There are so many different estimates simply because most of them are done by incompetent researchers.
Here's how TOTAL demographic losses were calculated by Goskomstat (State Statistics Committtee) during the Gorbachev period:
USSR population on 22 June 1941 -- 196.7
USSR population on 31 Dec 1945 -- 170.5
Of them, born before 22.06.41 -- 159.5
Total population loss -- 37.2
Children prematurely died during the war -- 1.3
Natural mortality est. from 1940 level -- 11.9
Total EXCESS population loss during the war -- 26.6
Note that this includes emigration. Number of emigrants is estimated at 600,000. Therefore, the official estimated of war deaths is 26 million. However, an American demographer named Maksudov pointed out the unsanctioned emigration of ethnic Poles. Since the number is unknown, and it is also uncertain whether it was taken into account in the original Goskomstat estimates, the number of deaths might be reduced. So, 26 million should be treated as the highest bound, probably around 25 million -- lowest.
Correspondingly, since military casualties are better accounted than civilian, the number of civilian deaths is calculated by subtracting military losses from total losses. The most reliable estimate for now is Krivosheev's, which gives us 8.6 million military demographic casulaties. Therefore, total civilian losses are in the area of 16.4 - 17.4 million. It should be noted that they include losses of partisans, people's militia units, and conscripts who were called up but weren't put on strength in their units before perishing (applies to the first month of the war).
The total civilian losses consist of a combination of civilians directly murdered by the occupiers and civilians who prematurely died due to worsened living conditions (starvation, epidemics) both on the occupied territories and on the homefront.
A post-war commission made the following estimate of the mortality attributed DIRECTLY to the occupiers:
Deliberately exterminated: 7,420,379
Died as slave laborers in Germany: 2,164,313
Died of the harsh conditions of the occupation regime: 4,100,000
That leaves us with 1.8-2.8 million excess deaths on the homefront, including mass starvation of civilians in Leningrad and other besieged cities.
Sources: Krivosheev, "Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka"; Harrison, "Accounting for War"
Here are numbers regarding German POWs from recent Russian statistics:
"According to German figures, between 35 and 37 per cent of the 3,155,000 German soldiers in Soviet captivity perished. A recent Russian statistical count gives a slightly different picture: between 1941 and 1945, a total of 3,576,300 Wehrmacht and SS soldiers were captured by the Soviets. Of this total, 551,500 were immediately released in May 1945, and the remainder were sent to be interned. A total of 220,000 Soviet citizens in Wehrmacht service and 14,100 Germans branded as war criminals were sent to special NKVD camps, and another 57,000 men died during transportation to POW camps. Out of a total of 2,733,739 Wehrmacht soldiers held in Soviet POW camps, 381,067 died, and 2,352,672 were repatriated to Germany." "Barbarossa" by Christer Bergstrom pg. 120.
It was brought to my attention that in my reviews I don't always provide the relevant information in my reviews when I criticize an author's work. This might happen for two reasons, either I'm simply too lazy to do the work (happens to us all) or I've already provided the information, sources, facts, figures, etc, in another review. Thus, I decided that I'll make separate posts with relevant information which I often find missing or misinterpreted from many author's works. First, the Soviet POW situation, what happened to them after the war:
At the end of 1941 first special (i.e.“filtration”) camps were set for
- returning POWs and troops that were encircled by the German Army,
- civilian collaborators and
- civilians of draft age who have resided on the territory occupied by the Germans.According to an article published in “Свободная мысль” (“Free Thought”) magazine (1997, №9, page 96) by two “Memorial” researchers, A. Kokurin and N. Petrov, by March 1st , 1944, a total 312,594 Soviet POWs and former Red Army servicemen who were “encircled” by the Germans were checked by NKVD. Of those:- back to military service: 223,272 (71.4%)
- to work in defence industry: 5,716 (1.8%)
- to continue service in NKVD convoy troops 4,337 (1.4%),
- to hospitals for treatment 1,529 (0.5%),
- died while in “filtration” camps 1,779 (0.6%),
- sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (2.6%),
- arrested 11,283 (3.6%).The remaining 56,403 POWs (18.1%) were still in special camps as of March 1st, 1944.
An article in “Военно-исторический журнал” (“Military-Historical Magazine”), 1997, №5. page 32, by A. Mejen’kov corroborates the above: a total of 317,594 POWs went through special camps between October 1941 and March 1944. Their “fate” is very similar (with minor discrepancies, if any) to the “fate” of those described above by two “Memoraial” researchers.
Accordingly, as of March 1944, 256,200 servicemen were checked by NKVD in special camps. Of those:
- “cleared” 234,863 (91.7%),
- sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (3.2%),
- arrested 11,283 (4.4%),
- died 1,799 (0.7%)
In November 1944 “ГКО” (State Defence Committee”) issued a decree stating that until the end of the war POWs freed from captivity were to be sent to reserve military formations bypassing special camps. In such a way over 83,000 officers were re-incorporated into the service. Later on after NKVD clearance 56,160 were decommissioned, over 10,000 sent back to the Red Army, 15,241 were demoted, but continued to serve in the Red Army.
Upon analyzing several other sources the author(s) conclude(s) that over 90% of POWs were cleared, about 4% were arrested and the other 4% were sent to the “penal” battalions.
On May 11, 1945 a directive was issued regarding setting up 100 special camps to check the repatriated Soviet DPs (displaced persons). By March 1, 1946 a total of 4,199,802 Soviet DPs (POWs and civilians) were re-patriated. Of those:
- sent home: civilians 2,146,126 (80.68% of all repatriated civilians), POWs 281,780 (18.31% of all repatriated POWs),
- drafted (for civilians)/sent back (for POWs) to the Red Army: civilians 141,962 (5.34%), POWs 659,190 (42.82%),
- sent to “work battalions” (*): civilians 263,647 (9.91%), POWs 344,448 (22.37%),
- transferred to NKVD: civilians 46,740 (1.76%), POWs 226,127 (14.69%).
- still in camps or employed by the Red Army and military administration abroad: civilians 61.538 (2,31%), POWs 27.930 (1,81%)
(*) used for reconstruction work in the USSR
For those interested in the Ukrainian famine and the overall losses in Ukraine throughout the 30's, here is some relevant data:
This is a summary of material from a 2002 article in Population Studies on the changes to the Ukraine's population in the 1930s and 1940s. It's evidently professional demographers at work (four of them, two French, one Russian and one Ukrainian).
They conclude for the 1930s
2,582 million excess deaths in the Ukraine from 1926 to 1939
930,000 lost due to out-migration*
1,057,000 birth deficit
* 400,000 dekukalisation, 530,000 GULag
for a 1939 population of 30,946,000.
For those who would like specific proof for any of my assertions, please, do not hesitate to ask for it in the comments section, I will do my best to provide it.