Total casualties of the First World War are difficult to quantify, particularly when attempting to add civilian death tolls. After all, the biggest proportion of deaths was actually caused by disease, rather than directly from hostilities – and giving an exact figure of how many people died as a cause of the war and disease is obviously very difficult.
Estimates of total dead range from 15 million up to 17 million, making it the deadliest conflict in Europe up until that point. However, was not, as is often suggested, the deadliest conflict ever – there were numerous conflicts in Medieval Asia that claimed more lives. However, it lasted just over four years, while most other massive conflicts took place over decades and sometimes centuries – thus it had the deadliest concentration of killing for any conflict up to that point. It was only surpassed by World War Two.
Total World War One Dead & Missing per Country:
In terms of total military and civilian deaths, fighting on two fronts led to Germany losing the most, with 2,037,000 killed in total. While Russian records of the death toll are not as complete as other Great Powers, it is likely that 1.8 million soldiers and civilians perished. France also suffered badly, with 1,385,300 killed and missing.
Mobilised Forces vs. Casualties Infographic:
The infographic below, first published on The Economist illustrates the comparison of men mobilised to fight vs. total casualties.