World War II. The Numbers

The Wehrmacht in Prague 1939
The Wehrmacht in Prague 1939


The thing about World War II that just fascinates me the most are the numbers involved. The sheer magnitude of the effort boggles the mind. The number who moved across the world to deadly bloody battle, the numbers who died, the numbers who survived, the numbers of POWS. That said, here are some more numbers that few historians have ever thought about. And that is itself another example of the immensity of the event we call World War II. There are numbers of people who suffered or perished that are so vast, today these numbers would be considered a calamity of historical proportions. Yet in WWII they were hardly noted.


For example, we know that a lot of violence beset the German people. The eudemonia that prevailed after the Treaty of Versailles birthed some of the worst violence any Western country has ever seen on political turmoil. So for example, 130,000 Germans died on Hitler’s way to power.



The amount of land that the Germans took back in the Sudetenland amounted to 1,000,000 square miles.


When Hitler annexed Czechoslovakia in March 1939, 800,000 Czechs who were on the other end of the political spectrum were driven from their homes. Almost a million refugees, the first of the war were on the move. The sad thing was that Czechoslovakia was a functioning and robust democratic republic before Hitler destroyed it.


The Non Aggressive Pact between Russia and Germany was simply a ruse, an excuse for Germany to occupy Poland before they invaded Russia.


In World War II, 25% of the population of Poland died. Germans took 1.6 million Poles into slave labor.


Germany and Russia swept through Poland east to west and west to east four times.


Each time, the occupying government was crueler than the first government, each one fossicking through the population looking for another set of victims. Some of the cruel laws passed by subsequent governing parties indicated that Poles couldn’t ride buses, take public trains, walks with canes, or have gold in their teeth. Of course most of the crimes committed against the Poles were committed by the Nazis and thusly the Soviets felt they had gamed the situation and the German had done their dirty work.


But the suffering had just begun. I think the true weight and enormity of WWII is lost on history.


Source: History Channel


3 thoughts on “World War II. The Numbers”

  1. Pingback: World War II. The Numbers — War History Online

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  3. Never forget that the Pact was a ruse for both sides. Stalin wanted to break it as much as Hitler did. Hitler just beat him to the punch.
    Also, the Soviets did horrible things in Poland in 1939 too. Katyn being the most obvious case. The Soviets were a little bit more systematic here than the Nazis. The Nazis did not round up 10.000 army officers and shot them, just to prevent a Polish uprising, and prepare Poland for Communist rule.

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