These numbers are simply amazing. Estimates suggest that over 60 million military and civilian lives were lost during this conflict that began September 1, 1939 and ended in August, 1945. The Soviet Union suffered the hugest losses. Comparisons are staggering.

Perhaps when the cable news just seems too depressing, it might be uplifting to see the progress we have made in the “peace department” since WWII.

Visit the Washington Post following this link to see the world map.

13 thoughts on “WWII: A data visualization

  1. George S. Harris

    I have said for years that part of the reason for the Cold War with Russia was our and the rest of the world’s failure to recognize the terrible price they paid during WWII. Granted, we did provide them with a great deal of material but there was no altruism in this-it was done in order to aid the Russians, which in turn, gave them the capability to have a major role in defeating Germany. If Russia had been defeated, WWII would undoubtedly have been much longer and more costly. Germany was working on developing nuclear weapons and that could have changed the whole nature of the war in Europe. They had developed some early jet aircraft and we all know the extent of their rocketry program-our whole space effort was built on the knowledge provided by German rocket scientists.

    Germany took the same approach to killing Russians and other Slave as they did with killing Jews. They considered them to be sub-humans and slaughtered them beyond anything the world had seen to that point in time. Germany purposely laid siege to Stalingrad (St. Petersburg) for 900 days-the toll of civilians lost may never be fully known. More than three times as many Russians died as did Jews yet this went pretty much unnoticed. It is no wonder that Russia felt they were entitled to the lion’s share of the spoils of war. It is no wonder that there was no love lost between the Russians and the Germans.

    The next closest loss of lives was WWI-some 17 million people died-about 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel. The world was so shocked that this war was to have been the, “War to end all wars” but the seeds of WWII were sown at the Treaty of Versailles with the reparations that were demanded of Germany at that time. From Wikipedia: The treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US $442 billion or UK £284 billion in 2015).

    1. Thanks for the additional information.

      I thought the video, while long, was very interesting from both an historical point of view and from a numbers/comparison point of view. It sure does make me have a little more sympathy for Russians. I grew up being taught to hate them for their ruthlessness and system of government.

      I knew they had suffered immeasurable losses during WWII. Somehow this visualization made it all much more apparent.

  2. George S. Harris

    We were all taught to hate them just as you have noted Moon. But when you read some of the history of what happened to them, it is easier to understand how the felt then and even now. They are very paranoid about anyone trodding on the soil of Mother Russia. And for good reason. Oddly, they forget what they did to others to build the Soviet Union and what they did when people began to rebel against communism.

    1. I have a hard time forgetting what they did to Ukrania.

  3. punchak

    This has nothing to do with wars but with Russians.

    When I was little and didn’t behave, my mother told me that
    the Russians were going to come and take me.
    This was after WWI and before WWII.

    1. That sounds like a big threat. Russians were scary people back in the day.

  4. Cargosquid

    I wouldn’t blame all the Russian deaths on the Germans. The Russians were responsible for millions of Russian deaths at that time.

    1. The video pointed out that some of the deaths were from Stalin not allowing people to leave cities before seiges.

  5. Lyssa

    And Russia and Germany had the most deaths in WWI. Two generations. Poland lost over 20% of its population in WWII. Mostly Jews I think. Chris Bohjalian wrote “Skeltons at the Feast” about WWI and Prussia/ Poland toward the end of WWII. Highly recommend it.

    Mao, Genghis Kahn and Stalin were responsible for so many murders/deaths. I don’t think they targeted people like Hitler. Just those that got in their way.

  6. George S. Harris

    @Lyssa
    Good data Lyssa. Russia, Germany and France were all big losers-eachmore that 1 million souls. Poland’s losses are forgotten by many-some 3 million Poles and 3 million Jews. Russian lost perhaps 20,000,000 people (Civilian and Military) in WWII. Again, glossed over by the West and as I noted above, a big reason I think for Russia’ paranoia and the resultant Cold War.

  7. Lyssa

    I believe Poland hold the distinction of “most conquered” country.

    1. Is that measured in how many times conquered or most trounced?

  8. Lyssa

    Invaded might be better. The location of Poland Europe/Russia made it so.

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