German Losses (KIA)

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Ranke
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German Losses (KIA)

Post by Ranke » 11 Jun 2008 22:56

The following was taken from a separate thread. I thought it warranted further discussion. If it's been discussed before, moderators should delete it.
German historian Wolfram Wette calculates that about 5.3 million German soldiers lost their lives in the Second World War.” Out of that number about 2.6 million were killed in the last phase between July 1944 and May 1945.

Almost half of all German soldiers killed during the war were killed during the ten months between Normandy and the final defeat. How should this be interpreted and understood? Wasn't the writing on the wall by July 1944? Were they Hitler's ideological soldiers (a la Bartov)? Any other views?

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 12 Jun 2008 07:07

Were they Hitler's ideological soldiers (a la Bartov)?
For sure the thesis is not taken serious by any military researcher :D

At least after the Landing in Normandy the German soldiers had to fight an enemy at all front who had overhelming resoucers on soldiers, tanks, planes, ammo , support, all they were lacking serverly ..but there was a final factor: at this point it starts what you might call "Defending the Reich". By the way, at one point I have to critcize Wette (as for sure he took the figures of Rüdiger Overmanns)
Out of that number about 2.6 million were killed in the last phase between July 1944 and May 1945.
This is misleadinh, as the MIAs are included in this list, so if did not just want use this numbers for his political agenda, he would have said "May 1945 and beyond", as noone knows how many of those MIAs died after the capitulian of the Reich.

My 2 Euro cents...

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Michate
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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Michate » 16 Jun 2008 17:47

German historian Wolfram Wette calculates that about 5.3 million German soldiers lost their lives in the Second World War.” Out of that number about 2.6 million were killed in the last phase between July 1944 and May 1945.
This number has not been calculated by Mr. Wette (who decidedly is not an expert on this particular issue) but by his colleage Rüdiger Overmans from MGFA (cf. the latter author's book "Deutsche Militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg").
A discussion of this research, its methodology and results would require writing a new book, as there is a good number of issues.
One has been mentioned by Jan-Hendrik, a forum search will also bring many results. Suffice it to say the majority of those supposedly killed during the specific period are in fact soldiers missing or unclear cases, and the date of their misses or deaths are often far from clear, though Overmans summarily lumps them. For that reason these figures, as the distribution over specific time periods, have to be regarded with a grain of salt.
BTW, this figure also includes all postwar deaths of PoWs and so on.
How should this be interpreted and understood? Wasn't the writing on the wall by July 1944? Were they Hitler's ideological soldiers (a la Bartov)? Any other views?
Yes, how should it be understood? I at least understand it, that these men or boys, whose lives were sacrificed for a lost and additionally evil cause by an unscrupulous leadership, deserve something better than collective posthumous libel.

Sadly the success of some authors seems to prove juggling with the same meaningless terms over and over again seems to pass for serious reseach these days.
You just have to offer a set of handy thesis or terms, supported by a handful of carefully selected (and sometimes distorted) datapoints, and, very important, a higly raised, pedagogic forefinger.
Then if you are a prolively writer repating it in a large number of articles or on a large number of conferences, and the rest of the people, who are too lazy to do their own research, will repeat it ad nauseam until it becomes "accepted wisdom".

Come to think of it, it is actually a good thing many modern authors do not have a clue what a large scale war is, what it means to people involved in it and how these people behave, but that does not mean any sillyness should be accepted.
This sterile debate of some academic circles should better be stopped.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 19 Jun 2008 19:02

Rüdiger Overmans states that 5,3 million soldiers in the Wehrmacht were killed or died because of WWII

