All wars are awful. Some wars are much, much more awful than others.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor does it comprise anything but a fraction of the overall deaths in wars in human history. Still, the five wars on this list may have collectively killed up to a quarter of a billion people.
These wars were big and upset the status quo. The Chinese Civil War turned more than half a billion people Red. World War II destroyed a totalitarian menace. Even the Mongol invasions echo in the present as an estimated 16 million people worldwide carry the genes of Genghis Khan.
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Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was fought between the forces of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The war was fought on and off for more than 20 years, from 1927 to 1950, and resulted in the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on the mainland and the Republic of China on the island of Taiwan. Some eight million were killed in a conflict complicated by the presence of Japanese forces in China.
Like all civil wars in China’s history, social disruption was the main killer and affected civilians the most. Fighting generated refugees, leaving them vulnerable to disease and starvation. Reprisals by one side against cities, towns and villages thought to be sympathetic to the other killed more civilians.