World War II losses of the Soviet Union from all related causes were about 27,000,000, both civilian and military,although exact figures are disputed. The 20 million number was considered official during the Soviet era. The post-Soviet government of Russia puts the Soviet war 'losses' at 26.6 million, on the basis of the 1993 study by the Russian Academy of Sciences, including people dying as a result of battle and war related exposure. This includes 8,668,400 military deaths as calculated by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia; a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation; and additional scientific and social units such as libraries, publishing units, and hospitals.
The figures published by the Russian Ministry of Defense have been accepted by most historians outside Russia (see Western scholars table below). However, the official figure of 8.7 million military deaths has been disputed by some Russian historians who believe that the number of dead and missing POWs is not correct and new research is necessary to determine actual losses.Officials at the Russian Central Defense Ministry Archive (CDMA) maintain that their database lists the names of roughly 14 million dead and missing service personnel. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in 2009 that "data about our losses haven't been revealed yet...We must determine the historical truth." He added that more than 2.4 million people are still officially considered missing in action, of the 9.5 million persons buried in mass graves, 6 million are unidentified. Some Russian politicians and journalists put the total number of losses in the war, both civilian and military, at over 40 million.
The Central Archives of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation are located in Podolsk, just south of the city of Moscow.
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is a Russian politician who has served as the Prime Minister of Russia since 2012. From 2008 to 2012, Medvedev served as the third President of Russia.
A mass grave is a grave containing multiple human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. The United Nations has defined a criminal mass grave as a burial site containing three or more victims of execution. Mass graves are usually created after a large number of people die or are killed, and there is a desire to bury the corpses quickly for sanitation concerns. Although mass graves can be used during major conflicts such as war and crime, in modern times they may be used after a famine, epidemic, or natural disaster. In disasters, mass graves are used for infection and disease control. In such cases, there is often a breakdown of the social infrastructure that would enable proper identification and disposal of individual bodies.
1993 Russian Ministry of Defense report authored by a group headed by General G. I. Krivosheev detailed military casualties.Their sources were Soviet reports from the field and other archive documents that were secret during the Soviet era, including a secret Soviet General Staff report from 1966–68. Krivosheev's study puts Soviet military dead and missing at 8.7 million and is often cited by historians. In April 2016 the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation issued a statement that put Soviet military war dead at 8.8 million. Krivosheev maintains that the figure of 8.668 million is correct because it excludes called up reservists that were never inducted, men who were duplicated as conscripts because they were conscripted again into the Soviet army and Navy during the war as territories were being liberated and non-combat related causes. The statistic of 8.668 million military dead includes only the combat related deaths of the forces in the field units of the Army and Navy A1 and does not include civilian support forces in rear areas, conscripted reservists killed before being listed on active strength, militia units, and Soviet partisan dead, Krivosheev maintains that they should be included with civilian war losses.
Grigoriy Fedotovich Krivosheyev is a Russian military historian and a retired Colonel General of the Russian military. He is mostly known in the West, via an alternative transliteration of his name, Krivosheev, as the editor of a book on Soviet military casualties in the 20th century, which was translated and published in English.
|Dead and missing||Wounded and sick|
|Battle of Khalkhin Gol 1939||9,703||15,952|
|Invasion of Poland 1939||1,475||2,383|
|Winter War 1939–40||126,875||264,908|
|World War II 1941–45||8,668,400||22,326,905|
(inculding 14,685,593 wounded and 7,641,312 sick)
The schedule below summarizes Soviet casualties from 1941–1945.
|KIA or died of wounds||6,329,600|
|Missing in action||500,000|
|Noncombat deaths of units at the front|
(sickness, accidents, etc.)
|Died or killed while POW||1,283,200|
|Total irrecoverable losses (from listed strength)||8,668,400|
|Missing in action||500,000|
|Missing later re-conscripted||940,000|
|POW returned to USSR||1,836,000|
|Total reported missing||4,559,000|
Krivosheev's analysis shows that 4,559,000 were reported missing (including 3,396,400 per field reports and an additional 1,162,600 estimated based on German documents), out of which 500,000 were missing and presumed dead, 939,700 were re-conscripted during the war as territories were liberated, 1,836,000 returned to the U.S.S.R. after the war, while the balance of 1,283,300 died in German captivity as POWs or did not return to the USSR.Krivoshhev wrote, "According to German sources 673,000 died in captivity. Of the remaining 1,110,300, Soviet sources indicate that over half also died in captivity". Sources published outside of Russia put total POW dead at 3.0 million. Krivosheev maintains that this figure based on German sources includes civilian personnel that were not included in the reports of the Army and Navy field forces. In a 1999 article Krivosheev noted that after the war 180,000 liberated POWs did not return to the USSR and most likely settled in other countries, Krivosheev did not mention this in the English language translation of his study. According to declassified documents from the Soviet archives 960,039 surviving Soviet military POW were turned over to the Soviet authorities by the Western powers and 865,735 were released by the Soviet forces in territory they occupied.