Of this 5,3 million: 2,3 million died KIA; 2 million were MIA with 50% of all MIA probably were also KIA (this remains a good guess) and the remaining died as POW in French, US, Yugoslav and Soviet custody. RO calculates that "officiallly" 369.000 German POW's died as Soviet POW (while the Soviets themselves passed 489.000 names to Germany of the POW's which died in Soviet custody!). Rüdiger is giving different views in his writings.
Probably 1,5-1.6 million German soldiers died as POW in and after WWII: in the Soviet Union (between 489.000 and 1.300.000: the truth somewhere in between), Yugoslavia (between 24.000 and 80.000, the latter number has greater probability), France (between "official" 28.000 and the horrible and very plausible 167.000, USA (between 22.000 and 72.000; of which 50.000 died in the sol called "Rhein"-camps"in 1945) and Great-Britain (between 12.000 and 20.000). The "high" German death rates in the SU, France and Yugoslavia were mainly because of very bad circumstances and malnutrition. If a prisoner fell ill he was as good as dead!!! Very harsh and without a question also a war crime on a large scale.

As you all know the Soviet Union uses "strange" comparisons between the killed and the taken prisoner: for Bagration (summer 44): they claim 175.000 POW's and 200.000 KIA (all in 4 weeks time). For the offensive in Rumania in august 44: 75.000 POW's and 120.000 KIA (and that in 1-2 weeks time!!!). So the Germans which were surrounded choose to fight themselves to the death rather than surrender themselves. I admit that surrendered Germans were not keen to surrender simply by the fact that 2/3 would die anyway until that moment as POW. Siberia was hell.
In Normandy about 80.000 Germans died (KIA) and 160.000 surrendered (in 11 weeks of time).
Officially 77.000 German POW's died as POW in Westerm custody. But most writers agree that the real number may some factors "more".

So, actuallly, 3,2 million was KIA; 1,6 million died as POW (50% during the war and 50% after V-day) and 0,5 million of accidents, disseases, suicide, executions. Of the 3,2 million which died on the fronts (inclusive 250.000 in air, on sea) most died on the Eastern front: arround 2,2 million of which indeed 41% (900.000) died before the summer of 44 and the other 59% 1.100.000 soldiers and about 200.000 members of the Volkssturm and Polizei (formerly counted as civilians), died thereafter. In this respect the study of Rüdiger overmans throws a new light on German lossses which were so heavy after the summer of 1944. 800-1.000.000 German soldiers died on all other fronts: from Poland till the surrender in Germany, Austria, Greece, Norway and Denmark; on sea and in the air.

Some numbers to state this:
1941 (6,5 months): about 250.000 KIA
1942: about 200.000 KIA (officially the Germans admitted that 25.000 died for the conquest of Stalingrad (11 weeks of time) and in the defense about 20.000, 11 weeks of time were killed by enemy action and 10.000 others died of the cold). Also note that the average strength of the 22 German divisions in the pocket was about 8.800 men and 200 with the 100 odd batalions.
1943: about 350.000 KIA (especially during the last 6 months!!)
1944 (5,5 months): about 100.000 KIA
Note that a substantial percentage of the heavy wounded died. So where the Wehrmacht officially claims 225.000 KIA this number may be in reality 250.000! Official numbers were lower than the numbers of above which are good guesses.
At this moment the best part of the Wehrmacht was dead or wounded. Many young were drafted in the army. The firepower of the infantry however increased with Sturmgewehr 44, Panzerfäuste, MG42, Nebelwerfer units and many light Flak units. Notorious pocket battles were Stalingrad, Korsun and Sevastopol and Kamenets-Podolsk (Hube pocket).
Stalingrad cost 70.000 KIA and 170.000 MIA; Korsun: 10.000 KIA and 25.000 MIA; Sevastol/Crimea: 12.500 KIA and 45.000 MIA (20.000 at Sea); The Hube Pocket: 5-10.000 KIA few MIA.

For the Eastern Front this number is about: 900.000.

