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WW1 civilian casualties - can this be right?


Jim Strawbridge
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Am I missing something?  The website http://www.100letprve.si/en/world_war_1/casualties/index.html  shows Great Britain and Ireland with 600k civilian casualties - the same number as in France. I know that there were zeppelin raids and aircraft bombing raids on the UK but this number seems extraordinarily high and surely cannot compare to the civilian losses in France where the war was on the ground. What have I not thought through properly ?

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I suspect you would need to go the source listed on the web page to see if the figures have been transcribed correctly. 600k does seem an arbitrary figure. In comparison a blanket search of FMP civil deaths and burials for 1916 +/- 2 years comes back with 4,371,401 records.

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The casualty database also comes back with Germany having 700,000 civilian deaths.  I think the figures for Britain and France, on the one hand,at 600,000 each and that for Germany at 700,00 must include some  statistical nobbling over and above deaths caused by direct violence.  I suspect that the statisticians might arrive at such figures as being the number of deaths over those "normally" expected- a situation we ,alas, are currently in with all the COVID statistics-screening out a true figure of COVID deaths against those who might/would have died anyway. -And coming up with a "surplus" over expected deaths.

    If there is a surplus, then ,for the UK, there might be 2 underlying causes:

 

1) Malnutrition as a factor in higher deaths rates.  It is well known - or it is claimed that- the Allied Blockade of Germany led to food shortages in 1917-1918- the "Potato Winter" and that malnutrition was a factor in higher death rates among the elderly, young children and those with other health problems. There is some mileage in this- it seems generally accepted that there was excess mortality fom ,say 1916 onwards because of  diet (Though always a little dubious as Germany ended up with the bread basket of the Ukraine, so it may be a matter of distribution and official priorities-let alone propaganda) 

     The same SHOULD apply to the UK- food shortages and rationing with the U-Boat campaign, especially in 1917, would have had the same effect on vulnerable groups here. Though I have not seen much mention of its effects on the death rate.

 

2) FLU

       It may be that the authors are simply counting all civilian deaths from flu as being war related- argument,say, that far fewer people would have died if they had better nutrition levels- ie That the UK had a "Potato Winter" of excess mortality over expected mortality based on that of previous years and decades.

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