|Army & Navy strength - June 1941||4,902,000|
|Drafted during war||29,575,000|
|Discharged during war||(9,693,000)|
|Army & Navy strength in June 1945||(12,840,000)|
|Losses of conscripted reservists 1941 not officially inducted||(500,000)|
|Subtotal: operational losses||11,444,000|
|Missing later re-conscripted||(940,000)|
|Liberated POW returned to USSR||(1,836,000)|
The June 1945 force strength of 12,840,000 included 11,390,600 on active service; 1,046,000 in hospital; and 403,200 in civilian departments.
|Returned to duty||(10,530,750)||(6,626,493)||(17,157,243)|
|Died (also included in irrecoverable losses)||(1,104,110)||(267,394)||(1,371,504)|
|Description||Irrecoverable losses||Wounded & sick||Total losses|
|1941 3rd Q||2,129,677||687,626||2,817,303|
|1941 4th Q||1,007,996||648,521||1,656,517|
|1942 1st Q||675,315||1,179,457||1,854,772|
|1942 2nd Q||842,898||706,647||1,549,545|
|1942 3rd Q||1,224,495||1,283,062||2,507,557|
|1942 4th Q||515,508||941,896||1,457,404|
|1943 1st Q||726,714||1,425,692||2,152,406|
|1943 2nd Q||191,904||490,637||682,541|
|1943 3rd Q||803,856||2,060,805||2,864,661|
|1943 4th Q||589,955||1,567,940||2,157,895|
|1944 1st Q||570,761||1,572,742||2,143,503|
|1944 2nd Q||344,258||965,208||1,309,466|
|1944 3rd Q||510,790||1,545,442||2,056,232|
|1944 4th Q||338,082||1,031,358||1,369,440|
|1945 1st Q||557,521||1,594,635||2,152,156|
|1945 2nd Q||243,296||618,055||861,351|
|Campaign in Far East||12,031||24,425||36,456|
|Subtotal operational losses: Army & Navy||11,285,057||18,344,148||29,629,205|
|Add: losses border/internal service troops||159,100|
|Subtotal: operational losses||11,444,100|
|Less: missing later re-conscripted||(939,700)|
|Less: liberated POW returned to USSR||(1,836,000)|
|Total irrecoverable losses||8,668,400|
Krivosheev's group estimated losses for the early part of the war, because from 1941–1942 no surrounded or defeated divisions reported their casualties. Thus field reports from that period are regarded by historians as unreliable.
Total wounded and sick includes 15,205,592 wounded, 3,047,675 sick and 90,881 frostbite cases.
Frostbite occurs when exposure to low temperatures causes freezing of the skin or other tissues. The initial symptom is typically numbness. This may be followed by clumsiness with a white or bluish color to the skin. Swelling or blistering may occur following treatment. The hands, feet, and face are most commonly affected. Complications may include hypothermia or compartment syndrome.
Field reports stated the number of wounded and sick as 18,344,148, while the records of the military medical service show a total of 22,326,905. According to Krivosheev the difference can be explained by the fact that the medical service included sick personnel who did not take part in the fighting.
|Age group||Total losses||% of total losses|
|Under 20 years||1,560,000||18.0|
|over 50 years||86,700||1|
|All age groups||8,668,400||100|
Krivosheev's analysis has generally been accepted by historians, however his study has been disputed by some independent researchers in Russia. His critics maintain that he underestimated the number of missing in action and POW deathsand deaths of service personnel in rear area hospitals. Makhmut Gareev, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR, maintains that the published information on Soviet casualties is the work of the individual authors and not based on official data. According to Gareev the Russian government has not disclosed the actual losses in the war.
|Killed in action||5,226,800|
|Died of wounds||1,102,800|
(disease, accidents etc.)
