Soldiers in World War One fought under terrible conditions and were often slaughtered in useless attacks – yet millions volunteered to go. Why?
1) Patriotism and Nationalism
- A strong sense of national pride made men feel that it was their duty to fight.
2) Honour and Glory
- Many men saw the war as a glorious adventure – a chance to wear a uniform, travel, win medals and prove personal courage.
3) Ignorance of the horrors of war
- There had not been a widespread European war for 100 years,
- No one knew the terrible effects of modern weapons and the government censored unpleasant news,
- Newspapers focussed on victory as glory.
4) Demonization of the enemy
- Men were taught that they were needed to protect families lives, homes, democracy, king and country from a barbaric and dishonourable and vicious enemy.
- They were defending “civilization” from barbarians.
5) Peer Pressure
- Women used to pin chicken feathers on able-bodied (healthy, strong) men to shame them into joining the war.
- Many men joined because it was ” the thing to do”.
- Governments created propaganda posters to encourage recruits to join the war effort.
- This propaganda appealed to emotion rather than logic, and worked on factors 1 to 5 above.
- In 1917, after a vote, the government passed a conscription law to force the men of military service age to join the army.
- This greatly angered Quebec, since the French Canadians saw the war as a European conflict and therefore had nothing to do with them.
- It provided a job!
9) Proved loyalty of their groups
- Minority groups wanted to prove themselves as loyal subjects of the King and country.