That during the summer, fall and spring of 1945 so many died (over 1 million) is shocking!!! 200.000 died in White-Russia (Bagration); 450.000 were burried in Poland (Silesia, Pommerania, Brandenburg, Southern Part East Prussia, Danzig); unknown totals in northern part of East Prussia, Memel, Kurland, Latvia and Estonia but they are at least 100.000!!; 7.500 died in Karelia/north Norway; 54.000 in Hungary, 38.000 on Rumanian soil (2 times more in Moldovo all around Kishinev!); about 125.000 around Berlin (middle Germany) (notorious was the pocket of the 9th Army and break-out through the woods near Halbe); 178.00 in Tjecho-slovakia and 45.000 in Austria (bitter fight till the end) and at the East-sea at least 25.000 soldiers and sailors drowned.
Notorious pocket battles were Brody, Vitebsk, Bobruisk, Minsk, Vilnius, Kishinev, Budapest, Halbe and Breslau.
For the Eastern Front this number is about: 1.300.000

Western Front/(6 june 1944 and before):
16.000 were the KIA in Poland; 5.500 the KIA in Norway; 60.000 were KIA in Holland, Belgium, France and the airbattle over Britain. 1500 KIA in Greece, 4.000 KIA on Crete; 16.000 were KIA in North Africa (mainly Tunesia); 14.000 fell in Yugoslavia against the Partizans; the air war over Germany cost the Germans 10.000 day and night fighter pilots and crews (till summer 44); the losses on the oceans by the KM about 50.000 men in the U-Boat arm and surface units (loss of Bismarck and Scharnhorst) and 25.000 other army personell. The occupation of Europe & bombardments did cost another 25.000 men. The defense of Sicilia: 7.500 KIA; southern Italy up to Cassino a futher 7.500 KIA. Cassino and Anzio both at least 50.000. Anti Partizan fights in Greece and counterattacks against the Dodecanese Islands: 2500 KIA.

Western Front/(6 june 1944 and thereafter):
More than 60.000 died in Italy after the summer, 42.000 died in Yugoslavia (Serbia and upwards; about 135.000 fell in France (80.000 in Normandy alone); 30.000 in Holland, 25.000 in Belgium; at least 75.000 in West-Germany; in the air about 50% of all pilots were killed: 5000 pilots and at sea at least 35.000 died. Also fell many thousands of flak-gunners, hitleryouth, polizei and Volkssturm. Greece numbers? Notorious pocket battles: Falaise; Belgrado, the Ruhr.

For the West & South the number is 800.000 soldiers.

So I miss 200.000 soldiers (KIA) to be accounted for. Anybody having an idea???
Perhaps the total number of German KIA & MIA is not 5,3 million but 5,1 million.
200.000 folks choose to stay in Russia or disappeared in the Foreign Legion or somewhere else (South America, the USA).
Now folks I challenge you to give me better stats.

On the civlian side about 1,6 million were killed (370.000 by the Allied day and night Air-offensive); about 600.000+ by expulsion from Eastern Germany by Poles and Czechs; about 300-400.000 by hands of the Soviet troops (remember: Königsberg, Breslau and Berlin). At least 100.000 committed suicide. Starvation among civilians because of malnutrition (during and after the war) is not included in the numbers.

Total losses former Greater Germany (incl. Austria) WWII: 5,1 mi soldiers and 1,6 mi civilians: 6,7 million
Last edited by Bergveen on 24 Jun 2008 13:02, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Ranke » 19 Jun 2008 20:40

Bergveen,
Thanks for the interesting break down of the numbers.

Michate,
I'm not sure what your rant is about or what sterile debate you are referring to.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 20 Jun 2008 11:29

As a supplement I have to consider the missing 200.000.

Rüdiger Overmans claims that 150.000 Germans were KIA in Italy (where I think this mumber is between 100.000 and 125.000); on the Balkans he claims 103.000 were KIA.

Italy: Germans had moderate losses on Sicily (4 involved divisions); southern Italy until Cassino (Salerno and San Pietro and the mountains south of Cassino were heavy contested) but alltogether 5-6 divisions formed the defense. The long battle for Cassino was actually 4 prolonged battles and Anzio was a very costly affair for both sides. Losses here were far greater than any losses before. After the withdrawl to the Apenines south of the Po there were winter battles for the mountain passes and there was a costly spring offensive driving the Germans out of the Po Delta back into the Alps. I always thought German KIA were about 70.000 in Italy but according to Rüdiger Overmans this number is clearly too low.
What can be the case is that Italy was a "hospital" country for the wounded from the East-Front. Many wounded however died from their wounds.

