Research Matters: Issue #4, Spring 2014:
World War One Centennial Commemorated by Department of History in Video Series
When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914, it set off a chain of events that became one of the deadliest combats in human history, known as the First World War. To mark the centennial of the start of this war, York University's Department of History has produced a documentary series, entitled The War to End All Wars: A Look Back at World War I . Comprised of six English-language episodes and one French-language episode, the series includes 14 of York's History professors discussing various events of the war, including: The World at War, Canada at War, Women at War, Empires at War, Technologies at War, The Spoils of War and Les Canadiens français et la Première Guerre mondiale. "The series of videos in English and French, offers an opportunity to better understand the impact that the First World War had on Canadians and the world," said Marcel Martel, Chair of the Department of History.
In Episode 1: The World at War, Professors Deborah Neill, Stephen Brooke, William Wicken, Molly Ladd-Taylor and Jennifer Stephen discuss the origins of the war, in particular, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and how the countries of Europe became involved followed by non-European countries. In Episode 2: Canada at War, Professors William Wicken, Marcel Martel, Jennifer Stephen, William Jenkins and Craig Heron discuss how Canada became involved in World War I and how its citizens reacted. While many were excited to enter what was believed to be a short war, many others objected fighting in a war they knew little about. In Episode 3: Women at War, Professors Kathryn McPherson, Molly Ladd-Taylor and Jennifer Stephen examine the extensive role women played in World War I, both at home and overseas. One of the more fascinating revelations discussed is that Canada was the only country to rank women as officers in the military at that time.
Episode 4 covers the Empires at War in which Professors Deborah Neill, Stephen Brooke, Joan Judge and Thabit Abdullah discuss how the British, French, Chinese and Ottoman Empires approached the war often recruiting soldiers from their respective colonies as the war dragged on. In Episode 5: Technologies at War, Professors Deborah Neill and Craig Heron discuss the new advances in technologies that were developed during World War I that not only helped end the war, but also gave rise to a new way of fighting that was used to great extent in World War II.
As the war drew to a close, Professors Stephen Brooke, Joan Judge, Kalman Weiser, Thabit Abdullah, Jennifer Stephen and William Wicken break down the aftermath of World War I. Particular attention is given to the Treaty of Versailles, how the Chinese were affected by "secret treaties", and how early negotiations with Jewish groups paved the way for the creation of Israel several years later in Episode 6: The Spoils of War.
The series includes a French-language episode examing the role French Canada played in the conflict. In Episode 7: Les Canadiens français et la Première Guerre mondiale, Professors Marcel Martel, Colin Coates and Roberto Perin discuss the war from the perspective of French Canadians, including the role played by the Catholic Church, conscription and the political struggles between Prime Minister Robert Borden and the leader of the Official Opposition Wilfrid Laurier.
All seven videos in the series can be found at The War to End All Wars: A Look Back at World War I website: www.yorku.ca/laps/ww1