Which countries suffered the greatest death tolls in the Second World War?

World War Two was the deadliest conflict in history. An estimated 70-85 million people perished. But some countries suffered very much more than others. Precise figures are impossible to determine and new research has revised some previous estimates. For the purpose of this blog posting, I am going to use figures from the Wikipedia page on World War II casualties.

Obviously the nations that launched the conflict and were defeated suffered heavy casualties: notably Germany 6.9-7.4 million and Japan 2.5-3.1 million.

The main western allies had lower losses: notably Britain 450,000 and the United States 420,000. It was the allies in the east that suffered the greatest losses: the Soviet Union 20-27 million and China 15-20 million.

I think that many people appreciate the terrible magnitude of the Soviet deaths, but I suspect that most people do not realise how much China suffered.

China’s wartime history is very much in my mind just now because this weekend I saw a film about the battle for Shanghai in 1937 [my review here] and I am currently reading the book “China’s War With Japan 1937-1945” [details here].

Special mention should be made of Poland. About 6 million Poles died. As a percentage of its pre-war population, this was 17% – the highest figure for any country.


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