The Fallen of World War II
World War II began on September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany and most of the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations followed suit. This film is not a collection of war stories retrieved from the survivors. It focuses on the millions of people whose lives were cut short by the war.
Military deaths were almost entirely men with an average age of 23, whereas the civilians who lost their lives were diverse. The idea is to compare these numbers to the deaths of other wars, including the most recent conflicts. In military speak, casualties includes both deaths and injuries because either way the soldier is taken out of service. This film only counts those who died.
Over 400,000 American soldiers lost their lives during this war. Most of the deaths occurred in the European Theatre and towards the end of the war. The United States joined the war in 1941 at Pearl Harbor. The deaths increased drastically on D-Day when the allies invaded Normandy. On that day in June of 1944, around 2,500 American soldiers were killed. This is about the same amount of soldiers that have lost their lives during the thirteen years of the war in Afghanistan. The bloodiest battle in the Pacific took place in Okinawa and lasted 82 days. Approximately 12,500 American soldiers were killed there.
When Germany invaded Poland, Poland lost about 200,000 soldiers while Germany only lost 16,000. The Nazis went on to invade other countries including Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France, Greece, and Yugoslavia. France surrendered after losing over 90,000 soldiers and went on to lose many more. Yugoslavia suffered over 500,000 military deaths, mostly due to guerilla fights and mass executions.
Germany then lost about 500,000 soldiers just fighting the US and the United Kingdom. However, their greatest loss occurred through fighting the Eastern Front where 500,000 soldiers died and 100,000 were taken prisoners.
The Soviet Union suffered a total loss of 8.7 million soldiers, although some studies calculate as many as 14 million were killed.
When it comes to civilians, many were killed intentionally. They were exterminated, used as human shields, or deprived of food. This amounts to close to 20 million civilian deaths in Europe. More people died in WWII than in any other war in history. Watch this now.