World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history in absolute terms of total casualties. Over 60 million people were killed, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion). The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses. World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 50 million to more than 80 million. The higher figure of over 80 million includes deaths from war-related disease and famine. Civilians killed totalled 50 to 55 million, including 19 to 28 million from war-related disease and famine. Total combat deaths: from 21 to 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 5 million prisoners of war.
Recent historical scholarship has shed new light on the topic of Second World War casualties. Research in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union has caused a revision of estimates of Soviet WW2 fatalities. According to Russian government figures, USSR losses within postwar borders now stand at 26.6 million. In August 2009 the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) researchers estimated Poland's dead at between 5.6 and 5.8 million. Historian Rüdiger Overmans of the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office published a study in 2000 that estimated the German military dead and missing at 5.3 million, including 900,000 men conscripted from outside of Germany's 1937 borders, in Austria, and in east-central Europe. The People's Republic of China puts its war dead at 20 million, while the Japanese government puts its casualties due to the war at 3.1 million
World War II casualties Wikipedia
Compiling or estimating the numbers of deaths caused during wars and other violent conflicts is a controversial subject. Historians often put forward many different estimates of the numbers killed during World War II. The authors of the Oxford Companion to World War II maintain that "casualty statistics are notoriously unreliable." The table below gives data on the number of dead for each country, along with population information to show the relative impact of losses. When scholarly sources differ on the number of deaths in a country, a range of war losses is given, in order to inform readers that the death toll is disputed. Since casualty statistics are sometimes disputed the footnotes to this article present the different estimates by official governmental sources as well as historians. Military figures include battle deaths (KIA) and personnel missing in action (MIA), as well as fatalities due to accidents, disease and deaths of prisoners of war in captivity. Civilian casualties include deaths caused by strategic bombing, Holocaust victims, German war crimes, Japanese war crimes, population transfers in the Soviet Union, Allied war crimes, and deaths due to war related famine and disease.
The sources for the casualties of the individual nations do not use the same methodologies, and civilian deaths due to starvation and disease are not given for Japan, Germany and several other highly stressed populations. The losses listed here are actual deaths; hypothetical losses due to a decline in births are not included with the total dead. The distinction between military and civilian casualties caused directly by warfare and collateral damage is not always clear-cut. For nations that suffered huge losses such as the Soviet Union, China, Poland, Germany, and Yugoslavia, sources can give only the total estimated population loss caused by the war and a rough estimate of the breakdown of deaths caused by military activity, crimes against humanity and war-related famine. The casualties listed here include 19 to 25 million war-related famine deaths in the USSR, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India that are often omitted from other compilations of World War II casualties. The footnotes give a detailed breakdown of the casualties and their sources, including data on the number of wounded where reliable sources are available.Figures are rounded to the nearest hundredth place.
Military casualties include deaths of regular military forces from combat as well as non-combat causes. Partisan and resistance fighter deaths are included with military losses. The deaths of prisoners of war in captivity and personnel missing in action are also included with military deaths. Whenever possible the details are given in the footnotes.
The armed forces of the various nations are treated as single entities, for example the deaths of Austrians, French and foreign nationals of German ancestry in eastern Europe in the Wehrmacht are included with German military losses.
The official casualty statistics published by the governments of the United States, France, and the UK do not give the details of the national origin, race and religion of the losses.
Civilian casualties include deaths caused by strategic bombing, Holocaust victims, German war crimes, Japanese war crimes, population transfers in the Soviet Union, Allied war crimes, and deaths due to war related famine and disease. The exact breakdown is not always provided in the sources cited.
German sources do not provide figures for Soviet citizens conscripted by Germany. Russian historian G.Krivosheev puts the losses of the "Vlasovites, Balts and Muslims etc." in German service at 215,000
The estimated breakdown for each Soviet Republic of total war dead ^AY4
The source of the figures is Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke: spravochnik. Moscow, 2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1. pp 21–35. Erlikman, a Russian historian, notes that these figures are his estimates.The population listed here of 194.090 million is taken from Soviet era sources. Recent studies published in Russia put the actual corrected population in 1940 at 192.598 million.
