WORLD WAR ONE
World War One, often called The Great War, and prior to World War II the World War, marked the beginning of the most violent period in World History. It was the first "total war" in human history in which entire cultures and civilizations on five continents were mobilized. It also was the bloodiest war in human history—over fifteen million soldiers died and twenty million suffered injuries. This does not take into account the unprecedented destruction which industrialization had made possible. The war lasted from 1914 until 1918, and destroyed whole families; in fact an entire generation of young men in Europe perished. It also devastated national economies leading to soaring rates of inflation and gargantuan national debt. At its end, the war saw the rise of the United States as a world economic power despite its self imposed isolation, the redrawing of European boundaries, and the collapse of four dynasties and their empires. It also gave birth to nine new nations, and set the stage for the ideological conflict between capitalism and communism which marked the Cold War of the twentieth century.
Underlying Causes of the War:No single element caused the world to drift toward war, although the fuse of conflict was ignited by a single spark described below. Among its causes was a rise of Nationalism which had first manifested itself during the French Revolution. A basic element of nationalism was the idea that people with the same ethnic origins, language, and political ideals had the right to form sovereign states, a practice known as self determination. The concept had been ignored by the dynasties of Europe for years, however a series of movements and revolutions allowed Belgium to gain its independence from the Netherlands in 1830; Italy had been unified along nationalist lines in 1861, and Germany in 1871. Still nationalism and self determination were unresolved in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
The Ottoman empire had ruled the Balkan peninsula since the fifteenth century, but had shrunk as much of its territory was sliced away. The loss of territory was partly caused by invasion from Austria and Russia but also because of nationalist revolts. Greece gained its independence in 1630 to be followed by Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. In the meantime, the joint kingdom of Austria Hungary faced unrest from Poles, Croats, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats and especially Serbs who wished to unite with Serbia. The situation was exacerbated by Russia, which had promoted the concept of Pan-Slavism, the cultural kinship of people of Slavic descent. Russia’s purpose, of course, was to unite all Slavic people under its hegemony which would weaken the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The situation was worsened by intense competition between Germany and Great Britain which soon threatened Britain’s economic dominance. Each country convinced itself that naval power was the key to preserving its trade routes and shipping, and an expensive naval race ensued. Political leaders also saw domination of the seas as decisive in time of war. Thus when Germany announced the construction of a fleet of large battle ships, Britain saw its naval supremacy threatened, and began construction of super battleships known as dreadnoughts. The Germans responded in kind, and international tensions grew. The scramble for colonial empires, primarily between Britain and Germany and also between Germany and France was yet another factor. Germany, which was united only in 1871 aggressively sought an overseas empire; however much of the world had been carved up by France and Britain, particularly Africa. Germany tried to isolate the French by backing Moroccan independence when rebellion broke out there. The French threatened war, but conflict was avoided by a conference in Algeciras, Spain. A series of wars in the Balkans between 1912 and 1913 over Ottoman territory pushed Europe to the brink.
A final factor was intense chauvinism by citizens who wished their state to outshine all others, particularly in international affairs. Competition from everything from colonies to the race to the South Pole was fueled by cheap newspapers, pamphlets and books which fueled aggressive patriotism and national arrogance. Elected political leaders often felt obliged to achieve headline achieving successes in foreign policy.
A series of military alliances (in which countries expressed by treaty the circumstances under which each would go to war in support of its allies) developed which each participating nation saw as necessary for self preservation. By 1914, Europe was divided into two hostile camps: The Triple Alliance also known as the Central Powers, originally comprised of Germany and Austria-Hungary, formed to protect against attack from France and Russia. The Alliance was threatened as early as 1911 when Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire, where it hoped for territorial gain at a time when Germany had attempted to cultivate friendly relations with the Turks. Although purportedly intended to preserve the European status quo, the French, who had neither forgotten nor forgiven France’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and were determined to curb Germany’s growing power, were suspicious. Russia and Britain were also suspicious that this might upset the balance of power. The Triple Entente, also known as the Allied Powers, consisted of Britain, France, and Russia and was formed largely to counter the Triple Alliance. Each agreed to fight for the other in the event of war. Although intended as defensive measures, the two alliances made it difficult to contain what otherwise would have been a minor international crisis.
