World War I and Its Impact in India

The end of the First World War, “the war to end all wars”, it was believed, would be followed by a period of peace, freedom, democracy, and a better life for everyone. Seven months later, the Russian Revolution took place and the Soviet government issued the Decree on Peace, which called on all the belligerent nations and people to enter into negotiations for a peace without annexations and indemnities. On 8 January 1918, Wilson had presented his peace proposals, called the Fourteen Points. The countries of the world did not become more democratic than before in spite of the collapse of four imperial dynasties. The power of Europe was much diminished as a result of the war though its hold over the colonies did not end. A number of new independent nations emerged in Europe, generally but not entirely, based on the principle of nationality, but the conflicts within Europe over European affairs did not end.

            Outside the Europe and North America, the period was marked by the growing strength of the national liberation.

 Dictated Peace

            The main enemy of the Allied powers in the First World War had been Germany. The surrender of Germany had been obtained on the understanding that the Fourteen Points and other statements made by Wilson would be the basis of the peace treaty. The treaty also had articles providing for the trial of Germans whom the Allies accused of committing war crimes.

 Creation of the League of Nations

            The covenant (or the formal, solemn and binding agreement) of the League of Nations was approved by the Peace Conference in April 1919.The primary objective of the League as enunciated in the covenant was the promotion of “international cooperation, peace and security”.

            As will be seen, the League proved to be totally ineffective in maintaining peace and taking any effective steps against the aggressor countries.

 The Treaty of Versailles

            The peace treaty with Germany was signed at Versailles on 28 June 1919 and is known as the Treaty of Versailles. According to the provisions of the treaty, Alsace-Lorraine, which Germany had seized from France in 1871, was returned to France; The newly created state of Poland was provided with access to the sea by giving her about 65 km of ‘corridor’ which separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany.


            The freedom movement in India entered a new phase-the phase of a mass anti-imperialist upsurge-soon after the First World War was over .On 13 April 1919, British imperialism committed the barbarous massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar .At the end of 1929, Poorna Swaraj (Complete Independence) became the objective of the congress, which led India’s struggle for independence.