Does anybody has a reliable breakdown of the losses in Italy?

For the Balkans the number of 103.000 can hardly explained. The Germans suffered low losses in the conquest for Yugoslavia and Greece mainland and only on Crete they lost about 3.500 KIA (inclusive the drowned on sea of the 5th Mountain Division). In august/september/october 1943 there were some fights for the Dodecanese Islands and Ionian Islands. Here the Germans had moderate losses, while their former allies, the Italians, lost tens-of-thousands of troops. The fight against Tito started in 1943 and was carried out by 3-4 divisions. Only when the Soviets poured in in september 1944 the situation dramatically changed and the German withdrawls (E & F Army Groups) from Greece mainland led to bitter fights with former allies (Bulgaria & Rumania) and the Germans were trapped in Belgrade. From that moment until mai 1945 there were many fights in the North and the Germans increased their army to 10-15 divisions.

Does anybody has a reliable breakdown of the losses in the Balkans?

Furthermore RO clains that 250.000 were KIA on sea and air. My numbers are far lower.
Official KM losses are about 70.000 fallen, for the Luftwaffe 11.000 fighter pilots were KIA or MIA (presumed to be dead).
For the bomber-arm the numbers are 25.000. Source: Christer Bergström (THE authority on Luftwaffe losses). Of coarse many Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine personel were token prisoner or had to defend their bases. If looking at the many Flak-units and Luftwaffe Feldt- Divisions, the Hermann Göring Panzer & Panzergrenadier Division and the 3 Marine Divisions (which fought very well!!!) then I assume the 250.000 KIA is correct.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Art » 20 Jun 2008 12:57

Bergveen wrote: As you all know the Soviet Union uses "strange" comparisons between the killed and the taken prisoner: for Bagration (summer 44): they claim 175.000 POW's and 200.000 KIA (all in 4 weeks time). For the offensive in Rumania in august 44: 75.000 POW's and 120.000 KIA (and that in 1-2 weeks time!!!).
As I remeber the number of German POWs taken in Yassy-Kichinev was more than 100 thousands and total including Romanians - more than 200 thousands. As the concerns the KIA claims, they were systematically exaggerated and it's better to take them with some scepsis.
while the Soviets themselves passed 475.000 names to Germany of the POW's which died in Soviet custody.
Interesting, do you have more info on that? The major here issue is how the number of POWs is calculated. For example Krivosheev gives the following info on the number of POWs died in captivity:
356, 7 German POWs died in POWs camps (here "German" stands for ethnic Germans only, and other nationalities serving in Wehrmacht and SS are not included)
in addtition 93,9 POWs died en route to captivity mostly after the Battle of Stalingrad.
See the article in Russian:
http://gpw.tellur.ru/page.html?r=facts&s=losses
Strange enough but in his book Krivosheev gives other numbers, namely 57 thousands of POWs of all nationalities died en route to captivity. Evidently 57 is smaller than 94 and it's impossible to reconcile these data. It should be said here that (G)UPVI NKVD registered only those prisoners that were in its custody, POWs died before being taken over by the NKVD remained unregistered. So inclusion or noniclusion of the number of POWs who died en route could be a source of a sizeable discrepancies in numbers.
in the Soviet Union (between 369.000 and 1.369.000)
The numer could be as high as 1,3 millions only in once case - namely if Soviet officials intentionaly concealed the number of POWs captured during the war in their internal documentation by about a million, evedidenty in order to minimize the true scale of thier victory. :D To be serious a good method to check these figures is to find the number of POWs repatriated from the USSR using independent sources, for example German official records, but I haven't seen anything like that.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 20 Jun 2008 13:51

On the civilian side about 1,6 million were killed (370.000 by the Allied day and night Air-offensive); about 600.000+ by expulsion from Eastern Germany by Poles and Czechs;
Where did you get this number? From Erika Steinbach?

And why by Poles and Czechs and no Russians? So who killed them? Polish and Czech civilians throwing stones (i wonder how did those civilians get to Eastern Germany).

