Although it has been a century since war ended, problems deriving from post-war agreements still haunt global community
By Tevfik Durul
A century has passed since the end of World War I, known as the first global war in the history. However, the disputes originated from this period still continue to be a subject of debate among different countries.
The French capital Paris, under the host of the President Emmanuel Macron, is preparing to hold events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The anniversary event, along with Paris Peace Forum, are going to be attended by more than 70 state and government heads, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Armistice of 11 November 1918, signed between the Allies and Germany, put an official end to World War I. Therefore, Sunday corresponds to the 100th anniversary. There will be a commemorative ceremony near the Arc de Triomphe monument located in Champs-Elysees.
The civilian and military losses, the technology used in the war — which broke out after the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie — led to significant changes worldwide, especially in Europe.
The Europe-based war, involving 40 countries and colonies, began on July 28, 1914, and lasted for four years.
The Allies, whose most dominant parties were France, Britain and Russia, fought against the Central Powers: German, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. The war culminated in the death of 17 million, while 21 million others were injured.
While 6.6 million of the deceased were civilians, some 10 million soldiers lost their lives in WW1 in which an average of six thousand people were killed on a daily basis.
Due to the fact that no attention was paid to the nationalism notion while drawing the borderline following the war, ethnic conflicts and border issues emerged later on.
Numerous new states — such as Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and the Republic of Turkey — came to existence after the war as the empires collapsed following the post-war deals.
As the Turkish sovereignty in the Middle East and Arabian peninsula came to an end, states such as Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were founded in affiliation with the British and French mandate. Thus, while drawing the lines, serious changes emerged in the political environment of Europe and the world.
On January 18, 1919, the representatives from the winning and losing sides convened in Paris to discuss the conditions for the peace treaties, to regenerate the broken power balance worldwide and to find solutions to the issues that emerged after the war.
Some important deals were made that could change the course of the world after the Paris Peace Conference, where fierce discussions rose among the Allied forces due to conflicting interests.
Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919; Austria signed the Treaty of Saint-Germain on Sept. 10, 1919. Bulgaria agreed on the Treaty of Neuilly on Nov. 27, 1919 whereas Hungary inked the Treaty of Trianon on June 4, 1920. The Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Sevres on Aug. 10, 1920.
Although it has been a century since the war ended, there are numerous unresolved problems to be settled particularly in European and the Middle Eastern geography, such as the Ottoman territories of Mosul and Kirkuk that were occupied by Britain after the World War I, 448-kilometer-long (278 miles) borderline between Hungary and Romania and the African colonies that declared independence.
– Outbreak and famine
The majority of the deaths in World War I, which continued for four years and is known as the fourth bloodiest war in history, were derived from various diseases triggered by the war environment, outbreaks and famine.
The Spanish flu emerged through the end of the war and quickly spread to scores of people as a result of the mobilization activities triggered by the war, claiming millions of lives.
– Soldiers’ death toll
Russia sustained the heaviest blow of the war in terms of the number of the lost soldiers, losing 1.8 million soldiers. Germany, on the other hand, lost 1.7 million soldiers, ranking second on the list. France followed them with 1.35 million lost soldiers.
The Ottoman Empire lost some 500 thousand soldiers, Austro-Hungarian Empire lost 1.2 million soldiers.
The U.S., which joined the Allied forces a year before the war ended, lost 116 thousand soldiers. Britain lost a total of some 800 thousand soldiers.
* Ali Murat Alhas has contributed to this story from Ankara.