Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Technology during World War II

Technology during World War II

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Technology played a crucial role in determining the outcome of World War II. Much of it was developed during the interwar years of 1940-1945, some were developed in response to valuable lessons learned during the war, and some were beginning to be developed as the war ended.

Effects on Warfare

Almost all types of technology were utilized, although major developments were:
  • Weaponry; including ships, vehicles, aircraft, artillery, rocketry, small arms, and biological, chemical and atomic weapons.
  • Logistical support; including vehicles necessary for transporting soldiers and supplies, such as trains, trucks, and aircraft.
  • Communications and intelligence; including devices used for navigation, communication, remote sensing and espionage.
  • Medicine; including surgical innovations, chemical medicines, and techniques
  • Industry; including the technologies employed at factories and production/distribution centers.
This was perhaps the first war where military operations were aimed at the research efforts of the enemy e.g.
  1. The exfiltration of Niels Bohr from German-occupied Denmark to Britain in 1943
  2. The sabotage of Norwegian heavy water production
  3. The bombing of Peenemunde
Military operations were also conducted to obtain intelligence on the enemy's technology e.g. the Bruneval Raid for German radar and Operation Most III for the German V-2.

Between the wars

In Britain there was the Ten Year Rule (adapted in August 1919), which declared the government should not expect another war within ten years. Consequently they conducted very little military R & D. On the other hand, Germany and the Soviet Union were dissatisfied powers that for different reasons cooperated with each other on military R & D. The Soviets offered Weimar Germany facilities deep inside the USSR for building and testing arms and for military training, well away from Treaty inspectors' eyes. In return, the Soviets asked for access to German technical developments, and for assistance in creating a Red Army General Staff.
The great artillery manufacturer Krupp was soon active in the south of the USSR, near Rostov-on-Don. In 1925, a flying school was established at Vivupal, near Lipetsk, to train the first pilots for the future Luftwaffe. Since 1926, the Reichswehr had been able to use a tank school at Kazan (codenamed Kama) and a chemical weapons facility in Samara Oblast (codenamed Tomka). In turn, the Red Army gained access to these training facilities, as well as military technology and theory from Weimar Germany.
In the late 1920s, Germany helped Soviet industry begin to modernize, and to assist in the establishment of tank production facilities at the Leningrad Bolshevik Factory and the Kharkov Locomotive Factory. This cooperation would break down when Hitler rose to power in 1933. The failure of the World Disarmament Conference marked the beginnings of the arms race leading to war.
In France the lesson of World War I was translated into the Maginot Line which was supposed to hold a line at the border with Germany. The Maginot Line did achieve its political objective of ensuring that any German invasion had to go through Belgium ensuring that France would have Britain as a military ally. France had more, and much better, tanks than Germany as of the outbreak of their hostilities in 1940. As in World War I, the French generals expected that armour would mostly serve to help infantry break the static trench lines and storm machine gun nests. They thus spread the armour among their infantry divisions, ignoring the new German doctrine of blitzkrieg based on the fast movement using concentrated armour attacks, against which there was no effective defense but mobile anti-tank guns - infantry Antitank rifles not being effective against medium and heavy tanks.
Air power was a major concern of Germany and Britain between the wars. Trade in aircraft engines continued, with Britain selling hundreds of its best to German firms - which used them in a first generation of aircraft, and then improved on them much for use in German aircraft. These new inventions lead way to major success for the Germans in World War II.


Military weapons technology experienced rapid advances during World War II, and over six years there was a disorientating rate of change in combat in everything from aircraft to small arms. Indeed the war began with most armies utilizing technology that had changed little from World War I, and in some cases, had remained unchanged since the 19th century. For instance cavalry, trenches, and World War I-era battleships were normal in 1940, however within only six years, armies around the world had developed jet aircraft, ballistic missiles, and even atomic weapons in the case of the United States.
The best jet fighters at the end of the war easily outflew any of the leading aircraft of 1939, such as the Spitfire Mark I. The early war bombers that caused such carnage would almost all have been shot down in 1945, many with two shots, by radar-aimed, proximity fuse-detonated anti-aircraft fire, just as the 1941 "invincible fighter", the Zero, had by 1944 become the "turkey" of the "Marianas Turkey Shoot". The best late-war tanks, such as the Soviet JS-3 heavy tank or the German Panther medium tank, handily outclassed the best tanks of 1939 such as Panzer IIIs. In the navy the battleship, long seen as the dominant element of sea power, was displaced by the greater range and striking power of the aircraft carrier. The chaotic importance of amphibious landings stimulated the Western Allies to develop the Higgins boat, a primary troop landing craft; the DUKW, a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck, amphibious tanks to enable beach landing attacks and Landing Ship, Tanks to land tanks on beaches. Increased organization and coordination of amphibious assaults coupled with the resources necessary to sustain them caused the complexity of planning to increase by orders of magnitude, thus requiring formal systematization giving rise to what has become the modern management methodology of project management by which almost all modern engineering, construction and software developments are organized.


