World War 1: The Cost of War
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.
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
New Zealand: $378,750,000
South Africa: $300,000,000
British Colonies: $125,000,000
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.