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Why was Germany not broken up at the end of WW1

Why was Germany not broken up at the end of WW1


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At the end of WW1 both Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman empire were broken up, but Germany was left intact, apart from some bits of territory given to Denmark, France and Poland. Why did this happen? if Bismark's nation building had been undo, things might have been very different.


It's much too complicated to reduce entire libraries to a Stackexchange answer.

It's all about interests. But it was an interplay of (balance of power) play, economic considerations, desire for peace, peace in the future, and the desire for revenge and punishment. Every delegation pulling their own strings, but often in opposite directions.

World War One was the war to end all wars. That means, peace should then be the default condition for Europe, better yet, the world. But OK.

For example Italy wanted a grab of land, France wanted a grab. All those nationalists in newly to be formed countries wanted their own territory and power. England mainly wanted peace, as in peace the economy flourishes across the board, and not just for war equipment. The US were largely in the same boat as England. But the powers that did negotiate peace terms, meaning: excluding those who lost the confrontation, all had different ideas on how to accomplish their interests.

While France's Clemenceau wanted to squeeze every last drop out of Germany to pay for the war, to punish Germany, and to strengthen France and prevent another war by stripping Germany of any capability to wage one, England calculated more coldly that only a Germany that was halfway about her wits would be able to pay for all the damage done and participate in world trade in the future. Meaning: to sell to England and to buy from England.

Then by 1917 we had the Soviet Union on the map but firmly pushed to the kids table, despite everyone being scared that the ideas taking hold in Russia might make the rounds, perhaps by force. In such a case a military bullwark called Germany that stops armed spread of communism would come in handy for al the reactionary powers further West.

When it comes to comparing the fate of German Empire to Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary, then there comes the perverse spectre of nationalism. While Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Empire were seen as multi-national states, Germany was the exact opposite of it. In fact the German Reich was founded by excluding Austria from it as it was not nationally homogenous enough. As nationalism was seen by many as the guiding principle of the day, it stood almost to reason to reorganise the political map of Europe according to those principles.

Only that that failed, predictably, since the conditions on the ground were quite different than nationalists from all sides fever dreamed into their own reality or futures. Europe consisted of so many minorities, that also settled so intermingling, that drawing clean borders derived from these principles would result in an atomised map with more principalities than there were in the Holy Roman Empire.


At the start of the war, prior to US entry, President Woodrow Wilson released his Fourteen Points, a set of principles on whose basis the postwar peace should be negotiated.

This was essentially a view that wholeheartedly endorsed Nationalism: the idea that different peoples should have different governments. Where there's a dispute, it should be put up to a vote.

There were some outs here. It also flat-out stated that Alsace Lorraine needed to go back to France, and (overwhelmingly German) Austria needed to remain independent of Germany. But still this philosophically represented a post-war situation that would imply very little loss of German territory, while being an utter death-knell for multicultural "empires" like the Ottomans' and Austria-Hungary.

In practice perhaps you are correct this was a bit of a tactical mistake, as Germanys' two multi-national Imperial allies were arguably more liabilities in the war than aids to Germany, while the most dangerous opponent was just left stung rather than dismantled. Machiavelli certainly wouldn't have approved. However, the idea behind the 14 points was to leave behind a Europe where political boundaries matched cultural ones, and thus there shouldn't be as many ethnic festering wounds lying around generating conflict (without having to resort to periodic Machiavellian violence).


World War One – End of WW1

Although America did not declare war on Germany until 1917, she had been involved in the war from the beginning supplying the allies with weapons and supplies. America was critical involved in military operations that led to the final conclusion of the Great War and was there to witness the end of WW1.

On May 2nd 1915 the British passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a torpedo from a German submarine. 1195 passengers, including 128 Americans, lost their lives. Americans were outraged and put pressure on the government to enter the war.

Woodrow Wilson (right) campaigned for a peaceful end to the war. He appealed to both sides to try to settle the war by diplomatic means but was unsuccessful.

In February 1917, the Germans announced an unrestricted submarine warfare campaign. They planned to sink any ship that approached Britain whether it was a military ship, supply ship or passenger ship.