In the Western European Theatre of World War II, air power became crucial throughout the war, both in tactical and strategic operations (respectively, battlefield and long-range). Superior German aircraft, aided by ongoing introduction of design and technology innovations, allowed the German armies to overrun Western Europe with great speed in 1940, largely assisted by lack of Allied aircraft, which in any case lagged in design and technical development during the slump in research investment after the Great Depression. Since the end of World War I, the French Air Force had been badly neglected, as military leaders preferred to spend money on ground armies and static fortifications to fight another World War I-style war. As a result, by 1940, the French Air Force had only 1562 planes and was together with 1070 RAF planes facing 5,638 Luftwaffe fighters and fighter-bombers. Most French airfields were located in north-east France, and were quickly overrun in the early stages of the campaign. The Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom possessed some very advanced fighter planes, such as Spitfires and Hurricanes, but these were not useful for attacking ground troops on a battlefield, and the small number of planes dispatched to France with the British Expeditionary Force were destroyed fairly quickly. Subsequently, the Luftwaffe was able to achieve air superiority over France in 1940, giving the German military an immense advantage in terms of reconnaissance and intelligence.
German aircraft rapidly achieved air superiority over France in early 1940, allowing the Luftwaffe to begin a campaign of strategic bombing against British cities. With France out of the war, German bomber planes based near the English Channel were able to launch raids on London and other cities during the Blitz, with varying degrees of success.
After World War I, the concept of massed aerial bombing—"The bomber will always get through"—had become very popular with politicians and military leaders seeking an alternative to the carnage of trench warfare, and as a result, the air forces of Britain, France, and Germany had developed fleets of bomber planes to enable this (France's bomber wing was severely neglected, whilst Germany's bombers were developed in secret as they were explicitly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles).
The bombing of Shanghai by the Imperial Japanese Navy on January 28, 1932 and August 1937 and the bombings during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), had demonstrated the power of strategic bombing, and so air forces in Europe and the United States came to view bomber aircraft as extremely powerful weapons which, in theory, could bomb an enemy nation into submission on their own. As a result, the fear of bombers triggered major developments in aircraft technology.
Nazi Germany had put only one large, long-range strategic bomber (the Heinkel He 177 Greif, with many delays and problems) into production, while the America Bomber concept resulted only in prototypes. The Spanish Civil War had proved that tactical dive-bombing using Stukas was a very efficient way of destroying enemy troops concentrations, and so resources and money had been devoted to the development of smaller bomber craft. As a result, the Luftwaffe was forced to attack London in 1940 with heavily overloaded Heinkel and Dornier medium bombers, and even with the unsuitable Junkers Ju 87. These bombers were painfully slow—Italian engineers had been unable to develop sufficiently large piston aircraft engines (those that were produced tended to explode through extreme overheating), and so the bombers used for the Battle of Britain were woefully undersized. As German bombers had not been designed for long-range strategic missions, they lacked sufficient defenses. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter escorts had not been equipped to carry enough fuel to guard the bombers on both the outbound and return journeys, and the longer range Bf 110s could be out-manoeuvred by the short range British fighters. (A bizarre feature of the war was how long it took to conceive of the Drop tank.) The air defense was well organized and equipped with effective radar that survived the bombing. As a result, German bombers were shot down in large numbers, and were unable to inflict enough damage on cities and military-industrial targets to force Britain out of the war in 1940 or to prepare for the planned invasion.
British long-range bomber planes such as the Short Stirling had been designed before 1939 for strategic flights and given a large armament, but their technology still suffered from numerous flaws. The smaller and shorter ranged Bristol Blenheim, the RAF's most-used bomber, was defended by only one hydraulically operated machine-gun turret, and whilst this appeared sufficient, it was soon revealed that the turret was a pathetic defence against squadrons of German fighter planes. American bomber planes such as the B-17 Flying Fortress had been built before the war as the only adequate long-range bombers in the world, designed to patrol the long American coastlines. Defended by as many as six machine-gun turrets providing 360° cover, the B-17s were still vulnerable without fighter protection even when used in large formations.
Despite the abilities of Allied bombers, though, Germany was not quickly crippled by Allied air raids. At the start of the war the vast majority of bombs fell miles from their targets, as poor navigation technology ensured that Allied airmen frequently could not find their targets at night. The bombs used by the Allies were very high-tech devices, and mass production meant that the precision bombs were often made sloppily and so failed to explode. German industrial production actually rose continuously from 1940 to 1945, despite the best efforts of the Allied air forces to cripple industry.
Significantly, the bomber offensive kept the revolutionary Type XXI U-Boat from entering service during the war. Moreover, Allied air raids had a serious propaganda impact on the German government, all prompting Germany to begin serious development on air defence technology—in the form of fighter planes.
The jet aircraft age began during the war with the development of the Heinkel He 178, the first true turbojet. Late in the war the Germans brought in the first operational Jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262. However, despite their technological edge, German jets were overwhelmed by Allied air superiority, frequently being destroyed on or near the airstrip. Other jet aircraft, such as the British Gloster Meteor, which flew missions but never saw combat, did not significantly distinguish themselves from top-line piston-driven aircraft.
Aircraft saw rapid and broad development during the war to meet the demands of aerial combat and address lessons learned from combat experience. From the open cockpit airplane to the sleek jet fighter, many different types were employed, often designed for very specific missions.
During the war the Germans produced various Glide bomb weapons, which were the first smart bombs; the V-1 flying bomb, which was the first cruise missile weapon; and the V-2 rocket, the first ballistic missile weapon. The last of these was the first step into the space age as its trajectory took it through the stratosphere, higher and faster than any aircraft. This later led to the development of the Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Wernher Von Braun led the V-2 development team and later emigrated to the United States where he contributed to the development of the Saturn V rocket, which took men to the moon in 1969.

Theoretical foundation

The laboratory of Ludwig Prandtl at Göttingen was the main center of theoretical and mathematical aerodynamics and fluid dynamics research from soon after 1904 to the end of World War II. Prandtl coined the term boundary layer and founded modern (mathematical) aerodynamics. The laboratory lost its dominance when the researchers were dispersed after the war.


