This essay brings into light the effect of the First World War both on the soldiers who were serving in the frontlines and the people who were generally left at home. The essay makes use of literature review which is reliable to gather information on the effect of the First World War on civilians and soldiers. The immediate and afterwards effects of the war are taken into consideration for both cases. The essay focuses most on Europe where the war was most fierce but also covers other areas that were affected.

The effect on the society

The society was generally affected in all ways by the World War I. soldiers from both the sides died in large numbers. Civilians were alike killed especially in Europe where actually the war was fought. World War I was fought between the year 1914 and 1918. The entry of USA into the war in 1917 after its merchant ships were sunk by Germany was crucial in forcing the Germans to surrender. Basically the allied side was led by Britain and France and later by USA after its entry. The other side was led by the Germany Empire, and Austria- Hungary. Both sides had taken time to prepare for the war especially Germany which had started the weapon race with Britain early.

There was a great demand for arms and ammunitions. Food supplies to the soldiers were also required. Generally, there was a great stress on the resources available the priority being given to the war. This was the case for every country involved actively in the war (Karpilovsky., Fogel & Kobelt 1). The sections below examine in details the effect of war on the soldiers and the civilians who were left at home.

The soldiers in the Battle Field

The soldiers in the battle at the frontline were most affected in three ways: emotionally, physically and economically.  The effects were immediate and lasted for a long time on the lives of the soldiers. The analysis of the effects is as follows:


Most of the countries which participated in this war had never experienced war of a similar scale as the World War I. The experience of the soldiers was of its own kind and the first ever in their lives. There was massive loss of lives with great shading of blood of an astonishing scale. This must have caused disturbing memories upon the soldiers especially those who fought in the front line where the war was most fierce. Most of the soldiers must have suffered from disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the disturbing sceneries they experienced during the war. Soldiers also suffered from seeing close friends relatives and family members being butchered and die in any other way from the effect of the war. It was very stressing as soldiers went to their only to miss their loved ones.  The emotions which came about due to lose of loved one was greatly affected the soldiers than anything else (Britten 40).

Physical loss of the soldiers in form of injuries must have made the soldiers feel hopeless about life. Injuries were definitely very high in the frontlines and soldiers in these positions must have incurred a lot of injuries. Returning home maimed must have caused a lot of emotions for the soldiers. There was great loss of property on the allied side and the other side as well. Businesses were destroyed leading to destruction of livelihoods (Britten 42).

The civilians

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The civilians who were left back at home were equally affected. During this time there was a high demand for soldiers and able bodied men were being recruited to join the army to fight for their country. As the soldiers came back from the battle field, families expected family members back from the war zones which were not the case always. Soldiers were killed in the battle field and therefore the families which did not receive their members back alive were drawn to great agony. Some of the members came back home seriously injured which was an emotional burden to the family members. Economically the society was negatively affected by the fact that all the resources were channeled towards the war. In the US weapon industry grew so much due to this war. Much of the public resources were allocated to the war efforts (Spencer 145).

The European civilians were most affected by the war than all the civilians in other continents. According to Tucker (2005), there are cases where civilians were killed, mistreated and taken as slaves:

On 23 August 1914, German soldiers torched the Belgian town of Vise, killing several; hundred innocent civilians. More than 700 other residents were forcibly deported to Germany to work as slave labor, while 4,000 fled as refugees to France and Holland. In the town of Dinant, 600 people-including a number of women and children-were lined up in the town square and shot. Many of the dead civilians were women and children. One account told of an 18 year old Belgian woman who was bayoneted for refusing the sexual advances of a German soldier (Spencer 147).

As such civilians in some areas experienced the hostilities of the war.  Therefore they were forced to flee for their lives and lived as refugees in different countries. There were cases where family members were isolated while other s died.  

Minority Groups’ contribution

Though the civilians of European continent were most affected, other continents were affected too. The continent of Africa provided men who were used to fight on both sides depending on who was the colonial master. India gave a lot of manpower to the war. A point to note is that there are minority groups which participated in the war in a brave way but were never recognized by their respective governments. According to Britten (1999), these minority groups included the Africans and Indians. Britten (1999) agues that despite the American Indians despite being so helpful their efforts were not recognized. The Indians were mainly used as scouts (Britten 9)


World War I affected both the soldiers and the civilians. The soldiers were experiencing war on a large scale for the first time. Mostly the soldiers suffered from emotional torment as they saw their friends dying in the battle field. The civilians alike were equally affected by the war as some were killed in the war, some run away from their homes to be refugees and the women and young girls raped. Family separation in all this was a common issue leading to emotional burdens.  For the countries which were far from the battle field like Africa their sons were sent to fight the war. Some of them came back but others unfortunately did not make it back to their homes. Government expenditure was directed toward the war thus depriving the civilians of the necessities that they required.

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