The paper tells that the Great War had devastating economic and political effects on Europe, especially Eastern Europe. Germany significantly suffered because of the punishments that the Treaty of Versailles rendered. Article 231, the War-Guilt Clause, asserted that Germany and Austria were responsible for launching the war, and so Germany must pay reparations to all affected Allied governments. Germany also suffered from military and territorial reductions. It was obliged to decrease its army to 100,000 men and make similar large reductions in its navy, while totally eliminating its air force. Germany was forced to return Alsace and Lorraine to France and some parts of Prussia to Poland too. German boundaries with France were demilitarized and stripped of fortifications to prevent future attacks on the latter. Germany, furthermore, suffered from severe economic difficulties. The Great Depression spread from America to Europe, affecting Germany, France, and Great Britain. Great Britain lost its industries to more competitive nations, United States and Japan. Britain’s core industries, coal, steel, and textiles, all declined, which resulted to two million unemployed by 1921. The country recovered slightly from 1925 to 1929, although unemployment stayed at 10 percent. Riots and gang membership increased because of economic problems. During this time, Britain lost its superpower status, and yielded it to the U.S., which was much more economically and politically stronger after the Great War.
The U.S. took the apex of global power that Britain once held. As for France, it fared politically and economically better than Great Britain (Duiker and Spielvogel 696). It had a more “balanced economy” with diverse sources of income, unlike Great Britain, so the Great Depression did not affect it, not until 1932 (Duiker and Spielvogel 696). These economic hardships had political repercussions. France experienced political instability with six different cabinets formed from 1932 to 1933 because of the economic woes of the country (Duiker and Spielvogel 696). These problems contributed to the formation of a Popular Front government, a coalition of leftist parties, which promoted and achieved industrial labor policy changes (Duiker and Spielvogel 696). Thus, World War I dented the international power status quo, although it produced gains in labor rights and interests because of post-war economic problems. In East Asia, World War I shaped economic, political, and social changes in China. The young Chinese republic, which was formed only three years before the Great War began, did not gain much from being an Allied force. The Treaty of Versailles gave all German holdings in East Asia, including those in China, to Japan (“China and the First World War”). Japan was China’s worst enemy, and the transfer in land ownership was considered a large defeat on China’s part. Beijing demonstrations occurred, as the Chinese protested the effects of Versailles on China’