They did not come back from the fight: number of dead in Great Patriotic War declassified

How the official data about the losses of the USSR changed

They did not come back from the fight: number of dead in Great Patriotic War declassified Photo: Roman Khasaev

New numbers of human losses of the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War were made recently public in the State Duma – almost 42 million people. 15 million people were ''added'' to the previous official data. Director of the Kazan Kremlin Museum-Memorial of the Great Patriotic War and our columnist Mikhail Cherepanov tells about the declassified losses of the USSR and Tatarstan.

Irretrievable losses of the Soviet Union as a result of the action of factors of WWII are over 19 million militants.

Despite the lasting and well-paid sabotage and all possible efforts of generals and politicians to hide the true price of our victory over Fascism, Immortal Regiment finally declassified the numbers that look more like the truth in a parliamentary hearing in the State Duma called Patriotic Education of Russian Citizens on 14 February 2017.

''According to the declassified data of the USSR State Plan, the losses of the Soviet Union in WWII make up 41 million 979k people, not 27 million as it was believed earlier. The total loss of the population of the USSR from 1941 to 1945 is more than 51 million 812k people. Over 19 million militants and 23 million civilians are irretrievable losses as a result of the action of factors of the war.

As it is stated in the document, this data was confirmed by a big number of authentic documents, authoritative publications and certificates (details are on Immortal Regiment's website and other sources).

It is the historical background

In March 1946, in an interview to Pravda newspaper, Joseph Stalin announced: ''As a result of the German invasion the Soviet Union has lost irretrievably in the fighting against the Germans, and also through the German occupation and the deportation of Soviet citizens to German servitude, a total of about seven million people.

In 1961, Nikolai Khrushchev wrote Prime Minister of Sweden: ''German militarists started the war against the Soviet Union that cost twenty million Soviet people's lives.''

On 8 May 1990, the final number of human losses was announced at a meeting of the USSR Supreme Council dedicated to 45 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War — ''almost 27 million people.''

In 1993, a group of military historians headed by Colonel General Grigory Krivosheyev published statistical research about the losses of the USSR Armed Forces in the war, military actions and war conflict. The total amount of losses there was 26,6 million people, including the first published military losses equal to 8,668,400 soldiers and officers.

The book edited by Grigory Krivosheyev was reprinted in 2001. In one of the tables, it was told that irretrievable losses of the Soviet Army and Navy during the Great Patriotic War only was 11,285,057 people. In 2010, the next edition again edited by Grigory Krivosheyev specified the data about the losses of the fighting armies from 1941 to 1945. The demographic losses were reduced to 8,744,500.

And new numbers appeared on 14 February 2017: over 19 million soldiers and officers.

A natural question arises: where was the above-mentioned ''data of the USSR State Plan'' about the military losses of our Army kept if even heads of special commissions of the Ministry of Defence could not study it for more than 70 years? Does it really correspond to the reality?

Everything is relative. We should remember that in the book printed in 2001 we were finally allowed to know how many our compatriots were called up to the Red Army during WWII – 34,476,700 people.

If we believe the official number of 8,744k people, the share of our military losses will total 25%. In other words, the Russian Ministry Defence's commission states that one in four Soviet soldiers and officers did not come back.

I think any resident of any settlement of the former USSR won't agree with it. Every village or aul has a stone with the names of the dead compatriots. Only a half of them who went to war 70 years ago is there at best.

Statistics of Tatarstan

Let's look at the statistics in our Tatarstan, a region that did not have fighting.

A book of Professor Gilmanova about people of Tatarstan who worked on the Great Patriotic War fronts published in Kazan in 1981 stated that military commissariats of the republic sent 560,000 citizens to war of which 87,000 did not come back.

In 2001, in his dissertation about military losses of Tatarstan ethnicities during the Great Patriotic War from 1941 to 1945, Professor Ivanov said that about 700,000 people were called up to the military service from the territory of the Tatar republic from 1939 to 1945. 350,000 people of them did not return.

As a head of the working group of the editorial of Book of Memory of the Republic of Tatarstan from 1990 to 2007, I can specify that considering the people called up from other regions of the country, the losses of our Tatarstan during WWII amounted to at least 390,000 soldiers and officers.

These are the irretrievable losses of the republic that was not touched by any bomb or the rival's missile!

Is it true that the losses of other regions of the former Soviet Union are less even on average? It seems to me that the recently published number of the losses of our army corresponds to the reality. I am sure that we will manage to find the documents in secret archives of the country that prove this shocking at first sight fact. Time will show. Our task is to make as many names of our compatriots as possible public and include them to the database of losses of the Republic of Tatarstan represented in the Victory Park in Kazan.

Not only single enthusiasts should do it on their initiatives but also professional searchers on the very state's instructions.

It is physically impossible to do it in digs where the fighting took place. A mass and constant work in archives published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Defence and other themed Internet sources is needed.

But it is another story…

By Mikhail Cherepanov. Author’s illustrations
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