|Missing in action and POWs taken||5,059,000|
|Less: inducted reservists not in field units|
(disputed,see note below)
|Less: re-conscripted Pows and missing|
(disputed,see note below)
|Total POWs returned from captivity||-1,836,000|
Western historians estimate 3.3 million dead out of 5.7 million total Soviet POW captured.According to German figures 5,734,000 Soviet POWs were taken Between 22 June 1941 and the end of the war, roughly 5.7 million members of the Red Army fell into German hands. In January 1945, 930,000 were still in German camps. A million at most had been released, most of whom were so-called ‘volunteers’ (Hilfswillige) for (often compulsory) auxiliary service in the Wehrmacht. Another 500,000, as estimated by the Army High Command, had either fled or been liberated. The remaining 3,300,000 (57.5 percent of the total) had perished.". However, according to Krivosheev the Germans claimed to have captured up to 5.750 million POWs, he maintains that the figures in Nazi propaganda included civilians and military reservists that were caught up in the German encirclement's. Krivosheev puts the number of Soviet military POW that actually were sent to the camps at 4,059,000. Krivosheev maintained that the figure of 3.0 million POW dead reported in western sources included partisans, militia and civilian men of military age taken as POWs in the early stages of the war in 1941. In addition to the German held POW Romania captured 82,090 Soviet POWs, 5,221 died, 3,331 escaped, and 13,682 were released Finland captured 64,188 Soviet POWs, at least 18,318 were documented to have died in Finnish prisoner of war camps.
In 2000 S. N. Mikhalevpublished a study of Soviet casualties. From 1989 to 1996 he was an associate of the Institute of Military History of the Ministry of Defence. Mikhalev disputed Krivosheev's figure of 8.7 million military war dead, he put Soviet military dead at more than 10.9 million persons based on his analysis of those conscripted. He maintained that the official figures could not be reconciled to the total men drafted and that POW deaths were understated. Mikhalev put the total irreplaceable losses at 13.7 million; he believed that the official figures understated POW and missing losses, that the deaths of service personnel convicted of offenses were not included with the overall losses and that the number who died of wounds was understated.
|Army & Navy - June 1941||4,902,000||4,704,000||(198,000)|
|Drafted during war||29,575,000||29,575,000||0|
|Discharged during war||(9,693,000)||(9,693,000)||0|
|Army & Navy – June 1945||(12,840,000)||(11,999,000)||841,000|
|Subtotal: operational losses||11,444,000||12,587,000||1,143,000|
|Liberated POW returned to USSR||(1,836,000)||(1,836,000)||0|
|Losses of NKVD & border troops||0||159,000||159,000|
|Losses in the Far East August 1945||0||12,000||12,000|
|Total irrecoverable losses||8,668,000||10,922,000||2,254,000|
S. N. Mikhalev included in his figure irrecoverable losses the deaths of 994,300 Soviet military personnel that were convicted of offences during the course of the war (422,700 sent to penal battalions, 135,000 executed and 436,600 imprisoned)Steven Rosefielde estimated 1 million military deaths of men drafted from the Gulag into penal suicide battalions
An alternative method is to determine losses from the Russian Military Archives database of individual war dead. S. A. Il'Enkov, an official at the Russian Military Archives, maintained that the "complex military situation at the front did not always allow for the conduct of a full accounting of losses, especially in the first years of the war" He pointed out that in the reports from the field units did not include deaths in rear area hospitals of wounded personnel. Il'Enkov maintained that the information in the Russian Military Archives alphabetical card-indexes "is a priceless treasure of history, which can assist in resolving the problems of the price of Soviet victory"Il'Enkov maintained it could provide an accurate accounting of war losses. He concluded by stating, "We established the number of irreplaceable losses of our Armed Forces at the time of the Great Patriotic War of about 13,850,000. A more recent compilation made in March 2008 of the individuals listed in the card files put total dead and missing at 14,241,000 (13,271,269 enlisted men and 970,000 officers) This database does not include all men killed in the war; graves registration teams continue to identify war dead who are not currently included.
Critics in Russia of the official figures base their arguments analyses of documents in the Soviet archives and on alternative demographic models of the Soviet population during the Stalin era. They requested that the Russian government reinvestigate the subject. Critics and their arguments include:
Andreev, Darski and Karkova (ADK) put total losses at 26.6 million. The authors did not dispute Krivoshev's report of 8.7 million military dead. Their demographic study estimated the total war dead of 26.6 million included 20.0 million males and 6.6 million females. In mid-1941 the USSR hosted 8.3 million more females; by 1946 this gap had grown to 22.8 million, an increase of 13.5 million. 78:
In 2002 Krivosheev defended his report. He maintained that it was derived in a scientific manner by a team of professional researchers who had access to the military archives and that it reflected a realistic view of casualties based on the operational situation during the war. He maintained that the database of individual war dead is unreliable, because some personnel records are duplicated and others omitted.