On April 3rd 1917, Wilson made a speech declaring that America would enter the war and restore peace to Europe.

The United States declared war on Germany on April 6th 1917. American troops joined the French and British in the summer of 1918. They were fresh and not war-weary and were invaluable in defeating the Germans.

The allied victory in November 1918 was not solely due to American involvement. Rapid advancements in weapon technology meant that by 1918 tanks and planes were common place.

The German commander Erich Ludendorff was a brilliant military commander and had won decisive victories over Russia in 1917 that led to the Russian withdrawal from the war.

In 1918 he announced that if Germany was to win the war then the allies had to be defeated on the Western Front before the arrival of American troops.

Although his offensive was initially successful the allies held ground and eventually pushed the Germans back.

By 1918 there were strikes and demonstrations in Berlin and other cities protesting about the effects of the war on the population. The British naval blockade of German ports meant that thousands of people were starving. Socialists were waiting for the chance to seize Germany as they had in Russia. In October 1918 Ludendorff resigned and the German navy mutinied. The end was near. Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated on November 9th 1918.

On 11th November the leaders of both sides held a meeting in Ferdinand Foch’s railway carriage headquarters at Compiegne.

The Armistice was signed at 6am and came into force five hours later. Thus all sides witnessed the final end of WW1.

This article is part of our extensive collection of articles on the Great War. Click here to see our comprehensive article on World War 1.


More about World War One

It became known as The Great War because it affected people all over the world and was the biggest war anyone had ever known.

New weapons and technologies were used that enabled new ways of fighting, which caused destruction on a scale that had never been seen before.

Millions of people - both soldiers and ordinary citizens - lost their lives as a result of the fighting.

Getty Images

On 11 November 1918, the guns fell silent and World War One came to an end.

This year, we remember 100 years since this happened.

In April 1917, the US declared war on Germany. American troops went into action just over a year later on the side of the Triple Entente.

Germany and its allies knew that they had to launch a big offensive if they were to win the war before too many US troops arrived, as they were a very powerful nation. Not only that, but the American soldiers weren't tired from years of fighting, like everyone else was.

The German soldiers attempted to push Britain and its allies back with a series of offensives, or attacks.

But on 8 August 1918, the French and British armies launched the Hundred Days Offensive - a counter-attack, which pushed the Germans back.

Getty Images

By the end of August, there were over 1.4 million American troops in France, and Germany and its allies were completely overwhelmed.

Not only that, but German citizens back home were suffering from food shortages and illness, and started to rebel. There were strikes and demonstrations in the capital of Berlin.

By the autumn of 1918, Germany and its allies realised it was no longer possible to win the war. Those fighting alongside Germany started to withdraw from the war and - by the start of November - Germany was fighting alone.


Why Did Germany Lose World War I?

Germany was forced to surrender in World War I primarily due to tactical mistakes made late in the war and dwindling food supplies due to British blockades of the country's ports. Germany also lost many of its allies to armistices in 1918.

Germany began a large-scale attack in 1918 called the "Spring Offensive." Its intent was to capture Paris and force France to surrender while simultaneously outflanking British forces along the North Sea coast. The initial advances were successful, but the troops moved too far ahead of supply lines, and the most seasoned troops were taking the worst casualties at the front of the assault. Allied forces eventually broke through the German lines and forced them to retreat.

The entry into the war of fresh American, Australian and Canadian troops in 1918 coincided with the surrenders of German allies Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarians. Germany found itself increasingly isolated and outnumbered.

Germany's cities suffered most greatly from the lack of food, with starvation deaths in the country increasing by 200,000 from 1917 to 1918. There were also outbreaks of dysentery. Poor domestic conditions led to internal revolution in November of 1918, when a dozen major cities were taken by rebels. This led to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm and armistice negotiations shortly thereafter.


