Discussion response requested:
World War I
World War I was considered a turning point in European and global history because it marked the beginning of modern, industrialized warfare. The sheer number of casualties were a huge contributor, but the modernization and un-glorification of battle were also contributors to its historical significance. WWI saw the evolution of airpower, birth of mechanized warfare, trench combat, chemical weapons, and total submarine warfare.
The field of battle was no longer a place where two armies met to fight to a glorious conclusion, it had moved to the skies and the cities with the Folkestone strategic bombing of civilian targets by the German military on the 25th of May, 1917. Industries and machines were also used and targeted, notably sinking of the Lusitania on the 7th of May, 1915 put a spotlight on the “total submarine warfare” being conducted by the German navy and its impact on civilian (National WWI Museum and Memorial, 2016). Tanks saw combat for the first time on the 15th of September, 1916, and the tactical effectiveness of them was quickly realized, with the British overrunning the entrenched German lines by more than 10,000 yards in Cambrai the next November (Merriman, 2008).
The evolution of war and tactics also saw the rise of a more disgusting threat – weapons of mass destruction. April 22, 1915 saw the first successful use of poison gas during the Second Battle of Ypres, with 10,000 allied troops being gassed – half would die (National WWI Museum and Memorial, 2016). Although this was not the first time chemical and biological agents had been used in war (America notably used “smallpox blankets” against the Native Americans, medieval sieges often involved launching disease-infested corpses over castle walls), it marked a change in the delivery and destructive power of these agents. It was now cheap and easy to commit these atrocities against your enemies, which completely changed the way wars have been fought ever since.
It was these reasons I believe that WWI was such a huge turning point – it change the landscape of wars, made old tactics obsolete, and introduced mechanized warfare to the world.