A 1995 paper published by the M.V. Philimoshin, an associate of the Russian Defense Ministry, put the civilian death toll in the regions occupied by Germany at 13.7 million. Philimoshin cited sources from Soviet era to support his figures and used the terms "genocide" and "premeditated extermination" when referring to deaths of 7.4 million civilians caused by direct, intentional violence. Civilians killed in reprisals during the Soviet partisan war account for a major portion.Philimoshin estimated that civilian forced laborer deaths in Germany totaled 2.1 million . Germany had a policy of forced confiscation of food that resulted in famine deaths of an estimated 6% of the population or 4.1 million. Russian government sources currently cite these civilian casualty figures in their official statements.
|Deaths caused by the result of direct, intentional actions of violence||7,420,379|
|Deaths of forced laborers in Germany||2,164,313|
|Deaths due to famine and disease in the occupied regions||4,100,000|
E.M. Andreev, L.E. Darski and T. L. Kharkova ("ADK") authored The Population of the Soviet Union 1922–1991, which was published by the Russian Academy of Science in 1993. Andreev worked in the Department of Demography Research Institute of the Central Statistical Bureau (now the Research Institute of Statistics of Federal State Statistical Service of Russia). The study estimated total Soviet war losses of 26.6 million. As of 2015 this was the official Russian government figure for total losses.These losses are a demographic estimate rather than an exact accounting.
|Population in June 1941||196,700,000|
|Births during war||12,300,000|
|Death by natural causes during war of those alive before war||(11,900,000)|
|War related deaths of those alive before war||(25,300,000)|
|War related deaths of those born during war||(1,300,000)|
|Total population Jan. 1, 1946||170,500,000|
|Age Group||Mid 1941–Males (millions)||1941–45 Male War Deaths (millions)||% Age Group||Mid 1941–Females (millions)||1941–45 Female War Deaths (millions)||% Age Group||Mid 1941–Total Population (millions)||1941–45 Total War Deaths (millions)||% Age Group||Excess Male Deaths (Millions)|
|All Age Groups||94.415||20.051||21.2%||102.746||6.562||6.4%||197.161||26.613||13.5%||13.489|
Another study, The Demographic History of Russia 1927–1959, analyzed voters in the February 1946 Soviet election to estimate the surviving population over the age of 18 at the end of the war. The population under 18 was estimated based on the 1959 census. Official records listed 101.7 million registered voters and 94.0 million actual voters, 7.7 million less than the expected figure. ADK maintained that the official results of the 1946 election are not a good source for estimating the population. They claimed that the total of expected voters should be increased by 10.5 million because the roll of voters excluded those deprived of their rights, in prison or in exile. ADK maintained that many young military men did not participate in the election, and an overestimation of women in rural areas without internal passports who sought to avoid compulsory heavy labor. Included in the voter total were 29.9 million "excess" women. However number of expected voters estimated by ADK the gap between males and females was 21.4 million, which approximates the 20.7 million gap revealed by the 1959 census. The prewar population of 1939 (including the annexed territories) had an excess of 7.9 million females. The ADK analysis found that the gap had increased by about 13.5 million.
Russian demographer Rybakovsky found a wide range of estimates for total war dead. He estimated the actual population in 1941 at 196.7 million and losses at 27–28 million. He cited figures that range from 21.7–46 million. Rybakovsky acknowledged that the components used to compute losses are uncertain and disputed.
Population estimates for mid-1941 range from 191.8–200.1 million, while the population at the end of 1945 range from 167.0 million up to 170.6 million. Based on the pre-war birth rate, the population shortfall was about 20 million births in 1946. Some were born and died during the war, while the balance was never born. Only rough estimates are available for each group. Estimates for the population of the territories annexed from 1939–45 range from 17 to 23 million persons.
