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Serbian losses in World War I

Created by Sal Khan.

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  • leaf orange style avatar for user Rebecca Gray
    At , Sal says the Serbian army gets 'decimated'. Doesn't 'decimated' technically refer to a loss of 10%? What would that make a 60% loss? Heximation?
    (57 votes)
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    • male robot donald style avatar for user Tartan6
      The term decimation refers to the Roman army punishment of killing one man out of every ten in a legion that was accused of cowardice or serious crimes such as mutiny or treason. In modern terms decimation refers to the almost complete destruction of an object. In military terms, destroying a unit or army to the point of ineffectiveness. With the loss of over 60% of it's men and equipment, the term decimation would be appropriate for the Serbian army.
      (89 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user samleckiejm
    In this video , they talk a lot about lives lost, but what about the economy? How did the industry suffer?
    (13 votes)
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  • leaf red style avatar for user BGG
    Why did the Serbia commanders allow the losses to get to the point they did? Why didn't they surrender before the losses got to that point? It bespeaks bad commanders, or at least, commanders who don't care for the men. Why did they try to hold out against a militarily superior opponent?
    (3 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Jared
    How many people are in Serbia are there now
    (5 votes)
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  • male robot donald style avatar for user Lohit Deva
    Were the deaths in Serbia mainly due to the war? I also read that there was an epidemic of Typhus that had also broken out during war-time.
    (4 votes)
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    • piceratops seed style avatar for user Jarum
      Typhus did break out as the Serbian's were retreating. From what I've read (http://entomology.montana.edu/historybug/wwi/tef.htm), Typhus was both a curse and a blessing to Serbian forces. It ravaged their army and civilian population, but also scared Austria from continuing their invasion and risking exposure.
      This particular outbreak was the largest on "reliable record" in Serbia.
      Because of the difficulties of cataloging deaths during periods of war, we'll probably never know the exact numbers of death that Typhus caused, but it's safe to say that with an estimated 10,000 new cases/day at its peak, you are correct in assuming Typhus as a significant contributor to Serbian deaths.
      (12 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Ilija Kocić
    At , the 16% from the populations point of view, is that percentage the 60% of the military just translated into the population perspective, or is it that the percentage of all the casualties in Serbia during WWI?
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Sandra Mitic
      Although until today, victims are not precisely calculated, it is estimated that Serbia lost 25 percent of the total population of the Kingdom of Serbia: 450,000 soldiers ( you have to take into calculation that Serbs from neighboring countries volunteered as well) and 650,000 civilians (total 1,100,000).
      (2 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Conrad Long
    At , wow. The Serbian population went down by 16%! So total, 720,000 Serbians died. I wonder how many of the civilian casualties were due to the Allies' blockade of the Central Powers and the resulting food shortages. Anybody know?
    (4 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user yiougetit
    Sadly, Serbian lost so many people, but why did they lost so much? 4.5 million only as in people, 400,000 soldiers!! They are getting tossed around, killed, destroyed, demolished, and which side did they fight on in world war 1 and 2? :(
    (0 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user ovajezafaks
      The 2 main reasons why the Serbians lost so many men is the fact that, before they were overrun, they managed to win two battles against Austria. These were the battle of Cer in witch they lost 5000 men and had 15000 wounded, while the Austrio-Hungary lost 10 000 men, 30 000 wounded and 4500 captured, and the battle of the river Kolubara in witch the Serbians lost 22 000 men, 100 000 wounded, and the Austrio-Hungaria lost 30 000, 170 000 wounded and 70 000 captured. The second reason was that, as they were retreating, they were cut off by Bulgarians who also entered the war. The only way was through the Albanian mountains (elevation 2694m) and it was winter and they were atacked by the Albanian tribes along the way. Many of them also died on the Macedonian front. These were not mentioned in the video so i hope you find them useful as an answer.
      p.s And also, during ww2 Yugoslavia lost 1 million people mainly Serbians.
      (10 votes)
  • leafers tree style avatar for user Djmikey117
    What was Spain and Portugal doing in WWI?
    (1 vote)
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  • leaf grey style avatar for user Adam Elsayed
    HOW did they lose so many men? This has always made me curious, I mean they were able to hold off Austria Hungary until Bulgaria came in, so Bulgaria joining the war, was that the reason why? That seems to make the most sense, and the evacuation going south of course
    (1 vote)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user RN
      Most soldiers in the war died as a result of starvation because of lack of food and/or water; many also died of injuries and lack of medical attention. Very few(out of a grand total of casualties) died as a result of explosives and bullets.
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

In the last video, we talked about how the Serbians were able to hold back the Austro-Hungarians at the beginning of World War I. But eventually they had to give in. They couldn't hold up against the combined forces of the Bulgarians, the Austro-Hungarians, and the Germans. And they were able to roll through in 1915. And then we wait until 1918 for the Allies to essentially recapture Serbia. Now what is noteworthy-- there's many noteworthy things in World War I and obviously we can't cover all of them-- is just what a huge loss World War I was to the Serbian people. Just as a little bit of context, very small country-- we're talking 4.5 million people as we enter into World War I-- with a reasonably, I guess relative to the size of the country, it was a decent-sized army. But with an army we're talking on the order of 400,000 soldiers. And this was pretty much everyone in the country who could be in the army was essentially in the army. Over the course of the Serbian campaign and the Macedonian front, you essentially have the Serbian army getting decimated. You have 60% of the Serbian army dies. Roughly 60% of the Serbian army is killed. And even from a population point of view, the Serbian population is reduced by 16%. 16% of the Serbian population, civilian and military, is dead by the end of World War I. So a lot of countries suffered horribly during World War I. There's many notable ones, France, the Russian Empire. We could go on and on and on. But it would be hard to argue that any country suffered more than what the Serbians did. 60% of their military dead, 16% of their population.