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Russian Losses in WW1


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#1 wiking

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 01:55 PM

Losses have been given for the Russian Empire as such:
Killed: 1,811,000
Civilians deaths: 1,500,000
Wounded: 4,950,000

However, I have seen it contended that these figures were based on incomplete data that was available to White generals that fled the country in the wake of the Red victory. Also, given the Russian breakdown in supply, medical services, and recording, there seems to be an argument that the Russians were unable to keep track of all losses associated with the war, especially when it came to their scorched earth policy and the effect it had on civilians.

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 19141917 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.[3]

Does anyone have any detailed information on Russian losses to either confirm or dispel this?

#2 Gamburd

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 11:59 PM

Not really any more detailed information; but the following book, published by Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc., New York, gives these statistics on the Russian dead and casualties for World War I.

From H.P. Willmott's 'World War I' (American edition, 2006):

Willmott reminds the reader that the statistics are estimates and may well be under-estimates.

Allied Powers:

Russia

12,000,000 troops mobilized

1,800,000 killed in action

4,950,000 military wounded

Civilian dead: Willmott states "around 2 million" and then gives 2,000,000 as a statistic.

#3 John Gilinsky

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 06:52 PM

While I dislike continuously speculating on the clearly both actual and relative massive Russian casulaty figures for the period of August 1914 to October 1917 directly attributable to the Imperial Russian and Provisional Government's military efforts in the war, it is apt to point out that the last post to this thread reinforces to some extent the unpreparedness for the sheer scale and longevity of the intense fighting: half of the mobilized troops became casualties which corrpesonds to the about half of the mobilized troops who virtually were "self disarmed" as the Russian governments did not issue them with any arms.
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#4 truthergw

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 07:04 PM

QUOTE (wiking @ May 18 2010, 02:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Losses have been given for the Russian Empire as such:
Killed: 1,811,000
Civilians deaths: 1,500,000
Wounded: 4,950,000

However, I have seen it contended that these figures were based on incomplete data that was available to White generals that fled the country in the wake of the Red victory. Also, given the Russian breakdown in supply, medical services, and recording, there seems to be an argument that the Russians were unable to keep track of all losses associated with the war, especially when it came to their scorched earth policy and the effect it had on civilians.

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 19141917 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.[3]

Does anyone have any detailed information on Russian losses to either confirm or dispel this?

I have some information on the situation in Russia when their war ended and for a couple of years after, during the Civil War. It is not specifically war related but of course the war impinged on everything. The confusion and utterly chaotic state of more or less anarchy, suggests to me that any figures could only be guesstimates. An army which could not arrange to feed, clothe or arm its troops is unlikely to have reliable figures for casualties.


#5 PJA

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 09:02 PM

A striking feature of Russian demographic history in the twentieth century is the appalling deficit of males. In the 1897 census there was a deficit of 700,000. By 1926 this had increased to a deficit of 5,000,000 : by 1939 the figure rose to 7,200,000...these reflect the catastrophic loss of males in the Great War, the Civil War and the period of collectivization.
By 1950, this male deficit had risen to 20,800,000, implying a loss of males 1941-45 on an incredible scale...an increase in the deficit of 13.6 million ! Yet the Soviet armed forces lost "only" 8.7 million personel killed or died from all causes, suggesting that even away from the battlefield, males are slaughtered or die on a much greater scale than females.
If we allow for a an increase in the male defict of roughly 4.3 million in the period of the Great War and Civil War, and attribute nearly two thirds of them to the military, we have about 2.8 million military deaths, of whom in excess of half a million, perhaps three quarters of a million, were recorded for the Civil War. This leaves a balance of approx. 2 million military dead for the Great War... which seems about right. I will elaborate further on ths with some more specific references to 1914-17.

Phil

#6 PJA

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 09:33 PM

As promised, some more precise reckonings and estimates for Russian casualties 1914-17.

The contemporary official figures, compiled from the Central satistical Department :


Killed in action ; 626,440
Died of wounds; 17,174
Wounded; 2,754,202
Missing; 3,638,271

Total : 7,036,087.

The figure for killed is probably less than half the true total; no doubt a significant portion of the 3.6 million missing had been killed in action, since the total of Russian PoWs claimed by the Central Powers was just under 2.5 million, of whom 60% were in German hands.
The died of wounds figure is preposterously low. In addition to the battle casualties, 140,000 Russian soldiers are recorded as dying from disease, and there were additional tens of thousands who died as Pows.