Rybakovsky provided a list of the various estimates of Soviet war losses by Russian scholars since 1988.
|Analyst||Deaths (in millions)|
|A. Kvasha (1988)||26–27|
|A. Samsonov (1988)||26–27|
|Yu. Polyakov (1989)||26–27|
|L.L. Rybakovsky (1989)||27–28|
|I. Kurganov (1990)||44|
|S. Ivanov (1990)||46|
|E. M. Andreev (1990)||26.6|
|A. Samsonov (1991)||26–27|
|A. Shevyakov (1991)||27.7|
|A. Shevyakov (1992)||29.5|
|V. Eliseev, S. Mikhalev (1992)||21.8|
|A. Sokolov (1995)||21.7–23.7|
|Boris Sokolov (1998)||43.3|
The work of independent researcher Nikolai Savchenko has been published on the Russian website Demoscope WeeklySavchenko puts the total population loss due to the war at 25.1 million persons(16.0 million men of draft age 7.7 million civilians and 1.4 million persons who left the USSR after the war)
Savchenko analyzed the structure of the population in 1959 census giving a detailed breakout of the gap between women and men, he pointed out that in the draft age population born between 1889-1928 there were 18.43 million more women than men, in 1939 census the gap was 3.48 million, the balance of 15.0 million more women occurring during the war years. The loss of men during the war years increased by 6.5 times, the loss of women in the war years was 3 times higher than the normal peacetime, children — 2 times, the elderly —1.5 times. The excessive loss of civilians (women, children, the elderly) during the war amounted to 7.4 million people, on the territory occupied by the Nazis, 4.05 million civilians died in excess of the normal conditions. Among them there were approximately 2.1 million Jews — victims of genocide. Thus, non-Jewish victims among civilians in the occupied lands account for about 1.95 million. And not all of them were victims of terror by the invaders. Some of them died as a result of deteriorated living conditions or in the course of hostilities (assaults, shelling and bombings) In the rear territories, the excessive mortality of civilians (women, children, the elderly, excluding men) amounted to 3.34 million — about 1.5 times greater than the loss of the non-Jewish population in the occupied areas. Such a high mortality rate in the Soviet rear can easily be explained by systematic malnutrition, extreme housing conditions, lack of medical care, excessive physical labor by millions of women and teenagers; all of the above particularly affected refugees, evacuated and deported people.
In 2017 the Russian historian Igor Ivlev put Soviet war dead at 42 Million people(19.4 million military and 22.6 million civilians). According to Ivlev Soviet State Planning Committee documents put the Soviet population at 205 million in June 1941 and 169.8 million for June 1945. Taking into account the 17.6 million births and 10.3 million natural deaths, leaving almost 42 million in war-related losses according to his research. The details of Ivlev's calculations were first announced at a parliamentary readings about the number of losses of the USSR during the Great Patriotic War.Ivlev's figures are endorsed by the Russian civic organization Immortal Regiment and have been discussed in the Russian media recently. Ivlev has published a summary of his arguments on the Russian website Demoscope Weelky. According to Ivlev's calculations based on the number of Soviet Communist party and Komsomol members conscripted, military dead and missing were 17.8 million. However some scholars believe that Ivlev's calculations are without serious foundation.
Former Soviet republics
The contemporary nations that were formerly Soviet Republics dispute Krivosheev's analysis. In a live broadcast of December 16, 2010 "A Conversation with Vladimir Putin", he maintained that the Russian Federation had suffered the greatest proportional losses in World War II—70 per cent of the total.Official estimates by the former republics of the USSR claim military casualties exceeding those of Krivosheev's report by 3.5 times. It is claimed by the website sovsekretno.ru that there are no Memory Books published in the USSR, Russia and the other contemporary republics in the 80s and 90s listing casualties of 25 per cent of the draft or less, but there are many Memory Books with 50 per cent and more with some telling us of a 70, 75, 76 and up to 79 per cent mortality rate among the conscripted.
(A) The Ukrainian authorities and historians ardently dispute these figures. They put the military casualties alone may be estimated as exceeding 7 million, according to the final volume of the Ukrainian book "In the memory of posterity" and research of V. E. Korol, writes an American (former Soviet) Doctor of History Vilen Lyulechnik.Former President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych maintains that Ukraine has lost more than 10 million lives during the Second World War. The military casualties alone may be estimated as exceeding 7 million, according to the final volume of the Ukrainian Book "In the memory of posterity" and research of V. E. Korol, writes an American (former Soviet) Doctor of History Vilen Lyulechnik.
(B) According to a Belorussian military historian, Doctor of History, professor V.Lemeshonok, the Belorussian military casualties, including partisans and underground group members, exceed 682,291.
(C) The Memory Book of Tatarstan Government contains names of about 350,000 inhabitants of the republic, mostly tatars.
(D) Israeli historian Yitzhak Arad maintains that about 200,000 Soviet Jews or 40 per cent of all draft were killed in battles or captivity — the highest percentage of all nations of the USSR.
