Thus far, in considering the effects of the Great War, attention has been directed almost entirely to the money outlays. While these were difficult to measure, yet some approximation could be reached. In addition to these direct costs, moreover, are many indirect costs, which are no less burdensome to individual citizens and the nation as a whole. Upon some of these costs a rough money estimate can be placed, while many others are of such an intangible nature that little more can be done at arriving at a measure of their burden than to point them out.

Loss of Life. - One of the first drains upon the resources of the nation which immediately occurs to everyone was the overwhelming destruction of productive energy through the loss of human life. This has always been a wasteful feature of war, but the number of casualties due to the Great War makes all wars of the past appear as mere pygmy occurrences. It is too soon to have accurate figures, but the estimates are near enough to the truth for purposes of comparison. The casualties of the more important wars of the nineteenth century, together with the length of duration, are as follows:1

Loss op Life in Nineteenth-century Wars

The significance of these figures becomes apparent when comparison is made with the following table. While not all the figures have been taken from official sources, they are approximately correct:

Casualties of the Great War, 1914-18

War

Duration

Dead

     

Napoleonic, 1790-1815.............

9,000 days

2,100,000

Crimean, 1854 - 56 .......................

730 "

785,000

Prussian-Danish, 1864 .....................

135 "

3,500

Prussian-Austrian,1866 ................

40 "

45,000

American Civil, 1861-65 ....................

1,350 "

700,000

Franco- Prussian, 1870-71 .....................

210 "

184,000

English-Boer, 1899-1902...........

995 "

9,800

Russian-Japanese, 1904-05 ...................

548 "

160,000

Balkan, 1912-13..................

238 "

462,000

Total.........................

 

4,449,300

Country

Known Dead

Seriously Wounded

Otherwise Wounded

Prisoners or Missing

United States...........

107,284

43,000

148,000

4,912

Great Britain .....................

807,451

617,740

1,441,394

64,907

France ...................

1,427,800

700,000

2,344,000

453,500

Russia ...........................

2,762,064

1,000,000

3,950,000

2,500,000

Italy...................

507,160

500,000

462,196

1,359,000

Belgium ......................

267,000

40,000

100,000

10,000

Serbia ..................

707,341

322,000

28,000

100,000

Rumania ....................

339,117

200,000

 

116,000

Greece ....................

15,000

10,000

30,000

45,000

Portugal ...................

4,000

5,000

12,000

200

Japan ......................

300

 

907

3

Total............

6,938,519

3,437,740

8,516,497

4,653,522

Germany ........................

1,611,104

1,600,000

2,183,143

772,522

Austria-Hungary ..............

911,000

850,000

2,150,000

443,000

Turkey ...................

436,924

107,772

300,000

103,731

Bulgaria...............

101,224

300,000

852,399

10,825

Total............

3,060,252

2,857,772

5,485,542

1,330,078

Grand Total......

9,998,771

6,295,512

14,002,039

5,983,600

1 Taken from Bogart. See note, p. 494. The next table is from the same source.

When the final results are known the list of dead will, of course, be much larger. Many who are accounted for above in the wounded and missing columns will have to be reckoned with the dead. Various estimates have been made as to what the number will be that will have to be transferred, but the most conservative would raise the list of dead to nearly 13,000,000 men. The task of placing an economic value upon this loss of life is, of course, difficult. The economic worth of men is different, and varies for different countries. Various authorities have attempted to place an estimate upon the value of human fives, yet these estimates have ranged anywhere from $1,000 to more than $6,000. In his estimation of the value of lives lost, Professor Bogart chose estimates which varied for the different countries, and assumed that one half the wounded would be incapacitated. On the basis of this calculation the value of human life given up in the war was more than $33,551,000,000. While this is necessarily more or less arbitrary, that it at least errs on the side of conservatism, if at all, is seen when the value of the men lost is arrived at by using the average worth of an individual as estimated by the various authorities. By this calculation the total loss amounts to more than $45,000,-000,000.

Other Indirect Costs. - No attempt will be made to go into detail in describing the numerous other indirect costs. Many of them have been known and felt by every reader. One which will have to be reckoned with for years to come will be the effects of disease whose start can be traced to the camps or trenches. While the medical staff was no doubt more efficient, and greater precautionary measures were taken than in any previous conflicts, yet the burden of disease will not be inconsiderable. The hardships borne by the civil population, moreover, has decreased their stamina and vitality so that they are a more ready prey to disease, and a marked increase in the death rate has already been noted. The psychic, and often the physical burden endured by the families of the men in the service, and which are still being endured where the men did not return, is of course incapable of measurement. Such phases of war must be accepted and silently borne without counting the cost.

One or two other phases, however, present features of a nature more concrete. An estimate can be placed upon the value of goods destroyed, and everyone can think of services that the states might have rendered with the funds which were used up in the war. Then there was a loss sustained by neutral countries, the loss from disturbed production in all countries, and the loss from the continued upheaval in the industrial and political world. To the costs which have been enumerated should be added, also, the vast amount spent by civilian organizations in the various phases of war work. The activities of such organizations as the Young Men's Christian Association, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Knights of Columbus, as well as the many societies for various phases of war relief, are well known.

In concluding this survey of the cost of war, nothing more significant can be done than to give Professor Bogart's summary of his carefully estimated direct and indirect costs of the Great War, followed by his conclusion.

Direct and Indirect Costs of the Great War

Total direct costs, net ......................................................

$186,333,637,097

Indirect costs:

   

Soldiers ........................................

$ 33,551,276,280

 

Civilians .......................................

33,551,276,280

 

Property costs:

On land .....................................................

29,960,000,000

 

Shipping and cargo ...........................

6,800,000,000

 

Loss of production ..................................

45,000,000,000

 

War relief .................................................

1,000,000,000

 

Loss to neutrals ..........................................

1,750,000,000

 
 

$151,612,542,560

 

Total indirect Costs .................................................................

$151,612,542,560

Grand Total...................................

$337,946,179,657

The figures presented in this summary are both incomprehensible and appalling, yet even these do not take into account the effect of the war on life, human vitality, economic well-being, ethics, morality, or other phases of human relationships and activities which have been disorganized and injured. It is evident from the present disturbances in Europe that the real costs of the war cannot be measured by the direct money outlays of the belligerents during the five years of its duration, but that the very breakdown of modern economic society might be the price exacted.1

1 Bogart, p. 299. See note, p. 494.