War, a dreadful occurrence, that can plunge nations into long-term peril, somehow succeeds in being on the top of the list for many nations. But it takes a lot of coaxing on the part of the nations to prepare its people for such suicidal devastation. This is done through the process of mobilization. Historyplex attempts to understand what mobilization meant in WWI, how it caused the war, and what were different WWI mobilization plans.
WWI was the first of its kind to mobilize the caliber of researchers and scientists, who contributed significantly by inventing modern warfare, thus increasing the devastation manifold.
On a rational note, nothing can justify war. War for power, for esteem, for survival, all fall flat when it comes to estimating the far-flung losses that are incurred after it has come to pass. Man is characterized by his rationality, however, barbarism within overpowers him, making the thin line between civilization and barbarism bleak and shallow. This phenomenon is the catalyst for many wars that have occurred in the bosom of this Earth. Let’s see for ourselves some of the causes which propelled World War One (WWI), making it a reference for thousands of years to come.
Causes of WWI
# One of the primary causes of this war was the practice of making allies. One or more countries signed treaties. Therefore, if one country declared was against any other, all the allies of that country were naturally drawn into the war.
# There was the rising frenzy of acquiring the maximum number of countries. Strong nations were always in the venture of attacking and conquering poor and weak nations like those in Asia and Africa, in order to gain access to the raw materials and cheap labor that these nations owned. This led to contention between the powerful nations, who aspired to bring the maximum number of nations under their control.
# The overpowering military almost dragged the countries into war. The growth of arms and ammunition further facilitated this.
# There were also some allying nations who no longer wanted to be a part of their group. They wanted, instead, to join the opposing group. Thus, this also led to significant chaos.
# The paramount cause, however, was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, by Serbia. This was reason enough for the war to begin between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The respective allying nations of Russia and Germany were automatically drawn into the war.
Literally speaking, mobilization is the process of gathering countrymen and national resources on a national call, generally at the times of crisis, such as a war. It is utterly a national reason which unites the citizens of a country to contribute in the ensuing war that the country engages in.
In terms of the armed forces, it is the process of assembling them and the troops, and preparing them for a war. The reason may not be always limited to war; it can also be an unforeseen national disaster that wrecks the nation, like a famine or a flood.
Mobilization in America During WWI
# The US stayed out of this bloody war for three long years, until Woodrow Wilson geared up and urged Congress to declare a war against Germany for not withdrawing submarines in the regions of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Wilson also convinced Congress by disclosing Germany’s intentions to instigate Mexico against the US.
# It’s noteworthy that America, at that point of time, did not have a ready, huge military support that could be transported easily to France in pursuit of the war. It required time to prepare an army able enough to fight in a war of such magnitude.
# This called for mobilization in the US for WW1. There were no arms and ammunition that could support America to fight the war. They fought with British and French arms.
# The First World War was being fought between two forces who stood against each other. They were the Allies and The Central Power. The Allies consisted of Great Britain, France, Russia, and Italy. The Central Power consisted Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
# The US joined the Allies, and thus ceased to become a neutral member in the war. The Allies were more than happy to have America as one of them, and their chances to win the war increased by several degrees, despite the unpreparedness of the US. Thus the extreme need to mobilize men and resources.
# Troops were sent into France to battle, despite their lack of training. Several Americans volunteered to fight in the war. So, what prompted these rather elite youngsters to stand in the middle of bloodshed? The answer can’t be anything but the true call for the nation and an acute sense of patriotism.
# The mobilization plans of America in WW1 didn’t limit itself in manning men to fight the war. It was also the economic issues that required an eye of caution.
# The production trend needed to be altered. There was this ever-powering need for America to produce its own weapons to use in the war. There was also the need to transport arms and supplies everywhere.
# The reckless activities of Germany which were not in favor of America curved immense public anguish, which was reason enough to mobilize the US against the Central Power in WW1. The decision and commitment to be an active part of the war was easy, but the task of actually fighting the war and preparing for the same was another part of the not-so-easy story.
# Formation of agencies and passing of laws were the initial steps toward mobilizing the US for the war. The nation and its countrymen didn’t have a rosy experience in the whole mobilization endeavor. Several factories were shut, and there arose real issues of food unavailability and shortage of several products.
