World War II casualties of the Soviet Union

Dead Soviet civilians near Minsk, Belarus, 1943
Kiev, June 23, 1941
A victim of starvation in besieged Leningrad suffering from muscle atrophy in 1941

World War II losses of the Soviet Union from all related causes were about 27,000,000, both civilian and military,[1] 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,[2] 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. [3][4][5] This includes 8,668,400 military deaths as calculated by the Russian Ministry of Defense.[2][6][7]

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.[8] 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.[9][10] [11] 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.[12] Some Russian politicians and journalists put the total number of losses in the war, both civilian and military, at over 40 million.[13][14][15][16]

Military losses

Krivosheev's analysis

Soviet fighter ace Lydia Litvyak was killed in action on August 1, 1943. 800,000 women served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the war. They served as pilots, snipers, machine gunners, tank crew members, partisans and medical personnel, as well as in auxiliary roles.

1993 Russian Ministry of Defense report authored by a group headed by General G. I. Krivosheev detailed military casualties.[17] 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.[18] 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 A1and 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.[19]

Soviet World War II military casualties 1939–45 by period [20] [21]
Dead and missing Wounded and sick
Battle of Khalkhin Gol 1939


9,703 15,952
Invasion of Poland 1939[6][22] 1,475 2,383
Winter War 1939–40[6][22] 126,875 264,908
World War II 1941–45[23][24] 8,668,400 22,326,905
(including 14,685,593 wounded and 7,641,312 sick)
Total 8,806,453 22,610,148

The schedule below summarizes Soviet casualties from 1941–1945.

Starting attack in Leningrad battlefront
Military dead and missing (1941–45) by cause [25] [26]
Cause Estimate
KIA or died of wounds 6,329,600[27]
Missing in action 500,000[28]
Noncombat deaths of units at the front
(sickness, accidents, etc.)
Died or killed while POW 1,283,200[29]
Total irrecoverable losses (from listed strength) 8,668,400[30]
Soviet prisoners of war
Reconciliation of missing [30]
Missing in action 500,000[28]
Missing later re-conscripted 940,000[28]
POW deaths 1,283,000 [28]
POW returned to USSR 1,836,000[28]
Total reported missing 4,559,000[28]

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.[31][27] 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".[28] 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.[28] 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.[32] 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.[33]

Soviet conscripts 1941
Reconciliation of Soviet forces 1941–1945 [26]
Description Balance
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)
Total losses 8,668,000
  • Discharged during war of 9,693,000 includes 3,798,200 sent on sick leave; 3,614,600 transferred to work in industry, anti-aircraft defense and armed guards; 1,174,600 sent to NKVD troops and organs; 250,400 transferred to Polish, Czechoslovak and Romanian armies; 436,600 imprisoned; 206,000 discharged; and 212,400 missing in rear areas.[27]
  • During the war 422,700 men were sent to penal units at the front and not discharged. [34]

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.

Carrying a wounded soldier on the Leningrad Front
Naked Soviet POWs in Mauthausen concentration camp [35]
Numbers of wounded & sick by category
according to Military Medical Service [36]
Wounded Sick Total
Total 14,685,593 7,641,312 22,326,905
Of these:
Discharged (3,050,733) (747,425) (3,798,158)
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)
Casualties 1941–1945 According to Field Reports [26]
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.

