By Brad Wolf / Common Dreams
The senseless slaughter of World War I began with the murder of a single man, a Crown Prince of a European empire whose name no one was particularly familiar with at the time. Archduke Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria was the presumptive heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire in June of 1914.
His assassin was a young Bosnian Serb student and the murder of the Crown Prince set off a cataclysmic series of events resulting in the deaths of over 20 million people, half of whom were civilians. An additional 20 million people were wounded.
Entire generations of young men from England, France, Russia, Austria, and Germany were lost. National economies were ruined. In economic terms, World War I caused the greatest global depression of the 20th century. Debts by all the major countries (except the USA) haunted the post-war economic world. Unemployment soared. Inflation increased, most dramatically in Germany where hyperinflation meant that a loaf of bread costs 200 million marks.
World War I ended a period of economic success. Twenty years of fiscal insecurity and suffering followed. It is thought that veterans returning home from World War I brought with them the Spanish Flu, which killed almost one million Americans. The war also laid the groundwork for World War II….