The Spectator

The Spectator at war: The ‘butcher’s bill’

From The Spectator, 3 October 1914: There has been a good deal of speculation of late as to the total sum of German casualties. It is clear that they are very much greater than the official returns acknowledge. The best way to estimate them is by our own. These, since the beginning of the war, have been about thirty per cent of the men engaged. But the Germans have in the western theatre had at least one million two hundred thousand men in the field. It is difficult, then, to put their losses in killed, wounded, prisoners, and missing much below four hundred thousand, and they are probably heavier. To this stupendous figure must be added the losses on the Russian frontiers. We need not say that we take no delight in this -appalling “butcher’s bill”—to use the Duke of Wellington’s phrase. It is difficult to see how a war waged on this scale can be a long war—and yet history shows that mere losses have seldom brought wars to an end.

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