List of Major Wars [Death Toll]


War creates an enormous death toll, and is recognized as a human rights violation.

This article will introduce the major wars and their death toll.

We hope our readers will realize that the number of lives one war can take is astounding.

List of Major Wars by Death Toll

List of Major Wars by Death Toll

These are the major wars of history in order of death toll.

  1. World War II
  2. Taiping Rebellion
  3. Second Sino-Japanese War
  4. World War I
  5. Russian Civil War
  6. Thirty Years’ War

The death tolls are estimations and are not the exact death toll numbers.

Additionally, the death toll numbers may change based on the definition of war or place it took place.

World War II

An estimated total of 40 million civilians and 20 million soldiers lost their lives between 1939 and 1945, during World War II.

A large portion of the death toll came from countries of extensive size, such as the Soviet Union and Republic of China.
The lives of civilians lost made up a very significant portion of the World War II death toll.

Human rights violations, along with the modernization of weapons and technology created an astounding death toll during World War II.

The Holocaust, which began in Germany, is one of the most famous examples of a human rights violation during World War II.

Millions of Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust.

Jews were targeted and executed simply because they were Jewish. Their human rights were completely disregarded.

The massive reverberations this massacre and human rights violation had played a great part.

The modernization of weapons and technology also played a major part in the death toll of World War II.

Modern weapons such as tanks and guns were used in World War II.

The lethality of the weapons brought the death toll up greatly.
The atomic bomb was also first used in World War II.

Reference : “The United Nations remembers the dead of WWII – UN News”

Reference : “‘Voices of resistance, resilience and courage’ – UN News podcast bears witness to lives beyond the Holocaust – UN News”

Reference : “The Holocaust – The National Archives”

Taiping Rebellion

The Taiping Rebellion is one of the religious wars fought in 1851.

The death toll of the Taiping Rebellion is estimated at 20 million.

It is said that the large death toll was a result of it being a religious, drawn-out war.

The Taiping Rebellion continued for over 10 years.

There were many massacres during those 10 years.

Wars that continue for a long period will naturally produce even more deaths.

The Taiping Rebellion not only continued for a long period of time; it was also a religious war.

The Taiping Rebellion is a major example of a religious war.

Even more so, the Taiping forces were not willing to negotiate.

Therefore, there was no solution to be found in order to end the war, and it continued for over 10 years.

It is also said that the coup d’état and conflict within the Taiping army led to an increase in the death toll.

Second Sino-Japanese War

The death toll of the Second Sino-Japanese War is estimated at 1.5 million.

However, China published an estimated death toll of 30 million.

The Second Sino-Japanese War was a result of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

Many instances of human rights violations were reported during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Nanking Massacre is one of them.

The Imperial Japanese Army occupied Nanking and murdered hundreds of thousands of people in Nanking.

There are no official numbers for the death toll.

There are reports that it was non-military women who were targeted during the attacks.

If these reports are accurate, it would be a horrendous human rights violation.

Reference : “Outbreak of the war : Japan and China dispatch troops to Korea, fighting begins – Declaration of war – Japan Center for Asian Historical Record”

Reference : “Nanjing Massacre – USC Shoah Foundation”

World War I

The death toll of World War I is estimated at more than 10 million.

There were also about 20 million wounded during the war.

This large death toll was a result of the war between powerful nations, with modernized weapons in the hands of all nations.

The main powers during World War I were all major nations.

Forces on both sides were up against equally strong opponents, leading to the deaths of countless soldiers and civilians.

Even more, modernized weapons were used during World War I.

The lethality of modern weapons increased the death toll massively.

World War I was a war between major nations with comparable forces and resources. In addition, both sides had access to modernized weapons which increased the death toll even more.

Reference : “U.S. Entry into World War I, 1917  Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute – United States Department of State”

Reference : “Timeline (1914 – 1921) – A World at War – Articles and Essays”

Russian Civil War

The death toll of the Russian Civil War is estimated at 1.2 million.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Bolshevik government came to power.

