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Breaking Down Soviet WWII Losses

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Marko M, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. Marko M

    Marko M New Member

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    Hi to all. This is my first post. I registered specifically to start this thread.

    I've been long interested in how the death toll sustained by the Soviet Union in the Soviet-German War 1941-45, which is usually believed to stand at 26.6 million, breaks down between its component parts. That is how many of the 26.6 million were soldiers lost in combat, prisoners of war who perished in enemy custody after having been disarmed, Jews murdered in the Holocaust, Soviet civilians killed by the occupational regime in anti-partisan reprisals and other killing policies, Soviet citizens who died due to repression of their own state, civilians who lost their lives directly in battles, civilians who died of malnutrition and disease in the occupied, western Soviet Union, as well as those who perished of similar reasons in the unoccupied, interior USSR, and so on and so on.

    Quickly, however, I discovered that historiography lacks in this regard. Quite frankly I was shocked how little work has been attempted in this direction. There just isn't a useful breakdown out there that I was able to find. To begin with such breakdowns appear to have been only attempted a few times, and even then the results were less than satisfactory.

    For example, GF Krivosheev in Russia and the USSR in the War of the 20th Century from 2001, gives a partial mini-breakdown of the casualties as being 8.7 million deaths from its armed forces, 7.4 million Soviet civilians shot, gassed or burned alive by the Germans , 2.2 million deaths of Soviet forced laborers in Germany, 641 thousand residents of Leningrad who succumbed to starvation in besieged Leningrad and 4.1 million who died due to malnutrition and disease in the western USSR under the German occupation. In fact, all but the last number, are certainly inaccurate. (I would estimate the deaths from the armed forces at 10-10.5 million, victims of the occupation who died violent deaths at 3.5 million, deaths arising from the deportation of Soviet forced laborers at 0.2 million and civilian deaths in the siege of Leningrad at 0.9 million.)

    Given this state of affairs I ended up delving into secondary sources and attempting a breakdown of the death toll of my own, which you may find here (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_UgkaVaFacSRkZzR2tDTnRPeUk).

    First of all, I find 25.3 million (not 26.6 million which is demographic loss) to be currently the best estimate of the total war death. Of this number 1.5 million is due to Soviet state repression, leaving 23.8 million due to war and occupation. In fact, let me copy the tables with my various estimates (many of which are not my own, but simply me citing figures from various historians that I found the most convincing and the best backed) here:

    Total Soviet Losses
    Calculated loss in excess of expected deaths (Andreev, Darskii, Kharkova):
    26,600,000
    War-related deaths of people expected to die in the timeframe of other causes (Harrison):
    1,100,000
    Expected deaths due to Soviet repression:
    300,000
    Total deficit of the Soviet population in the war:
    28,000,000


    Soviet Losses by Cause:
    Demographic loss of the Soviet Union in the Soviet-German War:
    28,000,000
    Of that losses in migration deficit (Ellman, Maksudov):
    2,700,000
    Total Soviet war dead:
    25,300,000

    Of that losses due to Soviet state repression:
    1,500,000
    Total losses due to war and occupation:
    23,800,000


    Losses due to Soviet State Repression:
    Deaths in prisons and camps and colonies of the gulag:
    1,020,000
    Deaths in deportations, internal exile and the labor army:
    300,000
    Executions by civil authorities:
    65,000
    Executions by military tribunals:
    135,000
    Total deaths due to Soviet state repression:
    1,500,000