The Soviet population included 20.268 million in the territories annexed by the USSR from 1939–45. According to Sergei Maksudov, a Russian demographer living in the west, the population of the territories annexed by the USSR was 23 million, however Soviet sources deducted those persons who emigrated from the Soviet Union which brought the population to about 20 million.
Figures for Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania include about two million civilian dead that are also listed in Polish sources in the total war dead of Poland. Polish historian Krystyna Kersten estimated losses of about two million in the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. The formal transfer of the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union occurred with the Polish–Soviet border agreement of August 1945.
According to Erlikman, in addition to the war dead, there were 1,700,000 deaths due to Soviet repression. (200,000 executed; 4,500,000 sent to prisons and Gulag of whom 1,200,000 died; 2,200,000 deported of whom 300,000 died)
Included in the figures of total war dead for each nation are victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is the term generally used to describe the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II. Martin Gilbert estimates 5.7 million (78%) of the 7.3 million Jews in German occupied Europe were Holocaust victims. Estimates of Holocaust deaths range between 4.9 and 5.9 million Jews.
Statistical breakdown of Jewish dead:In Nazi extermination camps: according to Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) researchers, 2,830,000 Jews were murdered in the Nazi death camps (500,000 Belzec; 150,000 Sobibor; 850,000 Treblinka; 150,000 Chełmno; 1,100,000 Auschwitz; 80,000 Majdanek). Raul Hilberg puts the Jewish death toll in the death camps, including Romanian Transnistria, at 3.0 million.
In the USSR by the Einsatzgruppen: Raul Hilberg puts the Jewish death toll in the area of the mobile killing groups at 1.4 million.
Aggravated deaths in the Ghettos of Nazi-occupied Europe: Raul Hilberg puts the Jewish death toll in the Ghettos at 700,000.
Yad Vashem has identified the names of four million Jewish Holocaust dead.
The figures for the pre-war Jewish population and deaths in the table below are from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust. The low, high and average percentage figures for deaths of the pre-war population have been added.The total population figures from 1933 listed here are taken from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust. From 1933 to 1939 about 400,000 Jews fled Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Some of these refugees were in western Europe when Germany occupied these countries in 1940. In 1940 there were 30,000 Jewish refugees in the Netherlands, 12,000 in Belgium, 30,000 in France, 2,000 in Denmark, 5,000 in Italy, and 2,000 in Norway
Netherlands figure listed in the table of 112,000 Jews taken from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust includes those Jews who were resident in Holland in 1933. By 1940 the Jewish population had increased to 140,000 with the inclusion of 30,000 Jewish refugees. In the Netherlands 8,000 Jews in mixed marriages were not subject to deportation. However an article in the Dutch periodical De Groene Amsterdammer maintains that some Jews in mixed marriages were deported before the practice was ended by Hitler.
Hungarian Jewish Holocaust victims within the 1939 borders were 200,000.
Romanian Jewish Holocaust victims totalled 469,000 within 1939 borders, which includes 300,000 in Bessarabia and Bukovina occupied by the U.S.S.R. in 1940.
According to Martin Gilbert, Jewish Holocaust victims totalled 8,000 in Italy, and 562 in the Italian colony of Libya
Some scholars maintain that the definition of the Holocaust should also include the other victims persecuted and killed by the Nazis.Donald L. Niewyk professor of history at Southern Methodist University maintains that the Holocaust can be defined in four ways: first, that it was the genocide of the Jews alone; second, that there were several parallel Holocausts, one for each of the several groups; third, the Holocaust would include Roma and the handicapped along with the Jews; fourth, it would include all racially motivated German crimes, such as the murder of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, as well as political prisoners, religious dissenters, and homosexuals. Using this definition, the total number of Holocaust victims is between 11 million and 17 million people.