The Russian General Golovin, who had access to official reports, made a guess - but a very educated one - and, extrapolating by comparison with reports from other belligerents, gave the following analysis of combat casualties:

Killed in action : 1,300,000; Wounded in action: 4,200,000, of whom 350,000 died from wounds. Total killed and wounded in action : 5,500,000, of whom 1,650,000 ( 30%) were fatalities. If we allow for the additional non battle deaths from disease etc., we reach a rough total of 2,000,000 deaths from all causes, and a total casualty count of 8,000,000 or so. Bearing in mind the fact that these were incurred in three years, rather than four, we see that the rate of loss suffered by the Russian armies in the Great War was unrivalled.

Kirosheev's estimate of 2.25 million is more precise : whatever estimate we accept, the general order of magnitude is all too discernible : in the fighting of 1914-17, as in the battles a couple of generations earlier in the Crimean War, and two generations before that at Borodino, and above all in the massacres of 1941-45, Russian soldiers have bled and died in outrageous numbers, and demonstrated a fatalism and stoicism that beggars belief.

Phil

#7 John Gilinsky

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 03:08 AM

"...fatalism and stoicism that beggars belief." Yes and No. Yes from a strict actual numbers "game" or body count Russians whether defending their homeland, motherland irrespective of the political regime fought very hard because indeed they considered that they were defending their homeland from foreign invaders. Yes these peasant oriented characteristics were born out of generations, nay centuries of feudalistic autocratic rigid social hierarchical stratification which openly suppressed individualism for the collective peasant "artel" or local group. Thus the inbred historical agrarian rural socialization process easily fitted into the rigid military hierarchical command system. Instead of sickes and plows the armed peasantry (okay half of them only during 1914 to 1917) now had rifles, machine guns [ if these former were frequently short of ammunition! ] and bayonets. Indeed one thinks of the 'bayonets before bullet' mentality which is not only the title of a fairly recently published American academic book on the immediate pre-war Russian army but also the view of the British general staff when reviewing official 1913 to 1914 revisions in Russian official manuals and doctrine which stressed mass infantry bayonet attacks as a preferential way to assault enemy positions with little regard for "softening up." Sowing steel was replaced with hot steel so to speak. The legitimate cultural and literary stereotype of the noble hardworking simple, family and children loving peasant of the earth is a universal stereotype: rural China pre-1948, rural "bucolic" England in the 18th to first half of the 19th century (plus heightened by "romanticism"), Courbet's paintings of mid-19th century rustic hardy French peasantry, etc.... Love of the earth, fertility and productivity with hardy self-reliance yet deference to external authority as giving a grander meaning to one's local community is part of this universal stereotype. The fatalism due to open and fierce political repression as evidenced in Imperial Russia (and elsewhere of course) grew out of the natural resignation to superior authority even if hard and cruel as necessary to counter balance the vacumns left by far too inward looking self-reliant local communities. Thus the hardy Russian peasantry who made up the vast majority of the population and similarlly the vast majority of the Russian army are viewed paradoxically concurrently by many as both stoic and brave but also like dumb sheep. It was remember Western Front generals who cooly calculated casualties on the basis of attrition as the to what most of them appeared to be the ultimate war winning signpost: in the end the Allies would have 10,000 men standing and the Germans less than 5,000 and the Allies therefore would be the winners!
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#8 PJA

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 08:12 AM

QUOTE (John Gilinsky @ Jun 26 2010, 04:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It was remember Western Front generals who cooly calculated casualties on the basis of attrition as the to what most of them appeared to be the ultimate war winning signpost: in the end the Allies would have 10,000 men standing and the Germans less than 5,000 and the Allies therefore would be the winners!
John
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That assertion must be challenged, John. You don't really believe that Western Front generals were that callous, hidebound and unimaginative.....do you ?

I have just finished reading a book about Napoleopn's 1812 campaign, and there are allusions to the astonishment that the soldiers of the Grand Armee - themselves no strangers to the horrors of war - felt at the manner in which the Russian soldiers stood their ground at Borodino, despite being mowed down in literally tens of thousands. Napoleon's troops felt that they were fighting a different kind of being.

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#9 John Gilinsky

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 10:02 AM

Numbers, numbers, numbers: stats, stats, and more stats. Impress the people back home including the bigwig politicos to save and/or advance your career in the army and what else simply to make yourself look good and justify ANY casualties on your own side as being worth it due to the casualties, real or imagined on the enemy's side. How much ground was gained? How many enemies were killed or captured? How many tanks, airplanes destroyed etc... etc... to deny that generals especially the commanding generals at corps and above level did NOT take stats and numbers including casualties and incorporate them into their military command style, their strategic thinking and their overall approach is....can't think of any retort here sufficient.

