Monday, 3 November 2014

Remembering World War One

Went to the Tower of London yesterday to see the 888,246 ceramic poppies planted in the moat - each one representing a British military death in World War One. Although I arrived early, there were already hundreds of people there.

In spite of the precision on British losses implied by the number of poppies at the Tower, there is much less certainty about overall casualties in the Great War, partly because of the immense social dislocation the conflict brought, with four of the combatants facing revolutions around its end.

Estimates put the total number of military deaths at more than 8 and a half million, with Germany and Russia each suffering about one and three quarter million, and Austria-Hungary and France each losing well over a million.

Coming up with an authoritative figure for the civilians who perished through massacre, accident, disease, hunger, exposure and hardship is even more difficult, but some estimates put the number even higher than that for military casualties, at around 13 million.

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