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The price of victory. What are the real military losses of the Soviet Union?

Цена победы. Каковы реальные военные потери Советского Союза?

Sad question expressed in human lives the cost of victory in world war II for a long time and inevitably accompanies every military anniversary. The present is no exception. The USSR bore the main burden of the struggle against Nazi Germany and its allies, incurred up to two thirds of the total irretrievable losses of all the countries that were affected by the war. But apropos of what, precisely, were these losses, there is debate still, but the official figures are repeatedly changed.

Mythical Kalinov

For the first time the number of Soviet military losses in 1946 called Stalin. In an interview to mark Fulton speech of Winston Churchill, he argued: “as a result of the German invasion of the Soviet Union irrevocably lost in battles with the Germans, and also due to the German occupation and the deportation of Soviet people to German prison about seven million people. In other words, the Soviet Union lost people several times more than Britain and the United States of America, together”. As can be understood from the text, the figure of 7 million dead covered the losses of the red Army and the civilian population. On any documents it was not based. Stalin hardly knew real loss and just used the sacred number 7.

In 1950 in French he published a book “Saying the Soviet marshals”, soon translated into languages. Its author was listed Cyril D. Kalinov, a Colonel in the Soviet army, as if working in the office of the Soviet military administration in East Berlin and defected to West Berlin in 1949. In this book, with reference to the secret Soviet documents have provided data on the losses of the red Army in the great Patriotic war: 8.5 million dead and missing, 2.5 million died of wounds and 2.6 million died in captivity. That makes a total of 13.6 million people. This figure is considered the most accurate figure of losses of the red army, the German demographer Helmut Arntz, who added to her named Stalin 7 million people as civilian casualties (although Stalin was included in the military) and received 20.6 million people as Soviet losses in the war. Article of Arnica was published in the German book “the End of the Second world war”, published in 1953, and in 1957, translated in the USSR. Based on Arnica, Nikita Khrushchev in 1961 in a letter to the Prime Minister of Sweden tage Erlander called the figure of the General losses of the USSR in the war 20 million people. While unofficially it was believed that half of the losses in soldiers and half civilians. So, in 1972 the figure of 10 million dead Soviet soldiers appeared in the French translation of the book Urlanis B. TS. “War and the population of Europe” released at the same time in Moscow.

“memories” was written in my apartment under a cocktail of brandy and milk “Gloria”

Meanwhile, it was later revealed that no Colonel K. D. Kalinov in nature did not exist, and the authors of his “memoirs” were two Russian emigrants living in Paris, is a former Soviet diplomat-defector Grigory Zinovyevich Besedovsky, who became a defector in 1929, and Kirill Dmitrievich Pomerantsev, who emigrated with his parents in 1920. Pomerantsev in his memoirs “Through death”, released in 1986, recalled: “One day my friend the writer V. P. Krymov (Russia published in the renowned magazine “the Capital and estate”) I was introduced to a Colonel of the French General staff B. Knowing that I’m Russian journalist, B. asked me whether I had read the memoirs of Colonel Kalinov. He explained to me that they set out the military doctrine of Marshal Bulganin, which is now being studied in the General staff. I had to disappoint the Colonel: “memories” was written in my apartment under a cocktail of brandy and milk “Gloria” (great thing!), and even in my honor Kalinov was “baptized” by Cyril. The embarrassment of the Colonel will not describe: it is easy to imagine”.

Цена победы. Каковы реальные военные потери Советского Союза?

Soviet infantry in one sector of the front in the war with Nazi Germany

Unreal Krivosheev

In 1990, the joint Commission and the state statistics Committee of the General staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR, estimated losses of the Soviet Union at 26.6 million people, including losses of the armed forces was defined in 8 668 400 soldiers, sailors, and soldiers of the NKVD, killed and died during the great Patriotic war. In 1993, on the basis of materials of the Commission were published “secrecy lifted,” edited by Colonel General Grigori Krivosheev. In the future, this collection includes essays about the losses of Russia and the USSR in wars, beginning with the Russo-Japanese war and ending the armed conflicts of the early XXI century, has been reprinted with additions. However, the numbers of Soviet losses in 1941-1945 has not changed. The authors of the book only through various manipulations have brought the ratio of irrevocable losses of the red army and the Wehrmacht and its allies on the Soviet-German front almost to equality and 1.1:1 in favor of the Germans.

