The century: america’s time shell shock



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THE CENTURY: AMERICA’S TIME

SHELL SHOCK

1. Why is this episode called Shell Shock? What does the term mean? When and how did it come into

use?
- Shell Shock was a term used during the First World War to describe the physical and psychological

trauma suffered by men serving on the war's key battlefronts - France, Flanders, along the Isonzo,

and in Gallipoli. It came into use to reflect an assumed link between the symptoms and the effects of

explosions from artillery shells.

2. A German U-boat sank the Lusitania off the Irish Coast. Despite the knowledge of a war waging in the

Atlantic, passengers chose to sail in these waters. Why did the passengers of the Lusitania have a false

sense of security?


- The Lusitania was one of the fastest and most luxurious ships in the world. It was also a passenger

ship.


3. What were two causes of World War I?
A. While visiting in Sarajevo - the capital of Bosnia, Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife

(Sophie) both from Austria-Hungary were assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip out

of revenge because he believed that Austria-Hungary had no right to rule Bosnia (which had

recently been taken over and become a new province of Austria-Hungary).


B. Other causes may include – M-A-I-N:

* Militarism – “Arms Race” - The more one nation built up its army and navy, the more other

nations felt they had to do the same.

* Alliances – Each country would be protected by others in case of war, making it foolish for one

country to wage war on another because it could draw all the other nations allied

with it into a fight. This is just what happened when a conflict between Austria-

Hungary and Serbia led to World War I. When Austria-Hungary declared war on

Serbia, Russia began mobilizing its troops for war to aid Serbia, its ally. Germany

(Austria-Hungary’s ally) then declared war on Russia after they refused to give in to

Germany’s demands to stop readying its troops. This domino effect continued as

more and more nations became involved in the war to support their allies.

* Imperialism – European nations competed to build up national wealth and influence by owning

colonies, which caused conflicts/wars in many places.

* Nationalism - The belief that one’s own nation or culture is superior to all others, nationalism led

European nations to compete to build the largest army and navy. It also gave

groups of subject peoples the idea of forming independent nations of their own.


4. Why was World War I different from all previous wars? How was this war truly a product of the new

century?
- It was to be the “war to end all wars” and involved significantly many more countries than ever

before (at least 60 countries represented the war). Also, new weapons, such as tanks, machine guns,

poison gas, etc., were being invented and used in war for the first time.

5. How did propaganda shape American views of World War I? How has propaganda shaped American

views and more during other twentieth century events?
- Movies were the perfect proving ground for the new art form called propaganda. Americans saw and

soon sympathized with the British view of the Germans. Also, as movie-making techniques

improved, movies became an American obsession. And it was in the movie houses that Americans

were exposed to the war in Europe, which still seemed glamorous. For example, Americans would

see and devour the pictures of the war – “Soldiers wearing beautiful uniforms, the dashing mounted

cavalry with their flashy sabers in the sun driving in the battle,” etc.,. These glamorous views made



Americans want to join the war and become a part of the action!


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