The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century

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[edit] General Information

War Documentary hosted by Judi Dench, published by BBC in 1996 - English narration

[edit] Cover

Image: The-Great-War-and-the-Shaping-of-the-20th-Century-Cover.jpg

[edit] Information

The World War of 1914-1918, the Great War, was the first of the man-made disasters of the twentieth century. In many ways it was without precedent. Never had the battlefield been so vast, whether in the trenches, in the sky, or on and in the seas. Never had a war reached so deeply into the lives of people so far away from the battlefield. As this landmark series demonstrates, the cataclysmic effects of World War I last to this day. But these epic events are rendered with fresh insights by the interweaving of the cultural history of the time - the hopes and dreams, the ideas and aspirations, the exhilaration and despair, both of those remote from power and of those who led them. This is a journey into the intense personal experiences of people trying to make sense of war on a scale the world had never seen. "The war to end all wars" has influenced the Atomic Age and the Cold War, and is now shaping the conflicts in Bosnia and the Middle East. Period film footage and eyewitness accounts powerfully dramatize the horrors of trench warfare and the chaos of political revolution. History comes alive as The Great War reveals how World War I influenced the rise of communism, witnessed the first use of weapons of mass destruction, and provided a fertile aftermath for the rise of Nazism. Through perspectives from all sides of the war, the series shows how violent events early in this century still cast a dark shadow on life today. The series won two Primetime Emmy Awards: one for Jeremy Irons for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, the other for Outstanding Informational Series. In 1997, it was given a Peabody Award. A KCET/BBC Co-Production in Association with The Imperial War Musem

[edit] Explosion

No one event or person caused the Great War. There were many factors that contributed to mobilization of the belligerents. With a rapidly expanding European economy, people demanded social and governmental changes: British suffragettes fought to win British women the right to vote; socialists called for reforms, uniting laborers to demand that the wealth and power of a nation be used to benefit the majority. While in Russian, Tsar Nicholas II held fast to an autocratic old-world view. On June 28, 1914, Serbian fanatic, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria, causing Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany to support Austria in punishing the Serbs, setting the stage for Russia - backing Serbia - and her allies France and Britain to go to war. In the weeks after the assassination, none of the critical leaders had the power or will to slow down the decisions, actions, reactions and attitude shifts of key government and military leaders. By August, millions of Europeans -- especially the military and diplomatic leaders of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia -- saw war as the way to save their honor, as well as to solve the internal and international problems that needed to be resolved.

[edit] Stalemate

From the very beginning, the war grew rapidly out of control. New styles of warfare, like the use of gas and heavy artillery, produced new kinds of horror and unprecedented levels of suffering and death. As a Germans army crossed into Belgium, heading for Paris, the Russian Army - moving faster than the German generals had anticipated -- was already pushing into East Prussia. The German forces on the Eastern Front, however, quickly defeated the Tsar's army at the Battle of Tannenberg. In the west, as the German army invaded Belgium, rumors and stories quickly spread of the atrocities the German soldiers inflicted upon Belgium civilians. The French, believing the German thrust into Belgium to be a fake, launched their own offensive on the eastern border between France and Germany the operations were disastrous, with the French army losing 27,000 soldiers in a single day. When the German invasion of France failed to take Paris or destroy French and British resistance on the river Marne, stalemate quickly followed, and a line of trenches soon stretched along the war's Western Front from the Swiss Alps to the English Channel. Christmas Eve of 1914 saw an extraordinary truce between the men fighting in the trenches that had been called "the last twitch of the 19th century."

[edit] Total War

By 1915, the conflict had spread across boundaries between continents and peoples, becoming a global war--a fact grimly confirmed by the unlikely battle between Turks and Australians on the Turkish cliffs of Gallipoli. The Allied force eventually abandoned the assault with 46,000 dead. This total war effected the lives of many different people: in some communities unprecedented casualty rates especially among young officers stripped young women of all their male contemporaries; West African soldiers were shipped in from the colonies to fight in the trenches; brave Englishwomen traded other jobs for more dangerous jobs in weapons factories. Everyone was affected. The first genocide of the 20th century -- the ultimate form of total war against civilians -- was also part of this conflict. Turkish ethnic cleansing practices killed more than a million Armenians. A practice later noted by Hitler when he remarked to his high command: "Who remembers the Armenia massacres today?"

