21 World War I Facts That You Probably Didn’t Learn In School

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World War II is among the most studied battles in history, but the Great War that preceded it, more commonly referred to as World War I, set the stage in many ways. Even so, very few people are as well versed in World War I studies as they are in their studies of World War II.

Here are some interesting (and somewhat shocking) facts about World War I that you probably didn’t know until now.

1. Around 65 million men fought in the war. Of those 65 million, 10 million died.

2. Nearly two thirds of deaths in the World War I era occurred in battle, making it the first major war to kill more people than disease.

3. German trenches were built to last. They included beds, furniture, cupboards, electric lights, and even doorbells.

4. Approximately 30 different poisonous gases were used during WWI, but after the war, many countries signed treaties that outlawed their use in warfare from that point on.

5. France was the first country to use poisonous gases against an enemy. They used tear gas grenades to debilitate the opposition.

6. Some Americans disagreed with U.S.’s hesitation to enter the war, so many went to Canada to enlist and fight.

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7. A Serbian terrorist group shot and killed Franz Ferdinand, which started the devastating struggle. Germany sided with the Austro-Hungarians, while France and Russia sided with Serbia.

8. The Great War brought in a new era of warfare as it introduced gases, air fighting, and tanks. Talk about a triple threat.

9. The trench network of WWI stretched roughly 25,000 miles.

10. Mustard gas was a widely used weapon in WWI, but due to its unpredictable nature, no one used it in WWII.

11. German troops shot and killed civilians during the war as a scare tactic so that people in occupied cities wouldn’t rebel against troops.

12. In order to bolster the U.S. Army’s numbers, the government employed a draft in 1917. Approximately 2.7 million men were drafted, and 1.3 million volunteered.

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13. The Spanish Flu caused nearly one third of all deaths in WWI.

14. The total cost of WWI for the U.S. was around $30 billion.

15. Machine guns were introduced to the masses during WWI.

16. Millions of soldiers suffered from a disease known as shell-shock. It is commonly known today as PTSD.

17. This war was the deadliest conflict in history.

18. Germans were particularly skilled at intercepting and cracking Allied codes. That is until the Americans started using the Choctaw Code Talkers, who used a complex Native American language that the Germans couldn’t decode.

19. Four empires collapsed after WWI: Ottoman, German, Russian, and Austro-Hungarian.

20. The League of Nations was created after it was all said and done, which was a precursor to the United Nations.

21. WWI transformed the U.S. into the largest military power in the world.

(via Random History)

We can learn a great deal from the tactics and strategies employed in World War I, but we can learn even more from the ways in which this devastating fight impacted humanity. Let’s just hope that we aren’t faced with another world war anytime soon.

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