World War 1: The Cost of War

Updated on December 30, 2016

The Human Cost of War

From the first gunshot fired in anger in 1914 to the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in 1918, the Great War took its toll on human life. Of the 65 million men who fought in World War 1:

  • 8 million men were killed in battle.
  • 2 million died of illness and disease.
  • 21.2 million were wounded.
  • 7.8 million were taken prisoner or went missing in action.

In every nation that took part in the combat, there were few families who hadn't lost a relative in the war–a brother, a son, a father, a nephew, or an uncle. Some towns and villages lost every single one of their male members of fighting age. And if that village lay in the vicinity of soldiers or bombers, many others were killed as well.

  • 6.8 million civilians were killed during WWI.

Flanders Field


The Poppies of Flanders Field

The Financial Cost of War

The First World War took its toll on the whole of the European economy, leaving Europe on its knees, financially.

Many industries that once thrived during peacetime had been retooled for war production. When the war was over, governments didn't help factories retool or recalibrate for what they used to produce, thereby pushing many industries and factories into financial ruin.

Also, due to the high toll of death and injury, many villages lost all their skilled tradesman such as printers, smiths, and carpenters, trades that took a long time to learn. Because recovery required these skills, the infrastructures of villages were crippled and ruined in many rural areas.

The estimated costs for WWI for each participating nation are listed below (in US dollars):

United States: $22,625,253,000

Great Britain: $35,334,012,000

France: $24,265,583,000

Russia: $22,293,950,000

Italy: $12,413,998,000

Belgium: $1,154,468,000

Romania: $1,600,000,000

Japan: $40,000,000

Serbia: $399,400,000

Greece: $270,000,000

Canada: $1,665,576,000

Australia: $1,423,208,000

New Zealand: $378,750,000

India: $601,279,000

South Africa: $300,000,000

British Colonies: $125,000,000

Germany: $37,775,000,000

Austria-Hungary: $20,622,960,000

Turkey: $1,430,000,000

Bulgaria: $815,200,000


The After Cost of War

Years after the cease fire had been signed, the financial costs of war continued. Disabled soldiers had to be cared for and homes, factories, and infrastructure had to be rebuilt. Graves had to be cared for and cemeteries had to be built for the soldiers who perished. The bodies of soldiers who died in the war were removed from their shallow graves at the trenches and taken home to be buried. War memorials were built in every town, village, and city of soldiers who had perished in battle.

War Graves


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    • profile image

      Valanis 4 months ago

      You might have forgotten reparations payed by Germany, although their contribution to political destabilization in that country should have been even more costly.

    • profile image

      Alex 21 months ago

      Nami, like most wars, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

    • profile image

      henry j 22 months ago

      thank jesus that someone fought for our live god bless them all :)

    • profile image

      Halister Bell 2 years ago

      If we agree then we are good

      Seeing that from where you stood

      Gradually kept on getting worse

      Lose yourself in this verse

      Together we stand as the Allied Powers

      To only stop the blood-rained showers

      What good was it to reject the 14 points

      Cuz it asked us to not bust these joints

      Humans alone are the violent creatures

      Saying that all was part of procedures

      Good men had to loose their dying lives

      Beholding a sight to their crying wives

      We love to fight and live for it

      But why do we love to take this hit

      We will all die in this world eventually

      But why make it all go so suddenly

      We need to take this on our mind

      To never leave this all behind

      So we never custom to forget

      This hell that we have all met

    • profile image

      gd 3 years ago

      thank u

    • ROBERTHEWETTSR profile image

      rOBERT hEWETT SR. 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Well written and very interesting and useful. My father was in WWI, and gassed and wounded in the Argonne Forest.

    • profile image

      lizB 6 years ago

      well apparantly george bush didn't study ww1 or ww2 in school because america is officially in the longest war ever to take place in history

    • profile image

      Adrien 6 years ago


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      megan hunch 6 years ago

      i think this is areally gd website it tells u lots of info i like it a lot

    • jaskar profile image

      jaskar 6 years ago from England

      i went on a battlefield tour a while back. we went to tyne-cot. its mind blowing. i mean there are thousands of graves there alone. and when you think what a small fraction of the total dead that is, well it just destroys you. and the worst thing is i cant think of one single reason why they died.

    • profile image

      Philippe 7 years ago

      I wonder if little George Bush studied World war I in school?

    • profile image

      nami 7 years ago

      wow that war was pointless if it did any thing but kill all those ppl!!

    • profile image

      Abigail 7 years ago

      It is so horrific how many people died in the war and some dying just from the conditions of the trenches, i feel sorry for all those who lost people in the war and how the brave soliders had spent their last days in these ghastly conditions :(

    • profile image

      angel 7 years ago

      wow how could such a thing happened to thes poor people

    • profile image

      lert 7 years ago

      nice hub nice

    • profile image

      DAMIAN AKARA T. 8 years ago

      perhaps it was out of shame when looking at the barbaric outcome of the carnage that the perpetrators of the Great European war popularized it as the "First World War" so that all can share in the guilt.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

      The impact of the deaths resonated throughout the UK, I think. All those war memorials, all those dead boys.

    • profile image

      jack 9 years ago

      wow talk bout a lot of died ppl.. wow this was a very bad war!!!

    • nancydodds1 profile image

      nancydodds1 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Its very nice and great information about world war 1. So many people had lost there lifes in war.

    • profile image

      wittlemo 9 years ago

      That was cost so much. And so many lives were lost and much land was destroyed. WWI didn't do much either, if it did, we wouldn't have WWII. ;)

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 9 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Ahhh "In Flanders Field the poppies grow,between the crosses row on row" That keeps going through my head as I read this hub. What a staggering cost in blood and treasure--and it was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Thanks for making us all remember that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Wonderful hub.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      The costs listed in your hub are just absolutely horrific. So many lifes have been lost for what? So that it can be done all-over again in a couple of decades.

      great hub regards Zsuzsy

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When we look at statistics, they are just numbers. But if we remember that there is a real, live, human being behind that number, one who had a mother, and was once a baby and grew up in a family and so really brings it home. War is evil, but when all is said a done, a necessary one perhaps. Such a mystery.

      Thanks for your hub!