Or maybe they died in "Polish death camps"?

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 20 Jun 2008 14:01

about 600.000+ by expulsion from Eastern Germany by Poles and Czechs;
Well, here is antoher point where Overmanns Esteminations are rather week...the Losses of german settlements in the East are esteminated as being between 1,5 an 2,5 Mio.

The neumbers for the territory that formed the CSSR after war:

2,921,000 expelled german civillians, 267,000 killed or still missing ones.

So we can take Overmanns figures with the neccessary grain of salt...as much as myself take his other ones...just read Qvist's posts on topic losses in this forum and you learn a lot on this subject :wink:

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Michate » 20 Jun 2008 14:16

Michate,
I'm not sure what your rant is about or what sterile debate you are referring to.
Well, it should be clear I meant the "ideological soldiers" mantra some historians pay constant lipervice to.

And if I may give an advice, do not waste your time with Bartov and Wette when looking at the question of casualties, better try Overmans, Zetterling or Mueller-Hillebrand instead.
If you want a micropicture, the study "Menschenmaterial" by Christoph Rass might be useful, too.

And of course our forum moderator Qvist is a goldmine of information on that topic.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Ranke » 20 Jun 2008 16:45

Hi Michate,
I am by nature a skeptic but am reluctant to discount theories and dismiss authors out of hand without compelling evidence.
While it is extremely important to have as precise numbers of casualties as possible, it is still puzzling that so many perished in the last months of the war, especially since it was abundantly clear after 1944 (if not earlier) that the war was lost. Why did the German forces fight almost literally to the last man? Bartov's theory of the barbarization of warfare in the East might provide some clues in that it made surrender more or less impossible. But how do we explain the desperate fighting in the west?
In the meantime thank you for listing those authors, whose arguments will no doubt provide a useful corrective to Bartov.

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 20 Jun 2008 17:05

OK, so Overmans states these strange numbers? 8O
the Losses of german settlements in the East
First of all - German settlements in the East are NOT Eastern Germany as Overmans claimed

Second thing - this includes also USSR territories captured and later lost by Germans.
the Losses of german settlements in the East are esteminated as being between 1,5 an 2,5 Mio.

The neumbers for the territory that formed the CSSR after war:

2,921,000 expelled german civillians, 267,000 killed or still missing ones.
These number may be closer to the truth - missing ones were not always dead.

But of course they were not killed by Poles and Czechs :lol: - most of them were killed by Russians or simply died - is this only the number of civilians killed or of all who lost their lives? - are there included civilians killed for example by bombs or artillery fire?

This figure shows German civilian losses in the East after the war, or during the war?
Why did the German forces fight almost literally to the last man?

But how do we explain the desperate fighting in the west?
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis would answer this question properly.

Cheers,

Domen

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by David Thompson » 20 Jun 2008 17:16

Re Soviet POW figures see also:

Newspaper clipping file on postwar POW release controversy, beginning at:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 904#602904

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 20 Jun 2008 17:26

But of course they were not killed by Poles and Czechs
Are you so sure?

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Re: German Losses (KIA)

Post by Bergveen » 21 Jun 2008 10:40

The military deaths and the high number of German POW's which died in custody (warcrime)

To all: glad that you all react on my break-down of the losses based on numbers published by WASt, DRK and Rüdiger Overmans. What I simply try to do is order most numbers (break down further to analyse the probabiltity of a claim) and try to make the puzzle complete.

As for the German military losses the overriding notion is that after the 6th of june 1944 until the surrender of Army Group Centre around Prague the Germans lost "about" 1.300.000 men KIA also fighting to death. And these were NOT killed in well known battles like the Bulge, or during Market Garden. These were rather "low-cost" battles for the Wehrmacht.

But if looking to the East near Kovel, Lvov (Lemberg), Brody, White Russia (a dozen of places with heavy losses battles battles: Orscha, Bobruisk, Gomel, Vitebsk, Minsk, Vilnius, Brest), Moldavia, all along the Weichsel, Poznan (Posen), in Pommerania, Silesia, East Prussia, Memel, Libau, Kurland, Budapest, Komarno, Bratislava (Pressburg), Ostrava (Ostrau), along the Oder, Küstrin, Breslau, Berlin, Halbe and the Fischbacher Alps south of Wien.