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.[37]

Monument in Israel to Jewish war dead in the Soviet Army
Soviet military dead and missing by ethnicity (1941–45) [38]
Total Percentage
Russians 5,756,000 66.402
Ukrainians 1,377,400 15.890
Belarusians 252,900 2.917
Tatars 187,700 2.165
Jews 142,500 1.644
Kazakhs 125,500 1.448
Uzbeks 117,900 1.360
Armenians 83,700 0.966
Georgians 79,500 0.917
Others 545,300 6.291
Total 8,668,000 100.0
Total losses by age group [39]
Age group Total losses % of total losses
Under 20 years 1,560,000 18.0
21-25 1,907,000 22.0
26-30 1,517,000 17.5
31-35 1,430,200 16.5
36-40 1,040,200 12
41-45 693,500 8
46-50 433,400 5
over 50 years 86,700 1
All age groups 8,668,400 100

Criticism of Krivosheev

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 deaths[40][41] and deaths of service personnel in rear area hospitals.[10] 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.[42]

Description Losses per
Killed in action[43] 5,226,800
Died of wounds[43] 1,102,800
Non-combat losses
(disease, accidents etc.)[43]
Missing in action and POWs taken[44] 5,059,000
Less: inducted reservists not in field units
(disputed,see note below) [44]
Less: re-conscripted Pows and missing
(disputed,see note below) [43][45]
Total POWs returned from captivity[46] -1,836,000
Total 8,668,400
  • The data listed in the Krivosheev study has been disputed, S. N. Mikhalev put the losses the combat forces at 10,922,000[45] Historian Viktor Zemskov estimated total military dead at 11.5 million[47] A recent study by Christian Hartmann put the total at 11.4 million.[48] Some researchers in Russia put the total demographic losses of the military at nearly 14.0 million. S. N. Mikahlev put total losses at 13.7 million [49] S.A.Il'Enkov at the Russian military archives believes total losses were 13.850 million.[50]
  • Krivosheev's critics maintain that he underestimated the numbers of missing and POWs. According to Viktor Zemskov total POW dead were 2.3 million and the number missing in action 1.5 million, 2.2 million more than Krivosheev. He noted that the figure includes military prisoners as well as militias, guerrillas, special units of various civil departments [51] S.N. Mikhalev maintained that Krivosheev understated irrecoverable losses by 2.254 million [52] Data published in Russia indicate Soviet POW losses of 2,543,000 (5,734,000 were captured, 821,000 released into German service with the German military and 2,371,000 liberated)[53][51]
  • 1,046,000 sent to hospital were deducted from the total strength at the end of the war. In Krivosheev's figures 3,798,000 personnel were discharged for medical reasons of whom 2,576,000 became invalids. Kiriosheev does not include the balance of 1,222,000 with the 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 and sick personnel.[50] S.N Mikhalev, put total losses at 13.7 million, maintained,based on his analysis of Ministry of Defense documents that a total of 2.6 million service personnel died of sickness or wounds in hospitals, 1.5 million more than the figure in the Krivosheev study.[49]
  • 403,200 civilians, on military ration strength, were deducted from the total strength at the end of the war. S.N Mikhalev maintained that they should have been included in the balance that calculated the casualties.[49]
  • 994,300[49] personnel were convicted of offenses. According to Krivosheev 422,700 [54] were sent to "penal sub-units at the front" S.N. Mikhalev maintained that the penal sub-units are not included with the casualties reported by the forces in the field.[55] According to S.N. Mikhalev 135,000 service personnel were executed after being convicted, he believed that they are not included with the non-combat losses of the frontal units.[55] Krivosheev maintains that those executed are included with non-combat losses of the field forces.[43] Krivosheev lists an additional 436,600 personnel as being "imprisoned" during the war and were deducted from the total on active duty at the end of the war.[44] However S.N.Mikhalev includes those imprisoned with irrecoverable losses[56]

Western historians estimate 3.3 million dead out of 5.7 million total Soviet POW captured.[57][58] According to German figures 5,734,000 Soviet POWs were taken[59] 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.".[60] 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.[61] 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.[62] In addition to the German-held POW Romania captured 82,090 Soviet POWs, 5,221 died, 3,331 escaped, and 13,682 were released [63] Finland captured 64,188 Soviet POWs, at least 18,318 were documented to have died in Finnish prisoner of war camps.[64]

In 2000 S. N. Mikhalev[65] published 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.[66]