# The Selective Service Act and the US Food Administration did marvelously well in raising a trained force, and managed the production and distribution of food across the nation.
# The astonishing success rate of this mobilization was far beyond expectations. Within a short span, the nation could assemble millions of men, all enthusiasts of the war. It also successfully arranged for the means to fight the war, including stabilization of the economy, and public support which was necessary to fight the war.
# The immediate result of the US mobilization was the success of the Allies, and the secure position America curved for itself, post-war.
German Mobilization During WWI
# Austria-Hungary waged a war against Serbia in retaliation against the latter’s killing the Archduke along with his wife. To aid its ally, Germany entered the war on Austria-Hungary’s side.
# Another primary reason for Germany to participate in WW1 was to avenge its rivals, and thus become victorious. The key rivals to Germany at that time were Britain, Russia, and France.
# The German government was authoritative, and it almost maneuvered the masses into forceful acceptance of the war. This can be clearly understood from the next point.
# According to the German Constitution of 1871, all male citizens from the age of 17 to 45 were liable to be a part of any war that the country would be engaged in. This was known as the Conscription.
# The citizens, however, welcomed this decision of Germany to be an active part in the war. Needless to say, people were readily mobilized.
# It can be understood that it was quite immature on the part of Germany to participate in the war without securing the availability of primary needs such as food and other raw materials.
# The Blockade of Europe is a phenomenon that had plagued the Central powers during the entire WW1 period. At that time, Europe had ceased the supply of essentials to the Central countries. Germany, being at the helm of the Central power, was affected directly.
# When discussing Germany’s role in mobilization for WW1, it goes without saying that we need to talk about the Schlieffen Plan.
# In 1914, Germany predicted simultaneous war with Russia and France, which of course was undesirable for Germany. Thus came into effect the Schlieffen Plan. The crux of this plan was to evade both-end, simultaneous war, defeat France, and then move on to defeat Russia.
# According to this plan, the German army was divided into two. The maximum would concentrate in fighting against France, and the remaining would shield against the Russians. According to the assumption of this plan, England would remain neutral.
# But, in reality, Germany was in for a big-time shock, and was faced by strong opposition, and German troops were paused by the Battle of Marne.
French Mobilization During WWI
# France began to mobilize for the war in August 1914.
# Like Germany, France too had a prevalent system of Conscription, the minimum period of which was three years.
# With the prevalent assumption that Germany would declare a war, France organized for a general mobilization by increasing the military forces. This was done by calling the reserves and also by deploying more men at the borders.
# Church bells were rung, posters were hung, and all French men from the urban areas to the far-off countryside were informed about the war breaking out.
# Men from all squares were called for the war. There were men who were already offering their services. There were the rest who were eventually called in, and also there were some who voluntarily wanted to fight for the nation.
# After Germany made known its intent of waging a war, first on France and then on Russia, France called for a general mobilization.
# There were numerous men who were made to fight in the war, who didn’t belong to France, per se, but were actually inhabitants of the French colonies.
Russian Mobilization During WWI
# If anything can be termed as reckless, it has to be the Russian mobilization.
# With the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, it was imminent that Serbia would eventually be called for a war. And Russia, being an ally to the former, chose to back Serbia in the war.
# When France asked for Russia to mobilize on its side against the Germans, Russia did so readily, contrary to German assumptions.
# In WW1, Russia was amongst those countries who had the maximum number of soldiers.
# Russia was well aided by France with the supply of transport facilities, so that the soldiers were deployed at the right place in limited time. This helped Russia to mobilize quickly.
# Despite having manpower, Russia faced odds during the war because of poor resources. Transportation was flawed, ammunition was constrained, and communication was not secure. There was leakage of information, which were easily decoded by the rivals.
# Hence, the chain of events plainly show that Russia, in an attempt to secure its position in the Balkans, and instigated by Serbia and France, was more than willing to put up a fight. It did so by calling out for complete mobilization.
As this article draws to a close, it is important for us to realize that the power of mobilization was indeed startling, as it could bring to effect the long and bloody war that lingered through four long years, right from 1914 up to 1918.