The Treaty of Versailles had imposed severe restrictions upon Germany constructing vehicles for military purposes, and so throughout the 1920s and 1930s, German arms manufacturers and the Wehrmacht had begun secretly developing tanks. As these vehicles were produced in secret, their technical specifications and battlefield potentials were largely unknown to the European Allies until the war actually began. When German troops invaded the Benelux nations and France in May 1940, German weapons technology proved to be immeasurably superior to that of the Allies.
The French Army suffered from serious technical deficiencies with its tanks. In 1918, the Renault FT-17 tanks of France had been the most advanced in the world, although small, capable of far outperforming their slow and clumsy British, German, or American counterparts. However, this superiority resulted in tank development stagnating after World War I. By 1939, French tanks were virtually unchanged from 1918.[dubious ] French and British Generals believed that a future war with Germany would be fought under very similar conditions as those of 1914–1918. Both invested in thickly-armoured, heavily-armed vehicles designed to cross shell damaged ground and trenches under fire. At the same time the British also developed faster but lightly armoured Cruiser tanks to range behind the enemy lines.
In contrast, the Wehrmacht invested in fast, light tanks designed to overtake infantry. These vehicles would vastly outperform British and French tanks in mechanized battles. German tanks followed the design of France's 1918 Renault versions—a moderately-armoured hull with a rotating turret on top mounting a cannon. This gave every German tank the potential to engage other armoured vehicles. In contrast, around 35% of French tanks were simply equipped with machine guns (again designed for trench warfare), meaning that when French and German met in battle, a third of the French assault vehicles would not be able to engage enemy tanks, their machine-gun fire only ricocheting off German armour plates. Only a handful of French tanks had radios, and these often broke as the tank lurched over uneven ground. German tanks were, on the contrary, all equipped with radios, allowing them to communicate with one another throughout battles, whilst French tank commanders could rarely contact other vehicles.
The Matilda Mk I tanks of the British Army were also designed for infantry support and were protected by thick armour. This was ideal for trench warfare,[dubious ] but made the tanks painfully slow in open battles. Their light cannons[dubious ] and machine-guns were usually unable to inflict serious damage on German vehicles. The exposed caterpillar tracks were easily broken by gunfire, and the Matilda tanks had a tendency to incinerate their crews if hit,[citation needed] as the petrol tanks were located on the top of the hull. By contrast the Infantry tank Matilda II fielded in lesser numbers was largely invulnerable to German gunfire and its gun was able to punch through the German tanks. However French and British tanks were at a disadvantage compared to the air supported German armoured assaults, and a lack of armoured support contributed significantly to the rapid Allied collapse in 1940.
World War II marked the first full-scale war where mechanization played a significant role. Most nations did not begin the war equipped for this. Even the vaunted German Panzer forces relied heavily on non-motorised support and flank units in large operations. While Germany recognized and demonstrated the value of concentrated use of mechanized forces, they never had these units in enough quantity to supplant traditional units. However, the British also saw the value in mechanization. For them it was a way to enhance an otherwise limited manpower reserve. America as well sought to create a mechanized army. For the United States, it was not so much a matter of limited troops, but instead a strong industrial base that could afford such equipment on a great scale.
The most visible vehicles of the war were the tanks, forming the armored spearhead of mechanized warfare. Their impressive firepower and armor made them the premier fighting machine of ground warfare. However, the large number of trucks and lighter vehicles that kept the infantry, artillery, and others moving were massive undertakings also.


Naval warfare changed dramatically during World War II, with the ascent of the aircraft carrier to the premier vessel of the fleet, and the impact of increasingly capable submarines on the course of the war. The development of new ships during the war was somewhat limited due to the protracted time period needed for production, but important developments were often retrofitted to older vessels. Advanced German submarine types came into service too late and after nearly all the experienced crews had been lost.
The German U-boats were used primarily for stopping/destroying the resources from the United States and Canada coming across the Atlantic. Submarines were critical in the Pacific Ocean as well as in the Atlantic Ocean. Japanese defenses against Allied submarines were ineffective. Much of the merchant fleet of the Empire of Japan, needed to supply its scattered forces and bring supplies such as petroleum and food back to the Japanese Archipelago, was sunk. This kept them from training adequate replacements for their lost aircrews and even forced the navy to be based near its oil supply. Among the warships sunk by submarines was the war's largest aircraft carrier, the Shinano.
The most important shipboard advances were in the field of anti-submarine warfare. Driven by the desperate necessity of keeping Britain supplied, technologies for the detection and destruction of submarines was advanced at high priority. The use of ASDIC (SONAR) became widespread and so did the installation of shipboard and airborne radar.


The actual weapons; the guns, mortars, artillery, bombs, and other devices, were as diverse as the participants and objectives. A bewildering array were developed during the war to meet specific needs that arose, but many traced their development to prior to World War II. Torpedoes began to use magnetic detonators; compass directed, programmed and even acoustic guidance systems; and improved propulsion. Fire-control systems continued to develop for ships' guns and came into use for torpedoes and anti-aircraft fire. Human torpedoes and the Hedgehog were also developed.
  • Armour weapons: The Tank destroyer, Specialist Tanks for Combat engineering including mine clearing Flail tanks, Flame tank, and amphibious designs
  • Aircraft: Glide bombs - the first "smart bombs", such as the Fritz X anti-shipping missile, had wire or radio remote control; the world's first jet fighter (Messerschmitt 262) and jet bomber (Arado 234), the world's first operational military helicopters (Flettner Fl 282), the world's first rocket-powered fighter (Messerschmitt 163)
  • Missiles: The Pulse jet powered V-1 flying bomb was the world's first cruise missile, Rockets progressed enormously: V-2 rocket, Katyusha rocket artillery and air launched rockets.
  • V1,V2 V3 autopilot bombs
  • HEAT, and HESH anti-armour warheads.
  • Proximity fuze for shells, bombs and rockets. This fuze is designed to detonate an explosive automatically when close enough to the target to destroy it, so a direct hit is not required and time/place of closest approach does not need to be estimated. Magnetic torpedoes and mines also had a sort of proximity fuse.
  • Guided weapons (by radio or trailing wires): glide bombs, crawling bombs, rockets.
  • Self-guiding weapons: torpedoes (sound seeking, compass guided and looping), V1 missile (compass and timer guided)
  • Aiming devices for bombs, torpedoes, artillery and machine guns, using special purpose mechanical and electronic analog and (perhaps) digital "computers". The mechanical analog Norden bomb sight is a well known example.
  • Napalm was developed, but did not see wide use until the Korean War
  • Plastic explosives like Nobel 808, Hexoplast 75, Compositions C and C2