Per the Borodino battle: fighting to save their nation's capitol: what if the Germans had been advancing on London, England say from 1915 onwards? Don't you think the Germans would have thought that the British regulars, territorials, colonials and anyone else the War Office could scrape together were beyond human due to their tenacity, markshmanship etc. etc. etc...?

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#10 PJA

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:09 PM

QUOTE (John Gilinsky @ Jun 26 2010, 11:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
to deny that generals especially the commanding generals at corps and above level did NOT take stats and numbers including casualties and incorporate them into their military command style, their strategic thinking and their overall approach is....can't think of any retort here sufficient.


Who in his right mind would deny that ?

That's a different thing from claiming that Western Front generals used the casualty exchange rate as the ultimate war winning signpost, with the preposterous assertion that, if they had ten thousand men left standing to the enemy's five thousand, they reckoned that they would have won.

Forgive me if I appear ungracious in my riposte, John.... but I feel I must refute your contention.

The originator of this thread has asked for details regarding the estimates of Russian war losses, and as to whether the figures provided by Krivosheev and others can be corroborated : I have done my best to provide answers by citing the official stats, the estimate of Golovin and some rather startling demographic analysis of how the gender balance of Russia's population changed as a result of catastrophic events, military and otherwise, in the first half of the twentieth century. There is a phenomenon apparent here....the Russian losses have been transcendental. Hindenburg wrote about the scale of their losses, and described how, in order to present a clear field of fire, the heaps of Russian dead had to be removed from in front of the German positions. He said that in the ledger of the Great War's human cost, the page referring to the Russian losses had been "torn out" - a controversial claim and very pertinent to the theme of this thread. He did, however, estimate them to have been between five and eight million, and it seems that the higher of the two figures in his estimate is the more accurate.

Phil

#11 Pete1052

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:23 PM

QUOTE
feudalistic autocratic rigid social hierarchical stratification

QUOTE
inbred historical agrarian rural socialization process

Gosh, look at all those adjectives. It certainly takes a lot of words to describe the very, very, very complex Russian national character.

#12 truthergw

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:51 PM

I think I can do it with one noun and no adjectives. People.
There is no doubt that there was a great social gulf between the Russian soldier and the Russian officers of the first two years of the war. There was also the problem that not only did an officer generally have to be of the upper class, the higher ranks in the forces were recruited exclusively from the higher ranks of the aristocracy. This led to some very bad leadership and planning. Officers were almost all aristocrats and almost all aristocrats had to be found a command somewhere, regardless of aptitude. There was also very little empathy in the officer class for the common soldier. Some of the more elderly Generals would have owned some of their troops' fathers. It would have been a lot easier for a Russian Colonel to send a thousand kulaks to their death than his opposite number in France or Britain to do the same with his troops. In fact, the nearest equivalent was the high ranking Prussian officer like those who made up the Kaiser's staff before the war.

#13 PJA

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 04:12 PM

QUOTE (truthergw @ Jun 26 2010, 01:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There was also very little empathy in the officer class for the common soldier. Some of the more elderly Generals would have owned some of their troops' fathers. It would have been a lot easier for a Russian Colonel to send a thousand kulaks to their death than his opposite number in France or Britain to do the same with his troops. In fact, the nearest equivalent was the high ranking Prussian officer like those who made up the Kaiser's staff before the war.


Wasn't there a sort of paternalistic aspect in the approach of aristocratic officers towards their men, or am I being naive, or an incurable romantic, in suggesting such a thing ?

Editing : it might be interesting, and possibly instructive, to compare the relative losses of the Russian armies in the Great War with those of Germany, Austro-Hungary France, Britain and others : by which I mean to compare the numbers killed in battle ( striclty avoiding non battle deaths from disease and while PoW etc.) with the total number enlisted. As a yardstick of commitment, determination and battlefield experience it would be something of an indicator. I note that the Soviet Union, 1941-45, lost about 18% of all its military personnel killed in battle, which is a very extreme figure, especially given the enormous numbers in its armed forces ( nearly 35 million). I suspect that in this respect, in the Great War, Russia was not exceptional, despite my earlier comment about "transcendental " losses, and was probably behind France and Germany in terms of numbers killed in proportion to numbers served. In terms of PoWs, though, Russian losses were much heavier, both relatively and absolutely, though I'm convinced that Krivosheev's figure is an exagerration. On the other hand, I must re-iterate that these Rusian casualties were incurred in only three years of intense warfare, compared with more than four years for most other major belligerents.

