Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

Home > History > The 20th century > The First World War


The First World War



In some ways, humankind has never recovered from the horrors of the First World War:

  • Death and destruction:

    • Eight million soldiers died and many more were damaged physically or mentally.

    • Nine million civilians died.

    • Twelve million tons of shipping was sunk.

    • On the Western Front, the war destroyed 300,000 houses, 6,000 factories, 1,000 miles of railway and 112 coal mines.

  • People demanded a lasting peace, which would make it 'the war to end all wars' – this led to:

    • The League of Nations.

    • Remembrance Sunday, every November.

    • The British Field Marshal Douglas Haig set up the Poppy Appeal (1921).

  • Germany had not surrendered and was outraged by the terms of the Treaty [treaty: A formal agreement between two or more countries. of Versailles – this helped to cause:

    • The Second World War. Some historians suggest that there were not two world wars, but only one, with a long ceasefire in between.

    • The rise of Hitler to power.

  • There was a revolution in Russia which brought a Communist government to power, led by Lenin. This event changed world politics completely.

  • The War helped make Britain more democratic. There was an attitude that Britain needed to be 'a home fit for heroes'. All men and women over 21 were given the vote, and a Labour government was elected in 1924.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.