Reconciliation of conscripted persons [67]
Description Krivosheev Mikhalev Difference
Army & Navy - June 1941 4,902,000 4,704,000 [KMDiff 1] (198,000)
Drafted during war[68] 29,575,000 29,575,000 0
Discharged during war[KMDiff 2] (9,693,000) (9,693,000) 0
Army & Navy – June 1945 (12,840,000) (11,999,000) [KMDiff 3] 841,000
Conscripted reservists (500,000) 0 [KMDiff 4] 500,000
Subtotal: operational losses 11,444,000 12,587,000 1,143,000
MIA re-conscripted[KMDiff 5] (940,000) 0 940,000
Liberated POW returned to USSR (1,836,000) (1,836,000) 0
Losses of NKVD & border troops[KMDiff 6] 0 159,000 159,000
Losses in the Far East August 1945 0 12,000 [KMDiff 7] 12,000
Total irrecoverable losses 8,668,000 10,922,000 [KMDiff 8] 2,254,000


  1. ^ Mikhalev excludes Construction troops whose casualties were not included in the field reports.
  2. ^ Krivosheev includes those sent on sick leave, those sent to industry, NKVD or foreign units and 436,600 imprisoned after sentencing. Mikhalev maintains that this figure includes personnel who died in hospital of wounds and sickness and the deaths of those convicted of offenses.
  3. ^ Mikhalev excludes 403,000 Construction troops whose casualties were not included in the field reports and 437,000 imprisoned after sentencing already deducted in number of discharged
  4. ^ Mikhalev maintains that they were military operational losses that should be included with total casualties
  5. ^ MIA Re-conscripted were men conscripted back into the Soviet army during the war as territories were being liberated. Mikhalev maintains that they should not be deducted because were included in the Red Army strength in June 1945 and that the number conscripted excludes those drafted twice.
  6. ^ NKVD & Border Troops -Mikhalev adds these losses to the total because they were not part of the Red Army balance in June 1945.
  7. ^ Mikhalev adds these losses to the total because they were not part of the Red Army balance in June 1945
  8. ^ In addition Mikhalev believed that an additional 1.8 million deaths in hospital of wounded and sick personnel and 1.0 million convicted of offenses should be added to the total irreplaceable losses

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) [66] Steven Rosefielde estimated 1 million military deaths of men drafted from the Gulag into penal suicide battalions [69]

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"[10] 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.[9] 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)[70] This database does not include all men killed in the war; graves registration teams continue to identify war dead who are not currently included.[71]

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:

  • On February 14, 2017 at a hearing of the Russian State Duma a presentation by legislator Nikolai Zemtsov, a member of the non-governmental organization Immortal regiment of Russia, maintained that documents of the now defunct Soviet Gosplan indicated that Soviet war dead were almost 42 million (19 million military and 23 million civilians).[72][13][16] However scholars believe that these figures are without serious foundation.[73]
  • Mark Solonin–Solonin maintains that Krivoshev covered up casualties that were three to four times greater than Germany's. Solonin claimed that Russian official sources that list deaths of 13.7 million civilians due to the German occupation include victims of Stalinist repression. He points out that the current figures for civilian war dead are taken from Soviet era sources. Solonin estimates total losses as somewhat under 20 million. Military dead numbered at least 10.7 million,[74] excluding 2.18 million soldiers who are unaccounted for, half of whom he assumed died. He asserted that some deserted or emigrated and that a higher death toll is possible. Solonin's estimate is that 5–6 million civilians were killed by the invaders (including 2.83 million Jews) and over 1 million civilians perished in the Siege of Leningrad and in Stalingrad. He claimed that 6–9 million Soviets fell to Stalin's repressions, although in contemporary Russian official sources they are included with civilian war dead.[75]
  • Viktor ZemskovZemskov maintained that the population loss due to the war was 20 million, including 16 million direct losses and 4 million deaths due to the deterioration in living conditions. He maintains that the Russian Academy of Science figure of 26.6 million total war dead includes about 7 million deaths due to natural causes based on the mortality rate that prevailed before the war. Zemskov maintains that military dead numbered 11.5 million, including nearly 4 million POWs. He maintains that the figure of 6.8 million civilian deaths in occupied regions was overstated because it included persons who were evacuated to the rear areas. He submitted an estimate of 4.5 million civilians who were Nazi victims or were killed in the occupied zone. Zemskov maintains that the government figure of 2.1 million civilian deaths due to forced labor in Germany was inflated compared to German wartime records that put the deaths of forced workers at 200,000.[76]
  • " Igor Ivlev,Washed in Blood"Ivlev's study maintains that actual losses were 2–2.5 times more than 8.7 million. He puts losses at 38.5 million, including military dead of 20.58 million and 18 million civilians. He has requested that the Russian government conduct a new investigation. The study's data was based on death or MIA notifications, unclaimed personal bank deposits, front and rear hospital reports, Communist Party and Young Communist League membership files, the 1946 Soviet electorate and the changing gap between men and women before and after the War.[77] Ivlev has presented a summary of his argument on the Russian website [78]
  • Lev Lopukhovsky/Boris Kavalerchik–Lopukhovsky and Kavalerchik label Krivosheev's transfer of military casualties to civilian losses as "ingratitude and blasphemy over their cherished memory". They demanded that the Russian government reinvestigate the matter.[79] They state that Krivosheev's group understated loses in the crucial period of 1941–1942. [80][81][82][unreliable source?]
  • Boris Sokolov – In 1996 Sokolov published a study that estimated total war dead at 43.3 million including 26.4 million in the military. Sokolov's calculations claimed that official population figures in 1941 were understated by 12.7 million and the population in 1946 overstated by 4.0 million, yielding 16.7 million additional war dead, bringing the total to 43.3 million.[15] Russian demographer Rybakovsky dismissed these calculations as not being based on sound judgment.[83]
  • V. E. Korol–Korol estimated overall Soviet war dead at 46 million including military dead of 23 million. He claimed that the official figure of 8.7 million military dead was "groundless", based on battle accounts from across the Eastern Front. Korol held that the official figures of Krivosheev were an attempt to cover up the disregard for human life by the military leaders under Stalin. Korol cited Soviet authors writing during the Glasnost era that put wartime losses much higher than the official figures; In 1990 General I. A. Gerasimov published information from the Russian Military Archives database that put losses at 16.2 million enlisted men and 1.2 million officers. Korol also cited historian-archivist Iu. Geller who put losses at 46 million, including military dead of 23 million.[84] and A.N. Mertsalov's estimate of 14 million military dead based on documents in the Russian Military Archives.[14][85]
  • Hypothetical population loss for children unborn due to the war – Some Russian writers have argued that war losses should also include the hypothetical population loss for children unborn due to the war; using this methodology total losses would be about 46 million.[86]

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.[87]:78

Krivosheev's rebuttal

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.[88]

Civilian losses

Executed partisan, Minsk

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.[89] 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.[90] Russian government sources currently cite these civilian casualty figures in their official statements.[91]