Inflexible military planning on each side also made peace virtually impossible to retain. The French developed Plan XVII, a virtual celebration of offensive maneuvers summed up in one word: "attack." It gave no thought to the enemy’s intentions or casualties. Germany, concerned about encirclement, worked from a strategy developed in 1905 by Count Alfred von Schlieffen, later known as the Schlieffen plan which allowed Germany to fight a two front war. The plan, which Schlieffen had constantly revised and perfected, called for German forces to swiftly knock France out of the war; then quickly move forces East to attack (or defend against) Russia. The plan was predicated on the assumption that the Russians could not quickly mobilize forces and the Germans would have time to concentrate the full power of their war effort against them.
The Outbreak of Global War:The spark which ignited the fuse of war was lit on June 28, 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princeps in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was part of the Empire. Austrian investigators linked Princeps (and other assassins who had been stationed along Ferdinand’s path) to be members of the Black Hand, a terrorist group dedicated to the unification of all southern Slavs to form a greater Serbia. They viewed the Austro-Hungarian Empire as their greatest threat, and the assassination of the heir to the throne as a symbolic victory. Austrian leaders were determined to teach the Serbs a lesson, and after first assuring themselves of German support (Emperor Franz Joseph wrote personally to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II) issued an ultimatum on July 23 to Serbia whose terms were intentionally unacceptable. It demanded that Serbia "vigorously suppress all Serbian nationalist activity," publish an apology in its national newspapers, punish radical Serbian nationalists, cease anti-Austro-Hungarian propaganda and allow Austrian officials participate in any investigation of persons on Serbian territory suspected of participation in the assassination. Serbia was given forty eight hours to reply. Hoping to avoid war, the Serbs accepted all provisions of the ultimatum except the last. On July 28, Austria declared Serbia’s reply unsatisfactory and declared war.
Prior to the declaration of war, Nicholas II of Russia had sent a telegram to Wilhelm II of Germany, his first cousin by marriage. He proposed that the dispute be settled by the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Wilhelm replied that Nicholas should "remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict, without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed."
The next day, (July 29) Russia ordered a general mobilization to defend its Serbian ally and itself from Germany. Nicholas II had hoped to order only a partial mobilization; however his generals advised that a partial mobilization would upset complex military plans and timetables, and would also invite the Germans to participate in the war. Germany then issued an ultimatum to Russia on July 31 demanding that Russia cease mobilization and in another ultimatum demanded to know France’s intentions. Each was given twelve hours to reply. The Russians replied with one word: "impossible;" the French replied that France would look to its own interests. On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia and on August 3, declared war on France. Prior to the declaration of war on France, Germany had issued an ultimatum to Belgium demanding the right to cross Belgian territory to put the Schlieffen plan into execution. Belgium had refused, relying on a treaty of 1839 which guaranteed Belgian neutrality but German troops were already on the march, having been mobilized one day before the declaration of war. On August 4, 1914, Great Britain issued an ultimatum to Germany demanding that Belgian neutrality be respected. When Germany refused, Great Britain declared war on Germany, and a general European war was thus commenced.
Everyone expected a short war; in fact Wilhelm II told his troops they would be home "before the leaves fall from the trees." Many saw the war as the opportunity for glory and honor, and believed God was on their side. German soldiers wore belt buckles with the inscription Gott mit uns ("God with us ;") German troops fought "for God and Czar," and British soldiers "For God, King and Country." The war strategies developed were all offensive in nature, with no plans for defense; all were occupied with visions of swift triumph. It was not a short war, however. German forces neared Paris in August, 1914 when they were halted at the River Marne. Thereafter, both sides engaged in flanking maneuvers, a "race to the sea" that took them to the Atlantic coast; however for three years the lines were virtually stationary. The war soon became a war of attrition with each side trying to wear down the other while suffering heavy losses itself. The stalemate in forces was largely the result of several technological innovations:
Barbed wire, developed to confine cattle on America’s great plains, was effective in frustrating the advance of enemy soldiers.