However krivosheevskogo data collection in respect of losses in the great Patriotic war, have nothing to do with reality. In those cases when it is possible to check on individual battles, the Soviet irrecoverable losses in the collection “secrecy lifted” are a lot bigger compared to the true losses. The most striking example is the battle of Kursk.

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According to the book “secrecy lifted”, 5 July 1943, the beginning of the Kursk battle, the troops of the Central front consisted of 738 thousand people, and during the defensive battles from 5 to 11 July inclusive lost in killed and missing 15 of 336 people and the wounded and sick 18 561. The German army group “Center” in the first half of July took 6647 prisoners, and in mid – 5079. Almost all of them were taken during the operation “Citadel”. The moment of transition of red army in the attack on the eagle, July 12, the troops of the Central front, you have arrived one tank brigade. In addition, of the 42-th and 129 th infantry brigades were formed 226 th infantry division, and lost almost the entire staff of the 132nd infantry division was withdrawn to re-form, and its surviving soldiers were used to Supplement the remaining part of the front divisions. With this in mind, the number of troops of the Central front to the beginning of the Soviet counterattack on 12 July was supposed to be about 704 thousand people, but in reality was only 645 300 people. There is every reason to believe that the official data about the losses in this case are underestimated at least by 58.7 thousand, i.e. 2.7 times. The underestimation was mainly due to the dead and missing, since the loss of the wounded doesn’t make much sense to understate: they were duplicated hospital statistics. Therefore the deadweight losses, the underestimation could be in the 4-4.5 times.

When in 1995 during the anniversary event in the Historical library in Moscow I had a chance to ask a question Krivosheev and his team, what they had in school based on arithmetic, Grigoriy Fedotovich indignantly replied that he graduated from high school with a gold medal. When I gave the example with the loss of the Central front, they became confused and gave a very unintelligible explanation: we can’t answer for what someone once in the report indicated a number of losses.

For irretrievable losses, the underestimation could be up to 4 – 4.5 times

Soon managed to find another proof that the numbers of Soviet losses in the collection “secrecy to remove” cannot be taken seriously. According to this collection, during the defense of Odessa, which lasted from 5 August to 16 October 1941, Soviet losses amounted to 16 578 killed and missing and 24 690 wounded and sick. However, according to Romanian archival sources, in the capture of Odessa, the Romanian army captured 16 000 prisoners. This figure is quite reliable, as when in 1943 Romania officially annexed Transnistria, that is Odessa from Transnistria, 13 682 native of this territory was liberated from the pow camps. There is no doubt that almost all of them were captured at the siege and capture of Odessa. Furthermore, of the Romanian captivity fled 3331 Soviet soldier, mainly it was born in Transnistria (Axworthy , Mark, Scafes Cornel, Craciunoiu Cristian. Third Axis Fourth Ally. Romanian Armed Forces in the European War 1941-1945. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1995, p. 58).

It turns out that for the 73-day heroic defense of Odessa Soviet troops lost in killed only 578 people, 8 people a day, which is clearly not enough for such a defense. There is no doubt that the Soviet irrecoverable losses during the defense of Odessa is repeatedly underestimated. Note that the evacuation of the Maritime army from Odessa was held in perfect order, and none of the divisional headquarters has not been lost, so if you want to take into account the losses could quite accurately. Only wish there was no command of coastal army nor the research team Krivosheeva.

There is a third example of the enormous understatement of losses. As I wrote, the official data about the irrevocable losses of the Soviet forces during the Berlin operation were underestimated by 3.9 to 5.4 times. I think these examples enough to understand that the data collection “secrecy lifted”, which the authors used mainly the reports of the fronts of losses cannot be put in the basis of an assessment of irrevocable losses of the red army.

Цена победы. Каковы реальные военные потери Советского Союза?