Brüning and Schleicher

To form the next government, Hindenburg selected Heinrich Brüning of the Centre Party. Brüning had not previously held high office, and his first concern was to pass a budget. He was unable to secure a majority in the Reichstag for his proposals, however, because the Social Democrats had combined with the Communists, Nationalists, and Nazis to make up the hostile majority. Faced with a parliamentary deadlock, Brüning resorted to the use of the president’s emergency powers under Article 48 to put his program into effect by decree (July 16, 1930).

Such a possibility had been envisaged at the time of Brüning’s appointment to the chancellorship by a small group of men around Hindenburg, prominent among whom was Gen. Kurt von Schleicher. It was Schleicher who had suggested Brüning to Hindenburg as chancellor, and Brüning, although sincerely attached to parliamentary institutions, accepted the view that the economic situation called for the use of emergency methods. His action was promptly challenged by the Social Democrats, who defeated him for the second time in the Reichstag. Brüning thereupon dissolved the chamber and fixed new elections for September 14, 1930. As it was at the time, Brüning’s decision to invoke Article 48 has remained the subject of much controversy.

The elections were held in an atmosphere of public disorder for which the Nazis, with the organized violence of their brownshirted Storm Troopers, and the Communists were chiefly responsible. The results were disastrous. The impact of the Depression on German society was reflected in the sensational rise of the Communist and, more especially, the Nazi vote. Despite these results, Brüning decided to remain in office. He had to face the noisy opposition of the Nazis and the Communists, who attacked his government as unconstitutional and proceeded to reduce parliamentary procedure to a prolonged brawl. The Social Democrats, however, alarmed at the threat to the republic from the rising power of the two extremist parties, rallied to the chancellor’s support, although they were critical of the deflationary policy he was pursuing. Their backing provided Brüning with sufficient votes to defeat frequent motions of no confidence while he put his program into effect by presidential decree, but the measures introduced by the government failed to check the downward spiral. In an attempt to alter the economic equation, on March 24, 1931, German foreign minister Julius Curtius proposed an Austro-German customs union. The move would have placated the large populations in both countries that favoured Anschluss (“union”) of the two German-speaking countries, but France and Italy forced the German government to abandon its plan.

In July 1931 a severe financial crisis led to the collapse of the Darmstadt and National Bank, one of Germany’s largest financial institutions, and in September the unemployment figure reached 4.3 million. On October 3 Brüning reshuffled his cabinet, assuming the role of foreign minister himself. His dour struggle to master the economic situation continued, and he displayed courage and integrity in standing up to unscrupulous opposition. In the early months of 1932, however, more than six million Germans were unemployed, and Brüning’s position looked increasingly precarious.

In these circumstances, the prospect of a presidential election was alarming. Brüning sought a prolongation of Hindenburg’s term, but Hitler and Hugenberg mustered enough support to kill the proposal. On March 13 Hitler and three other candidates competed against Hindenburg, and the 84-year-old field marshal polled 18,661,736 votes to Hitler’s 11,328,571. Hindenburg fell 0.4 percent short of winning an absolute majority in the first round, so a runoff election was held on April 11. In that contest, Hindenburg received 19,359,642 votes to Hitler’s 13,417,460. The chief reason for Hindenburg’s success was the decision of all the republican parties to vote for him as the defender of the constitution. That trust was soon to be broken.

The political struggle in Prussia, the largest of the German Länder (states), was scarcely less important than that in the Reich. Since 1920 Prussia had been governed by a stable coalition of the Social Democrats and the Centre under the leadership of two Social Democrats, Otto Braun and Carl Severing. The Prussian government was regarded as the principal bulwark of German democracy and, as such, was a special object of the extremist parties’ hatred. In particular, they wished to wrest control of the Prussian police force from Severing. At the state elections on April 24, 1932, the Nazis scored another major success, winning 162 of 428 seats and becoming the largest party in the Prussian Landtag. The Social Democrat–Centre coalition remained in office solely in a caretaker capacity.


Why was Germany not broken up at the end of WW1 - History

T he final Allied push towards the German border began on October 17, 1918. As the British, French and American armies advanced, the alliance between the Central Powers began to collapse. Turkey signed an armistice at the end of October, Austria-Hungary followed on November 3.