According to the College of Education of the University of South Florida Approximately 11 million people were killed because of Nazi genocidal policy.
R.J. Rummel estimated the death toll due to Nazi Democide at 20.9 million persons.
Timothy Snyder put the victims of the Nazis killed only as result of deliberate policies of mass murder such as executions, deliberate famine and in death camps at 10.4 million persons including 5.4 million Jews.
German scholar Hellmuth Auerbach puts the death toll in the Hitler era at 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and 7 million other victims of the Nazis.
Dieter Pohl puts the total number of victims of the Nazi era at between 12 and 14 million persons, including 5.6–5.7 million Jews.
Roma Included in the figures of total war dead are the Roma victims of the Nazi persecution, some scholars include the Roma deaths with the Holocaust. Most estimates of Roma (Gypsies) victims range from 130,000 to 500,000. Ian Hancock, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued in favour of a higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Roma dead. Hancock writes that, proportionately, the death toll equaled "and almost certainly exceed[ed], that of Jewish victims". In a 2010 publication, Ian Hancock stated that he agrees with the view that the number of Romanis killed has been underestimated as a result of being grouped with others in Nazi records under headings such as "remainder to be liquidated", "hangers-on" and "partisans".
The following figures are from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, the authors maintain that "statistics on Gypsy losses are especially unreliable and controversial. These figures (cited below) are based on necessarily rough estimates".Handicapped persons: 200,000 to 250,000 handicapped persons were killed. A 2003 report by the German Federal Archive put the total murdered during the Action T4 and Action 14f13 programs at 200,000.
Prisoners of War: POW deaths in Nazi captivity totalled 3.1 million including 2.6 to 3 million Soviet prisoners of war.
Ethnic Poles: According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum "It is estimated that the Germans killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians during World War II." They maintain that "Documentation remains fragmentary, but today scholars of independent Poland believe that 1.8 to 1.9 million Polish civilians (non-Jews) were victims of German Occupation policies and the war." However the Polish government affiliated Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in 2009 estimated 2,770,000 ethnic Polish deaths due to the German occupation (see World War II casualties of Poland).
Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians: According to Nazi ideology, Slavs were useless sub-humans. As such, their leaders, the Soviet elite, were to be killed and the remainder of the population enslaved or expelled further eastward. As a result, millions of civilians in the Soviet Union were deliberately killed, starved, or worked to death. Contemporary Russian sources use the terms "genocide" and "premeditated extermination" when referring to civilian losses in the occupied USSR. Civilians killed in reprisals during the Soviet partisan war and wartime-related famine account for a major part of the huge toll. The Cambridge History of Russia puts overall civilian deaths in the Nazi-occupied USSR at 13.7 million persons including 2 million Jews. There were an additional 2.6 million deaths in the interior regions of the Soviet Union. The authors maintain "scope for error in this number is very wide". At least 1 million perished in the wartime GULAG camps or in deportations. Other deaths occurred in the wartime evacuations and due to war related malnutrition and disease in the interior. The authors maintain that both Stalin and Hitler "were both responsible but in different ways for these deaths", and "In short the general picture of Soviet wartime losses suggests a jigsaw puzzle. The general outline is clear: people died in colossal numbers but in many different miserable and terrible circumstances. But individual pieces of the puzzle do not fit well; some overlap and others are yet to be found". Bohdan Wytwycky maintained that civilian losses of 3.0 million Ukrainians and 1.4 million Belarusians "were racially motivated". According to Paul Robert Magocsi, between 1941 and 1945, approximately 3,000,000 Ukrainian and other non-Jewish victims were killed as part of Nazi extermination policies in the territory of modern Ukraine. Dieter Pohl puts the total number of victims of the Nazi policies in the USSR at 500,000 civilians killed in the repression of partisans, 1.0 million victims of the Nazi Hunger Plan, c. 3.0 million Soviet POW and 1.0 million Jews (in pre-war borders). Soviet author Georgiy A. Kumanev put the civilian death toll in the Nazi-occupied USSR at 8.2 million (4.0 million Ukrainians, 2.5 million Belarusians, and 1.7 million Russians). A report published by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995 put the death toll due to the German occupation at 13.7 million civilians (including Jews): 7.4 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals; 2.2 million persons deported to Germany for forced labor; and 4.1 million famine and disease deaths in occupied territory. Sources published in the Soviet Union were cited to support these figures.