Small arms development

New production methods for weapons such as stamping, riveting, and welding came into being to produce the number of arms needed. While this had been tried before, during World War I, it had resulted in quite possibly the worst firearm ever adopted by any military for use: the French Chauchat light machine gun. Design and production methods had advanced enough to manufacture weapons of reasonable reliability such as the PPSh-41, PPS-42, Sten, MP 40, M3 Grease Gun, Gewehr 43, Thompson submachine gun and the M1 Garand rifle. Other Weapons commonly found During World War II include the American, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), M1 Carbine Rifle, as well as the Colt M1911; The Japanese Type 100 submachine gun, the Type 99 machine gun, and the Arisaka bolt action rifle all were significant weapons used during the war.
World War II saw the establishment of the reliable semi-automatic rifle, such as the American M1 Garand and, more importantly, of the first widely used assault rifles, named after the German sturmgewehrs of the late war. Earlier renditions that hinted at this idea were that of the employment of the Browning Automatic Rifle and 1916 Fedorov Avtomat in a walking fire tactic in which men would advance on the enemy position showering it with a hail of lead. The Germans first developed the FG 42 for its paratroopers in the assault and later the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), firing an intermediate cartridge; the FG 42's use of a full-powered rifle cartridge made it difficult to control.
Developments in machine gun technology culminated in the Maschinengewehr 42 (MG42) which was of an advanced design unmatched at the time. It spurred post-war development on both sides of the upcoming Cold War and is still used by some armies to this day including the German Bundeswehr's MG 3. The Heckler & Koch G3, and many other Heckler & Koch designs, came from its system of operation. The United States military meshed the operating system of the FG 42 with the belt feed system of the MG42 to create the M60 machine gun used in the Vietnam War.
Despite being overshadowed by self-loading/automatic rifles and sub-machine guns, bolt-action rifles remained the mainstay infantry weapon of many nations during World War II. When the United States entered World War II, there were not enough M1 Garand rifles available to American forces which forced the US to start producing more M1903 rifles in order to act as a "stop gap" measure until sufficient quantities of M1 Garands were produced.
During the conflict, many new models of bolt-action rifles were produced as a result of lessons learned from the First World War with the designs of a number of bolt-action infantry rifles being modified in order to speed up production as well as to make the rifles more compact and easier to handle. Examples of bolt-action rifles that were used during World War II include the German Mauser Kar98k, the British Lee-Enfield No.4, and the Springfield M1903A3. During the course of World War II, bolt-action rifles and carbines were modified even further to meet new forms of warfare the armies of certain nations faced e.g. urban warfare and jungle warfare. Examples include the Soviet Mosin-Nagant M1944 carbine, which were developed by the Soviets as a result of the Red Army's experiences with urban warfare e.g. the Battle of Stalingrad, and the British Lee-Enfield No.5 carbine, that were developed for British and Commonwealth forces fighting the Japanese in South-East Asia and the Pacific.
When World War II ended in 1945, the small arms that were used in the conflict still saw action in the hands of the armed forces of various nations and guerrilla movements during and after the Cold War era. Nations like the Soviet Union and the United States provided many surplus, World War II-era small arms to a number of nations and political movements during the Cold War era as a pretext to providing more modern infantry weapons. Besides seeing conflict long after World War II ended, the small arms of World War II are now considered collector's items with many civilian firearm owners and collectors around the world due to their historical nature, low cost (due to many of these firearms now appearing on the firearms market in large numbers over the past decade), and their durability.

The atomic bomb

The massive research and development demands of the war included the Manhattan Project, the effort to quickly develop an atomic bomb, or nuclear fission warhead. It was perhaps the most profound military development of the war, and had a great impact on the scientific community, among other things creating a network of national laboratories in the United States.
Development was completed too late for use in the European Theater of World War II. Its invention meant that a single bomber aircraft could carry a weapon sufficiently powerful to devastate entire cities, making conventional warfare against a nation with an arsenal of them suicidal.
The strategic importance of the bomb, and its even more powerful fusion-based successors, did not become fully apparent until the United States lost its monopoly on the weapon in the post-war era. The Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, based partially on information obtained from Soviet espionage in the United States. Nuclear competition between the two superpowers played a large part in the development of the Cold War. The strategic implications of such a massively destructive weapon still reverberate in the 21st century.
There was also a German project to develop an atomic weapon. This failed for a variety of reasons, most notably German Antisemitism. The first tier of continental high energy physicists (Einstein, Bohr, Fermi, and Oppenheimer) who did much of their early study and research in Germany, were either Jewish or, in the case of Enrico Fermi, married to a Jew. Oppenheimer, who was an American Jew, was also a Socialist by conviction, and associated with the Communist Party. When they left Germany, the only significant atomic physicist left in Germany was Heisenberg, who dragged his feet on the project. He made some faulty calculations suggesting that the Germans would need significantly more heavy water than was necessary. The project was then doomed due to insufficient resources.
The Empire of Japan was also developing an Atomic Bomb, however, it floundered due to lack of resources despite gaining interest from the government.

Electronics, communications and intelligence

Electronics rose to prominence quickly in World War II. While prior to the war few electronic devices were seen as important pieces of equipment, by the middle of the war such instruments as radar and ASDIC (sonar) had proven their value. Additionally, equipment designed for communications and the interception of those communications was becoming critical.

Industrial technology

While the development of new equipment was rapid, it was also important to be able to produce these tools and get them to the troops in appropriate quantity. Those nations that were able to maximize their industrial capacity and mobilize it for the war effort were most successful at equipping their troops in a timely way with adequate material. An outstanding German innovation was the Jerrycan which carries by its name a tribute to its success.
One of the biggest developments was the ability to produce synthetic rubber. Natural rubber was mainly harvested in the South Pacific, and the Allies were cut off from a large quantity of it due to Japanese expansion. Thus the development of synthetic rubber allowed for the Allied war machine to continue growing, giving the US a significant technical edge as World War II continued.
For the Germans it was the development of alternative fuels as in hydrogen peroxide - which would be a forerunner to the development of fuel-cell technology and synthetic fuel technology.


