Yes, relevant - the OP is about which country suffered most, and countries are best viewed as collections of averages for comparison purposes.
Whats your argument for that?
The majority of the Polish deaths suffered almost certainly weren’t in 1939, but rather in 1944-1945 as the Red Army pushed the Wehrmacht westward against fierce resistance. Another large chunk of the Polish total is Holocaust victims- 3 million as best as anyone can tell.
It’s a very difficult question to answer. What constitutes a ‘sacrifice’? It’s not really a sacrifice if a country is invaded and slaughtered - that’s just a slaughter. It’s also not a ‘sacrifice’ when many of the dead are victims of your own country’s repression (about 3-7 million of Soviet casualties were the result of internal repression, scorched-earth policies, opportunistic purging of undesirables, and horrific conditions in the Gulags during the war).
To me, a sacrifice is a voluntary loss in support of some larger value. You could argue that a country like Canada, which had no direct stake in the outcome of the war, ‘sacrificed’ more than a country that simply fought for survival against an invader. Canada lost more soldiers in WWII as a percentage of the population than did the U.S (but nowhere near any of the European or Asian combatants).
In addition, the U.S. may have spent the most on the war, but it was also the only major combatant to make it through the war without a single quarter of economic recession and with 100% of its infrastructure intact. Furthermore, it came out of the war much more powerful than it was at the start, while countries like Great Britain were greatly diminished.
If we’re talking about contributions to the war effort, then loss of life doesn’t really matter. Dying doesn’t contribute to victory.
There’s no question that the Russian campaign was disastrous for Germany, and that the casualties on both sides were horrific. I think you could reasonably argue that the decision to open a second front against the Soviet Union was the turning point of the war and doomed Germany.
On the other hand, you can’t overlook the value of America’s lend-lease program to helping sustain the fighting ability of the Allied forces. And in the end, you could also argue that America’s entry into the war was the real turning point that doomed Germany, because America was an industrial powerhouse immune to German attack. Once America’s armaments industry kicked into high gear, Germany had no ability to compete, and wouldn’t have even if it had never attacked Russia.
For example, between 1937 and 1940, America only produced 630 tanks. Production was ramped up in 1941 in support of lend-lease, and 4021 tanks were made in that year. But after America entered the war, tank production skyrocketed, and in the peak year of 1943 America produced over 37,000 tanks! That’s about 3 times the total amount of tank production in the Soviet Union over the entire course of the war. In just the 3 years from 1942 to 1945 the U.S. built about 84,000 tanks. The Soviet Union built about 1/10 that number. The Brits made about 1/4 of that number. Germany about half that number. So the U.S. built more tanks than all other axis/allied powers combined.
The same disparities hold for aircraft and ships as well. The U.S. built more aircraft in 1944 alone than Germany had built in all the years before. But more importantly, by 1945 German aircraft manufacture had collapsed due to infrastructure damage, while the U.S.'s industry was untouched.
So I think it’s a fair thing to say that the U.S. entry into the war was a deciding factor. On the other hand, had Germany remained stronger and not invaded the Soviet Union, it might have been able to broker a peace deal that ended the war with the Reich remaining in place - especially if Hitler had remained allied with the Soviets and they presented a unified diplomatic front. But that’s just speculation.
The Soviets executed 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest massacre alone. That’s close to 1/10 of all the American soldiers lost in the entire war.
The fact that the most meaningful international comparisons are statistical normalizations in practice, like per capita GDP or mortality rates. GDP doesn’t tell you as much as per capita GDP, and absolute deaths doesn’t tell you as much as deaths/1000. Same-same with wartime deaths.
The implication of your reasoning would mean that the life of a Chinese or Russian is worth less “sacrifice points” than the life of a Pole. Do you really want to go with that?
When I started this thread I fully intended to give my opinion, but the posts that quickly followed reminded me of something Harlan Ellison once said:
so I think I’ll withhold my opinion, not forever, but just until I’m slightly less stupid.
Is there a difference between sacrifices willingly made, and sacrifices forced on a country by others?
This could take awhile.
Thank you for this information. I’ve always heard the 2/3 figure from a family friend (an immigrant from Belarus), but since I am not going to argue with a 91-year old never bothered to look it up.
Poland has been shit on by Russia/the USSR throughout its history as much as it has by Germany, but blaming Poland’s losses during WW2 on the Soviets is absurd. The majority of the deaths suffered in Poland weren’t from the fighting in 1939, but they weren’t from the fighting in 1944-45 either; the Holocaust and German racial policy was the primary cause. Lebensraum was the reason Hitler started the war, and Poland is where it was coming from. Germany planned on physically eliminating 85% of the Poles under Generalplan Ost to make room for German colonists. 1.7 million Poles were expelled from their homes by the Nazis between 1939-44 and over 630,000 Volksdeutsche resettled there in what would today be termed ethnic cleansing.
You may want to check your numbers; I’m pretty sure that over the course of the war (1941-1945), the US and USSR produced roughly equal numbers of tanks (somewhere in the 100,000 range).
Otherwise, your numbers re: Germans and British are accurate.
The Soviet Union.
Which Allied leaders are most responsible for the suffering of their country in World War II? The leaders of the Soviet Union.
Which Allied country has emphasized its sacrifices the most while minimizing the vital assistance it received from its allies? The Soviet Union.
“In two particular areas the help was indispensable. With major agricultural regions of the Soviet Union under enemy occupation, and the unsatisfactory system of distribution and transportation, to say nothing of mismanagement, the Soviet state had more than a nodding acquaintance with famine. Without Western aid, during the war the Soviet population would have been in danger of sharing the fate of those trapped in Leningrad and the earlier victims of collectivization. Even with the American aid, many Russians died from lack of food. Equally important was Lend-Lease’s contribution to transportation. It would have been impossible for the Red Army to move the masses of troops and supplies on the primitive roads to the front lines without American Studebaker trucks, which also served as the launching pads for the dreaded Soviet rocket artillery… Lend-Lease provided vital help for the Soviet Union when the country was in desperate straits and made a significant contribution to the final victory.”
So you’re not saying we didn’t get our hair mussed, but you are talking about 500,000 casualties? Tops?
Look at it this way, if you were a Pole there is a 16% chance you would be dead by the end of the war. If you were a Chinese there was a 2-4% chance of being dead. All else being equal* you’d be much better off living out the war in China than in Poland.
Putting it in a different context, writing a check to charity for $5,000 is less of a sacrifice for Bill Gates, than writing a check for $2,000 would be for me.
- Which of course it wasn’t, but for the purposes of determining the right mortality metric to use we can pretend it was.
So a greater chance of being killed implies greater sacrifice. Interesting concept, but it still makes more sense to say each life is worth one point.
Are you under the impression that WWII began in 1941? That is an error of fact: the war began in 1939. The US was officially neutral for the first third of the war, but the USSR was not.
If you are considering the effects of the war on a country, then percentage killed makes far more sense than absolute numbers killed. Or, to look at it another way, it is the percentage killed that has the most impact on the survivors left behind. Consider an extreme example; country A has 10,000,000 people. Country B has 1,000,000 people. Both lose 1,000,000 of their population in a war. Country A still has 90% of its population that can rebuild. Country B no longer exists.