Germany began to crumble from within. Faced with the prospect of returning to sea, the sailors of

America troops at the front celebrate
the end of the fighting, Nov 11, 1918
the High Seas Fleet stationed at Kiel mutinied on October 29. Within a few days, the entire city was in their control and the revolution spread throughout the country. On November 9 the Kaiser abdicated slipping across the border into the Netherlands and exile. A German Republic was declared and peace feelers extended to the Allies. At 5 AM on the morning of November 11 an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front lines.

The terms of the agreement called for the cessation of fighting along the entire Western Front to begin at precisely 11 AM that morning. After over four years of bloody conflict, the Great War was at an end.

". at the front there was no celebration."

Colonel Thomas Gowenlock served as an intelligence officer in the American 1st Division. He was on the front line that November morning and wrote of his experience a few years later:

"On the morning of November 11 I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonel John Greely, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peabody, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:

'Well - fini la guerre!' said Colonel Greely.

'It sure looks like it,' I agreed.

'Do you know what I want to do now?' he said. 'I'd like to get on one of those little horse-drawn canal boats in southern France and lie in the sun the rest of my life.'

My watch said nine o'clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o'clock came - but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had-their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after their years of war, but unfortunately many fell after eleven o'clock that day.

All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the

Celebration in Paris
Nov 11, 1918
armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration. Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers - and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

What was to come next? They did not know - and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable."

References:
Colonel Gowenlock's account appears in Gowenlock, Thomas R., Soldiers of Darkness (1936), reprinted in Angle, Paul, M., The American Reader (1958) Simkins, Peter, World War I, the Western Front (1991).


Why was Germany not broken up at the end of WW1 - History

Since the first unification of Germany in 1871 to form the German Empire, the population and territorial expanse of Germany have fluctuated considerably, chiefly as a result of gains and losses in war. At the time of its founding, the empire was home to some 41 million people, most of whom lived in villages or small towns. As industrialization and urbanization accelerated over the next forty years, the population increased significantly to 64.6 million, according to the 1910 census. About two-thirds of this population lived in towns with more than 2,000 inhabitants, and the number of large cities had grown from eight in 1871 to eighty-four in 1910. Stimulating population growth were improvements in sanitary and working conditions and in medicine. Another significant source of growth was an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, who came to Germany to work on farms and in mines and factories. This wave of immigrants, the first of several groups that would swell Germany's population in the succeeding decades, helped compensate for the millions of Germans who left their country in search of a better life, many of whom went to the United States.

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the population of Germany had reached about 68 million. A major demographic catastrophe, the war claimed 2.8 million lives and caused a steep decline in the birth rate. In addition, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles awarded territories containing approximately 7 million German inhabitants to the victors and to newly independent or reconstituted countries in Eastern Europe.

In the 1930s, during the regime of Adolf Hitler, a period of expansion added both territory and population to the Third Reich. Following the annexation of Austria in 1938 and the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) in 1939, German territory and population encompassed 586,126 square kilometers and 79.7 million people, according to the 1939 census. The census found that women still outnumbered men (40.4 million to 38.7 million), despite a leveling trend in the interwar period.

The carnage of World War II surpassed that of World War I. German war losses alone were estimated at 7 million, about half of whom died in battle. Ruined, defeated, and divided into zones of occupation, a much smaller Germany emerged in 1945 with a population about the same as in 1910. In the immediate postwar period, however, more than 12 million persons--expelled Germans and displaced persons--immigrated to Germany or used the country as a transit point en route to other destinations, adding to the population.

By 1950 the newly established Federal Republic of Germany had a population of about 50 million, more than 9 million of whom were "expellees." The German Democratic Republic had about 4 million newcomers and 14 million natives. Most of the expellees came from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and the Sudetenland, all one-time German territories held by other countries at the end of World War II. The majority of the settlers in West Germany remained, found work in the rapidly recovering economy, and in time were successfully integrated into the society. Between 1950 and 1989, West Germany's population grew from 50 million to 62.1 million. Resettled Germans and refugees from former eastern territories and their families constituted approximately 20 percent of the country's population. From its earliest years, West Germany had become either a temporary or a final destination for millions of migrants. Yet despite this influx, the country did not develop an identity as a country of immigration as did, for example, the United States or Canada.

