World War II is considered the deadliest arm conflict in human history. The war left at least 70 million people dead or 3% of the world’s population at the time. The deaths that directly resulted from the war are about 50-56 million people while about 19-28 million people died from war-related famine and diseases. Of the total deaths, 21-25 million were military officers while civilians who die in the war were 50-55 million. Below are the countries with the highest World War II casualties.
Casualties by Country
It is estimated that the Soviet Union lost 27 million military and civilians in World War II. However, the exact figure has been disputed, with the Soviets estimating the number to be about 20 million (approximately 13.7% of the population at the time). The Government of Russia, following a study conducted by the Russian Academy of Science in 1993, puts the deaths at 26.6 million, including about 8.66 million military deaths.
The scale of China’s involvement in World War II was massive and was considered one of the big four at the end of the conflict. China primary fought Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. It is estimated that the war resulted in 15-20 million civilian and military death and an additional 15 million Chinese were wounded. Of the total deaths, 3-4 million were military personnel and the rest were civilians.
The number of Germans who died in World War II is not clear. However, it is estimated that at least 6.9 million of them were killed and another 7.3 million wounded. A recent study by Rudiger Overmans, a German historian, estimated that German military casualties were 5.3 million. The government of Germany reported that about 4.3 million military personnel either died or are missing and 0.5-2 million civilian deaths. More ethnic Germans also died outside of Germany.
Poland lost about 5.9 million citizens or one-fifth of its pre-war population during World War II. The majority of the casualties were civilians who fell victims to crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Soviet Union and Nazi occupation. The Polish War casualties have been contradicted with the Polish government reporting 6.02 million deaths including 3 million ethnic Poles and 3 million Jews.
Although Japan was heavily involved in World War II, it is estimated that only 2.5-3.1 million Japanese were killed in the war, representing only 3.5% of its pre-war population. Of the country’s total casualties, about 2.1 million were military personnel while 500,000-800,000 were civilians. About 326,000 civilians and military personnel were left wounded.
Estimating the Number of Casualties
Different casualty estimates have always been put forward by historians and scholars. Some of the estimated numbers of deaths and wounded are unreliable and have been contested several times. Since some of the scholarly sources are disputed and differ on the number of casualties in a country, a range of deaths, both for military and civilian, is given. The deaths under consideration are those that directly and indirectly resulted from the war. The civilians who died away from their home country are numbered among the civilian casualties of the host nation.