Casualties in World War II

Casualties in World War II are notoriously difficult to calculate; while the Americans, British, Canadians and Germans gave their soldiers identification tags, The Soviets, Japanese, Italians and other combatants often did not. Add to that the huge numbers of irregular forces without any identification, or nom de guerre, and it's almost impossible to generate accurate numbers. Some historian will someday do a complete, funded study of casualties, but for now, here is an estimated number of casualties to give the reader some idea of the level of human destruction.

Since this page went live in 2000, some estimates have raised the number of dead from 35 million to 50 million. Current thought affords 72 million casualties worldwide, but not all sources agree with that conclusion.

There are a number of errors in the document; I will endeavor to correct them as soon as I can. As I just wrote, accurate casualty analysis of even the United States, which not only documented its army extensively and tracked all its soldiers, requires cross-referencing dozens of lists, including state casualty lists, unit casualty lists, and veterans graves registration lists. Some entities are undertaking that synthesis of American casualty lists now; they plan on charging for access.

Country

Military Deaths{1}

Military Wounded
or Missing{2}
Civilian Wounded
or Missing
Civilian Deaths
Due to War
Total Deaths

Allied Powers

Belgium

12,000

N/A

N/A

76,000

88,000

Brazil

943

4,222

N/A

N/A

1,000

British Comm.

373,372

475,047

251,724

92,673

466,000

Australia

23,365

39,803

32,393

N/A

24,000

Canada

37,476

53,174

10,888

N/A

38,000

India

24,338

64,354

91,243

N/A

N/A

New Zealand

10,033

19,314

10,582

N/A

10,000

South Africa

6,840

14,363

16,430

N/A

7,000

United Kingdom{4}

264,443

277,077

213,919

92,673

357,000

Colonies

6,877

6,972

22,323

N/A

7,000

China{5}

1,310,224

1,752,951

115,248

N/A

N/A

Czechoslovakia{6}

10,000

N/A

N/A

215,000

225,000

Denmark{7}

1,800

N/A

N/A

2,000

4,000

France{8}

213,324

400,000

N/A

350,000

563,000

Greece{9}

88,300

N/A

N/A

325,000

413,000

Netherlands

7,900

2,860

N/A

200,000

208,000

Norway

3,000

N/A

N/A

7,000

10,000

Poland{10}

123,178

236,606

420,760

5,675,000

5,800,000

Philippines

27,000

N/A

N/A

91,000

118,000

United States{11}

292,131

671,801

139,709

6,000

298,000

U.S.S.R.{12}

11,000,000

N/A

N/A

7,000,000

18,000,000

Yugoslavia

305,000

425,000

N/A

1,200,000

1,505,000

Axis Powers

Bulgaria{13}

10,000

N/A

N/A

10,000

20,000

Finland

82,000

50,000

N/A

2,000

84,000

Germany{14}

3,500,000

5,000,000

3,400,000

780,000

4,200,000

Hungary{13}

200,000

N/A

170,000

290,000

490,000

Italy{15}

242,322

66,000

350,000

152,941

395,000

Japan{16}

1300000

4,000,000

810,000

672,000

1,972,000

Romania{13}

300,000

N/A

100,000

200,000

500,000

TOTAL

19,775,866

13,559,544

6,155,219

17,439,287

37,215,153

{1}Figures for deaths, insofar as possible, exclude those who died of natural causes or were suicides.

{2}As far as possible the figures in this column exclude those who died in captivity.

{3}Figures for all Commonwealth nations include those still missing in 1946, some of whom may be presumed dead.

{4}Estimated Deaths comprises 60,595 killed in aerial bombardment, 30,248 in the merchant marine service, 624 in women's auxiliary services, and 1,206 in the Home Guard.

{5}The figures for China comprise casualties of the Chinese Nationalist forces during 1937-45, as reported in 1946, and do not include figures for local armies and Communists. Estimates of 2,200,000 military dead and 22,000,000 civilian deaths appear in some compilations but are of doubtful accuracy.

{6}Czech military figures include only those who fought on the Allied side, not Sudeten Germans and others who served in the German Army.

{7}Civilian Deaths includes merchant marine personnel who served with Allies.

{8}French military casualties include those dead from all causes in the campaign of 1939-40, those of Free French, of rearmed French units that fought with Allies during 1942-45, and of French units that fought with Axis forces in Syria and North Africa during 1941-42 (1,200 dead).

{9}These figures released in 1946 are possibly too high. Merchant seamen are included with military dead.

{10}Military figures drawn from statement released by Polish government in 1946 and include casualties in the campaign of 1939, those of the underground, of Polish forces serving with British and Soviet armies, and those incurred in the Warsaw uprising. Civilian casualty figures, which include 3,200,000 Jews, are based on this statement as modified by the calculations of population experts.

{11}Military figures include those of Army Ground and Air Forces, and those of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. There were an additional 115,187 deaths of U.S. servicemen from non-battle causes. Civilians listed in 1946 as dead or missing include 5,638 of the merchant marine service.

{12}Available estimates of Soviet casualties vary widely. A Soviet officer who served with the high command in Berlin and left the Soviet service in 1949 placed total military losses at 13,600,000--8,500,000 dead or missing in battle; 2,600,000 dead in prison camps; 2,500,000 died of wounds—and estimated civilian casualties at 7,000,000. These figures have been widely accepted in Germany, but most U.S. compilations, based on Soviet announcements, list 6,000,000 to 7,500,000 battle deaths. Calculations made on the basis of population distribution by age and sex in the 1959 U.S.S.R. census give some credence to the higher figures, for they seem to indicate losses of from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 males of military age in World War II. The figures used here are a compromise estimate, not intended to obscure the fact that Soviet casualties are, in reality, unknown in the West.

{13}Estimates based on fragmentary data.

{14}Military estimates include men from outside Germany who served with the German armed forces and are based on the assumption that about 1,000,000 of the 1,250,000 men still listed as missing in Soviet territory in 1955 were dead. In addition, perhaps 250,000 military personnel died of natural causes, committed suicide, or were executed. Civilian figures are for Germany and Austria only, and they do not include an estimated 2,384,000 German deaths during 1944-46 resulting from Soviet invasion and forced transfers of population in the eastern provinces given to Poland after the war.

{15}Figures for dead include those listed as still missing in compilation made by the Italian government in 1952 (131,419 military personnel and 3,651 civilians), but not 49,144 military deaths from natural causes or suicide. Known dead from enemy action amounted to 110,823, making a total of 159,957 military deaths from all causes if the missing are not included. Of this number, 92,767 occurred before the 1943 Armistice, 67,190 afterward.

{16}Based on an estimate of 1,600,000 total military deaths on the assumption that about half of those listed as missing in Soviet territory in 1949 were dead. About 300,000 of these probably resulted from causes not related to battle.