War and Peace

Social Changes in the Aftermath of World War I

“What I think in Western Europe is very little appreciated is how important the Great War was for South Eastern Europe: it was a critical juncture where the political organisation of the region but also [its] social and economic dynamics really changed because to some extent the Great War was a total war that mobilised the whole society.

The peasants were really the bulk of all the military forces for very good demographic reasons, because most of the people that could be drafted were peasants. When they came back, if they came back from the front lines, the degree of political consciousness was really much higher than before. Also their expectations vis-à-vis the national state: they wanted to have something back which is one of the reasons why most countries in the region after World War I implemented large-scale agrarian reforms and distributed a lot of land towards the small farming households.

This is one example that shows that the war was also a major break in the social and economic development, not to speak of the new borders drawn after World War I.”



© Ulf Brunnbauer
Ulf Brunnbauer
Professor Ulf Brunnbauer is Professor of the History of Southeast and Eastern Europe at the University of Regensburg. He is also Co-Speaker of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at the University of Regensburg and the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.