Why was WWI called the Great War?


Quick Answer

World War I was called "the Great War" not just for its epic scale but also for the sense that it was a more important and meaningful conflict than earlier European wars. The carnage created by the war was unprecedented, and it resulted in significant changes throughout the world.

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Full Answer

World War I saw 59 million troops enter the theater of war, with 8 million dying for their countries and another 29 million injured. This was due not only to technical advancements such as machine guns and poison gas, but also because of horrific conditions in trenches that led to deaths from disease and exposure. Many at the time felt that the death toll was so huge that it would prevent another conflict of this nature from ever happening again.

The war also took new significance because of what the combatants felt it represented. Many among the Allies felt that a strain of militarism had taken hold inside Austria and Germany that was not only dangerous, but morally evil. Therefore, those lined up to fight against these countries were not only fighting a battle for political reasons, but defending the morality of their way of life against a dire foe. The symbolism went so far as to encompass the Biblical story of Armageddon, which occurred at a place called Megiddo in the Middle East. The battle between British and Ottoman forces that took place there in September 1918 was seen as an analog for the ancient tale pitting good against evil.

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