Soviet prisoners of war, 1941

Tragedy by the numbers

The total losses of the Soviet population, together with the losses of the armed forces, I appreciate 40.1 40.9 per million people

As an alternative method I used of irretrievable losses of the red army in 1942 (by months), who in 1993 published a Colonel-General Dmitri Volkogonov, who was then the adviser of President Boris Yeltsin (“news”, 1993, may 8). Data volkogonova twice as much as data on losses in 1942, contained in the collection “secrecy is removed.” I also compared the monthly information about the loss, given Volkogonov, with data on the monthly number of wounded during the war in percent from the average level given in the book by the former head of the Main military-sanitary Directorate of the red army, Colonel-General of medical service Yefim Smirnov “War and military medicine 1939-1945” (M.: Medicine, 1979. P. 188). It turned out that in 1942, the only month in which the Germans almost did not take prisoners, and Soviet irrecoverable losses were estimated most accurately, and it was November. For this month, 1% of the wounded from the average monthly level of the war have 5,000 dead. Extending this proportion to all war and subtracting from the resulting sum of 900 thousand missing, remained in the occupied territory, but not captured, and adding 4 million died in captivity, as well as non-combat losses, I got the total losses of the red army 26.9 million killed and died.

The General loss of the Soviet population, together with the losses of the armed forces, I appreciate 40.1–40.9 million people, of which the share of the civilian population has a 13.2–14.0 million variation in the figures due to the fact that it is impossible to accurately estimate the pre-war population of the USSR. Most of the civilians killed in the war died of starvation and disease, and also died in the fighting and became a victim of repressions by the German occupation authorities and Soviet repressive organs. Among the victims were 1.5 million Soviet Jewish victims of the Nazi “final solution of the Jewish question.”

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Arkhangelsk search engine researcher Igor Ivlev found that the total number of “funerals” – notices on the military dead and missing, sent to the family of the Arkhangelsk region, more than 150 thousand people. According to him, approximately 25% of these notices was not in the military. At the same time, the military enlistment offices of the Russian Federation, there are 12 400 900 notices, including 61 400 dead and missing at the border 97 700 – in the internal troops of the NKVD of the USSR. Thus, 12 241 800 notices were received from parts of the NCO and NC of the Navy. Of this number, according to Ivlev, about 200 thousand accounts for the repetitions, individuals, survivors, as well as serving in civil departments. Their deduction will be not less than 12 041 800 unique notices. If the proportion of notifications that did not appear in the military enlistment offices, for the whole of Russia is about the same as was defined for the Arkhangelsk region, the total number of unique notifications in the Russian Federation it is possible to evaluate not less than 15 042 000. To estimate the number of unique notifications that should be in the other former Soviet republics, Ivlev suggests that the proportion of civilians killed in Russia among all the irretrievable losses of the red army and Navy are roughly equal shares of Russians in the deadweight losses shown in the books of the group Krivosheeva – 72%. Then for the rest of the country accounts for about 5 854 000 notices, and their total number in the USSR is estimated at 20 900 905. Taking into account the loss of border and internal troops of the NKVD total unique notices, according to Ivlev, more than 21 million people. But he inclines to the number of losses the red army at 19.4 million dead, while the total Soviet losses estimated at 41 979 417 people, which is also not very different from my assessment. Assessment Ivlev in Russia to 2017 was adopted by the Federal Assembly and the movement “Immortal regiment”.

Isn’t it time you learn to fight a little blood, as do the Germans? We must not fight the number and skill

But there are some objections. It is impossible to estimate the proportion of notifications that are outside of the Russian Federation, based on the estimate of the proportion of non-Russian population among the irretrievable losses. First, live in Russia, and lived not only Russian. Second, the Russians lived not only in the RSFSR, but in all other Soviet republics. Third, Krivosheeva, the share of Russian among the dead and the dead soldiers are not evaluated in 72% and 66.4%, and it is not taken from a document of irretrievable loss, and calculated on the basis of data on the ethnic composition in the payroll of the red army in 1943-1945. If you take the statistics of 1941, the proportion of the RSFSR in the Soviet Union population was 56.2 per cent, and excluding the population of Crimea, transferred in 1954 to Ukraine, and with the addition of the population of the Lithuanian SSR included in 1956, the RSFSR, – 55,8%. Then the total number of unique notifications you can evaluate 26.96 million, and with the notices in border and internal troops and excluding those who remained in exile – 26.99 million, This number almost coincides with my assessment of losses of the red army in killed and died of 26.9 million people.

