Wars have always been merely nothing but periods of mass destruction and a way of population control for the elite or the ruling class as most of us say. Although most of the wars in history have had individual reasons of occurrence; they somehow seem to have a connection, at least a few of them and moreover some of the important ones if we study carefully. The similarity can only be seen if we make a small shift in our gaze; from all the useless killing, towards the funding or the supportive causes of the wars. It won’t be anything wrong to say that some of the wars in history have actually shaped the very way of life humans live today and everything that we believe is true.
So, here we have some of the most interesting and mind-boggling facts of one of the epic wars in history, the World War I.
10. Death Toll: 10 million people were killed
All together and only in the First World War, more than 65 million men fought from over 30 different countries. Out of which nearly 10 million were killed. The Allies lost about 6 million soldiers and the Central Powers lost about 4 million of them. Now, those were only the participants of the war. If we add that up with the 15 million dead civilians then it gives us a total of 25 million dead people. Along with that around 20 million were wounded severely and a lot of them died while in treatment. However, only two thirds of the soldiers were speculated to have died in combat, previously most of them lost their lives due to diseases and epidemic that went on at that time.
9. Pioneering Era in Weapon Tech
The time period of World War I can easily be titled the pioneering era for the business of weapons and arms technology. Most of the weapons the armies around the world possess today were either built back then in the First World War or have been built using concepts derived from the blueprints of those weapons. Yes, countries now possess nuclear weapons as well but only a few claim to have it. Everything from flamethrowers, tanks, submarines to some of the best machine guns of all times were invented during the Great War.
8. All the Money in the world for War
The total sum decided for the reparations of the war was set at a staggering 132 billion gold marks. Germany and its allies were declared responsible for the war and all the loss and damage that had been caused. That set aside all the 30 countries had to fund the war to keep its pace, although none of them had anything to pay at that time. It cost the United States a total of 30 billion dollars to fund the war and keep its armies fed and aided. One thing however, to think about is which group really profited from all the buying and selling.
7. The Best Fighter of All
It is a bit hard to believe but as it seems records of even something like the most successful fighter of the war and how many men he killed during that period has actually been kept. According to the post war global conferences the most successful fighter of the entire war period is believed to be Rittmeister von Richthofen (1892-1918). He fought from the side of the Allies’, and shot down almost 80 planes before being shot down near Amiens. He was one of the best pilots of WWI and certainly one of the most skilled in the ‘dogfights’ that happened during the war. The term ‘dogfight’ originated during WWI, as fighter planes would turn off their engines in mid air, while taking sharp twists and turns just so the engines wouldn’t stall and then start them again in mid air. As the pilots turned on their engines again, it made sounds similar to dogs barking, hence the word came in use.
6. Sounds that shook our Foundations
All the arms and explosives that were used in WWI made immense noise. Artillery barrage and mines used in 1917 blowing up under the German lines on Messines Ridge at Ypres in Belgium could be heard all the way in London 140 miles, over 200 kilometers far away. The Pool of Peace, a 40-ft deep lake near Messines, Belgium is actually a filled-crater made in the same year when the British detonated a mine containing almost 45 tons of explosives.
5. The Lucky way out
In the start of the year 1917, British cryptographers luckily deciphered a telegram from German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann to Germany’s minister in Mexico. The telegraph encouraged Mexico to invade U.S. territory. The British kept it a secret from the U.S. for more than a month so they could use it at just the right time to help draw the U.S into the war on their side. The British intelligence surely used this small key to their greatest advantage and took an easy way out of the devastation they were destined to face by convincing the United States to fight on their side.
4. Holes and Ditches
British poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote, ‘’When all is done and said, the war was mainly a matter of holes and ditches.’’ There perhaps isn’t a better way to put what the war was all about and what it helped us to achieve. Even though the U.S government didn’t grant Native citizenship until 1924, over 13,000 of the so called illegal residents served in world war 1 as soldiers. As the conditions of the war was the harshest environment a person could survive in, millions of them suffered ‘’shell shock,’’ or posttraumatic stress disorder, due to the horrors of trench warfare. These men usually had uncontrollable diarrhea, couldn’t sleep, stopped speaking, whimpered for hours and twitched uncontrollably. While some recovered, most of them suffered for the rest of their lives.
3. New War Science
WWI gave birth to a new era of warfare and changed the way the leading countries dealt with war. The most significant development in warfare at that time was air power, which brought civilians in the line of fire. By early 1918, it was clear that the days of cavalry as a realistic fighting force over with the introduction of poisonous gas. Tanks heralded a new era of offensive war. Finally, the Nazi blitzkrieg tactic of world war 1 grew out of the final Allied offensive of 1918 in which tanks, aircraft and men were carefully coordinated.
2. Medical Advancements
Although most of us only tend to remember only the killing and useless fighting while discussing about wars, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that wars have actually shaped and hastened medical advancements for the world to be better prepared for worse situations in future. Physicians at that time learned better wound management and the setting of bones. The enormous scale of all those that needed medical care in the world war 1 helped in the process of building a specialized and professionally managed medical industry that we have in today’s world. WWI was basically a place where doctors and physicians got to learn about human body and the way it worked, both inside out, like never before.
1. The Aftermath
The Treaty of Versailles stated that Germany had ignited the WWI. It gave Alsace and Lorraine back to whom it belonged, France. Poland picked up German territory in the east, and other territories were handed out to Belgium and Lithuania. The treaty also transferred the Hultschin area of Upper Silesia to Czechoslovakia. The eastern part of Silesia was assigned to Poland. Lower Silesia, meanwhile, was left entirely to Germany. The key Baltic port of Danze, the industrial region of the Saar Basin, and the strategically important Rhineland were also taken from Germany. Its armed forces were strictly limited and its colonies were made League of Nations mandates. The 1921 Reparations Committee decided that Germany was liable to pay $33 billion in compensation to the Allies for all the damage it caused. That left the Germans humiliated and impoverished, which left the world vulnerable to yet another World War.
Final Conclusion: Some of the greatest wars in history were caused due to stupid mistakes made by one single person; so this suggests wars are basically nothing but a million people paying for what one person had done and pretty much have had no other option than to stick with that person’s decision and even lose their lives fulfilling someone else’s sick demands. There were many long term effects of the world war 1 that affect us till date, some of them were the formation of the League of Nations, which laid the groundwork for the United Nations and a worldwide arms race. The war also drove Germany into a deep recession, setting the much needed groundwork for the world war 2.
Nikhil is musician by choice, writer by profession. Currently, studying Bachelors in Hospitality.