Unhappy Anniversary World War I

But they did not call it that then.

This isn’t actually the anniversary of the war, but it is the wedding anniversary plus one month of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and the day the two of them were assassinated by Mlada Bosna. Today, one month later one hundred years ago, the first of several declarations of war was made, by Austria-Hungary against Serbia. After that, it gets very complicated.

By the end, the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the German Empire did not exist any more. The German colonies around the world were lost to Germany. The war was fought across Europe and Asia, in many parts of Africa, and even a little bit in the New World. Had things gone slightly differently, the US and Mexico may well have resumed hostilities, and if Mexico prevailed, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico might be Mexican states today. Over forty countries were involved on the “allied” side (or affiliates of the allies) though many on paper. The “Central Powers” (the bad guys) included a minimum of seven countries, depending on what you count exactly as a country. (The Ottoman Empire included a bunch of states.)

About ten million military personnel were killed in the war, but the number “missing” is almost as large, about 7.5 million. (over 20 million wounded). About seven million civilians were killed. It is almost certain that the Pandemic of 1918 was caused by the war. That killed between 50 and 100 million people.

Let’s assume the worst. 18 million killed in the war plus imma add 5 million untimely deaths following it from those wounded, and 100 milli0n for the flu, to come up with a total of 123 million people. That’s close to 7% of the world’s population at the time, but concentrated unevenly. The war plus the flu in France (where the war was a much much larger factor) deleted nearly 7 million out of about 40 million, or 18%. Those numbers are very rough estimates.

Verily, it was the war to end all wars. Except it didn’t.

So, Unhappy Anniversary.

Comments

  1. #1 Richard Chapman
    July 29, 2014

    It wasn’t just the war of the industrial age, it was the first war of the agricultural age. So many people died, because so many people were sent into the conflict. So many people because the improvement of agriculture from the late 19th Century on created a population boom. Yes, industry created the awful weapons that slaughtered millions, but it was the increase in the food supply and improvements in living standards that supplied those millions.

  2. #2 Wesley Dodson
    July 30, 2014

    I read an interesting essay on Harper’s about how the declarations of war were met with jubilation by the peoples of Europe and Russia, how a common cause provided the perfect rebuttal to a newfound sense of modern ennui and social fragmentation. Of course, no one knew how it would look when it was over. But they went to kill and be killed, with a long-lost sense of purpose, arm in arm.

  3. #3 Matt Whealton
    July 30, 2014

    Off Topic, but I know of no way to post directly to admins.
    (So Greg, please delete as you like).
    Is the “Go to:” pulldown control for the various blogs going to get fixed? Right now, no individual blogs are listed, and there is NO good place on the page to jump to one. Very frustrating, as it’s been broken for a week(?) now..

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 30, 2014

    Matt, thanks, I’ll pass that on to the admins. There was just an upgrade. NOTHING HAD GONE WRONG. … or had it???

  5. #5 Matt Whealton
    August 1, 2014

    Yay! It’s fixed now. Thanks!

Current ye@r *