Total War in the 20th Century

Topics: World War II, Total war, World War I Pages: 3 (951 words) Published: March 2, 2006
Total War in the 20th Century

‘Total War' is a term deriving from 20th century war, employed when a country mobilizes all resources in order to destroy the ability of its enemy to wage war. This type of war has existed since the Middle Ages however it was not until recently that it was recognized as a separate type of warfare. Total War invovled not only soldiers, but the entire nation, and the full extent of every resource available. Total War includes constraints such as Human Rights and is focused on the mobilization of all resources and total destruction of the enemy, aided by (1) mobilization of the entire poulation, (2) resources and (3) technological innovation, within a political realm.

Total War refers to the mechanization and mobilization of an economy as one entity, the nation as a whole functions simultaneously, almost as one great machine. Industrialized nations could therefore distinguish and then choose the intensity of warfare in which it wished to engage. This prospect, with relation to the 20th century, meant that not only would traditional military assets be targeted, but also every ‘part of the machine' including factories and their workers. An example of this would be the allied carpet bombing of industrial Axis towns or the German attempts at flooding British towns by destroying dams. All this was considered necessary in order to deal a blow to the entire war effort of the enemy. Along with factories, civilian infrastructure (roads, dams and bridges) women also became a 'legitimate' target of each warring party during both WWI and WWII. With regards to mobilization of the home front, women filled many of the jobs left vacant by men that were on the front line. According to Roger Chickering's definition Total War: The German and American Experiences, 1871-1914:"Total war is distinguished by its unprecedented intensity and extent. Theaters of operations span the globe; the scale of battle is practically limitless. Total war is...
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