paul Baumer, war is interminable, exhausting, and nightmarish business without a purpose. The soldier is prepared by the brutality of the training camp for the necessary brutality of the trenches. The whole story is shaped about the souls of fighters and its sharply etched descriptions of edurance, suffering, and grim humor. Some critics say that Remarque over dramatized the horrors of war to sell his novel, but its the plain truth. The novels central theme is how it affects the men and their families; every one of the soldiers is damaged emotionally. Not only the soldiers but mothers and sisters are emotionally scarred also. War is frowned upon on a majority of the population as you can see in these two pieces of literature, but without World War I wouldnt have Erich Remarques incredible novel or Sassoons emotional poetry. There is a good and bad to everything.
During the time of war, the whole world had to cope with the death of their loved ones and also had to fight in the gruesome trenches with no clue how long life would last. Everyone took the situation into their hands and dealt with it in many different ways whether it be inventing a new contraption to sell on a propaganda poster or expressing your thoughts, emotions, and experiences on paper. World War I was a time for learning many new thing but the single most important thing we ever learned is lack of compassion we have for one another and how brutal the human race can be.
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