Sample Student Essay: Discuss the impact of the mobilization of human and economic resources on the outcome of two wars.

From the November 2020 History Paper 2 exam:

 Discuss the impact of the mobilization of human and economic resources on the outcome of two wars.


Written under test conditions



Typed example:

The relentless machinery of war often necessitates the complete mobilisation of a nation's human and economic resources. During the First and Second World Wars, this phenomenon was clearly exemplified by the nations involved, as they were spurred on by ideologies, political necessities, and the stark reality of survival. To assess the impact of this comprehensive mobilisation on the outcome of these wars, it's paramount to examine both conflicts through the lens of critical wartime elements: industrial capacity, workforce reallocation, financial systems, and national morale.

The First World War marked the advent of a new type of conflict: the industrial war, which relied not only on soldierly valour but on the efficiency of home-front factories and industries. Historian David Stevenson in his work, "1914-1918: The History of the First World War", vividly portrays the significance of industrialisation. Britain's industrial might, in particular, played a significant role in its eventual victory. British industries were rapidly transitioned towards war production, resulting in an astonishing output of war materials. The output of shells increased from 1.5 million in 1915 to over 187 million in 1918, showcasing the ability of a mobilised economy to sustain a prolonged conflict. Contrastingly, Germany lagged behind in terms of its industrial mobilisation. According to Stevenson, while Germany boasted significant industrial capacities, it failed to utilise them effectively until 1916 when the Hindenburg Program came into effect, largely due to military interference in economic planning. This delay in mobilisation, Stevenson argues, contributed to the eventual German defeat, as they could not match the war materials produced by the Allies. Thus, the degree and timeliness of industrial mobilisation proved pivotal in the First World War.

The Second World War further underscored the importance of human and economic resource mobilisation. Historian Richard Overy's research on the economic preparation of nations during the war, presented in "Why the Allies Won", suggests that resource mobilisation was critical in the outcome of the war. The United States' conversion of its gigantic industrial capacity for war production, famously referred to as the 'Arsenal of Democracy', was instrumental in outproducing the Axis powers in terms of war materials, thereby directly influencing the war's outcome. However, it was not solely the ability to produce but also the skill to manage the workforce effectively that impacted the war's course. According to Overy, both Britain and the United States executed extensive workforce reallocations, recruiting women into factories and other industries traditionally dominated by men. This expanded labour pool proved vital in sustaining high production rates. Conversely, Nazi Germany's ideological reluctance to fully utilise female labour until late in the war hindered their war production, exemplifying how ideological restrictions can impair effective mobilisation and, ultimately, the war's outcome. Similarly, financial mobilisation was a crucial aspect of war efforts. For instance, both Britain and the United States implemented war bonds programs, not only to finance the war but also to control inflation and bolster public morale, demonstrating the intersection between economic and human resource mobilisation.

Finally, it's worth noting that the psychological aspect of human resource mobilisation significantly impacted both wars. Historian Niall Ferguson, in "The Pity of War", argues that Britain's sustained morale, fuelled by a well-mobilised propaganda machine, was a contributing factor to its perseverance and ultimate victory in the First World War. Similarly, during the Second World War, national morale, bolstered by effective human mobilisation, played a significant role in maintaining the fighting spirit on the home front and battlefront alike. 

In conclusion, the mobilisation of human and economic resources was crucial in shaping the outcome of both the First and Second World Wars. As the examination of industrial mobilisation, workforce reallocation, financial measures,