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History of the United States
Central Powers

Why were the death rates in the First World War higher than in any previous war?


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August 23, 2014 4:20AM

The death rate during the First World War was higher than it had been during previous wars was because the tactics employed by the armies that fought in it had not adapted to the technological advances that had been made since the mid-19th century. Artillery, machine guns, and barbed wire increased the power of defensive fortifications and made it difficult for infantry to attack them successfully. Regardless, World War I generals were forced to make direct attacks on fortified formations with infantry, who made up the majority of their armies. The generals never fully appreciated the difficulties involved in such attacks and did not modify their tactics until well into the war.