Russian Academy of Science estimate
Deaths caused by the result of direct, intentional actions of violence 7,420,379[92]
Deaths of forced laborers in Germany 2,164,313[93]
Deaths due to famine and disease in the occupied regions 4,100,000[94]
Total 13,684,692
  • The sources cited for these figures are from the Soviet period[95] The Statistic of 7.420 million civilian war dead has been disputed by Viktor Zemskov who believed that the actual civilian death toll was 4.5 million. He maintained that the official figures included POWs, persons who emigrated from the country and militia/partisan fighters. According to his analysis he forced laborer death figure of 2.164 million includes the balance of losses not reported in Krivosheev's figure of 8.668 million military war dead,including POWs[96][97][76]
  • Civilian losses include 57,000 killed in bombing raids (40,000 Stalingrad and 17,000 Leningrad).[93]
  • Russian sources include Jewish Holocaust deaths among total civilian dead. Gilbert put Jewish losses at one million within 1939 borders; Holocaust deaths in the annexed territories numbered an additional 1.5 million, bringing total Jewish losses to 2.5 million.[98]
  • Civilian losses include deaths in the siege of Leningrad. According to David Glantz the 1945 Soviet estimate presented at the Nuremberg Trials was 642,000 civilian deaths. He noted that Soviet era source from 1965 put the number of dead in the Siege of Leningrad at "greater than 800,000" and that a Russian source from 2000 put the number of dead at 1,000,000.[99] Other Russian historians put the Leningrad death toll at between 1.4 and 2.0 million.[100]
  • Russian sources maintain that there were 4.1 million famine deaths in the regions occupied by Germany,[89] The figure also includes 100,000 POWs included as civilians. Russian sources also report 2.5 to 3.2 million Soviet civilians who died due to famine and disease in non-occupied territory of the USSR, which was caused by wartime shortages in the rear areas.[101]
  • These casualties are for 1941–1945 within the 1946–1991 borders of the USSR.[3] Included with civilian losses are deaths in the territories annexed by the USSR in 1939–1940 including 600,000 in the Baltic states[41] and 1,500,000 in Eastern Poland.[102]
  • Documents from the Soviet archives number the total deaths of prisoners in the Gulag from 1941 to 1945 at 621,637. In a 1995 report Viktor Zemskov noted "due to general difficulties in 1941–1945 in the camps, the GULAG and prisons about 1.0 million prisoners died.[103]
  • Mark Solonin claimed that the figures of civilian casualties were deliberately inflated in order to hide the number of Stalin's own victims. Solonin's estimates of civilian casualties are 5–6 million killed by Germans (including Holocaust victims) and over a million who died during the sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad. The attitude of the Germans toward the non-Jewish Soviet population, as he states, while cruel, was pragmatical and thus not genocidal (exceptions happened, but not as a general policy). Also, he claims that the Soviet documents for civilian casualties per republic are inconsistent with the populations of said republics, unless one assumes the soldiers who died while held in camps upon that territory are included.[104]

Total population losses

Volkovo cemetery, Leningrad 1942
Men hanged as partisans somewhere in the Soviet Union

Demographic studies of the population losses

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.[3] These losses are a demographic estimate rather than an exact accounting.

Total Soviet losses by demographic balance (1941–45) per (ADK) [3]
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


