The Number of People Killed Was the Most Significant Aspect of World War I. to What Extent Do You Agree?

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The number of people killed was the most significant aspect of World War I. To what extent do you agree? It’s 1914 and Gavrilo Princip has just shot the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife. As he fired the bullet, little did he know that he was about to start one of the bloodiest and most tragic wars the world had ever seen. World War I was, for most people, the most horrific event of their lives. There were over 35 million casualties, a war second only to World War II. No other war had changed the map of Europe so dramatically. Four empires disappeared: the German, Austrian-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian. Four dynasties all fell after the war: the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs, the Romanovs, and the Ottomans. Belgium and Serbia were badly damaged, as was France. Germany and Russia were similarly affected. Some may argue that the number of people killed was the most devastating and tragic aspect of the First World War, that the soldiers were a ‘lost generation’. Others argue, however, that other aspects come into play. Economic crashes, for example, crippled many countries, almost destroying Germany. Significance can be judged in different ways. It can be judged by the number of people affected at the time, or later on in the form of remembrance. It can also be judged by the duration of the effect or the severity. Occasionally, unexpectedness is taken into account. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilised from 1914 to 1918, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. Over 11 million civilians died from a result of direct military action (i.e. military deaths and bombing) with a further 6 million dead due to famine, disease and accidents. Overall, 1.75% of the world’s population were killed in the war. The people at home were hammered by telegrams of deaths and occasionally, were bombed. Wilfred Owen, a famous poet, wrote in ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘and each slow dusk a drawing-down of...
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