How Many People Died in WW1? A Look at the Numbers
World War One was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of the human race, in which over 16 million people died. The total number of both civilian and military casualties is estimated at around 37 million people. The war killed almost 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel.
Military and Civilian Deaths on Both Sides
The Allies, or Entente Powers, counted around 6 million deaths, the Central Powers 4 million.
Many people died, not from combat, but from diseases caused by the war, a figure estimated at around 2 million deaths. 6 million people went missing during the war and were presumed dead.
Two out of three soldiers died in battle, the rest died due to infections or disease. The Spanish flu also killed a lot of people in prisoner camps.
The total number of civilian deaths is very hard to determine, unlike military deaths, which were better documented. Because of the war, many people suffered from disease and malnutrition because of food shortages brought about by a disruption in trade. Millions of men were also mobilized for the war, taking their labor away from farms, which cut down food production. In the Ottoman Empire there were also the genocides that killed thousands of people. The Spanish flu also killed a lot of people, but historians often left these figures out of accounts accounts.
Finally, there are even more indirect deaths caused by the wars that are not accounted in such reports. The Armenian Genocide, which left 1.5 million dead in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, was precipitated by the Ottoman political leadership believing that the Armenian people would side with Russia in World War One, leading to the empire’s ruin. To secure their borders, they put Armenian men in work camps, which became extermination centers, and forced marched the elderly, women, and children to Northern Syria, which became a death march.
This article is part of our extensive collection of articles on the Great War. Click here to see our comprehensive article on World War 1.