Around each of those places more German soldiers were killed than whole offensives along the Western Front. For Ostrava more Germans died than during: Wacht-am-Rhein, Südwind and Norwind together (as we know those 3 offensives cost the Western Allies more than 135.000 casulties).

So it is simply that for more than 60 years now 90% of all books published about WWII and the Eastern Front was about the period before june 1944. And so we all got a wrong picture of what happened in the East.

About Soviet numbers of German POW which died after captivity?

- We know for sure that all those Germans which were captured before Stalingrad (between 20 and 30.000) almost all died. They were simply shot (like all downed Luftwaffe crews and members of the SS) or died because of misserable circumstances. Perhaps that a few officers survived (and mostly if they turned against Hitler).
One semi encirclement was achieved at Velikije Luki and near Jeletz (against the German 2nd Army).
The mass of the surendering 107.000 Germans after Stalingrad died soon after capture because most of them were physically almost dead. Typhus, long marches through the cold, few or no food at all, transport by rail killed 80% within one month after capture. About 20.000+ managed to survive and were send to workcamps. Of them 75% died because of ultra harsh conditions.
After Stalingrad the Germans managed to avoid encirclements until februar 1944 the pocket of Korsun was created. With litterary all means the German army tried to free the 55.000 encircled troops. But a little unfrozen river (Ngiloy-Tikich), hill 239 and the presence of 2 full fledged Soviet Panzer Armies and aboundant of AT-units meant death for 50% of the encircled troops. The wounded in the pocket were shot by the Soviets, committed suicide. There were few POW's (20.000?) Most didn't live for long. This was a repeating story for the EF. Even in mai 1945 in Tjecho-slovakia such scenes were repeated and repeated until the German Army was totally shot up.
Then came the Crimea and Sevastopol. The Soviets captured again some 20.000 German troops. At sea 15.000 Germans drowned with the sinking of the "Tejo" and "Totilja". Of these is also known: very harsh conditions, few survivors.
Brody was next on the list, basically a rehearsal of Korsun, about the same stats, only was it all over in one week of time.
Only after the capture of 200.000 troops of army group centre (july 44) and 100,000 of army group south Ukraine (august 44) the Soviets had a large group of POW's which entered captivity in relative good health. They marched trough Moscow in a parade of the "beaten" litterary through their own shit. Of these 300.000 POW's perhaps 40% survived 1944, 1945 and the years thereafter. Conditions for these 300.000 were appalling. No one could ever imagine how bad.
(in the same time the captured Germans of North Africa and Italy in camps in the USA were well fed, smoked cigars and reading books). Hell versus "paradise".

Conclusions: if summing up these totals from proven and clear cases the Soviets captured 500-600.000 German troops until october 1944 of which about 150.000 (25%) survived WWII, but 450.000 died in Soviet Custody.

If going on further in the history with at least 3-4 million of prisoners following the first 600.000 and with raising surviving percantages from 5%-33% to 50-66% I am totally convinced that the number of German POW's which died in Soviet custody is about 1,3 million and not much more or less

Note that I round numbers to the nearest 10.000. This is because very precize numbers doesn't tell a different story.

Civilian deaths by expulsion (warcrime too)

The number of 1,6 million is highly controversial. Even Rüdiger Overmans admit this. He states that "only" a "few" 100-thousand were killed by the invading Soviet Army and that the death of expulsion from the eastern provinces were "not more" than 500.000. Other sources give higher numbers like 680.000. Officially 2.1 million civilians are still missing. Unknown is the number of persons which accepted fate and changed their German names to survive.
The number of 1,6 million (also civilians killed by the mass bombing, camps, expulsion, the fighting in Germany) is in my opinion the lowest possible number. The correct total number can be 1x, 2x, 3x this number but not less.

Did anyone analyzed all given numbers and explanations? What is a realistic?? What do survivors tell???

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