The number of people killed is the most significant aspect of the First World War. To what extent do you agree?

As Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb nationalist, shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife did it cross his mind that he could start one of the bloodiest and most devastating wars the world had ever seen. World War I was, for most people, the most horrific event of their lives. There were over 40 million casualties, 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. The number of deaths was certainly one of the most important aspects and some may argue that the number of people killed was the most significant aspect of the First World War, that the deaths of so many people were a lost generation. Others argue, however, that other aspects come into play. Economic crashes, for example, crippled many countries, almost destroying Germany. Technological developments in the First World War are a basis for a lot of the technology we use today. 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. I disagree with the statement and I believe that the advancements in technological warfare were the most significant.

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First of all, let’s look at the number of deaths. Of the 65 million soldiers who were mobilised from 1914 to 1918, 10 million were killed, 8 million were permanently disabled, and 16 million were seriously injured. Over 11 million civilians died from a result of direct military action, for example, invasions 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 deaths were particularly significant as it effected so many people. Obviously, it affected the millions of people who died, as they were dead, but it also would have affected those who were affiliated with those who lost their lives. The poem Perhaps by Vera Brittain expresses the agony felt by loved ones at the loss of a beloved one. The deaths also changed many civilian’s and soldier’s perspective of war and it affected how we view war today. At the beginning of the war, men were pressured into signing up for the army due to cowardice posters and propaganda posters. Often, groups of men from the same area or profession signed up together in the hope that the war would be a ‘relaxing time away with friends’. When many of these men were killed or seriously injured, it sometimes eradicated the whole generation of young men in a certain community which lead people to see the true side of war: bloody and brutal.

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