The Japan Times – World War One left millions people wounded, widowed, without parents, and dead. These horrifying numbers gives you a small insight onto the true scale of the lives lost and affected by the four years of conflict from 1914 to 1918.
Due to unreliable tools to accurately keep track of the figures of the war, it is difficult to accurately say how vast the damage was. The numbers can vary greatly, depending on what historian you ask. The true statistics regarding the losses of the Russian and Ottoman sides still remains uncertain.
AFP was able to put together a set of figures that are accepted by the majority of historians in regards to the war. The story provides estimates in some case where there are still some major questions.
There were more than 70 nations involved in the war, although many of them had yet to gain their independence from the six empires or colonial powers. These main six were Austria-Hungary, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. These six empires were the core antagonists of the conflict.
Approximately twelve independent nations entered the world war in 1914 and the rest of the nations would slowly enter in the following years; for example Italy joined in 1915 and the United States would join in 1917. Together, 800 million people would be effected by the way, either directly or indirectly. That number was more than half of the entire world’s population during that era.
Out of all the conflict, there were only 20 countries or so that remained neutral throughout the entire ordeal. These places include Latin America and Northern Europe.
Collectively, there were more than 30 million soldiers battling at the height of the war in 1914. The numbers continued to grow as the time progressed. Sadly, half of those men would never make it home without injury… Or go home at all.
There was believed to be around 8 million Frenchmen fighting, 13 million Germans, 9 million Austro-Hungarian men, 9 million British soldiers, 18 million Russians, 6 million Italians and 4 million from the United States.
Here’s the “official” break down:
France: 1.4 million dead, 4.2 million injured.
Germany: 1.8 million dead, 4.2 million injured.
Austria-Hungary: 1.4 million dead, 3.6 million injured.
Russia: 1.8 million dead, 5 million injured.
Britain and British Empire: 900,000 dead, 2 million injured.
Italy: 600,000 dead, 1 million injured.
Ottoman Empire: 800,000 dead.
Serbia suffered the greatest losses to their military. Nearly three quarters of their soldiers were either killed (130,000) or wounded (135,000).
The battles of Verdun and the Somme in 1916 left 770,000 and 1.2 million (respectively) missing, wounded or dead from both sides.
Some of the most devastating losses were caused in the beginning weeks of the world war. In one day, August 22, 1914, nearly 27,000 French soldiers were killed. That day remains to be the deadliest day in France’s history in regards to military men killed.
It has been said that 70% of those wounded or killed in combat was due to artillery gun fire. Somewhere between 5 and 6 million troops were mutilated for life because of this. 20,000 lives were lost due to the introduction of poison gas being used on the battlefield. While this is a low number compared to the overall losses, it is still a significant amount of bodies.
Military people were not the only lives lost because of WWI. Millions of civilians were casualties of the fighting. One million Armenians were slaughtered by Turkish forces. Some historians believe that close to 5 million people were killed in the Russian Civil war.
The Spanish influenza epidemic broke out at the end of the war and this caused another 20 to 40 million deaths among the populace that already was suffering from deprivation.
Of course, all of these numbers do not account for the missing and the unaccounted for the 6 million prisoners of war.
It is believed there were 20 million people living in areas that were occupied by German, Austro-Hungarian, and Bulgarian rule. 10 million people fled and sought refuge in countries across Europe.
The war left 3 million widows and nearly 6 million children without parents.
There were 1.3 billion shells fired with most of them originating from the Western front. This includes 330 million fired by French artillery and 60 million was fired during the Battle of Verdun alone.
There were 10 billion letters and packages sent between soldiers and their families during these 50 months of war.
It is believed that nearly $180 billion was spent by the six nations.