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Terrible consequences of ladder of escalation

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 26 April 2012

On Anzac day we salute those who have served our nation in times of war and conflict, we honour the memory of those who died and we aspire to follow their example by leading lives worthy of their sacrifice.

It is a day for noble sentiments about noble deeds.

As I listened to the speeches given by returned servicemen and women during a number of ANZAC commemorative services, I was struck by the cold hard facts of the reality of war.


Statistic after statistic reminds us in graphic terms of the horror of war and the suffering and sacrifice of combatants and civilians caught up in conflict.

It is estimated that more than 15 million people were killed in World War I, with over 20 million wounded.

At that time Australia had a total population of just under five million and yet around 417,000 men enlisted, with over 61,500 killed and more than 156,000 wounded or captured.

During the Second World War it is estimated that more than 60 million people died - over 20 million military personnel and over 40 million civilians.

The Soviet Union alone is estimated to have suffered more than 27 million deaths.

Millions of civilians were killed due to the unspeakable evil of the Nazi holocaust that targeted not only Jewish people but also Polish and Romani, those living with a handicap, and others deemed to be undeserving of life.


In the Asia Pacific theatres of war huge losses were inflicted on nations occupied by the Imperial Japanese forces.

Almost one million men and women from Australia served in the Second World War with almost 40,000 killed and more than 30,000 taken prisoner.

These chilling facts defy comprehension, beyond our understanding of what could motivate those responsible for the outbreak of these terrible conflicts.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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