After-Effects of World War-I stir debate in Europe on new challenges for tomorrow

This write up is based on the excerpts of the speech of Prof. Bhim Singh, civil liberties lawyer in India and Member of National Integration Council,  in Belgrade, Serbia during ‘International Science and Public Conference dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the First World War victims. The conference was organized by the Board of Trustees, Center of National Glory and others on 17-18 September, 2014. 


The World War-I acclaimed by the European commentators as the Great World War started when Austria invaded Serbia in 1914. Russia then Tsar Empire sided with Siberia for several interests including an ethnic similarity and strong relationship of the Orthodox Church. The war ended in 1918, four years after a bloody war resulting into the death of nearly 1,60,00000 soldiers (human beings) leaving about two crores wounded on both sides of the war. This was mainly a war;

Britain, France, Russian Empire, Italy, Japan, India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa lately joined by the USA versus Germany, Austria, Hungary, Ottoman Empire. India, Canada, Australia, South Africa etc. were forced to fight being the colonies of the British Empire. According to the war historians, about 75,000 Indian soldiers died, 20,000 wounded and an equal number went missing during the war. This was a rear occupation that the participants remember Khudadad Khan, Indian soldier who became the first Indian to be awarded a Victoria Cross. Russia suffered the most with the loss of nearly 33 lacs. men in the battlefield. The French and the British lost both men in uniform and civilians.

Perhaps, it was the first international gathering organized in Serbia where the war started in 1914, which paid heavy tributes to the Indian soldiers who died in the war while defending Great Britain and its allies including Russia. Serbia the then Yugoslavia had created a kind of history in 1961 when the Non-Aligned Movement of the countries was born under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Yugoslavian President, Mr. Joseph Broz Tito, Indonesian President, Mr. Sukarno, Egyptian President, Mr. Abdul Gamal Nasser and the President of Ghana, Mr. Nkaruma. This initiative of President Tito in the heart of Europe earned him wrath of the Anglo-American Bloc as this process had challenged the hegemony of this bloc. This international conference to commemorate 100 years of World War-I in Belgrade splashed several messages to the war mongers and those who continue to amass nuclear arsenals at the cost of the humanity only to destroy its existence.

The speakers included, Russians, Serbians, Czechs, Austrians, Italians, Germans, Swiss, British, French and India of course with the presence of this author. Two issues emerged from the long debated World War-I i.e. what were the after-effects of the so-called Great World War and what are the new challenges before the world.

The speakers were almost unanimous on the fact that the USA emerged as great continental power and the war stimulated the US economy, increased employment and wages and brought great benefit to its industry. In other words the USA emerged as the greatest power in the world as the creditor nation, the situation remains unchanged. President Wilson at that time had a vision and could have involved the United States in the world affairs by joining the League of Nations yet he failed or he deliberately chose to keep the USA out of the fear that might have brought Europe on warpath because of the Versailles Treaty. On the other hand Germany became the greatest looser in the war among the belligerents. Defeat in war resulted in profound shock coupled with economic deprivation and collapse. This was one of the main reasons that democratic socialist party in Germany brought the new leadership which ultimately tore away the Treaty of Versailles into pieces and challenged the world once again in World War-II.

The effects of the Great War surfaced widely and wildly in Europe, Middle East, Russia and Asia as well. There came an end of Tsar Rule when Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin took over the reins of power in Russia. Turkish Empire, known as Ottoman Empire came to an end leaving Arab World in the Middle East free of Turkish rule. Austro-Hungarian regime collapsed and India started marching towards freedom movement under the leadership of Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Several speakers which included Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin, Former President of Czech Republic, Mr. Vaclav Klaus, Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Alexey Yuryevich Meshkov, Mr. Johan Backman of Antifascist Committee of Finland, Mr. Vardan Ernestovich Bagdasaryan, a Dean, School of History, Political Sciences and Law, Moscow University, Former Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, Mr. Momir Bulatovic, Mr. James Bissett, a former Canadian Ambassador in Yugoslavia, Mr. Walter Schwimmer, Former Secretary General of European Council, a noted media person, Mr. Paolo Raimondi of Italy, Mr. Dario Vidojkovic from the Department of Modern History, Regensburg University, Germany, Mr. Jean Bricmont from Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium, Mr. Neil Clark, a noted journalist and Freelance Writer, Mr. Xavier Moreau, Head of Russian Division in France University who made highly valuable contributions to the jurisprudence of the war and peace.  This author was the only speaker from the continent of Asia and Africa. The two-day conference was presided over by Mr. Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin, the Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the Center of National Glory, Russia. Mr. Zivodin Jovanovicwas the second Chairman of the conference.

The highlights of this international conference on the effects of First World War and its challenges for the future generations to save the world from impending disaster need an urgent attention of the world politicians who have been raising heaps of nuclear weapons and bombs in their stores least realizing that the Third World War or the next World War shall be the last World War on this Earth Planet. The big powers, particularly the USA, the Russian Federation and China are in possession of nuclear arsenals where each nuclear bomb is hundred times more catastrophic than the Atom Bombs which was used by the USA against Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. There was a universal feeling that the next World War would not require ponies, horses, camels nor it shall need tanks, machine guns or drones to wage the next World War. One mad fury from Beijing or Kremlin or White House can destroy the entire Earth Planet in minutes.

Though the role of agencies like NATO who have been indulging in war affairs in Iraq, Syria, Yugoslavia or Libya in the past years came under fire and was condemned in unequivocal words by one and all speakers. The USA came under heavy fire from all quarters for its colonial role in the Middle East vis-à-vis Palestine. The Balfour Treaty 1917 was considered as a treachery by the British against the Arabs. The NATO was described as unlawful agency which has been violating its own rules and the constitution. Helplessness of the United Nations was adjudged as the supremacy of the USA in the world politics.

Majority of the participants expressed solidarity with and support to the Russian Federation under the leadership of Mr. Vladimir Putin who, it is expected, shall no longer be a silent spectator over the war game plan being played by the Anglo-American Bloc.

What may be the impact of the outcome of the international conference in Belgrade on the centenary of the World War-I this has to be understood as a message of the entire humanity that the people of the world want no more bullets, no more guns, no more deaths, no more bombs and no more wars. The movement for complete disarmament under the leadership of NAM countries has to be strengthened in spirit and command of the Charter of the United Nations. Let the Belgrade message be understood in its right perspective.


Bhim Singh

(Sr. Advocate, Supreme Court of India,

Chairman, Sub-Committee, International Affairs-SCBA,

Chief Patron, National Panthers Party

& Member, National Integration Council)