Machine gun fire turned infantry charges into mass suicides. Forces on both sides were forced to dig into trenches from which they fired at each other across "no man’s land."
Poison gas, first chlorine and later mustard gas which blistered lungs, skin, and bronchial tubes and caused excruciating death over four to five weeks.
Tanks and airplanes were first used in the war. Tanks were first used by the British to break down defensive trenches. It was originally a secret weapon, denominated a "water carrier," hence the name. It was not overtly successful, as German forces soon regained lost territory. Airplanes also were not effective as weapons, as they could not carry sufficient weaponry; but were invaluable for aerial reconnaissance. (Attempts to prevent aerial reconnaissance led to the famous "dog fights" of opposing air forces.)
The German submarine, the Unterseeboot, (hence, U-boat) destroyed tremendous tonnage of Allied shipping.
The Germans attempted using zeppelins (hydrogen filled dirigibles) to bomb Paris. The effort was largely unsuccessful, but marked the beginning of attack on civilian targets, previously prohibited by the rules of engagement.
Naval blockades on both sides attempted to deprive whole populations of food; hoping that starving populations would force their governments to capitulate.
Rather than glory, those fighting in the war saw grim reality. No man’s land was strewn with shell craters, bodies and body parts, mud, lice and rats fattened from eating corpses. The slaughter was unprecedented: The Germans attempted to break the deadlock with a large assault on Verdun in France. The French rallying cry was "they shall not pass." At the end of the battle, France lost 315,000 men, the Germans 280,000. Fewer than 160,000 bodies were identifiable. At the battle of the Somme, the British gained a few thousand yards at a cost of 420,000 casualties.
Count Helmuth Karl von Moltke (1800-1891), the former Prussian chief of the General Staff, had predicted long before 1914 that future wars would not be won by a single battle; rather it would be necessary to break the will of the entire populace of the defeated nation. His words were prophetic. The term home front soon illustrated the importance of an entire nation mobilized for war.
The unprecedented demand for war goods meant mobilization of entire economies on both sides. Planning boards reorganized industries and set production quotas. They determined what would be produced and what consumed. Work hours were extended and wage and price controls imposed. Soldiers were conscripted leaving a demand for workers at home, such that unemployment virtually vanished. Women often filled the gaps in the workforce. Aside from working in factories and as police officers, women worked behind battle lines as nurses, physicians, and communication clerks. Their most crucial work was manufacturing ammunition. Children also worked at times in munitions factories. The extension of voting rights for women in Britain immediately after the war was in part acknowledgement of their contribution to the war effort.
Governments on both sides used propaganda to counter threats to national unity. Civil liberties were restricted, bad news censored and the enemy vilified through propaganda campaigns. Those who criticized the war were prosecuted as traitors. Propaganda offices attempted to convince the public that defeat would mean the destruction of everything worth living for, and further attempted to dehumanize the enemy who were shown as subhuman savages in engaged in atrocities. Germans were vilified as "Huns" who converted human corpses into fertilizer and food. (This was a semi-unintentional mistranslation of the German word for "horse" into "human." German posters pictured black allied soldiers raping German women, some of whom were pregnant. The sad irony was that public disbelief of wartime propaganda led to reluctance to believe in atrocities actually committed in subsequent wars.
The war soon turned into a global conflict. European powers quickly carried the war into their own colonies, especially in Africa. Also, Europe’s human resources were not enough to fight the war and men from colonies were soon recruited. The French conscripted men from Algeria, China, and Indochina, and the British from India, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. On August 15, 1914 Japan sent an ultimatum to Germany demanding the release of German territory in northeastern China to Japan without compensation, and that Germany withdraw its ships from Japanese and Chinese waters. Germany refused and Japan entered the war on the Allied side. Japanese forces seized Qingdao in China and the Marshall Islands, Marianas Islands and the Carlines. New Zealand and Australian forces captured German portions of Samoa in August 1914 and the Bismarck Islands and New Guinea. Japan, seeking to build its own empire, issued an ultimatum to the Chinese on January 18, 1915 with twenty one "secret demands." The demands would have made China a protectorate of Japan. The Chinese accepted most of the demands, but leaked the content of the note to the British, who spoke up for the Chinese. Japan backed down; however the Twenty One Demands reflected Japan’s determination to dominate east Asia. German colonies in Africa were also attacked, but resistance was stiff. More soldiers died from germs than from German war efforts, and Germany’s African empire did not disappear until the armistice of November, 1918.
