Even more than 100 years since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended what had been to that point the deadliest and costliest conflict in history, there is still not a definitive answer to what was the root cause of the war. Nationalism, imperialism and jingoism all played a factor.
Dozens of books have been written on the origins of the First World War, but now a YouTube channel is offering insight for those who don’t look for a deep dive into the topic. Yet, instead of “dumbing down” the discussion, Wolf of 1918 has made its videos on the subject accessible for the masses.
This is hardly the first channel to approach the discussion of the First World War, but it offers well-polished videos that explore the roots of the war with enough detail even for the armchair historian.
“When it comes to YouTube channels like my own, I do think they fill the void in many ways,” said Michael, who launched Wolf of 1918 just a year ago covering a variety of topics related to the conflict, but now he is focused on creating a multi-part documentary to cover the origins of the war.
“The Great War Channel on YouTube did an excellent job giving a real time narrative to the war, and was a huge inspiration for the current series I’m working on,” added Michael. Unlike, The Great War Channel, which launched in 2014 with the goal of covering the war and related events 100 years after the fact, Wolf of 1918 is really focused on the root causes of the conflict.
The ability for history buffs to create such content has remained notable for two reasons – first because there is little outlet today for such niche content on TV today. And second, producing such videos on a shoestring budget has never been easier. This has been noted by the success of The History Guy and similar channels.
“The ability to use YouTube as a virtual ‘soap box’ to talk about historical events in a documentary form is super awesome and has shed more light on lesser known subjects,” said Michael.
For this self-confessed history buff, who was influenced by dramas such as Saving Private Ryan and HBO’s Band of Brothers, found that there was no easy answers to the questions he is now trying to address.
“I wanted to read about something less saturated,” he added.
From here he began to make simple videos, and that has since turned into his series of reasonably high quality documentaries on the origins of the First World War. This has required a creative use of content including video and photography that is available in the public domain.
“I haven’t run into too many issues with trying to find media to edit into my videos, it would be nice if there was more out there, but I’ve made do with what I can find,” Michael explained. “My opinion might change over the coming weeks as I slowly change my editing and filming techniques to look and sound more professional, but at the moment I can’t say it’s greatly affected anything more than making some visual aids slightly more difficult to come by.”
A Niche Topic That Found An Audience
History is filled with lesser know stories, and YouTube has already allowed many of those stories to be shared. Wolf of 1918 has grown by focusing on such a niche and finding a reasonably sized audience in the process. While this is coming well after the 100th anniversary to the conflict, the truth is that apart from the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old from Peter Jackson and last year’s 1917, the First World War was largely ignored by the mainstream.
And that helps explain why there remains the question of its origins – yet the topic remains relevant today.
“In my opinion, studying the build up to the First World War, how it started, and why are important to properly understand several aspects of the modern political landscape,” explained Wolf of 1918’s Michael. “It seems like every time there’s the smallest international event, such as the January crisis between the U.S. and Iran, people think it’s going to explode into a ‘world war.’ If more people would slow down and take a closer look at the requirements for nations to even undertake such a course of action they’d realize there are far more puzzle pieces that need to be in place for another world war to start.”