The USSR irrecoverable losses sustained by Army, Navy, Border Troops and Internal Services during World War II against Germany and Japan are a somber reminder of the sacrifices made during this global conflict. Colonel General G.F. Krivosheev’s comprehensive data, as presented in “Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century,” provides valuable insights into the irrecoverable losses suffered by the Red Army and Navy.
USSR’s irrecoverable losses numbered over eleven million, greater than the population of many countries. USSR’s strategic approach allowed for the expenditure of human capital to a much greater degree than their British and American Allies. The Soviet population was motivated to oust the German invader even at the extreme costs of most having a father, son, brother, or uncle killed in action. Over 800,000 women served in Soviet armed forces and almost uniquely they were found in front lines as snipers, pilots, and auxiliary roles resulting in Soviet women having a higher killed in action than other nations.
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Table of Contents
Irrecoverable losses refer to casualties that result in the permanent absence of personnel from a military unit, rendering them incapable of returning to active service. Irrecoverable losses encompass individuals killed in action, those who died from wounds sustained in combat, and those who went missing in action or became prisoners of war (POW). These losses represent a profound and irreplaceable depletion of a nation’s military resources and human capital.
1. Losses Due to Killed in Action
The most significant category of casualties endured by the USSR forces during WWII is killed in action. A staggering 5.2 million personnel were killed in action or died of wounds during casualty evacuation. It is notable that less than 10,000 of these casualties were incurred in conflicts against Japan.
2. Died in Hospital Due to Wounds
In addition to those killed in action, 1.1 million USSR personnel succumbed to their wounds after being transported to hospitals. Nearly all these deaths, 99.9 percent, resulted from combat with German forces.
3. Died of Disease
Additionally, over half a million personnel succumbed to diseases. Once again, 99.9 percent of these deaths came in the German combat theater.
4. Missing in Action
Nearly 3.4 million personnel went missing in action, their fates shrouded in uncertainty. Many of these individuals were captured and became prisoners of war of the enemy. Approximately 939,700 POWs were subsequently reconscripted during the war, as the Red Army liberated areas formerly occupied by the enemy. An additional 1.8 million POWs were released from captivity at the war’s conclusion. However, for the remainder, death was the most likely outcome.
5. Unrecorded Casualties
In the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, the USSR’s records remained incomplete. Reports from the frontlines, containing critical loss data, were not forthcoming. Based on information gleaned from individual archives, including those of the German military command, it is estimated that 1.2 million Red Army personnel were irrecoverable losses during this period.
In summary, the USSR suffered 11.4 million irrecoverable losses during World War II. These losses encompassed personnel killed in action, those who died from wounds or disease, and individuals who went missing in action or became prisoners of war.
Irrecoverable Losses for Red Army Navy versus Germany and Japan Data
Source: Krivosheev, Colonel General G.F. “Soviet Causalities and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century.” Greenhill Books, 1997, London, Page 86, Table 57
Other World War 2 Civilian and Military Death Data
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