“No number and skill”

May 27, 1942, after the disaster at Kharkov, Stalin wrote to members of the Military Council of the southwestern front, Semyon Timoshenko, Nikita Khrushchev and Ivan Bagramyan: “For the last 4 days Bid gets you all new applications for arms, the supply of new divisions and tank formations of the reserve.

Keep in mind that a Rate is not ready for the battle of new divisions, that these divisions are crude, untrained and throw them to the front now means to deliver to the enemy an easy victory.

Keep in mind that our resources on arms is limited, and please note that in addition to your front do we still have other fronts.

Isn’t it time you learn to fight a little blood, as do the Germans? We must not fight the number and skill. If you don’t learn to better manage the troops, you don’t have all weapons produced in the country.

Keep in mind all of this if you want to ever learn how to defeat the enemy and not give him an easy victory. Otherwise, the weapons you get from the Bets will go into the hands of the enemy, as is happening now.”

Words correct. Only after this letter Stalin, nothing has changed. Is still sent into battle untrained replenishment and allowed the Germans to fight a little blood. And the commanders were punished not for large losses, and is not taken in time city and height.

Цена победы. Каковы реальные военные потери Советского Союза?

Soviet soldiers go into battle. Ukraine, 1943

Stalin punished their generals for a big loss in killed and wounded, and when they suffered heavy losses of prisoners

In fact, Stalin punished their generals for not a great loss in killed and wounded. He believed that the enemy suffers the same loss (and it was not so). Stalin had punished his generals when they suffered heavy losses of prisoners. At the beginning of the war, Soviet troops in Belarus were defeated and lost more than 300 thousand prisoners. Then Stalin shot a group of generals headed by commander of Western front, by Dmitriy Pavlov. In the ensuing the battle of Smolensk the loss of Soviet troops again prisoners amounted to about 300 thousand people. After that, Stalin had an idea to shoot the chief of General staff Georgy Zhukov, from which it is with difficulty dissuaded Malenkov, Molotov and Beria. About this Beria reminded his colleagues in the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU, in a letter shortly after his arrest: “T. T. Malenkov and Molotov (another variant of the decoding – Mikoyan. – B. S.) well should know that beetles, when it was removed from the General staff at the instigation of Mehlis, because his situation was very dangerous, together we persuaded to appoint him commander of the front, and thus saved the future of the hero of the Patriotic war…”

Then followed more than 600 thousand prisoners in Kiev “pot”. But here to shoot was especially nobody to command the southwestern front was lost in the environment. The former commander of the southwestern direction Budyonny just advocated the withdrawal of troops, for which he was cleared. The new commander Tymoshenko, the future SWAT Stalin (Tymoshenko’s daughter Catherine was the wife of Vasily Stalin in the years 1946-49) and generally close to it, due to its proximity penalties are not incurred. Then followed Vyazemskoe-Bryansk “pot” with 660 thousands of prisoners. Approval of Zhukov, Stalin was court-martialed commander of the Western front Konev, and only him, Zhukov, intercession saved Ivan Stepanovich from the harsh consequences. In may 1942, the crash occurred on the Kerch Peninsula (170 thousand prisoners) and Kharkov (240 thousand). Over the Kerch said the chief Glavpura and the representative Rates Mehlis and the command of the Crimean front, lower in the posts and titles. In Kharkov said the chief of the operational group South-West direction Baghramyan, removed from office. Politburo member Khrushchev and Timoshenko to Stalin spared. After November 1942, the Wehrmacht never took more than 50 thousand prisoners in a single operation, and Stalin was now punished his generals for the missed cities and unoccupied territory. So, in March and in April 1944 for a failed operation to release, respectively, of the Kerch Peninsula and Belarus was removed from the command of the Maritime army and the Western front and demoted to the ranks of generals in the army General-Colonel Ivan Petrov and Vasily Sokolovsky. And because it was more important to complete the task at any price, than to incur fewer losses, then the people of the Soviet commanders are not spared.

