WW1's Effect on Soldier's Lives

Topics: World War 1

World War 1 not only changed the lives of soldiers physically, but mentally as well. Both on the battle field and in the trenches soldiers suffered from wounds, starvation and fatigue. Although history cannot hide the number of people who were killed and wounded, the mental effects of the war is more hidden. Both during and after the war soldiers suffered from nightmares, the constant memories of dying comrades and the feelings of not belonging anywhere. The soldiers lives were changed forever.

Fighting on the battlefield was hell. Every time a soldier inhaled, he knew it could be his last breath. Surprisingly, daily life within the trenches was almost as hard on a soldier as fighting in the fields. In the trenches the soldiers lived with constant hunger. In the book, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Demanque, Paul a soldier during WW1, had to deal with hunger. At one point in the story, Paul and his comrades were assigned to a deserted village.

In the village they find some food. Immediately they cook up a feast. However, just as they were finishing their cooking, they were shelled. Paul and his friends decide they would rather risk their lives then leave the food. One by one they run to safety carrying their platters of food. Even when Paul is almost killed he doesnt let go of his plate of pancakes.

On the field it goes without saying how many men suffered. Shells were flying from above while rifles shot in all directions on the ground.

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Deadly gases were used in this war for the first time in history. Paul described the pain of gas. His lungs felt ripped and smashed into a compressed ball ready to burst. All he had was a tiny mask to shield him from the deadly air. The soldiers had to wait for the gas to spread and dilute before they could get a full breath of fresh air. Even then, fresh air was a mix of ash, rotting corpses and smoke. Bombs fell left and right and surrounding the soldiers were limbs of fellow soldier. Death and the dying were everywhere on the battlefield. The hell of fighting in the war was simply indescribable.

The mental pain from the war was less obvious, but evident still. Men suffered dramatic reoccuring nightmares which woke them up screaming in the middle of the night. Soldiers were surrounded by death so often that they became numb and used to it. They even began customs like hanging hats on soldiers blown-off limbs as a sign of respect. Paul describes his constant suffering when he heard cries from a wounded soldier he couldnt save. The moans would begin loud and strong, but as the hours past they would grow soft and weak. His mind had to adapt and learn to accept suffering as something tolerable.

The way soldiers were mentally affected by the war was most evident when they returned home. Some had shell shock. Just hearing the word bomb or seeing a red cap would send some soldiers instantly into a violent tantrum. Some of these people developed twitches so couldnt move correctly. Most were treated with electricity and other therapies, but only some fully recovered. Even more common were the reoccuring nightmares. Some started in the trenches and others when the soldiers came home. Most of them eventually stopped, but they lasted years. Ironically, one of the hardest things a soldier had to undergo was coming home. There is no way soldiers could describe all that they had seen and experienced. When they returned home, they felt they did not belong anywhere. When Paul returns home on leave he feels different and uncomfortable. Even when he tries to do activities he used to enjoy, like reading, it all seemed pointless.

No soldier returned home from war the same as when he left. Some soldiers didnt even return. Even if a soldier wasnt physically injured as many were, he was psychologically damaged. They couldnt forget all they had seen and done. Nothing seemed to matter after seeing their loved ones die beside them on the field. So many people suffered from the war that we question if any country really won the war. Politically there were the declared winners and loser, but with almost every person in the country suffering losses, how can we claim there was truly a winner?

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WW1's Effect on Soldier's Lives. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/an-analysis-of-how-world-war-1-changed-the-lives-of-soldiers-physically-and-mentally/

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