The situation in East Germany was much different. From its founding in 1949, the GDR struggled to stabilize its population and thwart emigration. In the course of its forty-year history, almost one-quarter of East Germany's population fled the state to settle in West Germany. In the 1950s alone, more than 2 million people moved west, a migration that triggered the regime's radical solution in August 1961--the construction of the Berlin Wall. During most of its existence, the only segment of East Germany's population permitted to leave for West Germany were retirees, whose resettlement there was unofficially encouraged to reduce the GDR's pension payments. As a result, the number of persons sixty years of age and older in the GDR fell from 22.1 percent in 1970 to 18.3 percent in 1985 and made the East German population younger than that of West Germany.

Deprived of a regular supply of workers by the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Federal Republic in the 1960s absorbed yet another wave of migrants. Laborers were recruited through agreements with seven countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Tunisia, and Morocco. Between 1955 and 1973, the number of foreign workers, called guest workers (Gastarbeiter ) to emphasize the intended temporary nature of their contracts, grew from about 100,000 to about 2.5 million. Originally brought in for three-year shifts, most workers--mainly single men--remained and made a valuable contribution to the booming West German economy. In the early 1970s, however, a recession brought on by the international energy crisis slowed the West German economy the importing of workers officially came to an end in 1973.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the fourth and most controversial wave of immigrants to West Germany were asylum-seekers and political refugees--ethnic Germans from Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and territories belonging to the former Soviet Union and also East Germans who moved west as the GDR collapsed. Many Germans were angered by the financial and social costs these immigrants required because they believed many asylum-seekers were drawn to Germany more by the desire for a better standard of living than by the need to escape political oppression. Many ethnic Germans hardly seemed German: some did not even speak German.


Why is it called the Great War?

‘Great War’ was the most commonly used name for the First World War at the time, although ‘European War’ was also sometimes used. As the first pan-European War since Napoleon, ‘Great’ simply indicated the enormous scale of the conflict, much as we might today talk of a ‘great storm’ or a ‘great flood’.

However, the term also had moral connotations. The Allies believed they were fighting against an evil militarism that had taken hold in Germany. ‘Great War’ carried echoes of Armageddon, the biblical Great Battle of Good and Evil to be fought at the end of Time (there was indeed a battle at Megiddo, the site of Armageddon, in September 1918). It was therefore sometimes referred to as ‘the Great War for Civilisation’.

Although ‘Great War’ remained in use after the conflict was over, the moral connotations and implications that it had been ‘a war to end all wars’ fell away as the prospect grew in the 1930s of a second world war.

Seán Lang is a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University, and the author of First World War for Dummies.


World War One: The many battles faced by WW1's nurses

Nursing in World War One was exhausting, often dangerous work and the women who volunteered experienced the horror of war firsthand, some paying the ultimate price. But their story is surrounded by myth and their full contribution often goes unrecognised, writes Shirley Williams.

In his much-admired book published in 1975, The Great War and Modern Memory, the American literary critic and historian, Paul Fussell, wrote about the pervasive myths and legends of WW1, so powerful they became indistinguishable from fact in many minds. Surprisingly, Fussell hardly mentioned nurses. There is no reference to Edith Cavell, let alone Florence Nightingale.

Yet the myth of the gentle young nurse, often a voluntary and untrained VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment), in her starched and spotless white uniform, was universally admired. It echoed centuries of stories from King Arthur and the Round Table to Shakespeare's Henry V, where rough but brave warriors encountered graceful young women who cared for them.

My mother, Vera Brittain, author of the moving and candid chronicle of her own wartime experience, Testament of Youth, became part of the myth. In the course of the war she lost all the young men she had loved: her fiance Roland, her brother Edward, her dear friends Victor and Geoffrey.