(E) Kazakhstan estimates its military casualties at 601,029.
(F) Armenians estimate their military casualties at over 300,000.
(G) Georgians also estimate their military casualties at over 300,000.
(I) Among the others Azerbaidzhans claim military casualties of 300,000,Bashkirs of about 300,000, Mordvas of 130,000 and Chuvashes of 106,470. But one of the most tragic figures comes from a Far Eastern republic of Yakutia and its small nation. 37,965 citizens, mostly Yakuts, or 60.74 per cent of 62,509 drafted have not returned home with 7,000 regarded missing. About 69,000 died of severe famine in the republic. This nation could not restore its population even under 1959 census. The record breaking estimates of 700,000 military casualties out of a total 1,25 million Turkmenian citizens (with slightly less than 60 per cent being Turkmens) are attributed to the late President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov. Historians do not regard them trustworthy.
Russian historian Vadim Erlikman pegs total war deaths at 10.7 million, exceeding Krivosheev's 8.7 million by an extra two million. This extra two million would presumably include Soviet POWs that died in Nazi captivity, partisans, and militia.
|Soviet Republic||Population 1940||Military Dead||Civilian Dead||Total||Deaths as|
% 1940 Pop.
The names of Soviet war dead are presented at the OBD (Central Data Bank) Memorial database online.
Members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Komsomol, military as well as civilians, suffered a disproportionate share of the war dead. At the beginning of the war there were almost 4.0 million Communist party members, 5.0 million joined the party during the war, at the end of the war there were 6.0 million party members. 3.0 million party members, military as well as civilians, lost their lives in the war.There were 1.7 million Komsomol members in the Army and Navy when the war broke out 5.0 million and 2.5 million Komsomol remained at the end of the war a decline of 4.2 million, not all were war losses because one half of the new Communist party members came from the Komsomol
In Joseph Stalin's speech at a meeting with the creative intelligentsia in 1946, he said: Over the first six months of the war more than 500,000 Communists perished on the fronts, more than three million during the war.During the three years of the Great Patriotic War, the share of Communists in the Armed Forces doubled and by the end of 1944 it was 23 percent in the army and 31.5 percent in the navy . At the end of 1944, there were 3,030,758 Communists in the Armed Forces, which amounted to 52.6 percent of the total party membership . During the year, the network of primary party organizations expanded considerably:on January 1, 1944, there were 67,089 in the army and navy, on January 1, 1945, 78,640
The Red Army suffered catastrophic losses of men and equipment during the first months of the German invasion,In the spring of 1941 Stalin ignored the warnings of his intelligence services of a planned German invasion and refused to put the Armed forces on alert. The bulk of the Soviet combat units were deployed in the border regions in a lower state of readiness. In the face of the German onslaught the Soviet forces were caught by surprise. Large numbers of Soviet soldiers were captured and many perished due to the brutal mistreatment of POWs by the Nazis U.S. Army historians maintain the high Soviet losses can be attributed to 'less efficient medical services and the Soviet tactics, which throughout the war tended to be expensive in terms of human life"
Russian scholars attribute the high civilian death toll to the Nazi Generalplan Ost which treated the Soviet people as "subhumans", they use the terms "genocide" and "premeditated extermination" when referring to civilian losses in the occupied USSR.German occupation policies implemented under the Hunger Plan resulted in the confiscation of food stocks which resulted in famine in the occupied regions. During the Soviet era the partisan campaign behind the lines was portrayed as the struggle of the local population against the German occupation. To suppress the partisan units the Nazi occupation forces engaged in a campaign of brutal reprisals against innocent civilians. Historian Albert Seaton maintains that the Soviet government's "disregard for life and its contempt for any form of humanity and decency was one of the decisive factors in recruiting and control of the partisan movement". According to Seaton the local population was coerced by the Soviet led partisans to support their campaign which led to the reprisals. The extensive fighting destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food. During the war Soviet civilians were taken to Germany as forced laborers under inhuman conditions.
Estimates for Soviet losses in the Second World War range from 7 million to over 43 million.During the Communist era in the Soviet Union historical writing about World War II was subject to censorship and only official approved statistical data was published. In the USSR during the Glasnost period under Gorbachev and in post communist Russia the casualties in World War II were re-evaluated and the official figures revised.