In an attempt to break the stalemate, the British first Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Winston Churchill, suggested a strike against the Ottoman Empire, a weak ally of the Germans. Ottoman forces dug in on the peninsula of Gallipoli which was attacked by combined English, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces. After four months and losses of 250,000 on each side, the Allies finally had to concede failure. While the British had directed the campaign, Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders suffered the worst losses. The result was weakening of the bond between these countries and Britain. In Australia, the date of the landing, April 25, 1915, became known as Anzac day (an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and became a national holiday. The battle also helped launch the political career of the Turkish defender, Mustapha Kemal, who was important in establishing the modern state of Turkey. Gallipoli was the last significant Turkish victory. Eventually, Allied forces smashed Ottoman forces. The allies received important support from an Arab revolt aided by a British adventurer, T.E. Lawrence, later known as Lawrence of Arabia.
The End of the War:The first great casualty of the war was the Russian Romanov dynasty. Strikes, mutinies, and food shortages had led to street demonstrations in St. Petersburg. Police forces could not stop the violence, army troops garrisoned at St. Petersburg mutinied, and Nicholas II was forced to abdicate. With the collapse of the monarchy, a provisional government was instituted under Alexander Kerensky, but soon came into conflict with a workers’ organization known as the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. Although the provisional government instituted numerous reforms, including disbanding the Czarist secret police and instituting freedom of speech, the press and assembly, it could not meet demands for an end to the war or for the redistribution of land to peasants. The government pledged to pursue the war to a victorious end. The Soviets in contrast called for an immediate end to the war.
Events took a dramatic turn when the German High Command transported Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to Russia in a sealed train, hoping that he would stir up enough trouble to force Russia to withdraw from the war. Lenin was a Russian lawyer who had been exiled to Switzerland because of Marxist activities. He had been embittered when his brother was executed for involvement in the assassination of Alexander II. He was an avid scholar of Marxism, but unlike Marx he believed that the working class were incapable of developing the necessary revolutionary consciousness to bring about revolution. Rather he believed it would require the leadership of a highly organized party that would serve as the catalyst of revolution. Revolution, he believed, must be instituted from above.
Lenin’s followers, the Bolsheviks (Russian for "Majority," as opposed to the Mensheviks, the "Minority") gained control of the St. Petersburg Soviet, and used the government’s insistence on continuing the war, inability to provide food, and refusal to undertake land reforms as a platform. Lenin’s slogan became: "Peace, Land, Bread." On October 24-25, workers, soldiers and sailors stormed the Winter Palace, home of the provisional government, and seized power in a bloodless revolution. Lenin and his followers then took control of the country. Russia ended its involvement in the war with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918 which gave Germany one third of Russia’s territory and one quarter of its population. The terms were harsh and humiliating, and Germany was now free to concentrate all its resources on the Western front.
The United States of America, which had remained neutral since the beginning of the war, declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. America had remained fiercely neutral; however American merchants had sold huge amounts of war supplies to the Allies and American banks had made large loans to them also. The Germans who had some support from Americans, attempted to sabotage American suppliers often using cigar bombs, designed to sink ships at sea. Officially, the United States motive for entering the war was German use of U-Boats. Since U-Boats sank ships without prior warning, a practice considered a violation of the rules of engagement, the practice became known as Unrestricted Submarine Warfare. German military officials had predicted that a submarine blockade of Britain would force that country to capitulate within six months. At times, neutral ships were also sunk. On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sank RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast with the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 U.S. citizens. Technically, the ship was fair game, as it carried 4,200 cases of ammunition and traveled through a declared war zone; however, Americans were outraged and the mood turned against Germany. The American mood was also influenced by British propaganda, and the fact that the British had cut the cable between Europe and the United States, so that the only news reaching the U.S. came from British sources. Germany originally promised to cease unrestricted submarine warfare by the Arabic Pledge, also known as the Sussex Pledge, named for two ships sank by them. However, German war efforts did not progress. Also, British ships often flew flags of neutral countries as a ruse; and at other times rammed submarines on the surface where they were helpless, after initially offering permission to be boarded and searched. The anti-German mood was further exacerbated by the Zimmerman Telegram, which proposed awarding large portions of the Southwestern U.S. to Mexico if it would enter the war on Germany’s side. The telegram was intercepted by the British and given to the United States. When Germany informed the U.S. that it would resume unrestricted submarine warfare on April 1, 1917, Congress declared War on Germany at the request of President Woodrow Wilson who characterized the war as an effort to "make the world safe for democracy," and called it the "war to end all wars."
