PJA, on 20 February 2011 - 06:27 AM, said:
A brief summary of official statistics for the war on the Russian Front :
Russia - probably understated : 7,036,087 casualties . Only about 9% (626,440) confirmed as killed in action, but over 50% ( 3,638,271) reported missing.
General Golovin, who had first hand experience, estimated 1,300,000 killed in action and 350,000 died from wounds.
Austro - Hungary ( almost certainly incomplete) - 311,297 killed; 1,180, 869 wounded; 1,246,760 missing. Total : 2,738,926
Germany : 173,840 confirmed killed in action; 1,151,153 wounded ; 143,818 missing. Total 1,468,811
No precise details of Romanian casualties, nor those suffered by Turks and Bulgarians.
The total of Germans and Austro Hungarian killed and died from wounds probably exceeded one million, and equated to about two thirds of the Russian total.
The Germans suffered the great bulk of their battle casualties on the Western Front : probably more than three quarters of their total losses were sustained in France and Belgium.
There were some months, however, when they suffered more casualties fighting the Russians than they did against the Franco- British armies, and it's significant that, in proportion to their average strength, their loss in killed on the Eastern Front was higher during the first two years of the war.
Between August 1st 1914 and July 31st 1915, the Germans returned 10.51% of their average troop strength on the Russian Front as confirmed killed in action. The corresponding figure for the Western Front was 8.49%. For the year August 1915 to July 1916, the figure for the Russian Front was 4.26%; and for the Western Front it was 4.22%.
The bloodiness and intensity of the first year of fighting is very apparent in those statistcs. This was especially evident in the reports of the Austro -Hungarians, who returned nearly 60% of their total battle casualties on the Eastern Front in the first twelve months.
That is why I am taken back at the very high proportion of the Russian casualties that were attributed to 1916 : ironically, the year of Russia'a greatest battlefield success.
That official Russian tabulation that I cited gave a breakdown of the casualties in time periods, and just under half the seven million casualties were incurred by the end of 1915. The fighting of 1916 cost 2.4 million casualties Forgive me for "banging on" about this, but I am rather fixated on what appears anomalous. The Germans returned 813,000 casualties on the Russian Front up until December 31st 1915. The Austro Hungarian figure was much greater - well over double the German, with more than 1.6 million already tabulated by the end of July 1915. And these, it should be noted, are battle casualties only and do not include sick or frostbitten troops. It would appear that by the end of 1915, after the disasters of East Prussia in 1914 and the horrific pounding of Gorlice Tarnow and the loss of much of Poland, the Russians had inflicted casualties that were pretty comparable with their own. Yes, I know that they had really knocked the Austrians about at Lemberg and in the Carpathians.
Now, in 1916, when the Austro Hungarian Front was blown apart and several hundred thousand prisoners taken by the Russians, it appears that the Russians suffered at least double the losses they inflicted.
How can this be reconciled, or am I tilting at windmills here ?
Russian Empire Included in total are 1,451,000 killed or missing in action and died of wounds. The estimate of the 1,811,000 total Russian military and 1,500,00 civilian deaths was made by the Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis.6,46-57. Other estimates of Russian casualties are as follows: By UK War Office in 1922: Killed 1,700,00011,353-By the US War Dept in 1924 1,700,000 killed and died 25 A 2001 study by the Russian military historian G.F. Krivosheev provided these revised figures- Killed in action 1,200,000; missing in action 439,369; died of wounds 240,000, gassed 11,000., died from disease 155,000, POW deaths 190,000, deaths due to accidents and other causes.19,000. Total war dead 2,254,369. Wounded 3,749,000. POW 3,342,900. 34
Civilian deaths from 1914–1917 exceeded the prewar level by 1,500,000 due to famine and disease and military operations.6,268. The following estimate of civilian deaths on the eastern front during World War I was made by a Russian journalist in a 2004 handbook of human losses in the 20th century. Total civilian deaths on the territory of the former Soviet Union and Poland were estimated at 1,440,000, including 460,000 due to military operations.
Krivosheev's numbers seem to be the most likely based on the link of a discussion I posted in my last post. The prisoner totals probably also included the Caucasian front and include prisoners taken on the Eastern Front into 1918 when the Russian Front basically collapsed and the Central Powers advanced through most of Western Russia. During hostilities up through 1917 the 2.5 million number makes sense for the Eastern Front, while these numbers are total Russian losses. I don't know what Russia's losses were in Persia and the Caucasus to deduct from these estimates.
As to the Brusilov losses, remember too that the Russians were slaughtered up north during the Lake Naroch offensive, with 5:1 losses favoring the Germans there. During the Brusilov offensive the Russians advanced quickly and completely through AH positions, but not all fell as quickly as commonly thought. Often the AHs fought well in their fortified belts, but it was really the German and later AH counter attacks with troops brought in from Italy that made the big difference. The major reason for the success of the Brusilov offensive initially was that the AHs drew off most of their heavy artillery and best divisions for use against Italy. When the Russians attacked they found the AHs with incomplete defensive positions and many new replacements with little if any combat experience. Where these units predominated corresponds with the large break-ins by Russian troops.
I discuss this here a bit:
Basically the Russians penetrated into open country and found that their supply lines broke down. At that point all the AH heavy artillery and quality divisions, along with German units and their commanders, who now were given a free hand to run the battle, arrived and counterattacked. That should have been the end of the Russian advance, but instead STAVKA sent more troops and forced them to attack prepared positions, which caused things like the slaughter around Kowno. This makes sense to me, because the AHs and Germans could concentrate thanks to falling back on their own supply lines while the Russians' had already reached its limit and collapsed. Even after that happened the STAVKA insisted on thrusting more men into the situation, meaning already broken lines of supply ceased to function.