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The red army losses in killed and wounded after the counteroffensive at Stalingrad, not only not diminished, but, on the contrary, increased significantly, largely “offsetting” the loss of prisoners. The maximum loss wounded (and therefore killed) as a percentage of the average monthly level of the war Soviet troops suffered in July (143), in August (173) and September (138) in 1943 and in July (132) and August (140) in 1944. For three summer months of 1943, when unfolded the battle of Kursk, the red Army’s losses wounded amounted to 366% of the average, and in the summer of 1944, when there were very successful for the red Army and the Belarusian Iasi-Kishinev operation, they were only 4% less (362). According to my estimates, if the average for the war the ratio of casualties killed between the red army and the Wehrmacht was 10:1 in favor of the Germans, in the period from 22 June 1941 to 31 may 1944 it amounted to 16,6:1, and in the period from 1 June 1944 to 9 may 1945 fell to 6.6:1, it still remains in favor of the Germans. To improve the loss ratio for the red army was affected by the opening of a Second front in Europe, where Germany had to give up their best division.

“Untrained human wave”

In several battles, the loss ratio of the dead was even less favorable for the red army. So, on the beachhead at Nevskaya Dubrovka in one day 9 Nov 1941, only the First shock of the Communist regiment of the Lieutenant Colonel Vasilyev, formed mainly from Leningrad, from 1500 personnel lost 1000. For comparison, on the same front the entire 18-th German army in the period 1 to 10 November lost only 878 people, including 164 killed and 20 missing.

Цена победы. Каковы реальные военные потери Советского Союза?

The reburial of the remains of red army soldiers who died in world war II in the battles near the Ukrainian village of Tomakovka in Dnipropetrovsk region. 9 may 2019

According to the former operative of the Special Department of the 3rd infantry battalion of the 12th infantry brigade of the 51st army of Leonid Ivanov, April 9, 1942 during the failed attack on the AK-Monayski positions the battalion lost 600 men killed and wounded. There’s also the 11th German army for the period from April 1 to April 10, 1942, lost 175 men killed, 719 wounded and 20 missing, and a total of 914 people, which is only one and a half times less than the loss of a Soviet battalion.

The Soviet 95th guards rifle division of the 5th guards army July 12, 1943, during the famous Prokhorovka battle, lost 948 killed, 1649 – wounded, 729 – missing, for a total of 3326 people (95th guards Poltava. / Under. edited by E. S. Umaeva. Moscow: Sputnik+, 2016. P. 47). On the same front, the 4th Panzer army, the Germans for the period from 11 to 20 July 1943, lost 1400 people were killed, 244 missing and 4081 wounded, for a total of 5725 people. Her deadweight loss for the decade to be 33 less loss of Soviet divisions in a day.

They came in dense constructions against our fire and tanks

According to the testimony of the former commander of the 11th Panzer division, and at the end of the war, a special army group “Balck” General Hermann Balck, in the period from 7 December 1942 to 30 January 1943, his division lost 215 men killed, 1019 wounded and 155 missing. Loss opposing division of the Soviet connections of its staff was estimated at 30,700, and murdered, was found by soldiers of the division, and added the estimated number of deaths from wounds. Balck explained it this way: “Such large losses in manpower was due to the tactics and organization of Russian, which was reduced to untrained human waves supported by numerous anti-tank guns, but almost no other artillery or other heavy weapons. They came in dense constructions against our fire and tanks. To those who died directly in battle, were added those who later died from his wounds. Whether estimates of the number killed by the enemy right? I really can’t say at this point nothing is certain. Encouraged by the success, the troops always exaggerate the number of enemy losses. It is most likely that here we are faced with this phenomenon”. (Balck, Hermann. Order in Chaos. University Press of Kentucky, 2015. P. 292.)

Huge losses the red army was due to the fact that in Stalin’s Soviet Union about saving soldiers ‘ lives did not care, the vast majority of officers, starting with the Supreme commander Stalin. Therefore, the price of victory was too high.


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