Joseph Stalin in March 1946 stated that Soviet war losses were 7 million dead. This was to be the official figure until the Khrushchev era.In November 1961 Nikita Khrushchev stated that Soviet war losses were 20 million; this was to be the official figure until the Gorbachev era of Glasnost. Leonid Brezhnev in 1965 put the Soviet death toll in the war at "more than 20 million" Ivan Konev in a May 1965 Soviet Ministry of Defense press conference stated that Soviet military dead in World War II were 10 million. In 1971 the Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis put losses at 20 million including 6,074,000 civilians and 3,912,000 prisoners of war killed by Nazi Germany, military dead were put at 10 million.
Documents from the Extraordinary State Commission prepared in March 1946 not but published until the 1990s listed 6,074,857 civilians killed, 3,912,283 prisoner of war dead, 3,999,796 deaths during German forced labor and 641,803 civilian deaths during Siege of Leningrad
The figure of 20 million war dead, cited prior to 1990, included 13.9 million military (10.0 million losses of the frontal combat units and 3.9 million other military losses listed as "prisoner of war dead"). Civilian deaths of 6.1 million civilians were listed by the Extraordinary State Commission. The figure of 4.0 million "deaths during German forced labor" was probably a figure to account for an increase in natural deaths due to famine and disease and a decline in births.
During the period of Glasnost the official figure of 20 million war dead was challenged by Soviet scholars. In 1988–1989 estimates of 26 to 28 million total war dead appeared in the Soviet press. M.A. Moiseev Chief of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces disclosed for the first time in an interview that Soviet military war dead totaled 8,668,400. In 1991 the Russian scholar A.A. Shevyakov published an article with summary of civilian losses based on his analysis of the archival records of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission, civilian dead were given as 17.7 million In a second article in 1992 A.A. Shevyakov gave a figure of 20.8 million civilian dead; no explanation for the difference was given.The Russian scholar Dmitri Volkogonov writing at this time estimated total war deaths at 26–27,000,000 including 10,000,000 in the military. In March 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev set up a committee to investigate Soviet losses in the war. In a May 1990 speech Gorbachev gave the figure for total Soviet losses at "almost 27 million". This revised figure was the result of research by the committee set up by Gorbachev that estimated total war dead at between 26 and 27 million. In January 1990
In 1993 the Russian Ministry of Defense published a study by Krivosheev that gave a detailed accounting of Soviet military losses for the campaigns in the war, total Soviet military dead and missing were put at 8,668 million. These figures were based on an official report of the Soviet General Staff from 1966–1968 that was previously classified secret.A report published by the Russian Academy of Science in 1993 estimated that the total Soviet population losses were 26.6 million. This is a current official figure for total losses in the war. In 1995 the Russian Academy of Science published an article that analyzed Soviet civilian losses of 26.6 million in the war. They estimated civilian deaths in the German occupied USSR at 13.684 million, which includes 7.420 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals; 2.164 million deaths of persons deported to Germany for forced labor; 4.100 million famine and disease deaths in occupied territory and an increase in infant mortality of 1.280 million. They also estimated an additional 2.5 to 3.2 excess million civilian deaths due to famine in Soviet territory not occupied by the Germans. The figure of 2.164 million deaths of persons deported to Germany for forced labor probably includes POWs considered civilians in the Krivosheev study. The figure of 7.420 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals probably includes the 6.075 million civilians killed, 642,000 famine deaths during the siege of Leningrad and 700,000 Soviet citizens who did not return after the war.
In 1949 a Soviet Colonel Kalinov defected to the west, he published a book claiming that Soviet records indicated the military loss of 13.6 million men including 2.6 million POW dead.Sergei Maksudov a Russian demographer living in the west estimated Soviet war losses at between 24.5 and 27.4 million, including 7.5 million military dead. The Soviet mathematician Iosif G. Dyadkin published a study in the United States that estimated the total Soviet population losses from 1939–45 due to the war and political repression at 30 million. Dyadkin was imprisoned for publishing this study in the west.
Historians writing outside of the Soviet Union and Russia have evaluated the various Russian language sources and have offered their estimates of Soviet war dead. Here is a listing of estimates by recognized scholars published in the West.