Phil

#14 PJA

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 07:46 AM

The problem of assessing Russian losses in the Great War is very much a historiographical one. Because of the statistical vacuum left by the chaos of defeat and revolution, it's tempting to fill the space with figures that suit the prejudices/perceptions of the commentator. Trotsky, for example, wrote of 2,500,000 Russian soldiers dying in the war, whereas Orlando Figes cited a far lower figure ( only 1.3 million deaths from direct combat). Interestingly enough, Krivosheev's estimate tends to authenticate Trotsky's. Keegan, citing the figure used by Figes, argues that the relatively moderate number of Russians killed in action, compared with a huge number of prisoners, suggests a lukewarm commitment to battle on the part of the Russian soldiery.

When the excitement of today's football has subsided, and if I'm sober, I'll attempt to compile a set of figures showing the numbers of killed in battle and prisoners for every thousand men mobilised for the principal belligerents, and see if a trend can be discerned, and how far that throws light on Keegan's contention.

Phil

#15 John Gilinsky

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 11:32 PM

Me thinks that someoneth doeth trieth to maketh me appear like a diminutive poor copy of Lord Conrad Black! Introducing some sociological or social historical terms to attempt to explain some of the myths and perceptions(and misperceptions) of those massive Russian infantry attacks in the war is not verbose, ladies, sirs, generals, and others of their ilk. laugh.gif
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#16 PJA

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:26 PM

On reflection, I felt it might not be such a good idea to try and compile an elaborate list of statistics, trying to establish how the armies compared with their per capita losses of killed and prisoners....but I do want to make one observation regarding Russian losses : an inordinately large proportion of their total recorded casualties - indeed, nearly half - occurred in the first twelve months of fighting. I think the same preponderance occurred in the case of Austro-Hungarian casualties, too. Here we have a phenomenon of two fragile empires, each one making the most prodigious effort, but being crippled by the cost of the first convulsion. In the case of Russia, this was rather compromised by the astonishing success of Brusilov, which demonstrated recuperative power. Incidentally, the year 1916 was also remarkable in so far as while the Russian casualties in killed and wounded were extremely high, their loss in prisoners was relatively low. In this sense I think the Russian experience was truly remarkable....there is this extraordinary recovery, followed by a comprehensive collapse. That "sealed train" really did work wonders, didn't it ?

Phil

#17 MartH

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:48 PM

It might be worth looking at Battle of the Baltic Islands 1917: Triumph of the Imperial German Navy. ISBN 978-1844157877 and Operation Albion: The German Conquest of the Baltic Islands ISBN 978-0253349699. Both are new publications using Russian sources where available, especially the second one, and give explanations of how it was done.

Unfortunately I can't go into any detail because both my copies are with my mother who is greatly enjoying reading about history in the Baltic that is different to the stuff she was taught as a school girl in Finland before the Second World War. Shes even got my copies of Der Weltkrieg Vol 13 and 14.

Anyway both book say that substantial amounts of the Tsarist archives are still extant and can be used if you know how to get to them.

I plan to do book reviews when I get them back.

#18 marsyao

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 06:10 PM

Another recent good book relates to the WWI East Front is Richard L. DiNardo's "Breakthrough: The Gorlice-Tarnow Campaign, 1915" (http://www.amazon.co.../ref=pd_sim_b_9), Mr Dinardo gave Russian casualties in the East Fron in 1915 were more than 2.2 millions, Austro-Hungary losses were nearly 2 millions. But I think the German casualties he provided, 200.000+, were a little bit too low, since The German sanitsbericht gives a figure of nearly 1.5 million for the Eastern Front between 1914 and 1918

