Those who survived it called World War I "The Great War" and "The War to End All Wars." While they were, sadly, wrong about the latter, they were right that no war had ever been like it. It was the world's first mechanized, "impersonal" war in which machines proved to be much stronger than human beings. It devastated enormous swaths of territory and it left the economies of the Western World either crippled or teetering. To make matters worse, the war utterly failed to resolve the issues that had caused it. The war began because of the culmination of nationalist rivalries, fears, and hatreds. It failed to resolve any of those rivalries, and furthermore it was such a traumatic experience for most Europeans that certain otherwise “normal” people were attracted to the messianic, violent rhetoric of fascism and Nazism.
Thumbnail: The first page of the edition of the Domenica del Corriere, an Italian paper, with a drawing of Achille Beltrame depicting Gavrilo Princip killing Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo. (Public Domain; via Wikipedia)