|Source||Military Dead||Civilian Dead||Total Dead|
|Frank Lorimer (1946),||5,000,000||11,000,000||16,000,000|
(within 1940 borders)
|Pierre George (1946)||7,000,000||10,000,000||17,000,000|
|N. S. Timasheff (1948),||7,000,000||18,300,000||25,300,000|
|Helmut Arntz (1953)||13,600,000||7,000,000||20,000,000+|
|Jean-Noël Biraben (1958)||8,000,000||6,700,000||14,700,000|
|Warren W. Eason (1959)||10,000,000||15,000,000||25,000,000|
|E. Ziemke (1968)||more than|
|Albert Seaton (1971)||10,000,000|
|Gil Elliot (1972)||10,000,000||10,000,000||20,000,000|
|Charles Messenger (1989)||20,000,000|
|John Keegan (1989)||7,000,000||7,000,000||14,000,000|
|R. J. Rummel (1990)||7,000,000||12,250,000||19,625,000|
due to Soviet repression
|John Ellis (1993)||11,000,000||6,700,000||17,700,000|
|Michael Ellman and Sergei Maksudov(1994)||8,700,000||18,000,000||26–27,000,000|
|Norman Davies (1998)||8–9,000,000||16–19,000,000||24–28,000,000|
|Richard Overy (1997)||8,668,400||17,000,000||25,000,000|
|Mark Mazower (1998)||9,500,000||10,000,000||19,500,000|
|David Wallechinsky (1995)||13,600,000||20–26,000,000|
|Michael Clodfelter (2002)||8,668,400||20–26,000,000|
|Michael Haynes (2003)||8,700,000||17,900,000||26,600,000|
|Martin Gilbert (2004)||10,000,000|
|H. P. Willmott (2004)||8,700,000||16,900,000||25,600,000|
|Tony Judt (2005)||8,600,000||16,000,000||24,600,000|
|Norman Davies (2006)||8,668,000||18,332,000||27,000,000|
|Cambridge History of Russia (2006)||8,700,000+||13,700,000|
in Nazi occupied USSR
in interior USSR
|Steven Rosefielde (2010)||8,700,000|
due to Soviet repression
It lies in the nature of the problem that the victims of Soviet wartime repressions cannot be easily quantified. The records of the victorious Soviets, unlike those of the defeated Nazis have never been opened for scrutiny. Whether the fraction of Soviet civilians who perished at the hands of their own régime was one quarter, one third or even one half of the whole will never be firmly established until the Soviet government itself comes clean.
The Krivosheev study listed 8,668,400 irreplaceable losses: 5,226,800 killed in action, 1,102,800 died of wounds in field hospitals,555,500 non combat deaths, POW deaths and missing were 1,783,300To arrive at his figure of 1.783 million(POWs/MIA) Krivosheev deducted 939,700 from the number listed as missing and excluded 500,000 conscripted reservists killed or died as POWs. Krivosheev maintains that he excluded from those missing reservists who were never inducted into the service but reported missing by family members, others were reported missing but recovered during the war and some records were duplicated.
Krivosheev lists the detailed losses for each of the 54 Army fronts and Naval fleets (not including border,security troops). Irrecoverable losses add down to (5,184,749 killed in action, 534,273 non-combat deaths and 4,452,346 POWs & missing).He also lists the following data separately 1,102,800 died of wounds in field hospitals, 500,000 conscripted reservists killed or died as POWs, 1,836,500 POWs who returned to the Soviet Union were deducted from the missing.These figures include 94,662 civilians in military service, which included women,communications and transport personnel. Not included with the 54 Army fronts and Naval fleets are the losses of 159,100 border and security troops. Additional losses included 267,394 died of illness in field hospitals, 135,000 convicts executed, 422,700 convicts sent to penal units at the front. These losses total 10,921,900
Krivosheev's analysis has been disputed by historians in the west who put POW losses(not including MIA) at 3.3 millionViktor Zemskov put POW dead and missing in action at 3.9 million(5.9 million reported missing less 2.0 million released) According to Zemskov about 2.0 million are included with civilian losses Not included with the war dead are 436,600 convicts imprisoned, 212,400 deserters dead or missing. These figures do not include the deaths of wounded and sick in rear area hospitals, S.N. Mihalev maintained that total losses were 13.7 million when these losses are included.
According to official Russian sources 7.420 million civilians were killed they also estimated the demographic loss due to famine and disease was 4.1 million in the occupied territory A separate study in Russia put the demographic loss in the region not occupied at 2.5 to 3.2 million civilians The figures include an increase in Infant mortality of 1.3 million during the war Viktor Zemskov believed the number of civilian war dead were 8.5 million, 4.5 million victims of Nazi repression and 4.0 million deaths due famine and disease. Zemeskov maintained that the remaining balance of civilian losses reported in Russian official sources were actually military POWs and missing, paramilitary personnel and persons who emigrated after the war. Zemskov maintained that the total war dead were 20.0 million (8.5 million civilians and 11.5 million military.)
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In Russian, can be translated using Google