She threw herself into nursing in some of the most dreadful battlegrounds in an attempt to ease the pain of bereavement. She also dedicated herself to recreating the characters and lives of those she had lost so generations of readers would come to know them and they would live in the memory of many. In a way she succeeded, as this short verse in her first published book of poetry, Verses of a VAD (1920), exemplifies:

Epitaph On My Days in Hospital: I found in you a holy place apart, Sublime endurance, God in man revealed, Where mending broken bodies slowly healed, My broken heart

Her personal experience combined with her talent for writing made compelling prose. Because of a few other women writers who had been wartime nurses as well as herself, the legend of the VAD came to dominate nursing history. But despite their accounts, often what was written was neither wholly accurate nor wholly fair. Acceptance of nurses as equal contributors with doctors on the front line is still to fully arrive.

Young men and women in 1914, like their parents, expected the war to be short. Music hall songs were patriotic and optimistic. Women were expected to wait at home patiently or, if they were from working-class homes, to join munitions factories. "Keep the home fires burning," they were abjured. "Though your boys are far away, they will soon come home." Had they been injured, however, there would have been very few nurses to look after them.

The main trained corps of military nurses was the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). It was founded in 1902 at the time of the Boer war and in 1914 was less than 300 strong. At the end of the war four years later it numbered over 10,000 nurses. In addition several other organisations formed earlier in the century had the nursing of members of the armed services as their main purpose - for instance, the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry launched in 1907.

Apart from them there were thousands of untrained women working as midwives or nurses in civilian life, but they had little or no experience of working with soldier patients and their status in society was little better than that of domestic servants.

Because the British Army was so resolutely opposed to all female military nurses except the QAIMNS, early volunteers from Britain were obliged to serve instead with the French and Belgian forces. Many of these early volunteers were from aristocratic families and their servants. Powerful women who ran large families and large estates were well versed in management and saw no great problems in managing a military hospital instead. Their confidence in their own abilities was impressive.

The most famous of these women was the Duchess of Sutherland, nicknamed Meddlesome Millie. Soon after war was declared she and other grand ladies like her took doctors and nurses to France and Belgium, organising their own transport and equipment to set up hospitals and casualty clearing stations.

Whatever bureaucratic obstacles were put in their way, the huge and bloody tide of casualties by the spring of 1915 simply swept them away. Even the British Army's top brass yielded to the combined pressures of need and confident commitment.

At this stage of the war women began to be invited to serve in a range of capacities, of which nursing was one. Thousands of young women from middle-class homes with little experience of domestic work, not much relevant education and total ignorance of male bodies, volunteered and found themselves pitched into military hospitals.

They were not, in most cases, warmly welcomed. Professional nurses, battling for some kind of recognition and for proper training, feared this large invasion of unqualified volunteers would undermine their efforts. Poorly paid VADs were used mainly as domestic labour, cleaning floors, changing bed linen, swilling out bedpans, but were rarely allowed until later in the war to change dressings or administer drugs.

The image and the conspicuous Red Cross uniforms were romantic but the work itself exhausting, unending and sometimes disgusting. Relations between professional nurses and the volunteer assistants were constrained by rigid and unbending discipline. Contracts for VADs could be withdrawn even for slight breaches of the rules.

The climate of hospital life was harsh but many VADs, including my mother, also had to cope with strained relations with their parents and other older relatives. The home front in WW1 was very remote from the fronts where the battles were fought.

There was no television or radio and newspaper reports were much delayed. People learned fragments through long casualty lists or letters from their soldier relatives.

In a letter from her father in the spring of 1918, my mother, at the time looking after soldiers who had been gassed in an understaffed hospital within shelling distance of the German front line, was summoned home. It was "her duty", he wrote, to help her parents cope with the difficulty of running their comfortable home.

The war produced medical issues largely unknown in civilian life and not previously experienced by doctors or nurses. Most common were wound infections, contracted when men riddled by machine gun bullets had bits of uniform and the polluted mud of the trenches driven into their abdomens and internal organs. There were no antibiotics, of course, and disinfectants were crude and insufficiently supplied.

According to Christine Hallett in her comprehensive and minutely researched book on nursing in WW1, Veiled Warriors, more radical measures were widely used on the Russian front. Wounds were packed with iodide or salt, the body tightly bandaged and the victim shipped for many miles to wartime hospitals.

