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IB Note Comparison of Major 20th Century Wars

Updated on April 17, 2014

Famous Pictures from All Five

The US withdrawal from Korea during the Korean War.
The US withdrawal from Korea during the Korean War. | Source
Bolsheviks Marching in Moscow during the Russian Civil War
Bolsheviks Marching in Moscow during the Russian Civil War | Source
The social results of the Vietnam War
The social results of the Vietnam War | Source
Trench Warfare during WW1
Trench Warfare during WW1 | Source
The US Flag over Iwo Jima. The most famous picture from the Pacific Front of World War 2
The US Flag over Iwo Jima. The most famous picture from the Pacific Front of World War 2 | Source

World War One "The Great War"

- World War One 1914-1918 (Total War)

  • Parties & Causes
    • Germany & Austro-Hungary vs. GB, France, Russia, US, Italy
    • Arms Race
    • Alliance Systems
    • Colonialism and Nationalism
    • Territorial gains
    • Bismarck
    • German imperial ambitions – “Weltpolitik”
    • Assassination of Duke Ferdinand
      • Austria attacks Serbia
      • Russia attacks Austria
      • Germany attacks Russia
      • France & GB attack Germany
      • 1917 US involvement
  • Warfare/Strategies
    • Schlieffen Plan, attack France from above.
    • Naval expansion of Germany under admiral “Tirpitz”
    • First air warfare
    • Railroad & Lorries
    • Trench warfare
    • Static war
    • Machine guns
    • First Tanks
    • British naval blockade
    • War of attrition
    • “Passchendaele”, “Somme”, “Verdun”
  • Results
    • Economic chaos
    • More than 20 million dead
    • Great depression
    • Destroyed Germany
    • League of Nations
    • Wilson’s 14 points
    • Versailles Settlement
    • Weimar Republic
    • Small European nations

Communist Russia

World War Two

- World War Two 1939-1945 (Total War)

  • Parties/Causes
    • Alliance system
    • Imperialism
    • Nazism & Hitler
    • Appeasement
    • German Ambitions
    • Japanese expansion
    • Versailles
    • Weak League of Nations
    • Hitler attacks Poland
    • Japan attacks Pearl harbour
  • Warfare/Strategies
    • Blitzkrieg
    • Bombings
    • Tanks
    • Submarines
    • Kamikaze
    • Atomic bombs
    • “Final Solution” – Holocaust
    • Island Skipping/hopping
    • “D-day”, “Battle of the Bulge”, “El Alamein”, “Wake Island”, “Guadalcanal”, “Battle of Britain”, “Stalingrad”
  • Results
    • More than 50 million dead, many civilian casualties
    • Marshall plan
    • No US isolationism
    • Division of Germany
    • Cold war
    • NATO
    • Iron Curtain
    • United Nations

The Korean War

- Korean War 1950-1953 (Total War with Limited Results)

  • Parties/Causes
    • USSR, North Korea, China vs. US/UN/South Korea
    • Containment of Communism
    • UN intervention
    • Withdrawal of US/USSR troops in 1949
    • Split along 38th parallel
    • Cold War tensions
    • 1950 North invade South
    • Chinese & US & UN involvement
  • Warfare/Strategies
    • North vs. South movement
    • UN/US navy landings
    • Kim Il Sung vs. MacArthur/Eisenhower
    • Napalm/Scorched earth
    • N. Korea reach Pusan, pushed back to China
    • China gets involved
    • Armistice, Spilt at 38th Parallel again
    • No peace treaty until today!
  • Results
    • More than 4 million dead
    • Split
    • Communist North
    • Democratic South

1953 Armistice

The Vietnam War

- Vietnam War 1964-1975 (Total War, Limited Results)

  • Parties/Causes
    • Vietminh, Vietcong, Ho Chi Minh vs. USA/France
    • US containment of communism
    • South/North split of Vietnam
    • Colonial History
    • Domino Theory
    • Bay of Tolkien Attack & Resolution
  • Warfare/Strategies
    • “Search & Destroy”
    • Guerilla Warfare
    • Carpet bombing
    • Napalm
    • Chemical Warfare – Agent Orange
    • Flamethrowers for Deforestation
    • Helicopters
    • Vietnamisation
    • “Tet offensive”
    • “Operation Rolling Thunder”
    • Heavy Losses
    • Loss of US domestic support
  • Results
    • More than 5 million dead
    • Loss of political trust in US
    • Geneva Agreement Split
    • Failed Containment

War again – unification of Communist Vietnam

The Russian Civil War

- Russian Civil War 1917 (Limited, Civil War)

  • Parties/Causes
    • Imperialists vs. Socialist (Bolsheviks)
    • World War 1
    • Economic Chaos
    • Leninism
    • November revolution
    • Provisional government failure
    • Tsar abdication
    • Conditions in Russia
    • Lenin’s seizure of power
  • Warfare/Strategies
    • Red Guard take Petrograd
    • Supported by peasants
    • Urban warfare
    • Bolshevism
    • Lenin & Trotsky
    • Hunger Strikes
    • Desertions during WW1
    • General Kornilov
  • Results
    • USSR
    • End of WW1 for Russia at Brest-Litovsk
    • Lenin/Trotsky/Stalin
    • Loss of Russian territories



Which war was the most violent & destructive of all?

See results


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