World History 2 176 - 11.3 Total War

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain how new technology affected combat in World War I
  • Describe the experience of the average soldier on the battlefield in World War I
  • Discuss the role combatants’ colonies and colonial troops played in World War I
  • Analyze the effect of racism on the actions of the major powers in World War I

World War I was a truly modern war. The combatants used then-new weaponry such as tanks and airplanes as well as machine guns and poison gas, making the soldiers’ experience unlike anything earlier generations had faced in battle. The massive numbers of troops and weapons meant that fighting and destruction regularly intruded on civilian life, often with devastating results. Thus, not only armies but entire nations had to do their part and bear the brunt of the war. The widespread use of colonial troops brought mass travel to the globe, and the interactions of many different peoples played out against the backdrop of combat. For all these reasons, and in recognition of its vast extent and destructiveness, World War I came to be called a total war, a war fought using all available resources, with no restrictions on weapons or their targets.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 2: from 1400 textbook by Openstax