World War One’s brutality is often measured in its astonishing casualty figures. Industrialised warfare led to an estimated 8.5 million combat deaths. While you cannot cost the scale of human tragedy, the carnage did cost the combatants, some $208.5 billion in today’s money. When we do some rough calculations on these two figures together, we have the macabre value of what it cost either side to kill a serviceman. In almost respect, the Central Powers spent less in absolute terms in both manpower and money, yet they ended the war defeated.
The final graph is astonishing – it cost the Allies 200% more than the Central Powers to kill an opposing serviceman. However, even with their lack of efficiency, given the vast advantage of resources the Allies had over the Central Powers, it is unsurprising they claimed victory. Unfortunately the ability to make that claim was prologued by the more efficient Central Powers.