    Losses due to War and Occupation
    Red Army and NKDV losses due to combat, accidents and disease:
    7,250,000
    Soviet partisan deaths:
    150,000
    Opolchenie militia deaths:
    100,000
    Soviet citizens killed fighting in German service:
    215,000
    Killed fighting as part of the UPA, the Polish Home Army or the Lithuanian anti-Soviet insurgency:
    75,000
    Deaths of Soviet prisoners of war in German captivity:
    3,100,000
    Deaths of Soviet prisoners of war in Finnish captivity:
    20,000
    Deaths of Soviet forced laborers in German-run Europe and the children born to them:
    200,000
    Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union murdered in the Holocaust:
    2,550,000
    Civilian deaths in the Siege of Leningrad:
    900,000
    Non-Jewish Civilians killed in German anti-partisan reprisals in the countryside:
    650,000
    Non-combatants killed in the Polish-Ukrainian conflict in Galicia and Volhynia:
    90,000
    Killed in reprisals of the Soviet partisans:
    60,000
    Civilian deaths in the German strategic bombing of Soviet cities:
    50,000
    Civilians killed in all other German killing policies and repression:
    200,000-400,000
    Civilian deaths due to battle munitions in, and in the aftermath of, battles:
    200,000-400,000
    Civilian deaths due to general privation due to invasion and occupation:
    7,600,000-8,000,000
    Total deaths due to occupation and war:
    23,800,000


    If you are interested in the topic at all, please examine my full paper in 10,000 words here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_UgkaVaFacSRkZzR2tDTnRPeUk/ and offer any thoughts, comments, critique that you may have. Especially if you disagree with a part, or find it hard to believe. As they say sometime we learn the most from those we disagree with.

    Also, of course the paper can be improved further, which I intend to do. Obviously the most immediate candidates for improvement are the last three figures I give, for "civilians killed in all other German killing policies and repression", "Civilian deaths due to battle munitions in, and in the aftermath of, battles" and "civilian deaths due to general privation due to invasion and occupation", where I give wide ranges, and which are the estimates I am perhaps the most uncertain off. If you have a thought or a line of reasoning regarding any of these this would be particularly welcome.

    When it comes to civilians killed by the occupation in actions other than anti-partisan reprisals in the countryside I can probably expand the number of my sources, and rely on more than just the one figure for Belarus from Gerlach. The figure on civilian deaths in battles is probably destined to remain an educated guess, but I may grow more confident about it, if I had estimates on civilian deaths from combat from other battlefields of WWII and even other wars. Eg, how many civilians were killed due to land combat in Germany in 1945? I've seen everything from 20,000 for entire Germany to 130,000 just in Berlin. Finally as conerns the figure of deaths due to general privation, I suppose it might be possible to breakdown that number a tiny bit by estimating privation deaths in a few of the most affected cities, the evacuees and perhaps some other population as well.

    Please come forward if you have any remark or thought at all.
     
  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Seriously.

    Every single number here is a guesstimate. Or do Soviet citizens only die in multiples of 5,000?

    Adding them all up, without talking about the uncertainties of each and then in total is potentially very misleading.

    And in country that has no clear record of how many were actually deported and/or incarcerated by themselves, (for starters) and the complete chaos of Nazi-run East... Well let's just say the uncertainties are rather large.
     
  3. Marko M

    Marko M New Member

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    I am not sure what is your definition of a "guesstimate". There are a few figures in there which are no more than educated guesses, which I explicitly spell out in the paper. However, many are based on concrete albeit usually only partial data. This means that it is not possible to ascertain the exact number, but it is possible to give a ballpark figure within a narrower or wider range.

    I do not hide that these are all rough estimates, indeed it is for this reason I attempted to round up all figures where possible to multiples of 50,000, even where more precise data is avaliable.

    I do not understand completely what your objection is. In each case I attempt to give what I find to be the most likely estimate given what we know. I do not claim these are certain figures, merely the most likely based on what we have to go on. The point is not to mascarade as being in possession of completely accurate picture but to give the general idea.

    I think that while completely accurate and completelly reliable figures would be ideal, good estimates that can reliably give a ballpark number are of some value as well. For example knowing that the siege of Leningrad and the gulag during the war claimed approximately the same number of civilian lives, surely that is of some value? Or that the number of forced laborers deported to Germany who did no surive their ordeal while appauling, is nonetheless far smaller than the number of Soviet prisoners of war who perished in German custody, and is only a fraction of the total war dead. Surely a person interested in history would benefit from knowing this and would not be misled by being told this. So it would seem to have some value to share it.

