Topic 1: Ypres
Among the battles that resulted during WWI, one of the more significant ones took place on April 22, 1915. When German forces shocked Allied soldiers along the western front by firing more than 150 tons of lethal chlorine gas against two French colonial divisions at Ypres, Belgium. This was the first major gas attack by the Germans, and it devastated the Allied line. The battle of Ypres followed the much more known, Race to the Sea as the Allies fought the Central Powers for power over the coasts and thus for their navy’s. However, one of the greater points of Ypres, was the role the Ottoman Empire played, more specifically modern day Turkey, in coming to the aid of German troops as they continued to fight against the Allies.
The significance of this battle, is not only did it mark the start of yet another warfare being introduced to WWI, as well as a new ally was gained by The Central Powers. The German’s use of chlorine-gas cylinders in the Allies trenches suffocated the French, and shocked the soldiers as the Allies realized the extremity the German’s were willing to take it to. This strayed very far from the traditional warfare that most European Powers originally knew, and as attrition became to become the preferred style of combat with minimal troops, measures were taken, and gases created and released. Furthermore, the joining of Turkey with the Central Powers, was not a vote of the people, but of the new reign and dictatorship labeled as a “Young Turk triumvirate” (Sass 1) according to the website Mental Floss. They took their place with the German’s, and an era of weapons of mass destruction had begun.
Topic 2: Perspectives on war; misinterpretations of the battlefield & propaganda
The men and women who served in the First World War endured some of the most brutal forms of warfare ever known. Millions were sent to fight away from home for extended periods of time, and underwent some of the most terrible physical and emotional experiences. The new technologies available to WWI armies combined with the huge number of men enlisted made the battlefields of this war horrific, deadly and terrifying places. However, from the viewpoint of the leaders and governments through the use of propaganda, WWI is depicted as a battle of pride, and loyalty for one’s country. The population were forced into conscription, although with the use of posters with slogans such as “Don’t wait for the draft, volunteer”, and “Take up the sword of justice“. The idea that the only place to die with honor was on the battlefield was applied and taken up by many soldiers, whom were forced into combat.
The significance of this, is how the glorification of war in actuality can lead to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the situation and circumstances in which one’s country is under. However it is deliberately done, as nationalism is an ideal that many governments, to this day, rely on to supply the with recruitments for the military to ‘strengthen’ or ‘better’ their country and serve its needs. Allowing the effects and dehumanization, that parallel with being a soldier and witnessing as well as committing atrocities, be left unspoken, but instead emphasizing the respect and glory one will attain only through their service. Regardless, of the fact that most societies this day, as well as during the 19th century deem such gratifications as inhumane as the core of where they are birthed is murder; which war is exactly that. Simply just on a grand scale.
For further insight: read