Homosexuals: According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum "Between 1933 and 1945 the police arrested an estimated 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most of the 50,000 men sentenced by the courts spent time in regular prisons, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps." They also noted that there are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.
Other victims of Nazi persecution: Between 1,000 and 2,000 Roman Catholic clergy, about 1,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, and an unknown number of Freemasons perished in Nazi prisons and camps. "The fate of black people from 1933-45 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder." During the Nazi era Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, and trade union leaders were victims of Nazi persecution.
Serbs: The numbers of Serbs murdered by the Ustaše is the subject of debate and estimates vary widely. Yad Vashem estimates over 500,000 murdered, 250,000 expelled and 200,000 forcibly converted to Catholicism. The estimate of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is that the Ustaše murdered between 320,000 and 340,000 ethnic Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia between 1941–45, with roughly 45,000 to 52,000 murdered at the Jasenovac concentration camp alone. According to the Wiesenthal Center at least 90,000 Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croatians perished at the hands of the Ustashe at the camp at Jasenovac. According to Yugoslav sources published in the Tito era the estimates of the number of Serb victims range from 200,000 to at least 600,000 persons. See also World War II persecution of Serbs.
Included with total war dead are victims of Japanese war crimes.R. J. Rummel estimates the civilian victims of Japanese democide at 5,424,000. Detailed by country: China 3,695,000; Indochina 457,000; Korea 378,000; Indonesia 375,000; Malaya-Singapore 283,000; Philippines 119,000, Burma 60,000 and Pacific Islands 57,000.
Rummel estimates POW deaths in Japanese custody at 539,000 Detailed by country: China 400,000; French Indochina 30,000; Philippines 27,300; Netherlands 25,000; France 14,000; Britain 13,000; British Colonies 11,000; US 10,700; Australia 8,000.
Werner Gruhl estimates the civilian deaths at 20,365,000. Detailed by country: China 12,392,000; Indochina 1,500,000; Korea 500,000; Dutch East Indies 3,000,000; Malaya and Singapore 100,000; Philippines 500,000; Burma 170,000; Forced laborers in Southeast Asia 70,000, 30,000 interned non-Asian civilians; Timor 60,000; Thailand and Pacific Islands 60,000.
Gruhl estimates POW deaths in Japanese captivity at 331,584. Detailed by country: China 270,000; Netherlands 8,500; Britain 12,433; Canada 273; Philippines 20,000; Australia 7,412; New Zealand 31; and the United States 12,935.
Out of 60,000 Indian Army POWs taken at the Fall of Singapore, 11,000 died in captivity.
There were 14,657 deaths among the total 130,895 western civilians interned by the Japanese due to famine and disease.