The others of this blog

The others of this blog

World War II casualties

World War II casualties

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American corpses sprawled on the beach of Tarawa. The Marines secured the island after 76 hours of intense fighting with around 6,000 dead in total from both sides together. The Pacific War claimed the lives of more than 100,000 US military personnel.
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. The tables below give a detailed country-by-country count of human losses.

Total dead

Killing of Jews at Ivangorod, Ukraine, 1942. A woman protects a child with her body as Einsatzgruppen soldiers aim their rifles.

Dead Soviet soldiers, January 1942. Officially, roughly 8.7 million Soviet soldiers died in the course of the war.
World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total dead ranging from 50 million to over 70 million.[1] The sources cited in this article document an estimated death toll in World War II of 62 to 78 million, making it the deadliest war in world history in absolute terms of total dead but not in terms of deaths relative to the world population.
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. Civilians killed totaled from 40 to 52 million, including 13 to 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead: from 22 to 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 5 million prisoners of war.

Recent historical scholarship

Recent historical scholarship has shed new insight into 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 war dead.[2] Estimated USSR losses within postwar borders now stand at 26.6 million.[3] In August 2009 the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) researchers estimated Poland's dead at between 5.6 and 5.8 million.[4]
The German Army historian Dr. Rüdiger Overmans published a study in 2000 that estimated German military dead and missing at 5.3 million.[5] War dead totals in this article for the British Commonwealth are based on the research of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[6] Casualties listed here include about 4 to 12 million war-related famine deaths in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India that are often omitted from other compilations of World War II casualties.[7][8]

Classification of casualties

Katyn 1943 exhumation. Photo by Polish Red Cross delegation.
Some nations in World War II suffered disproportionally more casualties than others. This is especially true regarding civilian casualties. The following chart gives data on the number of dead for each country, along with population information to show the relative impact of losses. 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, Japanese war crimes, population transfers in the Soviet Union, other War Crimes and deaths due to war related famine and disease. 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.[9] 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, our sources can give us 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 footnotes give a detailed breakdown of the casualties and their sources, including data on the number of wounded where reliable sources are available.

Human losses by country

Total deaths

Human losses of World War II by country

(When the number of deaths in a country are disputed, a range of war losses is given)

(The sources of the figures are provided in the footnotes)
Country Total population
Civilian deaths due to
military activity and crimes against humanity
Deaths as % of
1939 population
 AlbaniaA 1,073,000 30,000
30,000 2.81
 AustraliaB 6,998,000 39,800 700 40,500 0.57
 Austria (German Controlled)C 6,650,000 Included with German Army 120,000 120,000 (see table below)
 BelgiumD 8,387,000 12,100 75,900 88,000 1.05
 BrazilE 40,289,000 1,000 1,000 2,000 0.02
 BulgariaF 6,458,000 22,000 3,000 25,000 0.38
 Burma(British)G 16,119,000 22,000 250,000 272,000 1.69
 CanadaH 11,267,000 45,400
45,400 0.40
 China I 517,568,000 3,000,000
to 4,000,000
to 16,000,000
to 20,000,000
(1.93 to 3.86)
 CubaJ 4,235,000
100 100 0.00
 CzechoslovakiaK 15,300,000 25,000 300,000 325,000 2.12
 DenmarkL 3,795,000 2,100 1,100 3,200 0.08
 Dutch East IndiesM 69,435,000
to 4,000,000
to 4,000,000
(4.3 to 5.76)
 Estonia (within 1939 borders)N 1,122,000 Included with the Soviet, German, and Finnish Armies 50,000 50,000 4.44
 EthiopiaO 17,700,000 5,000 95,000 100,000 0.6
 FinlandP 3,700,000 95,000 2,000 97,000 2.62
France FranceQ 41,700,000 217,600 350,000 567,600 1.35
 French IndochinaR 24,600,000
to 1,500,000
to 1,500,000
(4.07 to 6.1)
 GermanyS 69,850,000 5,530,000 1,100,000
to 3,150,000
to 8,680,000
(see table below)
Greece GreeceT 7,222,000 20,000
to 35,100
to 770,000
to 805,100
(4.44 to 11.15)
Hungary HungaryU 9,129,000 300,000 280,000 580,000 6.35
 IcelandV 119,000
200 200 0.17
 India (British)W 378,000,000 87,000 1,500,000
to 2,500,000
to 2,587,000
(0.42 to 0.68)
IranX 14,340,000 200
200 0.00
Iraq Iraq'Y 3,698,000 500
500 0.01
 IrelandZ 2,960,000
200 200 0.00
 ItalyAA 44,394,000 301,400 155,600 457,000 1.03
 JapanAB 71,380,000 2,120,000 500,000
to 1,000,000
2,620,000 to 3,120,000 (3.67 to 4.37)
 Korea (Japanese Colony)AC 23,400,000
to 483,000
to 483,000
(1.6 to 2.06)
 Latvia (within 1939 borders)AD 1,951,000 Included with the Soviet and German Armies 230,000 230,000 11.78
 Lithuania (within 1939 borders)AE 2,442,000 Included with the Soviet and German Armies 350,000 350,000 14.33
 LuxembourgAF 295,000
2,000 2,000 0.68
 Malaya(British)AG 4,391,000
100,000 100,000 2.28
 Malta(British)AH 269,000
1,500 1,500 0.56
 MexicoAI 19,320,000
100 100 0.00
 MongoliaAJ 819,000 300
300 0.04
Australia Nauru(Australian)AK 3,400
500 500 14.7
 Nepal BG 6,000,000 Included with British Indian Army

