The 5 Deadliest Wars In History: From World Wars to Civil Wars

By Duane Beckett
Credit: Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

There have been countless wars in human history. And each of them, regardless of purpose, is horrific and a tragedy.

However, it is the number of lives lost in conflict, just in recorded history, that is shocking. Some of the worst wars in history have death tolls that leave you numb.

These are the 5 deadliest wars in history:

World War I, 18 million deaths

The First World War lasted for four years, from 1914 to 1918, and in this time took the lives of nearly 18 million people. From these 18 million, 11 million were army personnel – and 7 million civilians.

Originating in Europe, the war spread all over the world and was also known as the Great War or the War to end all wars:

It was fought between Central Powers that included Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Allies included France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States, who joined in 1917.  

CHECK OUT: 5 Surprising U.S. Civil War Facts That Aren’t Common Knowledge.

Taiping Rebellion, 20 million deaths

China had a long history of rebellions and civil war, and the Taiping Rebellion is one of the worst – albeit not the bloodiest on this top-5.

The Taiping Rebellion took the lives of more than 20 million Chinese people. It was fought between 1850 and 1864, and is also know as the Taiping Civil War.

The conflict was between the Qing Dynasty and the Christian millenarian movement of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. The instigator of rebellion, Hong Xiuquan believed himself to be the son of God and brother of Jesus Christ sent to reform China.

The Qing Dynasty Conquest of the Ming Dynasty, 25 million deaths

The transition between the two major dynasties of China was one of the deadliest Civil wars in the history of the World. It took the lives of more than 25 million people.

The war lasted for around 60 years from 1618 to 1683, while some argue that it lasted until 1696. The conflict emerged between the Qing Dynasty, the incumbent Ming Dynasty, and other smaller forces in China.

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The Second Sino-Japanese War, 29 million deaths

The Second Sino-Japanese War was the second deadliest conflict in the history of the world:

Fought between the Republic of China’s Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army from 1937 to 1945 this conflict resulted in nearly 25 million civilians and 4 million soldiers dying.

It began with the Marco Polo bridge incident on the 7th of July 1937, and later became a full-scale war that lasted nearly 8 years.

It is also known as World War II in Asia. China fought this war with aid from the United States and the Soviet Union.

World War II, 70 million deaths

Most Deadliest Wars - World War 2
(Credit: Image by WikiImages from Pixabay)

The world has thankfully not seen another war like World War II:

A war, that according to some estimates, saw nearly 70 million people die. And which pulled the most powerful nations of the world into conflict.

World War II started in 1939 and went on until 1945. It was fought between Allies and an opposition called the Axis of power.

Around 300 million soldiers fought in this conflict from all around the world. Nearly every country took part; leading Axis powers included Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan. The leading nations for the Allies included the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.

50 million civilians died in the conflict, which included atrocities such as the Jewish Genocide and the bombardment of undefended cities.

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