What were the deadliest weapons of the First World War?

Death and wounding

Shelters should protect against fire and enemy attacks. For the attackers, a storm on the opposing fortifications was far more costly than for the defenders. They died in rows in the defensive fire of the machine guns. Around half of all those killed in World War I died from artillery fire.

Every combat action was reflected in daily casualty lists. Tens of thousands of soldiers at the front in the no man's land between enemy lines were nameless dead; in the statistics they were considered "missing". Their surviving comrades were often unable to cope with the psychological and physical stresses of the war. Many lost their minds, others did not shrink from self-mutilation in order to avoid death or serious injuries. Head injuries were frequent and of particular severity as a result of inadequate protection. The effect of the weapon led to faces disfigured beyond recognition.

In order to ensure medical care for the injured soldiers in makeshift hospitals near the front, they had to be transported quickly behind the front line. It was the responsibility of the patient carriers, whose job was one of the most dangerous in the army. The wounded were transported from the field hospitals, and their frequent wound infections, along with the actual injuries, were among the most serious problems. The individual bandage packs that each soldier carried with them served to ensure the quickest possible antiseptic wound treatment on site. This broad supply of first aid material for the individual soldier first appeared in the First World War. There was often a shortage of bandages and medication in field hospitals. A shortage of morphine often meant that the hospitals were filled with the moans of the seriously wounded.

In German hospitals, in addition to the orders of knights, only the associations of the Red Cross were allowed to volunteer for nursing in the army. At the beginning of the war in 1914, the German Red Cross had 5,000 trained nurses, 1,000 auxiliary nurses and an indefinite number of helpers in the women's associations. Since the number of available nurses was insufficient during the war, the training of nursing staff began to increase as early as 1914. In field hospitals, they were confronted with wounds and diseases and epidemics. Typhus or gastrointestinal diseases were due to the unsanitary conditions in the trenches. Under these conditions, typhus in all its different types was one of the most feared epidemics. In Russia, but also on the northeast front and especially in the Balkans, the armies suffered particularly badly from typhus, the pathogen of which was transmitted by lice. Germany had largely been able to counter the spread through delousing measures.

At the end of the war in 1918 there were around 2.7 million physically and mentally disabled combatants in Germany. The terrible sight of the disfigured and mutilated with prostheses was part of everyday life in the post-war period.