The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) drew heavily upon its union of soviet states to build an Eastern Front foe to oppose the German-led alliance. Germany believed they could quickly dispatch the USSR but when that didn’t happen, they found themselves facing an enemy with growing combat forces.
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Eastern Front Manpower Ratios
Germany believed they could quickly dispatch the Soviet military in six to eight weeks. During this time period the held a 1.4:1 to 1.9:1 ratio edge over the Soviets. However, by December that ratio edge had become a 1.2:1 Soviet advantage which would continue to grow through the rest of the war.
Total Soviet Manpower
The Soviet Union’s military manpower grew significantly from 1939 through 1945. At the start of the war, the Soviet Union had approximately 1.5 million personnel in its armed forces, which increased to around 5 million by 1941, and over 11 million by the end of the war in 1945. Of this total military manpower, the Soviet Union was able to put approximately 6.8 million combat forces onto the Eastern Front at its peak in 1944. This manpower was largely mobilized through conscription, with millions of men being drafted into the military throughout the war.
The Soviet Union’s military was known for its strength in numbers and its willingness to engage in brutal and costly battles. The Soviet Union suffered heavy losses throughout the war, with estimates suggesting that over 10 million Soviet soldiers died or missing during the conflict.
Despite these losses, the Soviet Union’s military was able to successfully repel the German invasion and push back against Germany on the Eastern Front. The Soviet Union’s manpower played a crucial role in these victories, as the sheer number of soldiers allowed the Soviet Union to maintain a strong presence on multiple fronts.
The Soviet Union was one of the few countries during World War II to actively recruit and deploy women in combat roles. Women played a significant role in the Soviet Union’s military efforts, with around 500,000 serving in combat roles by the end of the war.
Women were initially recruited into non-combat roles, such as medical personnel, clerks, and support staff. However, as the war progressed and the need for manpower increased, women were also recruited into combat roles.
Women served in a variety of combat roles, including snipers, machine gunners, tank drivers, and pilots. Many women also served in partisan units, engaging in guerrilla warfare against the German occupation forces.
Women in the Soviet Union’s military were often given the same training and equipment as their male counterparts and were expected to perform the same duties. They were also subject to the same harsh conditions and risks as male soldiers.
The Soviet Union’s decision to deploy women in combat roles was driven by a combination of necessity and ideology. The Soviet Union needed all the manpower it could get to fight against the German invasion, and the use of women helped to fill the gaps in the military. Additionally, the Soviet Union’s communist ideology emphasized gender equality, and the deployment of women in combat roles was seen as a way to demonstrate this equality.
Manpower and Ratios of Combat Forces on the Eastern Front Data
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Source: Glantz, David and House, Jonathan. “When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler”, University Press of Kansas, 1995,
War on The Rocks, “Was The Russian Military A Steamroller? From World War II to Today”, https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/was-the-russian-military-a-steamroller-from-world-war-ii-to-today/
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