In Britain much work was done to deal with infected wounds but thousands died of tetanus or gangrene before any effective antidote was discovered. Towards the end of the war, a few radical solutions emerged. One of these was blood transfusion effected simply by linking up a tube between the patient and the donor, a direct transference. A version can be seen at the excellent WW1 exhibition of the Florence Nightingale Museum in the hospital where she herself nursed, St Thomas's in London.

When the war ended, most VADs left the service though a few of the most adventurous went away to other wars. They went home to a world in which men were scarce. It was as much the huge loss of hundreds of thousands of young men in France, Belgium and Great Britain, not to speak of Russia and of course Germany, that advanced the cause of equality and the extension of the suffrage to women.

Lacking men, especially in clerical and commercial fields, employers appointed women and they in turn looked for paid employment and a living wage. But the professions were reluctant to change. Professional nurses, the backbone of the wartime service, failed to get legal recognition of registered status until 1943. Some drifted into public health and midwifery but nursing remained something of a Cinderella service.

Much has improved in the last 60 years, but full acceptance of the knowledge and experience of nurses as equal contributors with doctors to the wellbeing of patients is still a work in progress. Being a largely female profession remains an unjust handicap.


Why was Germany not broken up at the end of WW1 - History

June 28 - Archduke Franz Ferdinand, prince to the Austria-Hungary throne, is assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian named Gavrilo Princip.

July 23 - Austria-Hungary makes demands on Serbia for retribution. Serbia does not meet demands.

July 28 - Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia begins mobilizing its troops.

August 1 - Germany declares war on Russia.

August 3 - Germany declares war on France as part of the Schlieffen Plan.

August 4 - Germany invades Belgium. Britain declares war on Germany.

August 23 to 30 - The Battle of Tannenberg is fought between Germany and Russia. The Germans defeat the Russian Second Army.

September 5 to 12 - The advancing German army is stopped before Paris by the British and French at the First Battle of the Marne. The Germans dig in and four years of trench warfare begins.

October 19 to November 22 - The Allies defeat the Germans at the First Battle of Ypres.

November 2 - The British begin a naval blockade of Germany.

November 11 - The Ottoman Empire declares war on the Allies.

December 24 - An unofficial truce is declared between the two sides at Christmas.

February 4 - The Germans begin to use submarines against Allied merchant ships around the island of Britain.

April 25 - The Allies attack the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Gallipoli. This campaign will last over eight months and will end as a victory for the Ottomans and the retreat of the Allies.

May 7 - The Lusitania, a luxury British passenger ship, is sunk by a German submarine. 1,195 civilians were killed. This act sparks international outrage and contributes to the United States joining the war against Germany.

October 14 - Bulgaria enters the war by declaring war on Serbia.

February 21 - The Battle of Verdun begins between France and Germany. This battle will last until December of 1916 and will finally result in a French victory.

May 31 - The largest naval battle of the war, the Battle of Jutland, is fought between Britain and Germany in the North Sea.

July 1 - The Battle of the Somme begins. Over 1 million soldiers will be wounded or killed.

January 19 - The British intercept the Zimmerman Telegram in which Germany tries to convince Mexico to join the war. This will result in the United States declaring war on Germany.

March 8 - The Russian Revolution begins. Tsar Nicholas II is removed from power on March 15.

April 6 - The United States enters the war, declaring war on Germany.

November 7 - The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrow the Russian government.

December 17 - The Russians agree to peace with the Central powers and leave the war.

January 8 - President Woodrow Wilson issues his "Fourteen Points" for peace and an end to the war.

March 21 - Germany launches the Spring Offensive hoping to defeat the Allies before reinforcements from the United States can be deployed.

July 15 - The Second Battle of the Marne begins. This battle will end on August 6 as a decisive victory for the Allies.

November 11 - Germany agrees to an armistice and the fighting comes to an end at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

June 28 - The Treaty of Versailles is signed by Germany and World War I comes to an end.



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