    Either you are apprehensive about my figures in the sense that you doubt I give the currently best possible estimates, in which case I would ask you to please show where I go wrong. Or else you believe that there is so little real data or knowledge on this matter that all figures are almost completely unknowable and therefore every break down is as unreliable as every other and equally without value. In this case I would disagree. Albeit much remanis unknowable and much will always remain so, specialist scholars have been able to provide us with much that is usable and reliable within a given range.

    I am not sure I downplay uncertainty. I recall spending much time talking about it in the full report, have you had the time to see it?

    I do not know why you feel there is no "clear record" of how many were deported and imprisoned in the Soviet Union. There were over 6 million deported, and there were 18 million who passed through the camps and colonies of the gulag. For the number of deported see Pavel Polian, Against Their Will, whereas the gulag figure is from Steven Barnes, Death and Redemption, but I do not have it in my hands right now so I can not tell you who he cites. So there is a level of uncertainty, but we do have ballpark figures and data that is better than useless.
     
  4. green slime

    green slime Member

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    For starters, and this should be obvious to you, your post above lists:



    Civilians killed in all other German killing policies and repression:
    200,000-400,000
    Civilian deaths due to battle munitions in, and in the aftermath of, battles:
    200,000-400,000
    Civilian deaths due to general privation due to invasion and occupation:
    7,600,000-8,000,000

    Which together would suggest 8,000,000 to 8,800,000. ( a total uncertainty of almost 1 million).

    Yet your final, concluding sum in the table above, shows no such uncertainty what so ever.

    Secondly, the margin of errors for some of your listings, are going to be so big, the precision, or detail in the smaller numbers is going to be totally dwarfed, and that leads one to query the purpose of their specific inclusion. (especially when you talk about rounding up to nearest 50,000, while the smallest figure is 20,000....)

    I would much prefer to see the upper and lower estimates, together with the source material for the figures. This gives a far better idea of just how much uncertainty resides in each listing.

    Rounding up leads to the accusation of wanting to inflate figures. Furthermore, with 27 individual posts in your table, if most of them are rounded up to the nearest 50,000, you're going to end up with a horrific margin of error introduced by yourself, perhaps even upwards of a million.

    And no, I haven't had the time to read the separate "full report", and in all honesty, I am actually unlikely to.

    Beyond the time issue, the precision/accuracy issues I have raised on your summary would (and do) put me off examining the material further.

    It is vitally important to not be casual with the truth. To neither exaggerate, nor belittle. Yet casually rounding figures up (or down) does just that. When you list a number, without further explanation or details about uncertainty, (7,250,000 Red Army / NKVD losses due to combat, accident or disease, for instance) (where are these figures from, what are their sources, how reliable are they, what uncertainties exist, does this figure include soldiers Missing, presumed dead? etc.

    Do any of the figures include those killed by the regime upon return to the Soviet Union after the War? Or Pre-Barbarossa terror against Baltic countries and other ethnic groups?
     
  5. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    Forgive me if I'm incorrect, but do you have a general category for civilian deaths caused exclusively by starvation?

    Food shortages were widespread, and the loss of the Ukraine Region in Mid-1941 brought on a terrible shortage of not only grain and other foodstuffs supplied by "The Breadbasket of the Soviet Union", but a terrible shortage of tractors and agricultural machinery, caused directly by the regime's refusal to turn over factory floor space to anything other than war material. As a small example, witnesses at Stalingrad in the 6th Army noticed on taking possession of the Dezerhizinsky Tractor Factory that this veritable model of Soviet production contained not a single Tractor anywhere around the facility. It was totally converted to producing tanks!