The total war dead in the USSR includes victims of Soviet oppression. The number of deaths in the Gulag labor camps increased as a result of wartime overcrowding and food shortages. The Stalin regime deported the entire populations of ethnic minorities considered to be potentially disloyal. Since 1990 Russian scholars have been given access to the Soviet-era archives and have published data on the numbers of people executed and those who died in Gulag labor camps and prisons. The Russian scholar Viktor Zemskov puts the death toll from 1941–1945 at about 1 million based on data from the Soviet archives. The Soviet-era archive figures on the Gulag labor camps has been the subject of a vigorous academic debate outside Russia since their publication in 1991. J. Arch Getty and Stephen G. Wheatcroft maintain that Soviet-era figures more accurately detail the victims of the Gulag labor camp system in the Stalin era. Robert Conquest and Steven Rosefielde have disputed the accuracy of the data from the Soviet archives, maintaining that the demographic data and testimonials by survivors of the Gulag labor camps indicate a higher death toll. Rosefielde posits that the release of the Soviet Archive figures is disinformation generated by the modern KGB. Rosefielde maintains that the data from the Soviet archives is incomplete; for example, he pointed out that the figures do not include the 22,000 victims of the Katyn massacre. Rosefielde's demographic analysis puts the number of excess deaths due to Soviet repression at 2,183,000 in 1939–40 and 5,458,000 from 1941–1945. Michael Haynes and Rumy Husun accept the figures from the Soviet archives as being an accurate tally of Stalin's victims, they maintain that the demographic data depicts an underdeveloped Soviet economy and the losses in World War Two rather than indicating a higher death toll in the Gulag labor camps.
In August 2009 the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) researchers estimated 150,000 Polish citizens were killed due to Soviet repression. Since the collapse of the USSR, Polish scholars have been able to do research in the Soviet archives on Polish losses during the Soviet occupation. Andrzej Paczkowski puts the number of Polish deaths at 90,000–100,000 of the 1.0 million persons deported and 30,000 executed by the Soviets. In 2005 Tadeusz Piotrowski estimated the death toll in Soviet hands at 350,000.
The Estonian State Commission for the Examination of Repressive Policies Carried out During the Occupations put civilian deaths due to the Soviet occupation in 1940–1941 at 33,900 including (7,800 deaths) of arrested people, (6,000) deportee deaths, (5,000) evacuee deaths, (1,100) people gone missing and (14,000) conscripted for forced labor. After the reoccupation by the U.S.S.R., 5,000 Estonians died in Soviet prisons during 1944–45.
The following is a summary of the data from the Soviet archives:
Reported deaths for the years 1939–1945 1,187,783, including: judicial executions 46,350; deaths in Gulag labor camps 718,804; deaths in labor colonies and prisons 422,629.
Deported to special settlements: (figures are for deportations to Special Settlements only, not including those executed, sent to Gulag labor camps or conscripted into the Soviet Army. Nor do the figures include additional deportations after the war).
Deported from annexed territories 1940–41 380,000 to 390,000 persons, including: Poland 309–312,000; Lithuania 17,500; Latvia 17,000; Estonia 6,000; Moldova 22,842. In August 1941, 243,106 Poles living in the Special Settlements were amnestied and released by the Soviets.
Deported during the War 1941–1945 about 2.3 million persons of Soviet ethnic minorities including: Soviet Germans 1,209,000; Finns 9,000; Karachays 69,000; Kalmyks 92,000;Chechens and Ingush 479,000; Balkars 37,000; Crimean Tatars 191,014; Meskhetian Turks 91,000; Greeks, Bulgarians and Armenians from Crimea 42,000; Ukrainian OUN members 100,000; Poles 30,000.
A total of 2,230,500 persons were living in the settlements in October 1945 and 309,100 deaths were reported in special settlements for the years 1941–1948.
Russian sources list Axis prisoner of war deaths of 580,589 in Soviet captivity based on data in the Soviet archives (Germany 381,067; Hungary 54,755; Romania 54,612; Italy 27,683; Finland 403, and Japan 62,069). However some western scholars estimate the total at between 1.7 and 2.3 million.
- The number killed in action was 2,303,320; died of wounds, disease or accidents 500,165; 11,000 sentenced to death by court martial; 2,007,571 missing in action or unaccounted for after the war; 25,000 suicides; 12,000 unknown; 459,475 confirmed POW deaths, of whom 77,000 were in the custody of the U.S., UK and France; and 363,000 in Soviet custody. POW deaths includes 266,000 in the post-war period after June 1945, primarily in Soviet captivity.
- Rüdiger Overmans writes "It seems entirely plausible, while not provable, that one half of the 1.5 million missing on the eastern front were killed in action, the other half (700,000) however in fact died in Soviet custody".
