Ten Best Second World Statistics September 11, 2015Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback
What are the most telling WW2 statistics? Here are ten that stand out for Beach. Send any others in: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com or correct at will.
1) The population of the first world Allied nations was approximately half a billion, the population of the first world Axis powers was approximately one hundred and fifty million. The essential truth of WW2 was that the Axis powers took an enormous gamble against forces that were overwhelmingly stronger: Germany against Britain and France maybe, German against Britain, the US and the USSR, no way. Hitler was accustomed to say (there are different versions) that one German soldier was worth four of the enemy: every morning we should wake up and thank the stars that there were 4.2 ready to bear arms on the other side.
2) Two nations in the Second World War account for two thirds of all deaths: the Soviet Union (27,000,000) and China (15,000,000). These numbers, particularly the Chinese numbers, represent optimistic estimates. The third nation was, of course, Germany that weighs in at almost 8,000,000.
3) Four out of five German deaths took place on the eastern front. According to the old saw: Britain gave time, the US gave equipment and the USSR gave blood. It is an uncomfortable truth for the modern Western Democracies but Hitler was stopped by a totalitarian state.
4) In the First World War 95% of all deaths were military (as opposed to civilian), by the Second World War this number had fallen to 33%: Both Japanese and German strategy demanded the murder of civilian populations and, the Allies eventually conformed in their bombing campaigns. Note that there is an erroneous version of this quotation which says ten times more servicemen than civilians died in the Great War: and that the proportions were reversed in the Second World War.
5) More Britons died in aircraft (just under 60,000) than in the Blitz (c. 40,000) in the Second World War. The price of British bombing campaigns were high not only for civilians on the ground. British and American bomber crews sustained horrific casualties: 44.4% of those who served in Britain’s bomber command, for example, died (the vast majority of the 60,000 mentioned above).
6) The tonnage of bombs dropped on Britain in the eight months of the blitz was 18,000: 900,000 tons of bombs dropped on Germany in 1944. If you were going to be bombed it was much better to be bombed at the beginning of the war (when Germany was concentrating on Britain) than at the end (when Britain and the US were concentrating on Germany). Airforces grew, bombs got bigger and navigational aids and bomb aimers got better.
7) The US lost 43,581 planes abroad in the war: only 22,948 in combat. It is worth remembering that ‘accidents happen’. In all branches of the service at all times it is striking how many people died from non-enemy causes. In this case: fog on the runway, suicide by plane, mid-air collision… We all know that death in war is rarely glorious, all too often though it is not even useful.
8) Hitler murdered c. six million Jews 1939-1945, Stalin murdered perhaps seven million Ukrainians in the Holodomor (Hunger Extermination), 1932-1933: The killing of European Jewry was unique in terms of numbers, ambition and technique. But by 1939 genocide was no longer novel: yet there were and there are lots of foolish people ready to deny that either of these events happened.
9) 0.7% of the Jewish population in Denmark died in the Holocaust, in Poland it was 90%. One of the most morbid but fascinating league tables of the war, the varying percentage of the Jewish population to die in different countries, typically because of the different attitudes of occupied peoples. Why, for example, did Bulgarians go out of their way to help Jewish neighbors, while Romanians and Latvians took part, often enthusiastically, alongside the Germans, in mass murder?
10) 40,000 Germans served in u-boats in the Second World War, 28,000 died; 16,000 US citizens served in submarines of which 3,506 died. This statistic simply because Beach cannot imagine a worse way to go…