** German World War I casualties

World War I Germany: Casualties

Figure 1.--This is a postcard back portrait taken at a German military hospital during 1915. It was located at Bad Ems. Bad Ems is a town in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. It was a spa and bathing resort on the Lahn River. Thus there were hotels that could be converted to hospitals and convalesent facilities for wounded soldiers. We see several small group photographs. We suspect they are ward groups. We see both the wounded soldiers and the staff. Notice the nursing sister. The little girl is probably the child of one of the staff members. We know from the postmark that the photograph was taken some time before July 17, 1915. There is a message on the back. The writing is not real clear. A HBC reader has taken on the difficult job of dechipering it. Click on the image to see what he has worked up.

The number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was more than 41 million, upuntil that time, the deadliest war in history. There is no precise count, but one estimate suggests that here were over 15-18 million deaths and some 23 million wounded. Germany was one of the countries hardest hit in absolute numbers, although little of the war was actually fought on German soil. Some other countries such as Serbia or even France suffered higher casualties proportionally. Some 1.8 million Germans were killed in combat. Total military casualties were some 2 million killed. Only the Rusians suffered comparable losses, although Russian statistics are not as reliable. Some 4.2 million Germans were wounded during the war. Advances in battlefield care meant that many soldiers were saved, even many greviously wounded. Civilians were also affected, primarily because of malnutrition resulting from a comination of poor economic management resulting in reduced harvests and the the Allied naval blockade preventing imports. The Germans expected a quick battlefield victory and did not consider a long, debilitating war of attrition. The situation for civilans was becoming increasingly serious by the end of the War. Estimaes suggest that 0.4-0.8 million civilians died because of malnutrition and related causes. [Wiki] World War I brought many innovations in warfare, making the battlefield much more deadly. One important innovation which helped to save many lives was a much greater attention to the medical care of soldiers. Before World War I non-combat deaths often exceeded military deaths. Ambulance services were organized to get wounded soldiers to medical units. Women served in large numbers as nurses. Nursing sisters played a major role. The Red Cross also played a major role. Countless lives were saved because of the measures taken. Because of the number of casualties, large numbers of hospitals and extended care facilities had to be opened to care for wounded and shell-shocked soldiers. Shell-shock is a term which first came into use during World War I. Such soldiers before World War I were generally not treated medically. In addition to military doctors and orderlies. This is a subject that we do not know much about that. We would appreciate any reader comments here.


Wiki. "World War I casualties". We have used Wikipideia for the casualty figures. The sources are indicated on the page. Wikipedia is useful because they provide coparable at for other countries.


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Created: 5:47 PM 11/11/2017
Last updated: 5:47 PM 11/11/2017