Where the two wars are similar is in the all-encompassing nature of these conflicts. In both cases, the impact of the war on the civil societies is very profound. The nations involved in the conflict had no option but to assume a state of emergency. The economic policies were consistent with that of a war economy, with all manufactured goods and services tuned to the needs of the soldiers in the frontlines. The scale of destruction was also massive in both the wars. But World War 2 proved to be all the more bloody and catastrophic for all participant nations in general and the Jewish community in particular. Nearly six million innocent Jews were massacred by the brutal German war machinery. A similar tragedy was suffered by the Japanese people, when the United States of America, under the leadership of President Truman, unleashed two atomic bombs in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The scale of the wars was such that regular military personnel were insufficient to meet the needs of required manpower. Hence, the army sought to enlist civilian population into its war efforts. While there were many willing patriots who readily enrolled, there were some significant corners of dissent and opposition to the war effort. This was more pronounced during World War 1 than World War 2. During the former, the concept of “conscientious objectors” took shape, led by such influential figures as Bertrand Russell in Britain and Eugene Debs in the United States. There were many who believed that war was not the only course of action to mitigate the underlying state of political tension. But, contrastingly, such movements of dissent and opposition to war was relatively less during World War 2, probably because many saw a case of real violation and offense on part of Hitler’s Third Reich. To this extent, World War 2 saw more comprehensive public participation and support when compared to the previous Great War.
In 1919, at the end of the WW1, leaders from the coalition of England, France, Italy and the United States decided that they need a treaty to set right the damages caused by Germany and its allies. The treaty would be based on Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Point plan that was proposed in order to bring lasting peace to Europe. The culmination of these discussions and negotiations was the treaty signed by all participant countries in the French city of Versailles. While closing a curtain over the most brutal war till then, the Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds for a bloodier war two decades later. This is a crucial difference between the root causes of the two wars. While WW1 was perceived by many as a direct consequence of unstable European political relations and the mistiming of the death of the Austrian monarch, WW2 is in no less measure attributable to the harsh conditions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. In this sense, the Second Great War can be seen as the second episode of the earlier European confrontation.