  • According to Andreev, Darski and Kharkova (ADK) the total population loss due to the war was 26.6 million(1941-1945)[105] They maintain that between 9-10 million of the total Soviet war dead were due to the worsening of life conditions in the entire USSR, including the region that was not occupied.[105] The total loss of 26.6 million is based on the assumptions that the wartime increase in infant mortality was 1.3 million and that persons dying of natural causes declined during the war. Overall the annual Mortality rate (persons dying of natural causes) declined from 2.17% in 1940 to 1.58% in 1946[106] The decline in persons dying of natural causes during the war was due to the fact that a disproportionate number of adults, especially men were killed during the war, than those persons under 18 and women who survived. The figure for births during the war is based on a post war survey of the Total fertility rate which put the number of births during the war at about one half of the prewar level. The main areas of uncertainty were the estimated figures for the population in the territories annexed from 1939–1945 and the loss of population due to emigration during and after the war. The figures include victims of Soviet repression and the deaths of Soviet citizens in German military service.[107] Michael Haynes noted, "We do not know the total number of deaths as a result of the war and related policies". We do know that the demographic estimate of excess deaths was 26.6 million plus an additional 11.9 million natural deaths of persons born before the war and 4.2 million children born during the war that would have occurred in peacetime, bringing the total dead to 42.7 million. At this time the actual total number of deaths caused by the war is unknown since among the 16.1 million "natural deaths" some would have died peacefully and others as a result of the war.[5]
  • Civilian deaths were detailed in the Russian study -Human Losses of the USSR in the Period of WWII:[108] Civilian deaths by intentional actions of violence 7,420,000 [90] Deaths of forced laborers 2,164,000 [90] Deaths due to famine and disease 8,500,000(including 4.1 million in the occupied territories)[90]
  • The official total military dead per the analysis of Krivosheev is 8,668,000 [109] The Russian Ministry of Defense maintains that their figure of 8.668 million is correct based on a reconciliation of those conscripted.[109] The official toll of 2,164,000 forced laborers dead could include POWs considered civilians by the military. Critics of Krivosheev maintain that the war dead should include an additional 2.9 million persons, according to their analysis the number of POWs and missing was understated in the official figures. Viktor Zemskov puts total military dead (1941–45) at 11.5 million[47] A recent academic study put Soviet military dead at 11.4 million[110]
  • In addition to the war dead there were 622,000 persons who remained abroad after the war.[105]
  • Births and natural deaths during war are rough estimates since vital statistics were inaccurate.
  • Figures do not include an estimated 20 million children not born because the war depressed fertility/birth rates.
  • ADK pointed out that the beginning population in 1941 and the ending population at 1/1/1946 are rough estimates since figures for the territories annexed in 1939–1940 and emigration from the USSR during the war are based on fragmentary information.
Total War Deaths by Age Group and Gender [3] [111]
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)
0–14 27.879 1.425 5.1% 27.984 1.398 5.0% 55.863 2.823 5.1% .027
15–19 11.092 1.064 9.6% 11.220 0.340 3.0% 22.312 1.404 6.3% .723
20–34 24.948 9.005 36.1% 26.330 2.663 10.1% 51.278 11.668 22.8% 6.342
35–49 18.497 6.139 33.2% 20.236 781 3.9% 38.733 6.920 17.9% 5.358
Over 49 11.999 2.418 20.2% 16.976 1.380 8.1% 28.975 3.798 13.1% 1.038
All Age Groups 94.415 20.051 21.2% 102.746 6.562 6.4% 197.161 26.613 13.5% 13.489


  • 0–14–The deaths of 2.8 million children was due primarily to famine and disease caused by the war.
  • 15–19–The excess deaths of 724,000 males compared to females was due primarily to military losses. The wartime draft age was 18.
  • 20–34–The excess deaths of 6,342,000 males compared to females was due primarily to military losses. The deaths of 2,663,000 women is an indication that they were involved in the partisan war and became victims of Nazi reprisals.
  • 35–49–The excess deaths of 5,358,000 males compared to females was due primarily to military losses.
  • Over 49–The excess deaths of 1,038,000 males compared to females was due primarily to military losses. Some served in the Armed Forces. Others were involved in the partisan war and became victims of Nazi reprisals.
  • All Ages–The excess deaths of 13,489,000 males compared to females was due primarily to military losses with regular forces as well partisan forces. The figures are a clear indication that many Soviet civilians died in the war from reprisals, famine and disease.

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.[78][112][113]

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.[114]

Rybakovsky provided a list of the various estimates of Soviet war losses by Russian scholars since 1988.[114]

Casualty estimates
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[115]
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 Weekly[116] Savchenko 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.[117][118] Ivlev's figures are endorsed by the Russian civic organization Immortal Regiment and have been discussed in the Russian media recently.[119] 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.[78] However some scholars believe that Ivlev's calculations are without serious foundation.[73]

Estimates of losses by individual Republics

Former Soviet republics

Khatyn Memorial in Belarus, commemorating the loss of life in the Khatyn massacre of 1943 during World War II.