- Soviet sources list the deaths of 474,967 of the 2,652,672 German Armed Forces POW taken in the war.
- Estimated total Soviet military war dead from 1941–45 on the Eastern Front (World War II) including missing in action, POWs and Soviet partisans range from 8.6 to 10.6 million. There were an additional 127,000 war dead in 1939–40 during the Winter War with Finland.
- The official figures for military war dead and missing from 1941–45 are 8,668,400 comprising 6,329,600 combat related deaths, 555,500 non-combat deaths. 500,000 missing in action and 1,103,300 POW dead and another 180,000 liberated POWs who most likely emigrated to other countries. Figures include Navy losses of 154,771. Non-combat deaths include 157,000 sentenced to death by court martial.
- Casualties in 1939–40 include the following dead and missing, Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939 (8,931); Invasion of Poland of 1939 (1,139); Winter War with Finland (1939–40) (126,875).
- The number of wounded includes 2,576,000 permanently disabled.
- The official Russian figure for total POW held by the Germans is 4,059,000; the number of Soviet POW who survived the war was 2,016,000, including 180,000 who most likely emigrated to other countries, and an additional 939,700 POW and MIA who were redrafted as territory was liberated. This leaves 1,103,000 POW dead. However, western historians put the number of POW held by the Germans at 5.7 million and about 3 million as dead in captivity (in the official Russian figures 1.1 million are military POW and remaining balance of about 2 million are included with civilian war dead).
- Conscripted reservists is an estimate of men called up, primarily in 1941, who were killed in battle or died as POWs before being listed on active strength. Soviet and Russian sources classify these losses as civilian deaths.
- Number served: UK and Crown Colonies (5,896,000); India-(British colonial administration) (2,582,000), Australia (993,000); Canada (1,100,000); New Zealand (295,000); South Africa (250,000).
- Total war related deaths reported by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: UK and Crown Colonies (383,786); India-(British colonial administration) (87,032), Australia (40,464); Canada (45,383); New Zealand (11,929); South Africa (11,903).
- Total military dead for the United Kingdom alone(according to preliminary 1945 figures): 264,443. Royal Navy (50,758); British Army (144,079); Royal Air Force (69,606).
- Wounded: UK and Crown Colonies (284,049); India-(British colonial administration) (64,354), Australia (39,803); Canada (53,174); New Zealand (19,314); South Africa (14,363).
- Prisoner of war: UK and Crown Colonies (180,488); India-(British colonial administration) (79,481); Australia (26,358); South Africa (14,750); Canada (9,334); New Zealand (8,415).
- The Debt of Honour Register from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists the 1.7m men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars.
- Battle deaths (including POWs who died in captivity, does not include those who died of disease and accidents) were 292,131: Army 234,874 (including Army Air Forces 52,173); Navy 36,950; Marine Corps 19,733; and Coast Guard 574 (185,924 deaths occurred in the European/Atlantic theater of operations and 106,207 deaths occurred in Asia/Pacific theater of operations).
- During World War II, 14,059 American POWs died in enemy captivity throughout the war (12,935 held by Japan and 1,124 held by Germany).
- During World War II, 1.2 million African Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces and 708 were killed in action. 350,000 American women served in the Armed Forces during World War II and 16 were killed in action. During World War II, 26,000 Japanese-Americans served in the Armed Forces and over 800 were killed in action.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Annual Report 2014–2015 is the source of the military dead for the British Empire. The war dead totals listed in the report are based on the research by the CWGC to identify and commemorate Commonwealth war dead. The statistics tabulated by the CWGC are representative of the number of names commemorated for all servicemen/women of the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth and former UK Dependencies, whose death was attributable to their war service. Some auxiliary and civilian organizations are also accorded war grave status if death occurred under certain specified conditions. For the purposes of CWGC the dates of inclusion for Commonwealth War Dead are 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947.