    Add to this the rumours of a famine in the Urals and Steppe regions beginning in 1942 (and after), that have been covered up for morale purposes by the Soviets. The famine itself was never officially admitted, and this was not the first time that such a thing had occurred without any acknowledgment from the overlords of the Paradise of Workers and Peasants. In 1920-21, a disgusting non-admission by the Central Committee saw an estimated 9 million people starve to death, (Just an estimate, mind you). American aid (ASA) is said to have saved this number and more, whilst the countryside was over-run with children orphaned or abandoned by the famine victims, roaming with little chance of survival in packs. Widespread necrophia and banditry, with corpses piling up at railway stations of desperate and hungry people trying to get out of the nightmare countryside and into the cities where food was being HOARDED by the regime, and EXPORTED for profit!

    Add insult to injury, the American Aid workers were accused of espionage after superhuman efforts. Further, this was not the last time such a famine in similar circumstances reared it's head from Soviet lack of care. Collectivization saw a virtual carbon copy famine.

    Rumours of a bad famine in 1942 (and possibly continuing into 1943 and early 1944 before Lend Lease shipments brought relief) were rife, but have never been investigated, due to the lack of outsiders observations during the period, and after when the Soviet Union began to restrict foreigners from travel in the countryside or anywhere else for that matter. As a matter of fact, it's difficult to find any written account, or eyewitness report, of exactly what went on in this region during wartime. Other than photographs of trains carrying whole factory communities back to this area, many people seem to have been simply swallowed whole by the enormity of the events. My guess is that whole communities starved to death in 42-43, but benefitted from the better frontline situation in early 44, as the Lend Lease turned from a trickle to a veritable avalanche of supply and nourishment. But for many, I'm sure, it was already too late.

    Think too, of the privations of the frontline city of Leningrad, and just how many of those unfortunates starved to death. They were in a fairly important strategic area, so much effort was expended to keep as many people alive. They still dropped in large numbers despite all the outside help. So, peasants in the Steppe country would have had a very low priority in 1942 and 1943.

    In an editorial, Military History Quarterly upped the benchmark of Soviet Losses in WW2 as more than likely "twice what we now understand", with a true figure approaching somewhere near 50 MILLION (estimated) people of all types and ages, just in the Soviet Union ALONE.

    Sir, to these 'people' in charge of the Russians and others, a famine killing ten million in peacetime is not an event worth mentioning. Imagine their attitude to a Great Famine occurring in a national emergencey, when their precious political regime was at stake? They would have covered it up no matter how many people lost their lives.

    They had done it before, and could do so again with that inhuman butcher Stalin in charge.
     
  6. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    If you want to investigate a true enigma, try looking for records of wartime losses for CHINA. It's a deep black hole in most accounts that I've read of the Pacific War or WW2 in general. Historians have not been able to even offer a general chronology of events from the Chinese perspective, let alone give us anything approaching an accurate estimate of how many people lost their lives, or to what catagories we can break them down to.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Slime. Casualty figures for the Soviet GPW effort have to be taken as estimates only, factoring in the substantial bullshit value attached by the regime of the day, seeking to cover up the sheer scale of it's own mismanagement.

    Makes the death of millions of Jewish people in KZ and Arbeitslagers pale by comparison, doesn't it?

    And these countries were our bloody ALLIES.
     
  7. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    Furthermore, your figure of less than 200,000 people executed by the authourities just has to be underestimated by a factor of God knows what.

    The Red Army was the only battlefield force to deploy "Blocking Units" specifically tasked to make sure their own soldiers went into an attack and ran in the proper direction, toward the German positions. Failure to do so was punishable by instant execution. How on earth are you going to keep a record of the numbers lost to this cause alone? Or the number of soldiers lost in Penal units, clearing minefields or driven in mobs toward German positions to uncover hidden automatic weapons, as before Operation 'Uranus', 'Mars', and a host of others? I bet the numbers there were fudged as well.

    These are but two examples of Soviet brutality of the period, uncounted victims not even worth documenting in their view.
     
  8. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why in post 5 the Famine of 1920 was mentionned: this is irrelevant for the OP,which is :breaking-down-soviet-WWII-losses :Afaics,WWII did not start in 1920.
     
  9. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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  10. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    Famine in 1920-21 was a mention for very good reason.

