I’ve been watching a new channel over the holidays called the Military Channel and a number of its shows on World War II, including the battles between the Stalin and Hitler.  This lead me to head over to Wikipedia to learn more, and I came across the following chart.

It summarizes military and civilian deaths by country, including the percentage of the population killed.

Other sites I looked at had different figures so there is some variability in each of these estimates — either way, the scale of these figures is staggering and difficult to comprehend.

  • Soviet Union had over 20mm deaths and I’ve seen estimates for China range from 10mm-20mm.  Even at the low end, combined their ~30mm deaths represent ~50% of the war’s causalities.
  • Within the Soviet Republics, Belarus lost ~25% of its population and Ukraine, its larger neighbor directly to the south, lost ~16%
  • Poland lost over 17% of its population during the war.
  • The chart includes~6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

To put these losses in some context:

  • WWII’s 60+ million deaths were ~2.6% of the planet’s ~2.3 billion people (1939)
  • WWI’s ~16mm deaths were ~0.9% of the planet’s ~1.8 billion people (1914)
  • The American Civil War’s ~625,000 deaths, the country’s bloodiest conflict, were ~2% of the country’s ~31.4 million people (1860)