However, there were many people who opposed the Bolshevik regime.

This tension between the people started the civil war.

The Russian Civil War was essentially fought between communists and anti-communists.

The victory of the Red Army (Russian National Military Forces) became a milestone in history.

There was a major human rights violation that occurred during the Russian Civil War.

The human rights violation was the Nikolayevsk Incident.

The Red Army captured and occupied Nikolayevsk, and then executed the residents.

A massacre of this extent is no doubt a significant human rights violation in history.

Reference : “War and Revolution in Russia 1914 – 1921 – BBC”

Thirty Years’ War

The Thirty Years’ War took place in the Holy Roman Empire in 1618.

The death toll is estimated at 8 million.

The death toll was about one-third to maybe even half of the population of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany today).

The death toll of the Thirty Years’ War was immense.

The Thirty Years’ War was originally a religious war mainly fought in what is modern day Germany.

However, the surrounding countries eventually joined the war, becoming allies to either side, which made the war extensive and ruinous.

The war continued, becoming one of the longest wars in history with countless lives lost.

Reference : “The Thirty Years War – BBC”」

The Consequences of War

The Consequences of War

War has many consequences, especially in the following three topics.

  • Violations of Children’s Human Rights
  • Destruction of Nature
  • Violations of Women’s Rights

Violations of Children’s Human Rights

Children’s human rights are violated the moment war breaks out.

If children are mobilized as military power for war, they cannot receive proper education.

War creates food shortages and dangerous situations, meaning children cannot eat a proper meal nor secure their basic human rights.

The United Nations made the following statement about children in wartime.

It is urgent for all parties to actively work towards a political solution of the conflict if they hope to save children from further harm

Reference : “Yemen: Endless suffering of children continues due to war, aid crisis – UN News”

It is unacceptable that children’s human rights are abandoned in wartime.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that basic human rights are a guarantee, no matter where one is in the world or the political circumstances.

War is not a reason for human rights violations to be justified nor excused.

Destruction of Nature

War causes major destruction of nature.

A great deal of fuel is needed to fight a war, meaning the carbon dioxide emissions are extensive.

Carbon dioxide emission is one of the main causes of climate change.

The movement of large machinery and vehicles can have extensive damage on the terrain and the geodiversity of the land.

The bombing of cities and urban areas will create rubble and debris that contaminate the air and soil.

Pollution can cause major damage to infrastructure that is susceptible to environmental change, such as the light industry and water filtration plants.

With these examples, we can conclude that the consequences of war are vast.

A representative from the United Nations made the following statement regarding environmental harm and war.

However, the exploitation of natural resources and related environmental stresses can be implicated in all phases of the conflict cycle, from contributing to the outbreak and perpetuation of violence to undermining prospects for peace

Reference : “Step up action to protect the planet during wartime: UN environment chief – UN News”

The destruction of nature can be both an outcome of war, and the motive for one to begin.

The world must keep their attention on the conflict over the possession of resources and the destruction of nature.

Reference : “How does war damage the environment? – CEOBS”

Violations of Women’s Rights

There have been many reports of violations of women’s rights in wartime.

Men not treating women with respect is one example of a violation that has been reported on countless occasions.

War is never an excuse to violate women’s rights.

Women’s basic rights must be protected even in times of war.

A representative from the United Nations made the following statement regarding women’s rights in wartime.

Local civil society organizations, many of them women’s organizations, are on the frontlines of our efforts to prevent and provide redress for this crime, and they deserve our strong and consistent support.

Reference : “Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate – UN News”

Even the United Nations is keeping track of violations of women’s rights during the war, and showed continued support for the victims.

Reference : “A Brief Survey of Women’s Rights – the United Nations”

Comprehending War

Comprehending War

Needless to say, war takes away countless lives.

Learning about war and the lives lost is our obligation as human beings living today.

Please use this article as a way to gain an understanding of the consequences of a war and comprehend the number of irreplaceable lives that were taken because war.

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