The Spanish flu was the single deadliest killer of the 20th Century and it’s been almost completely forgotten by Americans and by our historians as well.
Should We Be Worried About It Happening Again?
The Spanish Flu or influenza epidemic of 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people. Some historians say even more.
The Spanish Flu killed more people than the Nazi Holocaust, World War I, World War II, or Russian Communism, as the Guardian Columnist Martin Kettle pointed out. The Spanish Flu came close to wiping out 5% of the world’s population, making it the worst pandemic since the Black Death in medieval times.
“Some people believe the Spanish Flu caused German defeat in World War I; which led to the collapse of Imperial Germany and the rise of Hitler and Nazism,” Kettle noted. That means a by-product of the Spanish Flu could have even been the Holocaust and World War II.
The Spanish Flu even came close to causing a civil war in one of the world’s most peaceful nations, Switzerland, Kettle claims. The Spanish Flu helped create the collapse of the greatest empire in history, the British Empire, by weakening colonial rule in India.
Just How Deadly Was The Spanish Flu?
The most frightening thing about the Spanish Flu is that nobody knows how deadly it was. Estimates of the death toll range from 20 million to 50 million to 100 million. The number of people infected was around 500 million.
Also frightening is the fact that nobody really knows the origin of the Spanish Flu. It simply appeared in Europe, the United States, and Asia in 1918 and started to spread rapidly. Around 675,000 people died from it in the United States.
It was called the Spanish Flu because Spain was hit especially hard, even the nation’s king; Alfonso XIII was infected. The outbreak in Spain was widely covered by journalists, while flu casualties in countries like the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom were covered up by World War I censorship.
Famous Spanish Flu victims:
• Frederick Trump grandfather of U.S. President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) died in 1918.
• U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) recovered.
• Mahatma Gandhi recovered.
• Groucho Marx recovered.
• Walt Disney recovered.
• Franz Kafka recovered.
• Turkish general Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) recovered.
• U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (D-New Jersey). Wilson fell ill in 1918, and it is not known if the flu hastened the stroke that left him mentally disabled in 1919.
• British Prime Minister Lloyd George
• King Alfonzo XIII of Spain
• Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
The Spanish Flu killed more people than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao and World War I
More U.S. soldiers died from the Spanish Flu than from combat in World War I. Around 36% of the troops in the U.S. Army and 40% of the sailors in the U.S. Navy caught the flu.
The number of casualties during World War II is 50 million to 80 million people, the World War I death toll is estimated at between 16 million and 37 million. The Nazi Holocaust death toll cost 20 million lives, around six million of whom were Jewish.
The total death toll from all Communist regimes is usually estimated at 100 million. That number includes atrocities committed by dozens of governments and guerrilla movements in dozens of countries over a 70 year period. The greatest atrocity in human history was that committed under Mao Zedong in the People’s Republic of China, where up to 65 million were murdered in the 1950s and 1960s.
Will it Happen Again?
The most frightening aspect of the Spanish Flu was it that it took 90 years for doctors to figure out why it was so deadly.
It was not until 2008 that researchers found the Spanish Flu killed most people by weakening the respiratory system making victims more vulnerable to bacterial pneumonia. The Spanish Flu spread far and wide because it developed the ability to jump from human to human with exceptional speed.
That also increased the transmission rate in the crowded trench warfare, troop trains, POW camps, and troop ships of World War I. One additional reason the 1918 epidemic was so severe was that it broke out just as the war was ending and the troops were coming home. The vast numbers of refugees caused by the Russian Revolution and the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire also spread the flu.
Scientists believe that another influenza pandemic is inevitable. The influenza virus that caused the 1918 flu is still with us. It is similar to the H1N1 virus that caused the swine flu outbreak of 2008. The 2008 outbreak caused an estimated 12,000 deaths in the United States.
There have been two other influenza pandemics since 1918. An outbreak in 1957 and 1958 killed around two million worldwide and 70,000 in the USA. Another pandemic in 1968 and 1969 killed around one million people worldwide and 34,000 Americans.
Nobody knows how deadly a modern influenza epidemic would be. Medical advances like antibiotics are likely to alleviate its effects to some degree. One thing is certain, such a virus would spread fast because of air travel. Same-day travel to almost every corner of the world seems to be an important wild card. That also means containment by quarantine would be next to impossible in today’s world.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: The All-Natural ‘Flu Shot’ The Pioneers Used
Or download our free 19-page report that discusses the best pandemic defense strategies: Pandemic Survival Secrets
What do you think is the best way to combat pandemics like the Spanish Flu? Let us know in the comments below.