 NetherlandsAL 8,729,000 17,000 284,000 301,000 3.45
 Newfoundland(British)AM 300,000 included with the U.K. 100 100 0.03
 New ZealandAN 1,629,000 11,900
11,900 0.73
 NorwayAO 2,945,000 3,000 6,500 9,500 0.32
Australia Papua and New Guinea(Australian)AP 1,292,000
15,000 15,000 1.17
 Philippines (U.S. Territory)AQ 16,000,000 57,000 500,000
to 1,000,000
to 1,057,000
(3.48 to 6.6)
Poland Poland (within 1939 borders)AR 34,849,000 240,000 5,380,000
to 5,580,000
to 5,820,000
(16.1 to 16.7)
 Portuguese TimorAS 500,000
to 70,000
to 70,000
(8.00 to 14.00)
Romania Romania (within 1939 borders)AT 19,934,000 300,000 500,000 800,000 4.01
Belgium Ruanda-Urundi(Belgian)AU 4,200,000
0 to 300,000 0 to 300,000 (0.00 to 7.1)
 Singapore(British)AV 728,000
50,000 50,000 6.87
South Africa South AfricaAW 10,160,000 11,900
11,900 0.12
Empire of Japan South Pacific Mandate(Japanese)AX 1,900,000
57,000 57,000 3.00
 Soviet Union (see table below) AY 168,524,000 8,800,000
to 10,700,000
to 14,600,000
23,400,000 13.88
Spain SpainAZ 25,637,000 Included with the German Army

 SwedenBA 6,341,000
600 600 0.01
 SwitzerlandBB 4,210,000
100 100 0.00
 ThailandBC 15,023,000 5,600 2,000 7,600 0.04
Turkey TurkeyBD 17,370,000 200
200 0.00
 United KingdomBE 47,760,000 383,800 67,100 450,900 0.94
 United StatesBF 131,028,000 416,800 1,700 418,500 0.32
 YugoslaviaBG 15,400,000 300,000 to
1,400,00 to
1,700,000 to
(11.0 to 6.67)
Totals 1,995,537,400 22,426,600
to 25,487,500
to 55,883,000
to 79,184,700
(3.17 to 4.00)
  • Figures rounded to the nearest hundredth place.
  • Population in 1939 - Source: Population Statistics[10]
  • War losses are for the national boundaries of 1939.
  • Military casualties include deaths of regular military forces from combat as well as non combat causes. Partisan and resistance fighter deaths forces are included with military losses. The deaths of prisoners of war in captivity and personnel missing in action are also included with military deaths. The armed forces of the various nations are treated as single entities, for example the deaths of Austrians, Soviets, French and ethnic Germans in the Wehrmacht are included with German military losses. There is no reliable breakout of the war dead from Africa and Asia in the armed forces of France and the UK. France and the UK have never published an ethnic breakout of their losses.
  • Total Soviet losses in the postwar 1946–91 boundaries[11] were 26.6 million. (13.5% of the total population of 196.7 million)[12]
  • Total Polish losses in the postwar 1946 boundaries[13] were about 3,600,000 (15.8% of the total population of 23.3 million)[14]
  • Total Romanian losses in the postwar 1946 boundaries.[15] were 500,000 (2.5% of the total population of 15.9 million)[16]
  • Total losses of Czechoslovakia in the post war 1946-1991 borders were about 250,000 (1.9% of the total population of 14.6 million.) [17]

Third Reich

Human Losses of The Third Reich in World War II (Included in above figures of total war dead)
Country Population
Deaths as
% of 1939
Austria 6,650,000 260,000 120,000 380,000 5.7
Germany (within 1937 borders, Danzig & Memel Territory) 69,850,000 4,450,000 1,050,000 to 2,450,000 5,500,000 to 6,900,000 7.9 to 10.0
Ethnic Germans and other nations 6,700,000 600,000 50,000 to 700,000 650,000 to 1,300,000 9.7 to 19.4
Soviet citizens in the German military 800,000 220,000
220,000 27.5
Totals 84,000,000 5,530,000 1,220,000 to 3,270,000 6,750,000 to 8,800,000 8.0 to 10.5
Sources: See footnotes for Germany and Austria [8]


Human Losses of The USSR in World War II (Included in the above figures of total war dead)
Country Population
Deaths as
% of 1939
 Soviet Union
(within 1939 borders)[9]
168,524,000 8,800,000
to 10,700,000
to 12,700,000
23,400,000 13.9
(within 1939 borders)
50,000 50,000 4.5
(within 1939 borders)
230,000 230,000 11.6
(within 1939 borders[18][19])
350,000 350,000 14.5
Eastern Regions-
(figures included with Poland)
2,000,000 2,000,000 17.2
Bessarabia & Bukovina
(figures included with Romania)
300,000 300,000 8.1
 Czechoslovakia[10]-Carpathian Ruthenia
(figures included with Czechoslovakia)
50,000 50,000 7.1
Less: Population Transfers -Net[20][21][22] (1,237,000)