The attrition of the war took its toll on both sides. In Ireland, nationalists mounted the Great Easter Rebellion in an unsuccessful attempt to achieve independence from Britain. IN Germany, food shortages caused by the British blockade had people eating turnips, which had previously only been used for cattle feed, and led to street demonstrations. At the German naval base of Kiel, sailors revolted twice with tremendous casualties. French soldiers lost confidence in their leadership, and refused to attack. The mutiny there led to 23,385 courts martial and 432 death sentences. The French censored information so tightly that the Germans, who could have taken advantage of the situation, learned of the mutiny only after the war was over. Germany mounted a last offensive in 1918 which failed, and the Allies, revitalized by the introduction of fresh American troops, broke German lines and began pushing the Germans back. The Central Powers were completely exhausted. Bulgaria fell on September 30; the Ottoman Empire on October 30; and Austria-Hungary surrendered on November 4. Germany had no choice but to accept an armistice. It was signed at eleven a.m. in a railroad car at Aix la Chappelle (present day Aachen) on November 11, 1918. The war was over.
The Peace Conference:The twenty seven victorious powers met in Paris at the Palace of Versailles to arrange a post war settlement. The Central Powers were not allowed to participate, and the allies threatened to renew the war if their terms were not accepted. The conference was dominated by the "Big Four:" Georges Clemenceau of France, Victor Orlando of Italy, David Lloyd George of Britain, and Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States. Wilson was the first American President to leave the United States for an extended period. The Soviet Union (formerly Russia) was also not allowed to participate since it had surrendered earlier to Germany. The British blockade of Germany remained in place, and no foreign troops had yet set foot on German soil. This led to the accusations of a "dictated peace," and accusations of a "stab in the back" of the army by the German people; a claim which played handily into the plans of those who would later dominate the German government.
One year prior to the peace conference, Woodrow Wilson had promulgated a plan for peace known as the Fourteen Points. The Central Powers had announced their acceptance of the Fourteen Points as the basis for the armistice, and they expected the Allies to use them as the foundation for the peace treaties to follow. Among the significant portions of the Fourteen Points:
Open agreements of peace openly arrived at.
Absolute freedom of the seas in peace and war.
Removal of all economic barriers and establishment of equality of trading conditions among all nations.
Reduction of armaments.
Adjustment of colonial disputes with the concerns of colonial populations considered.
A "general association of nations" known as the League of Nations.
An independent Poland with access to the Sea.
Wilson’s plan was idealistic, but gave him moral leadership. The French and British were not interested, however. Both did not wish to compromise secret wartime agreements whereby they had agreed to distribute among themselves the colonial territories of the Central Powers. France in particular was bitter because of the intense destruction there, and wished to see Germany permanently crippled so as not to present a future threat. France insisted that German delegates sign a "War Guilt Clause (Article 235) which required Germany to assume sole responsibility and guilt for causing the war; that the German army be limited to 100,000 men; Germany have no navy or air force; and that Germany pay massive reparations equal to over eight times the country’s net worth. In a seemingly magnanimous gesture, they agreed that Germany should pay the reparations in eighty installments. Had all been paid, the last installment would have been paid in 1999.