[edit] Slaughter

In 1916, some of the most appalling battles in human history took place on the Western Front. The Battle of Verdun became for the French what Gettysburg is for Americans; Verdun symbolized for the French the strength and fortitude of their armed forces and the solidarity of the entire nation. The goal of the German commander was not territory, but to bleed his enemy to death. The battle lasted nine months and in the end the front lines were nearly the same, while over 300,000 French and Germans were killed and over 750,000 were wounded. The British offered the same unspeakable sacrifice at the river Somme, where another million died, and at Ypres, in Belgium, a graveyard for half a million more. As the slaughter continued with no significant gains in territory by either side, the men in the trenches kept their sanity by using music, theater and trench newspapers to replicate the world they left behind.

[edit] Mutiny

After three years of war, men, armies and nations were nearing a breaking point. For individual soldiers, it emerged as "shell shock," a personal withdrawal from an intolerable reality of trench warfare. For armies, it was outright rebellion; half the French army mutinied in 1917, refusing to undertake senseless attacks. Most of their demands were met, and only a small number of the mutineers were punished severely. Entire populations were becoming restless and resentful with the conflict. In Russia, both the army and civilian population refused to fight anymore for the Tsar, who abdicated on March 15, 1917. Alexander Kerensky led the fragile democracy that emerged to govern Russia, but made the catastrophic mistake of continuing the war. Recognizing the weakness for the army and the refusal of the men to fight, he authorized women to be trained and sent to the front. As Kerensky's offensive failed and army desertions increased, his popularity decreased. Mobilizing anti-war sentiment, Lenin and his Bolsheviks quickly took over, and signed an armistice with Germany.

[edit] Collapse

The odds looked bad for the Allies in 1918. With Russia knocked out of the war by revolution and the French army rocked by mutiny, Germany stopped the Allies' offensive on the Western Front. But all of Europe was running out of men; both sides were drafting old men and young boys. The Kaiser no longer had effective power, with Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff taking over. In 1917, German U-boat attacks and German approaches to Mexico had provoked President Woodrow Wilson into a war he did not want to fight. Once in it, however, he urged the United States to "make the world safe for Democracy" and by 1918, five million American men were in uniform. In September of that year, the Doughboys went over the top and they were cut down like cornstalks. But the presence of American troops in France made a difference; the German army saw it could not win the war; thousands surrendered on the western front. In October, the revolt of the German Navy triggered the final collapse of the German war effort. The Kaiser abdicated and fled to Holland. The guns of the Great War finally fell silent on November 11, 1918. When the cease-fire came, people all over the world celebrated. But the war was not over for the German civilians. The Allies insisted on continuing the blockade through the winter months, resulting in mass starvation and death. In the days that followed the Armistice, peopled learned that it is often far easier to wage war than it is to build a lasting peace.

[edit] Legacy

The Great War had been the worst disaster in history. Nine million soldiers were killed. Four empires had collapsed and large parts of France, Belgium and Russia lay devastated. The old order had been decimated and a new one was taking shape -- and this struggle would prove even bloodier than the war itself. For the "lost generation" the war became a war without end, one that continued through missing limbs, mutilated faces and shaking bodies. The question that haunted civilians throughout Europe was why so many of their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers had to die? Writers and other artists tried to create an answer. Memorials were established for the fallen, and people visited the battlefields to retrace the footsteps of their loved ones. Millions of people - military and civilian - in every combatant nation had to cope with the war experience and its aftermath. Some people tried not to remember the war, while others built monuments to those who had died. Many went to the grave burdened by the unanswered question: "What did it all mean?"

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L4
Video Bitrate: 1 955 Kbps
Video Resolution: 720x544
Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frames Per Second: 25.000 fps
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio Bitrate: 224 kb/s CBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 48 mins
Number Of Parts: 7
Part Size: 741 MB
Ripped by: DocFreak08

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