Nations had bor rowed heavily to finance their war efforts, and they spent years following the war struggling to repay their debts.
Just as the political problems left at the end of World War I led inevitably to World War II, the economic troubles of European nations contributed to the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s.
Besides the huge number of dead soldiers, there were other military loses.
Armies counted the cost of waging war in terms of casualties—the total number of men killed, wounded, taken prisoner, or missing.
All told, the Allied forces had a casualty rate of about 52 percent—22 million of the 42 million men sent to war.
The Central Powers lost 15 million of the 23 million men they mobilized, a 65 percent casualty rate.Several economists, however, have attempted a rough estimate.Shortly after the war, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace estimated that the war cost the world over 7 billion; a later estimate, quoted by Niall Ferguson in The Pity of War, sets the cost at 8 billion.Many men bore scars or carried chunks of shrapnel in their bodies, but could continue with their lives. Some lost arms and legs and could not return to jobs.Many were wounded in the face, some so badly that their faces had to be reconstructed.The combatant countries threw millions of dollars into the war effort, straining their economies during the war and for years thereafter. Was anything settled by this four-year killing contest?In the aftermath of the war, Europe was in worse shape than it was when the war began.We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.Because it is impossible to place a price tag on human life, calculating the total costs of the war is a difficult task.Many soldiers, of course, were lost in battle, but many other soldiers and civilians simply felt lost after the end of the war.All the truths about national honor and virtue seemed to have been destroyed by the war, and many writers and thinkers wondered how to make sense of the new, modern world.