World War II in Ukraine:

Ukraine's Population Losses in World War II: 7.5 million or 13,614,000?

Andrew Gregorovich

Ukraine's Population Losses in World War II: 7.5 million or 13,614,000?

Ukraine lost more people in World War II than any other European country. At the beginning of the war Ukraine's population was 41.9 million. Let us review some of the estimates of losses from largest to smallest. According to A Short History of Ukraine published by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev in 1986, as a result of the Second World War: "The population [of Ukraine] contracted by 13,614,000." (p. 239). This statistic is not explained.

In 1977 Stephan G. Prociuk estimated in a detailed analysis that Ukraine's World War II loss of population was 11 million. (Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S., New York 1977, vol. 13 no. 35-36, p. 23-50.

The American journalist Edgar Snow, who visited Ukraine in 1943 during the war and at the end of the war in 1945, reported in his book The Pattern of Soviet Power (New York 1945) that according to a high Ukrainian official "No fewer than 10,000,000 people had been lost to ... Ukraine since 1941." This statistic excluded "men and women mobilized in the armed forces." (p. 73).

Ukraine Lost 10,000,000 People

"Yet it was not till I went on a sobering journey into this twilight of war that I fully realized the price which 40,000,000 Ukrainians paid for Soviet--and Allied--victory. The whole titanic struggle, which some are apt to dismiss as "the Russian glory," was first of all a Ukrainian war. No fewer than 10,000,000 people had been 'lost' to... Ukraine since 1941, I was told by a high Ukrainian official. That excluded men and women mobilized for the armed forces.

A relatively small part of the Russian Soviet Republic itself was actually invaded, but the whole Ukraine, whose people were economically the most advanced and numerically the second largest in the Soviet Union, was devastated from the Carpathian frontier to the Donets and Don rivers, where Russia proper begins. No single European country suffered deeper wounds to its cities, its industry, its farmland and its humanity."

Edgar Snow
The Pattern of Soviet Power
New York: Random House, 1945. p. 73.

"At the end of the war, Ukraine lay in ruins: the population had declined by 25 per cent -- that is by approximately 10.5 million people; 6.8 million had been killed or died of hunger or disease, and the remainder had been evacuated or deported to Soviet Asia as political prisoners or had ended up as slave laborers or emigres in Hitler's Germany..." states Ann Lencyk Pawliczko in Ukraine and Ukrainians Throughout the World (University of Toronto Press, 1994, p. 62). Prof. Kubijovych, a geographer, says "the population of the Reichskommisariat Ukraine fell from 24,100,000 in 1939 to 16,900,000 -- a drop of 30 percent. The population of the larger cities dropped by 53 percent. ... We may assume that in 1943 the population of the Ukrainian SSR in the current boundaries was about 30 million, ythat is, 10.5 million less than in 1939." (Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopedia, University of Toronto Press, 1963, vol. 1, p. 204.) V. Trembitsky gives a total of war losses to Ukraine in 1941-45 of 8,545,000. (Za Vilnu Ukrainu, 24 serpnia, 1994 p. 3). Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Shcherbitsky in 1974 gave a statistic of 6,750,000 as Ukraine's World War II losses. (Radyanska Ukraina, 18 October, 1974).

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Copyright © 1995 Andrew Gregorovich

Reprinted from FORUM Ukrainian Review No. 92, Spring 1995

since March 1st 1997