Soviet deads in WW II

With the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Russia in 1941, coming up soon, I was wondering :what’s the latest on Soviet deads ? Up until the 70s, they admitted 20-25 millions deads out of a population of about 180 millions. I also know that after perestroika and glasnost that number kept rising. The latest I heard was 34-37 million deads. So, how many died ?

do a search on Nazis. I had earlier asked why Nazis were the definition of evil when the Stalin killed many more… someone came up with some good numbers

Thank you for responding and for the suggestion. However, although very interesting threads, they did not address my question. Maybe I need to elaborate.

After WW II, Stalin established Soviet war deads at around 6-8 millions.

In 1961, Khrushchev upped that number to around 20 millions where it stayed until the 80s.

After Perestroika and Glasnost, the number kept rising based on new evidence released by the Russsian government (in 1990, Gorbachev mentionned 27 millions war deads).

The most recent data I have in print comes from two books, both published in 1994.

The first one, J.F. Dunnigan and A.A. Nofi’s Dirty Little Secrets of World War II puts Soviet casualties at 29 millions.

The second, N. Tumarkin’s The Living and the Dead quotes about 30 million casualties, although she mentions Russian authors that put the body count as high as 50 millions.

So my question is “Is there a more reliable source to establish the price paid in lives by the Soviets to eliminate the Nazi menace”?

By the way, I use the term Soviet because it includes most groups that fought the Nazis on the Eastern Front, not just Russians.

When one is speaking of such high totals, it seems to me it would be very difficult to come up with a hard number, only a plausible range. For the Soviet Union in particular, it must be a hard task indeed to separate the lives lost during Stalin’s many purges from those lost due to the war with Germany.

In any event, here are some additional references:

Bullock, Hitler and Stalin, Parallel Lives (1991), Appendix II, “Estimated Loss of Life Among European Nations and the USA in World War II”, USSR, 1941-45, Total dead 21,300,000. This does not include those executed in the forced collectivisation campaigns, purges or the gulag.

Rhodes, Dark Sun: the Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (1995), Page 179: Soviets, some 20 million war dead plus 10 million more killed by the internal security apparatus. Source appears to be Werth, Alexander, Russia at War: 1941-1945, 1964.

I realize that these are not recent references, but thought they might be useful.

Wow. I guess Uncle Joe Stalin wasn’t kidding when he said “When one person dies, it’s a tragedy. When a million die, it’s a statistic.”

I’m not sure how anyone can actually say how many people dided on the Eastern front, given the rather sketchy internal organisation of Eastern european countries at the time - not to mention everywhere else. Plus, all the files would be paper, and local archives would undoubtedly have been destroyed in the chaos of an invasion. All that said, I’ve heard figures of maybe 20-25 million military and about the same civilian casualties. That gives you 50-60 million. Kinda puts the American sacrifice of 160,000 men into perspective a bit, doesn’t it?

Interesting name, Joachim.

Off the top of my head (as usual,)I reckon the answer to the OP depends on:
A. What you consider to be WW II.
B. What you consider to be legit to count as a casualty of that war.

As to “A”: There’s the 9.1.1939-5.8.1945 WW II as we in the West know it, and then there’s the Russo-Finnish War, the Continuation War, the “liberation”/occupation of the Baltic States, the “Great Patirotic War”, etc.

As to “B”: Which of the following are OK to count as Soviet war casualties:

  1. Liquidated potential enemies of the state (for example, Lithuanian intelligensia).
  2. Civilians behind Soviet lines who are deported because of the leader’s paranoia (Kalmyks, Volga Germans, etc.)
  3. Civilians behind Soviet lines who die of starvation or other privation because your leader diverts food, fuel, etc. to the front.
  4. Civilians behind German lines executed by Soviet partisans for suspected collaboration or a general lack of percieved enthusaism for the cause.
  5. Soviet soldiers removed from the fighting and deported to a death in the gulags because they belong to a suspect group (Chechens, Kalmyks, whatever).
  6. Civilians behind German lines who joined anti-Soviet partisans and were killed in combat before “Liberation”
  7. As in #6, except that they were liquidated after “Liberation”.
  8. Civilians behind German lines who were non-partisan and were killed after “Liberation” for basically just having survived the occupation.
  9. Soviets who survived German POW captivity and were subsequently gulag-ed to death as tratiors. (ALL such survivors of Nazi POW camps were so classified by Soviet law).
  10. Dead civilians or soldiers belonging to a nation or territory not part of the Soviet Union prior to 1939, but part of it at some time after. (For example, those from parts of Karelia, Moldova, East Poland, all of the Baltic States, etc.)
    10a. As above, killed in combat.
    10b. As above, liquidated after “Liberation”.
    10c. As above, died of war-related privation.
    10d. As above, died after deportation to gulags.

No matter how you slice it, it was an enormous waste of life. IMHO, a very substantial proportion of those lives would not have been wasted were it not for the policies and paranoia of Stalin.

“I trust no one, not even myself.” —J. Stalin

Are you talking about deaths, or casualties (which may include wounded survivors?

I suspect the 20-25 million would include both military and civilian deaths.

For example, This site lists 21 million (about 13 million military). This site lists 7.5 million battle deaths (probably all military, I think). That site also lists US battle deaths as 292,131. Britannica also says about 20 million Soviets lost their lives.

Perhaps the number reaches 50-60 million if you count Stalin’s actions against his own people, but I think a considerable number of those deaths would have occurred even without the war.