Humanity & Challenges for tomorrow

The Great War-After Effects on

Humanity & Challenges for tomorrow

Excerpts of the speech of Prof.Bhim Singh made in the ‘International Science and Public Conference dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the First World War’ on 17-18 September, 2014 in Sava Centre, Belgrade, Serbia organized by the Board of Trustees, Center of National Glory, Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum and others. 

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I have come from India, a land of peace, harmony and fountains of composite culture that has been resonating the message of peace, harmony and complete disarmament. Let me express my gratitude to the organizers of this historic meet in Belgrade, Serbia, on the occasion of the centenary of the World War-I as a grim reminder to those who rule the world and stockpile nuclear arsenals and pose a threat to mankind.

I have come from India with an appeal to the leaders of the world and the so-called big powers to think about the future of humanity for tomorrow. 100 years ago the fury of anger and hunger for power combined with the mad dream to take control the world, resulted in the so-called World War-I, some calling it as a Great World War. I would like to salute the great Serbian people who have been resisting wars and all kinds of skirmishes for all these years. The Serbian people are known for their human feelings and philosophy of life to distribute a loaf of bread among the members of the community so that none is deprived of food and everybody is fed. I had a great chance to travel through the then Yugoslavia in 1968 on motorcycle on a peace mission. I visited all the lands of the then Yugoslavia and had a rare opportunity to share the love and affection of the great Serbian people. (You may have a look on a newspaper report on my travels on world peace reported in Politika in May 1968). I had the opportunity to shake hand with the first President of Yugoslavia, President, Tito and the last President, Mr. Slobodan Milosevic also. US jurist Mr. Ramsey Clarke and I visited President Milosevic in the US manned prisons in the Hague, Holland. We were asked to plead for President Milosevic but the so-called UN Criminal Court in the Hague did not allow us to argue for President Milosevic, saying, that the UN Criminal Court shall decide an advocate for President Milosevic. President Milosevic was not allowed to engage a lawyer of his choice. This is the situation when USA has been acting as global master immediately after the World War-I. This is the first after effect of the global war, the shadow of which continues to loom threatening peace and security in the world.

No doubt many empires, kingdoms and dictatorial regimes disappeared yet many new colonial powers emerged to colonize the new nations. Yugoslavia emerged by the Union of Slovenes, Serbs, Croats and Muslims. There was total collapse of Austrian and Ottoman Empire. The Belfour Declaration promising referendum in Palestine to decide their future brought all the Arabs together to fight the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire disappeared but the great Arab Nation could not secure what they were promised in Belfour Declaration. Certainly there was rise of a new movement in the United Kingdom under the leadership of Labour Party. Churchill was the first casualty. There was total collapse from the German and French economies. It created a space for the rise of social-democratic party and end of the old outdated rule. The greatest tragedy after the World War-I was emergence of US as the most powerful country. This situation was strengthened after the World War-II and continues to dominate the political scene in the world.

India had to pay a heavy price for its masters, the British Empire and sacrificed 74,187 Indian soldiers during the First World War. Indian soldiers were forced to fight for the cause of the glory of their masters, Great Britain in German East Africa, the Western Front, Egypt and Palestine. The Indian National Congress grew stronger under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi who stood for non-violence and no war after the World War-I.

There is no exact calculation about the loss of lives, human resources, or properties in the world because of the horror of World War-I. It is estimated that nearly 16 million soldiers died and 20 millions were wounded. Millions of people died because of epidemics that spread immediately after the war ended in 1918. The historians have not been able to find out the fate of nearly two millions soldiers who went missing during the war. About 1,034,200 died from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa & UK. UK has the highest record with 888, 246 dead whereas India stood second with 74,191 dead. This is UK and its colonies. Among the European Nations Russia was on the top with 3,394,369 dead and Serbia with 815,164, Italy lost 1,243,400 and France 1,737,800. There was a unique uprising in the world, particularly in Europe on the participation in public life. The rise of Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin in Russia in 1917 bringing the Tsars Rule to an end for ever. The biggest after World War-I effect was the World War-II. The main cause was the Treaty Versailles.

The World War-I or the Great War fought between July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918 speaks of horrors of war and its consequential effects, particularly, on humanity cutting across the boundaries of religions, races or even geographical borders.

The Great War fought between the Allies (United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire) on the one hand and the central powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) on the other took global shape when Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies. On the other hand Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined Germany and Austria-Hungary. The war may be called ‘Great War’ because more than 70 million military personnel which included nearly 60 million Europeans participated in the Great War. Approximately 60,000 Canadians died and another 173000 were wounded. In Britain about 750,000 were killed and approximately 1,700,000 were wounded. The estimate worked out that about 160,000 wives lost their husbands and 300,000 children lost their fathers. The memorials all over the world standing today from India (Amar Jawan Jyoti to the Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri in United States) speak  aloud  of the horrors of the Great War-I with its bloody history of death and destruction. The after effects of the war from the Treaty of Versailles to the Influenza epidemic (resulting into death of nearly 50 million people all over the world), depression on the Economic and geopolitical growth and the changes equations, particularly among the colonial and imperialist powers have been written in countless words by the historians. We have no time to give a detailed account but we can certainly realize the consequential effects of the war on the future history of mankind.

The end of four monarchies namely Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungry and Ottoman Empire left a huge impact on the future civilization and the political order in Africa, South-East Asia, Russia, the Arab World and even in Europe.

            India itself gained its freedom following the great World War-I as the British Empire started losing its grip over its colonies in India and other places. Indian movement led by Mahatma Gandhi for freedom of India succeeded, though after the World War-II, yet the impact of World War-I could not be washed away.

            The effects of the World War-I are obvious when Sharif of Mecca signed Belfour Treaty (1917) with UK and supported the allies in the war against Ottoman Empire. The conflict following the end of Ottoman Empire continues to disturb the world order even today. Nevertheless the Arabs got their own systems under their governance which have been functioning even after the World War-II.

No historian or even a critic could support the aggression against Serbia in 1914. The Balkans remained a target of the colonial power and its security, safety deserved a special mention even after the World War-II and creation of the United Nations.

After the completion of the 100 years of the Great War all the pacifistic elements in the world, irrespective of their nationality, regions or religions should work together to create a consensus for the world peace. The next war or Great War is not going to be war on the horses or ponies or camels nor it shall be fought on the streets or jungles. The heaps of nuclear arsenals which are lying in stores of the so-called big powers is capable to destroy the entire world in no time. The great initiative once taken by Yugoslavia, Egypt and India has to be revived to strengthen NAM countries movement and launch a roaring offensive against the nuclear arms and arsenals, against the nuclear bombs and weapons, waging a war against the wars for the survival of the humanity and entire mankind.

I hope and wish that this International Conference in Belgrade, Serbia shall convey this message of complete disarmament and peaceful co-existence to all the nations in the entire world so that the world lives in peace and lives longer, heralding the new dawn of erstwhile halcyon glory and prosperity.

Prof.Bhim Singh

(India)