It’s interesting to look at photos from the beginning of World War I. They look like they could be from the Napoleonic Era. Yet by the end of the war, armies were fighting with airplanes and tanks. The world changed. World War I set the stage for World War II. With the tensions of the war and an impoverished Russia helped lead to the collapse of the Romanov Dynasty. The result was communism in the newly formed Soviet Union. The Ottoman Empire, which had lasted since the Middle Ages, collapsed. To the victor goes the spoils, and as oil was starting to become more important, imperial European nations took advantage of the Middle East. But a casualty of the fall of the Ottoman Empire was the relative stability of the region. As a result of the war, the League of Nations was created as a precursor to today’s United Nations.
In the generation before the war, most of the fighting in which European armies had engaged was in imperial skirmishes against opponents with inferior equipment. The conventional methods used in World War I had not caught up with technology. A war that started in the summer, and which most of Europe thought would be finished by Christmas trudged on for four years. Causalities were on a scale never before seen in human history.