Thursday, August 4, 2011

Strength and loss data for German ,Soviet and UK militaries 1939-45

For the German side I have this table copied from  Van Creveld’s ‘’ Fighting power: German and US Army performance, 1939-1945’’ p66 ,source he gives is ‘’Das Heer ‘’.

Despite all the talk of Stalingrad being the death of the German army numerical strength in ’43 is way up compared to ’42 .In ’44 there is only a tiny drop in total manpower.The German army didn’t shrink during the war.On the other hand not increasing in size was fatal since the Allies and especially  the Soviet Union almost doubled their forces.
Compare with losses  ,taken from  The Oxford companion to World War II p371 :
So the Germans could handle the losses and maintain their army BUT they could not increase it.A serious problem when you have a continent to keep under control and enemies with huge armies to fight.

For the UK side this data comes from ‘’The smoke and the fire: myths and anti-myths of war, 1861-1945’’ p219 by British historian John Terraine.
Notice the relative size of the Army versus Navy and RAF.

Finally the data for the Soviet side come from the standard book on the subject   ‘’ Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century’’ by Krivosheev.

Some observations : Number of missing goes down after ’42 , meaning the Germans cannot destroy enemy forces by encircling them ,at least not on the same scale as in the first and second year. Number of killed and wounded is always high.The year of worst losses for Soviet side is 1943.This makes sense as in ’44 half the German army will have to fight in France against the Anglo-Americans thus keeping Soviet losses down.
For some reason Krivosheev only gives strength data for the operational forces.Total numbers are shown in this post in Axis History Forum :

Hmm so when the German generals said they lost the war because of the Soviet Union’s inexhaustible supply of manpower maybe they weren’t lying…


  1. I have never undestand the claim of "Soviet inexhaustible supply of manpower" because after all the population rate between Greater Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union was just about 1:2. Even when suggesting that Soviet age groups of males (born 1910-1928) were indeed bigger (perhaps more than 1:2.5) Germans were still much better in battelground at least until spring 1944.

    To solve this puzzle we have to understand that Stalin was more willing to sacrifice younger and older soldiers and females than Hitler. After all his cannon fodder e.g in 1944 was males born 1891-1927 + about million females.

  2. one should be very careful about troop strengths and losses, there are inaccuracies in histography. The thing is, only god knows how many people died. You can give a lower and upper limit or check the meticulously administered OKH reports up until mid 44. German casualty reports after 44 are just estimates, Krivosheevs numbers are highly questionable. Fact is, we know the soviet union lost 22-26 million people (if substracting death by different causes or migration). They want us to believe that more civilians died which is unlikely. 10 day reports, Freiburg: Zetterlings recalculations, TSAMO, Ilenkov - Suvorov military Academy, Sokolov, Tapio Tiihonen... etc. get closer to the core issue. The political climate (and their soviet revisionism) in Russia does not allow correct research anyway. There was always a "break even point" for the RKKA to achieve success (about 1.98 at kursk)and some academics go a bit too far, especially Dr. Pennington.

    1. Krivosheevs estimate can't be accurate because the Russian Military Archives database lists the number of military dead at more than 14 million. Not all soldiers killed in war are included in this. Even today grave registration teams are working on identifying more military dead.
      On February 14, 2017 a non government organization from Russia called ''immortal regiment'' published copies of Soviet Gosplan documents, that indicated that the number of Soviet military dead was 19 million, on the website