Growth of Population 1939–mid-1941 7,923,000

Soviet deaths included in the German Military

220,000 220,000
Total population of USSR in June 1941, within postwar 1946-1991 borders[11] 196,716,000 8,800,000
to 10,700,000
to 15,900,000
26,600,000 13.5
  • Source for Population of Poland, Romania and Baltic States is League of Nations Yearbook 1942-1944[23]
  • The borders of the USSR in 1941 are de facto not de jure.
  • The occupation of the Baltic States by the USSR was considered illegal and never recognized by the United States.
The estimated breakdown for each Soviet Republic of total war dead is as follows
Soviet Republic Population 1940 Military Dead Civilian Dead Total Deaths as % 1940 Pop.
Azerbaijan 3,270,000 210,000 90,000 300,000 9.1%
Armenia 1,320,000 150,000 30,000 180,000 13.6%
Belarus 9,050,000 620,000 1,670,000 2,290,000 25.3%
Estonia 1,050,000 30,000 50,000 80,000 7.6%
Georgia 3,610,000 190,000 110,000 300,000 8.3%
Kazakhstan 6,150,000 310,000 350,000 660,000 10.7%
Kyrgyzstan 1,530,000 70,000 50,000 120,000 7.8%
Latvia 1,890,000 30,000 230,000 260,000 13.7%
Lithuania 2,930,000 25,000 350,000 375,000 12.7%
Moldova 2,470,000 50,000 120,000 170,000 6.9%
Russia 110,100,000 6,750,000 7,200,000 13,950,000 12.7%
Tajikistan (See Note Below) 1,530,000 50,000-90,000 70,000 120,000 7.8%
Turkmenistan 1,300,000 70,000 30,000 100,000 7.7%
Uzbekistan 6,550,000 330,000 220,000 550,000 8.4%
Ukraine 41,340,000 1,650,000 5,200,000 6,850,000 16.3%
Unidentified - 165,000 130,000 295,000
Total USSR 194,090,000 10,700,000 15,900,000 26,600,000 13.7%
  • The source of the figures on the table is Vadim Erlikman. Poteri narodonaseleniia v XX veke : spravochnik. Moscow 2004. ISBN 5-93165-107-1 pp. 23–35 Erlikman notes that these figures are his estimates.
  • Figure of 15.9 million civilian war dead includes 3-4 million deaths due to war related famine and disease in the interior regions not occupied by Nazi Germany.
  • Figures for Belarus and the Ukraine include about 2 million civilian dead that are also listed in the total war dead of Poland.

Holocaust deaths

Included in the above figures of total war dead are the victims of the Holocaust
Jewish Deaths
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.[25] Other estimates for Holocaust deaths range between 4.9 to 6.0 million Jews.[26]
Statistical breakdown of Jewish Dead:
  • Yad Vashem has identified the names of four million Jewish Holocaust dead.[30]
The following figures are from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust.[31]
Country Pre War Jewish population Low Estimate High Estimate
Austria 191,000 50,000 65,000
Belgium 60,000 25,000 29,000
Czech Republic(Bohemia & Moravia) 92,000 77,000 78,300
Denmark 8,000 60 116
Estonia 4,600 1,500 2,000
France 260,000 75,000 77,000
Germany 566,000 135,000 142,000
Greece 73,000 59,000 67,000
Hungary(borders 1940)[32] 725,000 502,000 569,000
Italy 48,000 6,500 9,000
Latvia 95,000 70,000 72,000
Lithuania 155,000 130,000 143,000
Luxembourg 3,500 1,000 2,000
Netherlands 112,000 100,000 105,000
Norway 1,700 800 800
Poland 3,250,000 2,700,000 3,000,000
Romania(Borders 1940) 441,000 121,000 287,000
Slovakia 89,000 60,000 71,000
Soviet Union(Borders 1939) 2,825,000 700,000 1,100,000
Yugoslavia 68,000 56,000 65,000
Total 9,067,000 4,869,860 5,894,716
Non Jewish Dead
Some scholars maintain that the definition of the Holocaust should also include the other victims persecuted and killed by the Nazis.[33][34][35][36][37] Using this definition, the total number of Holocaust victims is between 11 million and 17 million people.[38]
  • Roma: Most estimates of Roma (Gypsies) victims range from 130,000 to 500,000[36][39][40] 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[41] Hancock writes that, proportionately, the death toll equaled "and almost certainly exceed[ed], that of Jewish victims."[42]
  • Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians: Sources in the English language estimate 4.5 to 11.7 million Soviet civilians were victims of Nazi ethnic cleansing and the war;[47][48][49] A report published by the Russian Academy of Science in 1995 put the civilian death toll due to the German occupation at 13.7 million[50][51] 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 the huge toll.[52] Russian sources include Jewish Holocaust deaths with total civilian deaths and do not list them separately
  • Homosexuals: 10,000-15,000 Gay men perished in Nazi concentration camps.[53]
  • Other victims of Nazi persecution: Between 1,000 to 2,000 Roman Catholic clergy[54] about 1,000 Jehovah's Witnesses;[55] and an unknown number of Freemasons.[56] "The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder."[57] During the Nazi era Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, and trade union leaders were victims of Nazi persecution.[58]
  • Serbs: The Croatian allies of Nazi Germany murdered between 320,000 and 340,000 ethnic Serb residents of Croatia and Bosnia during the war.[59]
Roma losses by country
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.
The following figures are from The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust.[60]
Country Pre War Roma population Low Estimate High Estimate
Austria 11,200 6,800 8,250
Belgium 600 350 500
Czech Republic(Bohemia & Moravia) 13,000 5,000 6,500
Estonia 1,000 500 1,000
France 40,000 15,150 15,150
Germany 20,000 15,000 15,000
Greece ? 50 50
Hungary 100,000 1,000 28,000
Italy 25,000 1,000 1,000
Latvia 5,000 1,500 2,500
Lithuania 1,000 500 1,000
Luxembourg 200 100 200
Netherlands 500 215 500
Poland 50,000 8,000 35,000
Romania 300,000 19,000 36,000
Slovakia 80,000 400 10,000
Soviet Union(Borders 1939) 200,000 30,000 35,000
Yugoslavia 100,000 26,000 90,000
Total 947,500 130,565 285,650
  • 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".[61]

Japanese war crimes

Included with total war dead are victims of Japanese war crimes.
  • R. J. Rummel estimates the civilian victims 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; UK 13,000; UK-Colonies 11,000; US 10,700; Australia 8,000.[8][62]
  • Werner Gruhl estimates the civilian victims 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.[63] Gruhl estimates POW deaths in Japanese captivity at 331,584. Detailed by country: China 270,000; Netherlands 8,500; U.K. 12,433; Canada 273; Philippines 20,000; Australia 7,412; New Zealand 31; and the United States 12,935[63]
  • Out of “60,000" Indian Army POWs taken at the Fall of Singapore, 11,000 died in captivity[65]