    It was ignored totally by the ruling government, The Central Committee of the Party of Workers and Peasants. They carried on with the business of government as if this terrible event did not exist. The United States of America's relief organisation, the ASA, had to step in and provide volunteers and money. They saved millions of lives with months of sterling effort. Their thanks from the Central Committee was to have their operatives accused of espionage and dumped from the country.

    The same ignorance of the situation was evident during their policy implementation of Collectivization of farming communities in the early thirties, mostly in the Ukraine. The official line was that the subsequent famine caused directly by the policy did not exist. This time, outside help was not allowed inside the country, not only to hide the scale of the disaster, which dwarfed the famine of 20-21, but to cover up what the secret services and the security troops were doing to the Ukrainian farmers at gunpoint.

    These two famines were used as examples of how the governing bodies of the Soviet Union could carry on regardless when famine conditions were in progress, regardless of the cost, regardless of how many lives were at stake. So, it is quite believable to assume that the famine conditions that almost certainly applied to the interior of the country between early 1942 and late 43 to winter 44 would have had the same ignorance applied to their relief. I was questioning the very foundation of Soviet claims for their own losses, citing this famine during wartime as giving them even less of a desire to do anything about it. The number of people it would have wasted would have dwarfed both the famine of 20-21 and the Collectivization incidents. I then quoted "Military History Quarterly" in their editorial as claiming that Soviet losses of all types were "Twice what they claim, properly around 50 million people of all ages".

    And finally, all this blood flowing most certainly DOES out-do The Holocaust. Very little seperation between the two regimes. Both brutal, both anti-semitic, both organised as a military dictatorships, both run by meglomaniacs. One of them started the war as our enemy, and ended up flashing their "Allied good guy card" at the end.

    If the Government of FDR had cause to manage their participation in WW2 in this fashion, there would have been such a public outcry by the American people that "a house divided against itself cannot stand". But we are not talking about a democratic Soviet Union; but rather, a people forced into a policy of sacrifice, costing as many individuals as it took to be on the winning side at the end of WW2.

    And the number of those people that it took to die to get them there, the figure THEY give us, is underestimated by a great margin, and not just in my view. This was the view of Truman and every U.S. Presidential administration. We did not fight the Cold War for nothing.

    The Soviet Union was founded on lies, existed on a lie, and it's current administration under the banner of the Russian Federation continues to lie to it's people and the rest of the world today.
     
  11. Marko M

    Marko M New Member

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    Thing is you're talking out of your butt, I use actual sources. Also you have some cartoonish views about the role and character of blocking detachments and penal units. I'd advise you to go pick up Roger R. Reese, Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought, but I know you're more into listening to the sound of your keyboard than actually educating yourself so I won't.
     
  12. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    I certainly dont call knocking off your own people in an attack 'cartoonish'. And if your using Soviet sources, youre more likely to have the wool pulled over your eyes than with anything else.

    You seem to be the one wanting clarification over something that cant be stated with any accuracy. And one source by Mr. Reese does not add up to a view of the entire scene, as you seem to presuppose.

    It took the soviets twenty years to admit casualties for the GPW on this scale, and the succeeding generations have rounded this estimate up, and up, and further up some more. Where does it all end? And you want an accurate figure? Not possible. Soviet style adminitration was big on verbal orders, and very small on writing anything down.

    And the role of "Blocking Units" sounds, and is, quite straight forward. No rose tinted glasses needed to understand that. This is why the Germans captured over 5 million serving soldiers. Lots of them trying to escape a regime, and finding themselves in the hands not of civilized and Kultured Germans, but a regime so like there own they must have wondered why they even bothered to cross over.
     
  13. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    Whats that Mr. M? I hear the sound of your own tapping keyboard, trying to get a figure for something that can't be done. Slime has already given you the answer, and not in increments of five thousand either.

    The title of the Reese book was "Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought", yes?