#19 PJA

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 08:28 AM

Yes, the Russians were a good deal more effective at inflicting casualties than is sometimes supposed. As for 1915, the sanitatsbericht gives German battle casualties as 663,739 killed, wounded and missing on the Eastern Front for that year.
Austro-Hungarian casualties were compiled for the twelve months from the start of the war until July 31st 1915, and against the Russians they are assessed as 203,452 killed, 766,935 wounded and 637,043 missing in action, a total of just over 1.5 million casualties, implying and average of 125,000 per month. The total monthly average was surely higher for 1914 than it was to be for 1915...but even allowing a rate of half the overall average implies more than three quarters of a million battle casualties for 1915, which is probably understating the figure. In conjunction with German casualties, we might assume a Central Powers' total of 1.5 million against the Russians for the entire year. The estimate of two million for the Austro-Hungarians includes the sick, which obviously distorts things if we try and assess combat casualties alone. As for the Russians, they lost one million as prisoners alone, and surely 1.5 million in killed and wounded, in 1915. One estimate, focusing on the six "summer" months of the year, and encompassing the catastrophic Gornice -Tarnow campaign. gives 1,410,000 killed and wounded and 976,000 prisoners : a staggering total of 2,386,000...nearly 400,000 per month on average ! Even if this figure is too high, we can be sure that the year as a whole caused several million casualties on the front....that the Russians were able and willing to go over to a massive and strikingly successful offensive in the summer of 1916 is something that demands reflection.

Phil

#20 marsyao

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 10:59 AM

I agree, PJA, in his book, Mr DiNardo said German losses for all fronts in 1915 were 612,000, this was too low considering the heavy fighting on both east and west front

#21 PJA

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 01:16 PM

QUOTE (marsyao @ Jul 1 2010, 11:59 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree, PJA, in his book, Mr DiNardo said German losses for all fronts in 1915 were 612,000, this was too low considering the heavy fighting on both east and west front


Oh, Goodness, he's way, way too low !

By official count, Germany reported 837,810 soldiers dead, wounded and missing for all fronts by the end of 1914 : by the end of 1915 this figure had risen to 2,544,005...which, on the face of it, implies 1,706,195 casualties for 1915 alone. I feel confident, however, that many of those included in the 1915 figure actually belong to the 1914 fighting, and couldn't be recorded in time...but even so, I reckon we can assume roughly a million and a half German casualties for 1915, split approximately 55% Western Front and 45% Russian Front.

Phil

#22 John Gilinsky

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 01:54 PM

What would be useful now at this stage in the discussion would be a restatement of ALL the available published official or semi-official statistics on Eastern Front casualties: Russia / Soviet Union; Austria-Hungary; Germany; Bulgaria; Rumania; Serbia; Turkey; Lithuania; Latvia; Estonia; Poland; Hungary; Czechoslovakia to cross-check the variances, discrepancies and overall reliabilities of such officially reported stats.

Recommendations:

1) That as many of the better(best?) current historians from each of the above states be contacted and requested to furnish with documented sources what they believe casualties on the Eastern Front to have been in what was or became in whole or in part their country/state for any belligerent engaged. This should be a matter of time and logistics using the internet and various discussion groups including history groups that surely most if not all of these countries have.

2) That as part of this process that ALL officially published histories including official military medical histories be reviewed and their "historic findings" presented in a clear concise and systematic fashion here on GWF broken down by state/country; belligerent force; date(s); theaters of operation/fronts...

3) That hitherto unknown, or hardly used especially primary sources on casualty reporting be ascertained through a diligent search through all types of archival depositories and not just central state military archives, to publicize future research into casualty research for the Eastern Front of WWI overall. I am thinking of such archives as:

a) Red Cross Society (National) archives; [ despite fairly intense closure normally to such national archives see cool.gif infra for a clear impulsion to have WWI era archives "opened" ]

cool.gif International Committee of the Red Cross Archives which is in the process of making their POW card catalogues available;

c) Provincial / Regional archives such as the Russian "gubernia" archives for casualty reporting related records through direct or indirect regional/local authority connections and interventions for casualties such as burial, cemetery, missing persons reports, judicial / legal....

d) Neutral observers and/or visitors such as journalists; medical personnel and missions - information given to them at the time, direct observations/comments, photographic documentation....

e) Central state but especially regional, provincial, local/municipal/ rurally based war charity records such as the ZEMSTVO records for Russia / Ukraine / Poland.... Local hospitals, local war charities such as wounded soldier comforts committees - ledgers, accounts, reports, histories, audits, correspondence....

f) Provincial, local, regional newspapers: while war time censorship undoubtedly played a very heavy hand throughout not least of which are Russian papers - some information might be gleaned for particular engagements, specific hospital death rates/figures, cemeterial/burial reports, and the like.

g) Central and/or provincial/regional death records - burial records - cemetery records.

h) National, provincial, local current day genealogical groups in these former Eastern Front countries might be enlisted to study particular areas/locales, cemeteries, military burial sites, ethnic groupings, occupations, etc....

i) Current day both professional and amateur battlefield and war related archaeological investigations and reports/documentations. Usually too specific or materially culturally oriented they can still be useful for geographically based information related to casualties, newly found burials/sites, etc....

