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The war had come at a time of unprecedented prosperity for Europe, and that prosperity and productive capacity were used to fuel a vast killing machine.Once the killing stopped, Europe's economies did not return to their prewar expansion. Mass poverty among the working classes led to rapid inflation, and politicians could do little to stop it.Multiply the number of soldiers dead by the number of lives these deaths touched—parents, family, friends—and the toll of war mounts even higher.
Empires were shattered, governments fell, and violent and destructive regimes came to power in several of the combatant countries.
Perhaps the only country to truly benefit from the war was the United States, which emerged as the world's greatest power.
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.
Austria-Hungary had the highest casualty rate—90 percent—followed by Russia at 76 percent and France at 73 percent.
Modern weapons like machine guns, fragmenting artillery, and poison gas injured soldiers of every country and sent them back to their families shattered and often disfigured.Almost every other combatant was drained nearly to destruction by the conflict. It merely set the stage for a war that would surpass it in its measures of death and destruction—World War II.The total number of dead soldiers—8,600,000 men, or more than 5,600 soldiers killed per day for the duration of the war—is the baseline from which all other assessments of the war's cost must begin.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.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.o matter how they are measured, the costs of World War I were enormous.Undoubtedly, the most tragic and devastating of the losses caused by the war was the loss of life.These shell-shocked men often received little sympathy from a public that did not yet understand the psychological effects of war.Many referred to those killed or wounded in the First World War as a "lost generation," using the phrase made famous by American author Gertrude Stein.