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.[120] 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 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.[121]

(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.[122] Former President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych maintains that Ukraine has lost more than 10 million lives during the Second World War.[123] 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.[122]

(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.[124]

(C) The Memory Book of Tatarstan Government contains names of about 350,000 inhabitants of the republic, mostly tatars.[125]

(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.[126]

(E) Kazakhstan estimates its military casualties at 601,029.[125]

(F) Armenians estimate their military casualties at over 300,000.[127]

(G) Georgians also estimate their military casualties at over 300,000.[128]

(I) Among the others Azerbaidzhans claim military casualties of 300,000,[129] Bashkirs of about 300,000,[130] Mordvas of 130,000 and Chuvashes of 106,470.[131] 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.[132][133][134] 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.[135]

Estimated losses for each Soviet Republic

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.

Deaths by Soviet republic
Soviet Republic Population 1940 Military Dead Civilian Dead Total Deaths as
 % 1940 Pop.
Armenia 1,320,000 150,000 30,000 180,000 13.6%
Azerbaijan 3,270,000 210,000 90,000 300,000 9.1%
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% (A)
Tajikistan 1,530,000 50,000 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% (B)
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. This table includes civilian losses in Transcaucasian and Central Asian republics due to famine and disease caused by wartime shortfalls estimated by Vadim Erlikman.

OBD Memorial database

The names of Soviet war dead are presented at the OBD (Central Data Bank) Memorial database online.[136]

Communist Party and Komsomol losses

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.[137] 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 [138]

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.[139] 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 [140]


Soviet prisoners of war held in German camp
Citizens of Leningrad leaving their houses destroyed by German bombing

The Red Army suffered catastrophic losses of men and equipment during the first months of the German invasion,[21][6] 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[141] 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"[142]

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.[143] 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.[144] 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.[145] 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.[89][146]

Summary of the estimates and their sources

Estimates for Soviet losses in the Second World War range from 7 million to over 43 million.[147] 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.

1946 to 1987

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.[107] 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.[107][148] Leonid Brezhnev in 1965 put the Soviet death toll in the war at "more than 20 million"[114] Ivan Konev in a May 1965 Soviet Ministry of Defense press conference stated that Soviet military dead in World War II were 10 million.[149] 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.[150]

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[151] The Soviet general staff in July 1945 put losses at 7,660,000 dead and missing, however the General Staffs figures were not published at that time[152] Also 688,772[153] Soviet citizens who remained in western countries after the war were included with the war losses. A study of the combat casualties of the forces at the front was prepared in the 1960s by the Soviet General Staff, but it was not published until 1993 by Krivosheev. The figures in the study listed irrecoverable losses of 10,109,000 personnel. (5,226,800 killed in action, 1,102,800 died of wounds, 555,500 non-combat deaths, 5,059,000 POWs and missing less 1,836,000 prisoners returned to the Soviet Union). When Krivosheev published the study in 1993 he made adjustments that reduced the total to 8,668,400.
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.

1988 to 1992

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.[147] 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.[154] 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.[107] In January 1990 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.[155] 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[156] In a second article in 1992 A.A. Shevyakov gave a figure of 20.8 million[157] civilian dead; no explanation for the difference was given.[107][158][159]

Russian government reports 1993–95

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.[160] 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.[3][107] 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.[89] 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.[161] 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.

Russians published in the West 1950–83

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.[162][163] 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.[107][164][165] 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.[166]