Bulgaria accepted the Treaty of Neuilly whereby it lost only small amounts of territory (because the allies feared that destabilization of Bulgaria might lead to further war in the Balkans.) The Treaties of St. Germain and Trianon dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire Hungary was reduced to one third its prewar size and its population decreased from 28 million to eight million. The Treaty of Sévres dissolved the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty initially called for occupation by foreign powers, but the Turks mounted a fierce resistance under war leader Mustafa Kemal who drove out Greek, British, French and Italian occupation forces. He then established the Republic of Turkey with its capital at Ankara, which was officially recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne.
Kemal, now known as Ataturk, ("Father of the Turks") modernized and secularized the country, separating the government from the Islamic religious establishment. Women were emancipated and given the right to vote; Arabic numerals and the Roman alphabet adopted together with western clothing. Turkish success after the war was the exception, rather than the rule. German expansionist plans, which were frustrated by the war, were not dead. Similarly, the Italians had designs on the Balkans and the Japanese still had designs on China. The Treaty of Versailles which ultimately ended the war, proved to be nothing more than a twenty year truce before hostilities broke out again.
Among his other shortcomings, Woodrow Wilson was an unrepentant racist. When a young Vietnamese Nationalist, Ho Chi Minh, came to Paris to ask for self determination for the people of Indochina, Wilson had him thrown out. Ho Chi Minh later became the president of North Vietnam, and held the United States at bay for many years in the Vietnam war. Had Wilson been more accommodating, the war might have been avoided.
The final treaty also created the League of Nations, the first truly international security organization. Of the forty two original members, twenty six countries were outside Europe. It appeared that European interests were at last transcended. However, there were problems. The League had no power to enforce its decisions and relied on collective security to preserve world peace. The basic idea was that aggression against one state would be considered aggression against all others who were pledged to come to the aid of the injured party. Sadly, this system could not work because of lack of participation by several important world powers. The United States never joined the League or ratified the treaty. Germany and Japan both resigned from the League in 1933; Italy resigned in 1937 when the League chastised it for the invasion of Ethiopia. The Soviet Union joined in 1934 but was expelled in 1940. In 1940, the League itself ultimately dissolved.
Wilson pursued self determination for the people of Europe in the Treaty. It became a partial reality in Europe, as Poland and Czechoslovakia emerged as independent nations. Yugoslavia (literally the "land of the southern Slavs") was formed consisting of the kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Yet success was mixed at best. Poland consisted of territory occupied by a population one third of whom did not speak Poland. The population of Czechoslovakia was only 67 per cent Czech and Slovak; the remainder were ethnic Germans, Ruthenes and Hungarians. The people of Yugoslavia represented diverse populations with diverse national interests and culture.
Self Determination was not the case outside Europe. The United States had rejected the idea of reformulation of colonies the concept of "trusteeship" was substituted in its place. Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations referred to colonies and territories of the former Central Powers as "inhabited by peoples not ye able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world." As a result, "the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to the advanced nations who…can best undertake this responsibility." The so-called "mandates" were divided into three classes based on the subject peoples’ fitness for self government. Administration of the mandate system was left to the victorious powers of the war. The Germans saw this as a method of dividing up colonial booty by the victorious powers who had conveniently forgotten to place their own colonies under mandate. The Arabs were even more outraged. The British and French had made promises to Arab leaders during the war promising nationalist independence from the Ottoman Empire and a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Arab people hoped to establish independent states; instead the British established mandates in Iraq and Palestine and the French in Lebanon and Syria.
The War inflicted irreparable damage on European power and prestige and set the stage for decolonization. Nationalism grew in areas controlled by Europeans, and with it grew desires for independence and self determination. Europe’s economic stature was also diminished. High inflation and large public debt and other economic dislocations were damaging. Most significant were the loss of overseas investments which had brought large financial returns. The relationship between the United States and Europe underwent a complete reversal. The U.S. had been a debtor nation before 1914; now it was a major creditor nation.
Europe’s global hegemony also declined. Colonial subjects in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific frequently viewed the war as a Civil War among European nations in which the haughty people who claimed racial superiority slaughtered each other. White overlords no longer seemed destined to rule over colonial subjects and subject peoples became more and more inclined against being obedient subjects. Many nationalist movements were inspired by the decline of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union. Nationalist sentiments in former colonial lands thus grew rather than diminished.