At least 8.5 million soldiers had been killed and over 20 million wounded. In America’s relatively brief involvement, it suffered over 116,000 military deaths and 200,000 wounded. More than seven million civilians died, and countless others had been injured, starved, or made homeless. On top of this devastation, a global influenza (flu) pandemic in 1918 – 1919 struck down tens of millions more worldwide.
Against this backdrop of loss and suffering, the nations of the world came together in Paris to negotiate the post-war peace treaties. People around the globe hoped that the peace conference would lead to a new era of justice and cooperation.
Unfortunately, the resulting Treaty of Versailles and its related agreements failed to capture this spirit. The decisions made in fact planted the seeds of World War II and other future conflicts.
World War I marked the end of the old European order and the beginning of an era that would be dominated by other forces, including the dramatic rise of the United States as a global force. The mobilization of the U.S. economy and society, made possible by the service and sacrifice of millions of Americans, helped bring an end to the war and laid the foundation for the emergence of the U.S. as the world’s premier superpower.