Repression in the Soviet Union

The total war dead in the USSR includes victims of Soviet repression. The number of deaths in the Gulag labor camps increased as a result of wartime overcrowding and food shortages.[68] The Stalin regime deported the entire populations of ethnic minorities considered to be potentially disloyal.[69] Since 1990 Russian scholars have been given access to the Soviet-era archives and have published data on the numbers of persons executed and those who died in Gulag labor camps and prisons.[70] The Russian scholar Viktor Zemskov puts the death toll from 1941-1945 at about 1 million based on data from the Soviet archives.[71] 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.[72][73] 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.[74][75] Rosefielde believes that the release of the Soviet Archive figures is disinformation generated by the modern KGB.[76] 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.[77] Rosefielde's demographic analysis puts the number of excess deaths due to Soviet repression at 2,183,000 in 1939-1940 and 5,458,000 from 1941-1945.[78] 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.[79]
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.[80] 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.[81] In 2005 Tadeusz Piotrowski estimated the death toll in Soviet hands at 350,000.[82]
The Estonian State Commission on Examination of Policies of Repression 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.[83]
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.[84]
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.[85] In August 1941, 243,106 Poles living in the Special Settlements were amnestied and released by the Soviets.[86]
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; Ukranian OUN members 100,000; Poles 30,000.[87]
A total of 2,230,500 [88] persons were living in the settlements in October 1945 and 309,100 deaths were reported in Special Settlements for the years 1941-1948[89]
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)[90] However some western scholars estimate the total at between 1.7 and 2.3 million.[91]

Military casualties by branch of service

Casualties of World War II by Branch of Service
Country Branch of service Number served Killed/missing Wounded Prisoners of war Captured Percent killed
Germany Army[92] 13,600,000 4,202,000


Air Force(including infantry units)[92] 2,500,000 433,000


Navy[92] 1,200,000 138,000


Waffen SS[92] 900,000 314,000


Volkssturm and other Paramilitary Forces[92]

Soviet citizens in German military service[93][94]

Unidentified by branch of service (see note below)

6,035,000[95] 11,100,000[96]

Total Germany 18,200,000 5,533,000 6,035,000 11,100,000 30.4


Japan[97][98] Army1937-1945 6,300,000 1,326,076 85,600 30,000 24.22

Navy1941-1945 2,100,000 414,879 8,900 10,000 19.76

POW dead after Surrender.[99][100][101]

Total Japan


Italy All branches of service 3,430,000[102] 291,376[103] 320,000 1,300,000[104] 8.49


Soviet Union 1939–40 All branches of service[105]
136,945 205,924

Soviet Union 1941–45 All branches of service[106] 34,476,700 8,668,400 14,685,593 4,050,000 25.1

Conscripted Reservists not yet in active service (see note below)[107]

Civilians in POW Camps (see note below)[108]

Paramilitary and Soviet partisan units[109]

Total USSR
10,725,345 14,915,517 5,750,000


British Commonwealth[6][110][111] All branches of service 11,115,000 580,497 475,000 318,000 5.2


United States[112] Army[113] 11,260,000 318,274 565,861

Air Force (included with Army)[114] (3,400,000) (88,119) (17,360)

Navy 4,183,446 62,614 37,778

Marine Corps 669,100 24,511 68,207

United States Coast Guard[115] 241,093 1,917


United States Merchant Marine[116] 243,000 9,521 12,000

Unidentified by branch of service[117]


Total US 16,596,639 416,837 683,846 C.130,000 2.5
  1. 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;[118] 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;;.[119]
  2. Dr. Rüdiger Overmans believes that "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";[120]
  3. Soviet sources list the deaths of 474,967 of the 2,652,672 German Armed Forces POW taken in the War.[121]
  1. 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.[109] There were an additional 127,000 war dead in 1939–40 during the Winter War with Finland[122]
  2. 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.[123] 500,000 missing in action and 1,103,300 POW dead and another 180,000 liberated POWs who most likely emigrated to other countries.[124][125][126] Figures include Navy losses of 154,771.[127] Non combat deaths include 157,000 sentenced to death by court martial.[128]
  3. 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).[105]
  4. The number of wounded includes 2,576,000 permanently disabled.[129]
  5. 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).[124][130]
  6. 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.[131]
British Commonwealth
  1. Number served: UK & Crown Colonies (5,896,000); India (2,582,000), Australia (993,000); Canada (1,100,000); New Zealand (295,000); South Africa (250,000).[132]
  2. Total war related deaths reported by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: UK & Crown Colonies (383,786); Undivided India (87,032), Australia (40,464); Canada (45,383); New Zealand (11,929); South Africa (11,903);[6]
  3. Wounded: UK & Crown Colonies (284,049); India (64,354), Australia (39,803); Canada (53,174); New Zealand (19,314); South Africa (14,363)[110][133][134]
  4. Prisoner of war: UK & Crown Colonies (180,488); India (79,481); Australia (26,358); South Africa (14,750); Canada (9,334); New Zealand (8,415))[110][133][134]
  5. 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.[135]
  1. Battle deaths were 292,131, Army 234,874, Navy 36,950, Marine Corps 19,733, Coast Guard 574, and United States Army Air Forces (included in Army) 52,173. (185,924 deaths occurred in the European/Atlantic theater of operations and 106,207 deaths occurred in Asia/Pacific theater of operations.)[136][137]
  2. The United States Merchant Marine war dead of 9,521 are included with military losses. U.S. Merchant Mariners in “ocean-going service” during World War II have Veteran Status.[138]
  3. During World War II, 1.2 million African Americans served in the Armed Forces and 708 were killed in combat. 350,000 American women served in the military during World War II and 16 were killed in action[139]

Commonwealth military casualties

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Annual Report 2009-2010[140] 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 The Commonwealth War Graves Commission are representative of the number of names commemorated for all servicemen/women of the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth and former U.K. 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 C.W.G.C. the dates of inclusion for Commonwealth War Dead are 03/09/1939 to 31/12/1947.

Charts and graphs