The Unimaginable Number Of Casualties Of World War II. A Reminder.

by Daniel Russ on June 14, 2014




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Dead Wehrmacht, Eastern Front, 1942.


In the early hours o June 22, 1941, the largest combat operation in history began. Operation Barbarossa was the German invasion of Rusia. Hitler’s visions saw the Bolsheviks, the Slavs and the Jews of Eastern Europe the cause of Germany’s problems, and the reason for its fall from grace and loss of primacy. The Germans had almost won World War I. On the battlefield, they had taken the Russians out of the fight, the British were in retreat. The French were ready to negotiate. The surrender and the Treaty of Versailles split Germany in two for decades. The Wehrmacht felt utterly betrayed and the tired public was just happy that the war had ended. The draconian punishments inside the treaty created an entire generation of Germans living in abject poverty, seething in anger for the unnecessary suffering. Now Hitler had an Army unmatched on he planet. After watching he tiny Finnish Army humiliated Russia in the Winter War in 1929, Hitler was certain that Russia would take a few weeks more than the six weeks it took to conquer France.


The weakly led Russian Army of the West was no match for the machine like discipline of the Germans. Barbarossa ended on December 5th 1942. By the end of June the Germans had killed 486,000 Russians, and taken 310,000 POWs.


In September 1942 the Wehrmacht surrounded Kiev and killed 616,000 Russians and took 600,000 Russian POWs.  The  Einsatzsgrupen followed Army Group Center. This was an SS division purpose built to kill Jews, Communists, the mentally ill, Slavs and Bolsheviks left behind the advancing German Army. They culled 33,771 Jews out of Kiev, marched them into the woods at Babi Yar and in three days of shooting, killed each of them.


In Odessa, they killed 39,000 Jews.


In Rumbula Forest outside of Riga they killed 28,000 Jews.  By April of 1945, the Einsatzsgrupen had killed 518,388 Jews and Communists.


Of the 5.7 million total Russian POWs the Germans captured, 3.3 million of them died of starvation, cold, disease, torture, work, neglect or outright murder.


In the Battle of Stalingrad, 750,000 soldiers died. Over 140,000 civilians died there.


In the Battle of Leningrad, as many as 1,000,000 people died just from starvation.


In the Singapore Campaign, 85,000 British forces surrender without firing a shot, creating the largest British defeat in history. Most of the soldiers were Indian troops under British command.


The US 125,000 man garrison that surrendered saw 75% die in the Bataan Death March where anyone who fell or stumbled was shot or beaten.


By 1945, over 8,000,000 foreigners had been captured and brought into Germany as slaves. There were an additional 2 million slaves in German territory already. Most of these people died in captivity.


In the Pacific theatre, the Japanese had replevined almost one fifth of the surface of the Earth into their empire. The Japanese Army was working its way westward towards India and had supply problems when the Americans entered the war. So the Japanese had to build railways in the thick jungles of Southeast Asia. 100,000 indigenous people captured and placed into slavery died in forced labor while some 16,000 Allied POWs died making these railways.


When the British Army was on the move through India they took control of the railways and truck routes, all the only way people in Eastern Indian shipped into their homes. With no food transportation, as many as 3,000,00 Indians starved to death before nayone even noticed.


The Japanese dropped choleric materials on Chinese villages and killed 200,000 that way alone.


Over 225,000 Germans died defending Berlin and 78,000 Soviets died taking it.


The thing about the death rate in WWII is that you can look in almost any direction and see casualties that simply stun the senses. Battles where the dead outnumber the populations of whole towns. Unidentified bodies, nameless faceless victims of a firestorm of death the liked of which the world will never see again and hopefully that is the case.


Perhaps, as some academic sources site, 85 million people died.


Oh my God.




Matthew White’sThe Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities. by Matthew White. W. W. Norton & Company (2011),   “Second”Second Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm””




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