Now if one had unlimited money, limitless time, spoke all the primary languages of these countries (at least a baker's dozen!) this would be easy!

John
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#23 PJA

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 02:08 PM

Are you taking the "mickey", John ? rolleyes.gif

I must admit, my fixation with the history of the casualty statistics must appear of doubtful value and of dubious taste, too.

But bear with me, please.

I think that if we can assess the general order of magnitude of these losses, then we gain an important insight into the experience of this conflict. Equaly important, I reckon, is the historiography of how and why some commentators seek to distort the record by using - or abusing - the statistics.

Any attempt to investigate such a difficult labrynth of confusion and contradiction requires disciplines which, I really believe, can do so much to enhance our study of history.

Phil

#24 PJA

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 02:19 PM

As an afterthought, I want to reply to the original poster's question as to whether the record of the Russian losses is complete or not.

The official compilation of 7,036,087 is surely not complete.

At the end of 1918, Germany officially recorded 6.6 million casualties : by the mid 1920s, the figure had risen to over seven million....it took years of investigation before the records could be completed ; even as late as 1933, when the Nazis took power, there were still additional numbers being added to the dead of 1914-1918. If this was true of Germany, how much more so must it have been true of Russia, where defeat was compounded by the chaos of revolution and civil war ? If the German figure of 6.6 million was half a milllion short of the mark, then we might properly assume that the Russian figure of 7 million was, proportionatley, even more incomplete....

Phil

#25 John Gilinsky

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  • Location:Toronto,Ontario Canada

Posted 01 July 2010 - 05:10 PM

Phil : While I agree overall with most of your opinions continuing to speculate and extrapolate what obviously were at the very minimum on an international relative scale very heavy casualties (killed, died of wounds, sick who died of disease directly attributable to military/war services, severely wounded who survived but who were either moderately or severely disabled, missing and never found, executed during the war (it would be fascinating to find out who, how and what for and how many Imperial Russian soldiers were "shot at dawn" and/or the Civil War / Revolutionary period (say Spring 1917 to about Spring 1920) practically self-defeats modern attempts to tackle the HUGE task by simply overwhelming anyone who seriously wishes to archivally document casualties or losses on the Eastern Front of WWI. As I have repeatedly and consistently stated on the GWF: what is sorely needed is an exhaustive internationally co-ordinated in-depth combined academic and others search, identification and documentation of ALL Eastern Front casualties. Clearly of course a HUGE task(s). Therefore let us break it down by:

a) Theater of operation or FRONT (e.g. North-west Front, South - West Front, Caucuses Front, etc...)

cool.gif Technical or Specialiast troop losses: (e.g. Medical, Engineering, Artillery, Railway Transport...)

c) Specific Army, Corps, Division, Regiment or battalions of a Regiment (remember that officially Russian regiments were the equivalent of Western brigades with multiple battalions (6!) and thus technically commanded by officer's holding the equivalent at least of western "brevet" general officer rank

d) Ethnic groups (half the population of Imperial Russia in July 1914 were NOT Russian! - e.g. Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Tartars, Latvians, ...)

e) Cossack Hosts or armies with of course the largest being the Don Host

f) Engagements: There were at least 6 battles on the Eastern Front where at least 250,000 casualties or more were sustained by both sides. Tannenburg September 1914 and the Brusilov Offensive July - August 1916 are two of them of course.

g) General Officer Casualties - The Russian Internet now has some very well researched and presented information on Russian Generals

h) Casualties by type: Amputees, Blind, Mental (shellshock), Influenza, Typhoid Fevers, ...

i) Cemetery or Burial sites that reflect casaulties (documentation on these) - Certain German and Austrian and Polish researchers for example have produced or are producing books on certain cemeteries in certain areas for example Gorlice-Tarnow or Galicia areas showing the scores of cemeteries that survive.

j) Gender: Females / Males

k) pre-war occupational groupings (for both j) and k) national censuses would be necessary of course as well as provincial and local records)

Of course anyone seriously interested must consult Russian books and archives published AFTER 1991 as well as a late 1980's book that was translated and published in England / USA of casualties under the USSR covering the period 1917 to 1988. The author was a prominent Russian officer who had access to many military archives. According to him between 900,000 to 1,000,000 fatal casualties (all causes) were sustained by the Red Armies between the fall of 1917 and about 1922 during the Civil War.

John
Toronto



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