TTC Video - World War I - The Great War | 6.19 GB
The First World War came as a dreadful surprise to those who experienced it, due to its magnitude, global expanse, unprecedented violence, and shattering impact on Western civilization. This course of 36 lectures explores the continuous series of brutal surprises and shocks that the first example of a “total war” brought, a conflict not limited to armies but one that pitted entire societies against each other in mortal struggle. An estimated 70 million men were mobilized and approximately 9 million died. The societal impact of an industrial slaughter on this scale was so significant that World War I set the 20th century on its violent course, culminating in a later, perfected total war, World War II.
We combine chronological and thematic approaches for an in-depth look at this conflict’s many dimensions, integrating military history with social, political, intellectual, and cultural history. Unlike narratives of World War I that emphasize the Western Front with scant attention to other theaters, this course provides comprehensive coverage of all fronts. Likewise, we consider not only political elites and generals but also the lives of ordinary soldiers and civilians. Major themes include the surprising eagerness to plunge into mutual slaughter; the unexpected endurance of societies undergoing this ordeal; the radically different hopes and hatreds that war evoked, with remarkable contrasts in Western and Eastern Europe; and the ways the Great War functioned as a hinge of violence, opening the door to normalizing previously unsuspected levels of violence, including violence against civilians, a dynamic that hurried Europe toward renewed conflict.
The first six lectures depict the state of Europe and the world as the 1914 cataclysm approached and then struck. We examine internal politics of the Great Powers and growing tensions among them, reacting to the expansion of German power, as well as important currents of thought (both optimistic and pessimistic) in intellectual life. We examine the slide into the abyss: origins of the July crisis, beginning with an act of terrorism in Sarajevo; historians’ debates on the war’s true causes and where the main responsibility lies; the striking “August Madness” celebrations; and the breakdown of longstanding military plans for short, decisive war.
The next three lectures—7 through 9—cover the Western Front and the surreal trench landscape that occurred there. We examine technological reasons for the stalemate the trenches represented, desperate and costly attempts to break it, strange patterns of death and life (including tacit truces) developed by ordinary soldiers, and vain and horrific battles at Verdun, the Somme, and Ypres. Lectures 10 and 11 cover lesser-known theaters: the vast, open Eastern Front where Germans battered Russia, even as final victory eluded them, and the Southern Front, including the Alps, the Balkans, and the doomed Allied Gallipoli expedition against Ottoman Turkey.
Lectures 12 through 15 take a closer look at particularly important themes. We survey combatant countries’ war aims and the experience of foreign occupation. The suffering of ordinary soldiers is confronted, as we discuss military medicine, psychological traumas, and the experience of 8 million prisoners of war. Although many men broke down under the strain of combat, others exulted in it: Elite storm troopers were among them, as well as two men, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, who later became dictators seeking to recreate wartime experience. This section concludes by investigating rapidly changing technology, as machine guns, poison gas, and tanks were deployed to mass-produce death ever more efficiently.
The next three lectures—16 through 18—return our attention to other theaters: war in the air and at sea, and surprises and confounded expectations in each. The war’s global reach, its colonial dimension, and the attempt to win sympathy in world opinion are examined in detail.
The next set of lectures concerns internal home-front politics. In comparative fashion, we note similarities as well as striking differences in how nations reacted. Lectures 19 to 23 reveal centralized state control of economies, societies, and propaganda to create martial enthusiasm. We cover the privations and extraordinary endurance of many societies, as well as growing signs of stress and breakdown, to understand civilian experience. New social divisions arose, threatening cohesion. Dissent could be explosive, and we explore protest and its growth or suppression. By the later years of the war, 1916–1917, a fresh remobilization of energies was needed to continue fighting.
The next five lectures cover dramatic new departures in world history created by total war. The 1915 slaughter of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire launched a series of 20th-century genocides. War’s strains encouraged revolts, socialist and nationalist, radically reinventing the political future. In the Russian Empire, turbulent events produced the first attempt at total revolution, launching the Soviet Union’s Communist experiment. America’s 1917 entry into the war announced a new, expansive role for the United States in world affairs, while its society was convulsed by mobilization for intervention overseas.
Lectures 29 through 33 cover the war’s immediate outcome. After the failure of Germany’s last gamble and defeat, the November 11, 1918, Armistice closed the war, even as aftershocks continued: the unprecedented collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish Empires, and the onset of ideological warfare among nationalists, revolutionaries, and counterrevolutionaries, in an atmosphere of European civil war. We analyze the 1919 peace settlement in Paris and the Versailles Treaty.
The last three lectures examine the war’s deeper impact on Western civilization. Drawing on rich, recent scholarship in cultural history we follow the war’s echoes (and anguished questions of what it had ultimately meant) in monuments, collective rituals of commemoration, literature and art, and also in poisonous myths and conspiracy theories concerning the war. Most ominously, new and fierce ideological mass movements—spearheaded by Fascists, Nazis, and Communists—were so inspired by the experience of total war that they aimed to restructure politics along military lines and achieve permanent mobilization of state and society. Ultimately, our course concludes with a summation of the Great War’s effects, its implications for the rest of the century, and the new world that it created.
Course Lecture Titles
1. The Century's Initial Catastrophe
2. Europe in 1914
3. Towards Crisis in Politics and Culture
4. Causes of the War and the July Crisis, 1914
5. The August Madness
6. The Failed Gambles—War Plans Break Down
7. The Western Front Experience
8. Life and Death in the Trenches
9. The Great Battles of Attrition
10. The Eastern Front Experience
11. The Southern Fronts
12. War Aims and Occupations
13. Soldiers as Victims
14. Storm Troopers and Future Dictators
15. The Total War of Technology
16. Air War
17. War at Sea
18. The Global Reach of the War
19. The War State
20. Propaganda War
21. Endurance and Stress on the Home Front
22. Dissent and Its Limits
23. Remobilization in 1916–1917
24. Armenian Massacres—Tipping into Genocide
25. Strains of War—Socialists and Nationalists
26. Russian Revolutions
27. America’s Entry into the War
28. America at War—Over There and Over Here
29. 1918—The German Empire’s Last Gamble
30. The War’s End—Emotions of the Armistice
31. Toppled Thrones—The Collapse of Empires
32. The Versailles Treaty and Paris Settlement
33. Aftershocks—Reds, Whites, and Nationalists
34. Monuments, Memory, and Myths
35. The Rise of the Mass Dictatorships
36. Legacies of the Great War
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TTC Video - World War I - The Great War.part1.rar
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