Did anything good come out of World War I?

One I’ve been wondering about for a while, comparing WWII to its prequel in what benefits humanity got out of it, despite all the death and destruction that war entails. With WWII, you get the definite plus points of Nazism and Japanese nationalism being soundly crushed. Technology wise you get massive advances in the fields of computing, rocketry, nuclear power, etc.

But for World War I…did much come from it that we can count as a plus? The Russians chucked out a shitty autocracy for one that would turn out even worse. The Ottoman Empire fell to bits, though I don’t know enough about it to call it definitively a ‘good’ thing, hopefully you can educate me.

Advances for the rights of women maybe, as a result of them needed in the workforce? Advances in aircraft? Plastic surgery?

Does anything else spring to mind?

Bunch of countries gained independence. At least Finland has been able to remain independent since then.

If chemical weapons were not used back then, their first use might have been later in terror bombings against civilian targets.

Large-scale experience with surgical techniques after the development of antibiotics.

Military tactics and strategies caught up with military technology. Later wars have not displayed the stagnant, trench-bound butchery that was so famously a part of WWI.

The seeds of chemotherapy:

Well, if the world’s leaders in 1913 could be asked the same question as Jeb Bush (“Knowing what you know now, would you have gone to war?”), I have to think they’d all say “Hell, no.”

Lloyd George would say, “F-- the Belgians.” "The French would say, “F-- the Russians.” Kaiser Wilhelm would have said, “F-- the Austrians.” And Tsar Nicholas II would say, “F— the Serbs.”

None of the great powers came out of that war better off. All would have been better off sitting it out.

Was that as a direct result of WWI? I’d always heard that the big advances were inter-war. Mind you I guess it did give them a large number of case studies.

Forgot about the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (famous for fuck all!), although again I don’t know if it counts as a definite ‘good’ thing or just a thing. On chemical weapons I think you have a point, maybe its relative ineffectiveness seen in the conflict also negated a future, large scale use of it.

Wow, never knew that. Just the kind of thing I was after, something positive emerging directly from the trenches.

Sanitary napkins were developed from bandages developed to staucnh the massive bleeding caused by war.

That’s where I was going… they came up with some new therapies and then got a lot of opportunities to test them.

Blood banks, modern x-ray machines, stainless steel, and zippers were developed during the war.

WWI is often called the beginning of the modern age. People’s attitudes towards the existing political and social norms changed. They became more cynical about trusting their “betters” and/or the government to tell them what was best. If you had served or helped with the war effort, you were likely to feel that your voice should count and a lot more people were directly involved than in previous wars.
People became more individualistic. Look at music, literature, and societal roles before and after the war.


Tanks were invented for and used in WWI – if that counts as a good thing.

It led to the breakdown of the class system in most of Europe, and got rid of the few remaining ruling monarchs. People now had greater social mobility.

Hell of a price to pay, but it might just be a human fault. It requires that many million deaths for us to re-examine our social foundations. Far better if it could be done by democratic balloting…but the old empires wouldn’t permit that.

Penicillin was developed in 1928 and first used extensively during World War II.

Not everybody drew that conclusion. The common people of Europe were largely gung ho FOR the war in 1914. Oh, once things went sour, they changed their minds, but hindsight is always 20-20.

It’s better to have mobile armies that can wreck cities on the go?

Aviation grew & developed.

The stagnant warfare of WWI ruined vast swaths of France and Belgium to the point where they are still unsafe and unusable today. Cities wrecked in WWII were rebuilt relatively quickly. Further, modern warfare actually results, many times, in much faster wars with lower body counts. This assumes we are talking about a “real” war and not an occupation or police action.

I have read some interesting bits on this, that once the gentry were in the trenches with the commoners the class breakdowns accelerated. Hard to separate yourself from the guy next to you in the mud and blood.

What to name World War II.