Western scholars

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),[167][168] 5,000,000 11,000,000 16,000,000
(within 1940 borders)
Pierre George (1946)[169] 7,000,000 10,000,000 17,000,000
N. S. Timasheff (1948),[170] 7,000,000 18,300,000 25,300,000
Helmut Arntz (1953)[171][172] 13,600,000 7,000,000 20,000,000+
Jean-Noël Biraben (1958)[173] 8,000,000 6,700,000 14,700,000
Warren W. Eason (1959)[174][175] 10,000,000 15,000,000 25,000,000
E. Ziemke (1968)[142] more than
Albert Seaton (1971)[176] 10,000,000
Gil Elliot (1972)[177] 10,000,000 10,000,000 20,000,000
Charles Messenger (1989)[178] 20,000,000
John Keegan (1989)[179] 7,000,000 7,000,000 14,000,000
R. J. Rummel (1990)[180] 7,000,000 12,250,000 19,625,000
plus 10,000,000
due to Soviet repression
John Ellis (1993)[181] 11,000,000 6,700,000 17,700,000
Michael Ellman and Sergei Maksudov(1994) [107] 8,700,000 18,000,000 26–27,000,000
Norman Davies (1998)[182] 8–9,000,000 16–19,000,000 24–28,000,000
Richard Overy (1997)[183] 8,668,400 17,000,000 25,000,000
Mark Mazower (1998)[184] 9,500,000 10,000,000 19,500,000
David Wallechinsky (1995)[185] 13,600,000 20–26,000,000
Michael Clodfelter (2002)[186] 8,668,400 20–26,000,000
Michael Haynes (2003) [187] 8,700,000 17,900,000 26,600,000
Martin Gilbert (2004)[188] 10,000,000
& 3,300,000
7,000,000 20,000,000+
H. P. Willmott (2004)[189] 8,700,000 16,900,000 25,600,000
Tony Judt (2005)[190] 8,600,000 16,000,000 24,600,000
Norman Davies (2006)[191] 8,668,000 18,332,000 27,000,000
Cambridge History of Russia (2006)[192] 8,700,000+ 13,700,000
in Nazi occupied USSR
and 2,600,000
in interior USSR
Steven Rosefielde (2010)[193] 8,700,000
"all causes"
or 20,300,000"
to 29,000,000"
plus 5,458,000
due to Soviet repression
  • David Glantz maintains that "the war with Nazi Germany cost the Soviet Union at least 29 million military casualties" (dead, wounded and sick) "The exact numbers can never be established, and some revisionists have attempted to put the number as high as 50 million"[194]
  • Richard Overy believes the "figures for military dead published in 1993... give the fullest account yet available, but they omit three operations that were clear failures. The official figures themselves must be viewed critically, given the difficulty of knowing in the chaos of 1941 and 1942 exactly who had been killed, wounded or even conscripted"[195] Regarding military dead Richard Overy believes that "for the present the figure of 8.6 million must be regarded as the most reliable"[196]
  • Norman Davies points out that not all Soviet war dead were killed by the Nazis; many perished due to Soviet repression. Davies notes

    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.[197]

  • The authors of the Cambridge History of Russia have provided an analysis of Soviet wartime casualties. Overall losses were about 25 million persons plus or minus 1 million. Red Army records indicate 8.7 million military deaths, "this figure is actually the lower limit". The official figures understate POW losses and armed partisan deaths. Excess civilian deaths in the Nazi occupied USSR were 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.
    The authors of the Cambridge History of Russia believe that "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"[198]
  • Steven Rosefielde puts the war related demographic losses of the USSR from 1941–45 at 22.0 to 26.0 million persons (7.8 million military and 14.2 to 18.2 million civilians). The actual wartime losses are higher because some persons who would have died peacefully actually perished as a result of the war. Rosefielde estimated the actual military dead at 8.7 million men and 17.7 to 20.3 million civilians killed by the Nazis in the war (exterminated, shot, gassed burned 6.4 or 11.3 million; famine and disease 8.5 or 6.5 million; forced laborer in Germany 2.8 or 3.0 million and 500,000 who did not return to USSR after war.)[193]:72 In addition to these war deaths Rosefielde also estimated the excess deaths attributed to the "total potential crimes against humanity" due to Soviet repression at 2.183 million persons in 1939–40 and 5.458 million from 1941–1945. The figures for losses due to Soviet repression do not include 1 million military deaths of men drafted from the Gulag into penal suicide battalions.[193]:179

See also