    I think the title should have been, "Why Stalins Soldiers Had No Choice"
     
  14. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    BTW...informal rule in debating. First one to start name calling is on the backfoot, and will be usually be awarded the second place medal.

    Further BTW....my keyboard makes no sound! It's a TABLET!

    Have a nice day Mr. Marko, and do enjoy your stay on this stirling and informative website!
     
  15. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    BTW Mr. Slime...

    "Green Slime" is also the name of possibly the worst American science fiction movie ever made. I have seen it only once all the way through, and the title music will live in my memory till the day i die for attempting to sound like a "Gone With the wind" style orchestration and vocals. True ciematic schlock that must have left audiences of the day grinding their teeth at having to fork out 5 bucks to see it

    Were you thinking of all this when you chose your name for the site? And I am starting to 'see' that avatar of yours evry night as I close my eyes and try to fall asleep. It's a 'Terror Bird" if there ever was one, and this will also haunt me for a long time to come, I'm sure.

    Well done all round really!.
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    "The Creeping Terror" is the worst American scifi movie ever made.

    As to the "Green Slime" moniker, he probably wore this at some time in his life.
    [​IMG]

    Not that either have anything to do with the topic at hand.
     
  17. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    Well, all the fuss and feathers of a stalled debate have settled to the floor, I have been "dieing" to tell Mr. Slime my own thoughts regarding his name and avatar. Here, on this thread, I could guarantee that he will at least see it.

    Back to the mini topic of Blocking Detachments.

    By the end of the war, EVERY Soviet formation contained them, made up of the most reliable non coms. Penal units were divided into Schrafbats and Schrafroty for other ranks, and there were five to ten of them per army group, not counting the officers units, which were used for only the most valuable and high gain tasks.

    The 10th NKVD Division, in charge of security for the defense of the city of Stalingrad, were awarded a unit citation (Order of Lenin) on the 12th of November, a long time before the January 24th 1943 official end of the battle. Their citation lists no fewer than....

    Arrest and 'processing' of 63,475 people of whom 1,146 listed as 'spies, people who had given themselves up or escaped encirclement or deserters'. During their operations they list 15,000 enemy as killed, with only 24 captured and further claim 100 tanks and two aircraft, whilst covering 62nd Army redeployments.

    Mr Chris Bellemy, the author of this single source ("Absolute War", Macmillan, 2007) states...

    "There is no doubting the courage and military professionalism of this elite Siberian Interior Division. But it's record underscores the inescapable truth that for Russian soldiers the choice was very much one between German bullets and Russian ones."

    Amen
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Rumours,it is said,50 million ,my guess : the accuracy of arguments is as usual very low.
     
  19. Christopher47

    Christopher47 Same Song, Fourth Verse

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    LJ, the circumstances arguing for a Great Famine in the wartime Urals and Steppe country is thus....

    All of the Ukraine in German hands, and much of other grain and other food produce areas.
    Hardly any agricultural machinery produced for most of the war.
    Desperate lack of rail transport locomotives and rolling stock, really only enough left to supply the needs of the military.
    No gasoline to speak of for road distribution. Military got all that as well.
    Vast array of Cavalry divisions right up to the end of the war and Soviet infantry reliance on requistioned horses to keep their logistic chain going, and their ordinary transport for infantry. This is the real indicator, especially when you consider that their agricultural sector was far more reliant on the horse than any other single factor. Profligate use of cavalry would have taken up much space supplying fodder, a factor in the collapse of Tsarism in the last war as well.

    All this adds up to more than speculation. It adds up to an interior thats in a desperate state if you are a mere civilian, not doing essential war work. You can bet also that arriving factory workers from the East would have gotten the lion's share of the rations on issue, and the collective farm peasants would have been handing over most of the harvest as well, as the Ukrainian collectives had to in the thirties.

    This, and the lack of information from the interior generally, all spells COVER UP, in the true Soviet style.

    And, conclusively, it makes their already hefty claims for losses sustained highly questionable, even though the present figures are disgusting enough.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    No : you are saying that there was a famine in the Urals,and when you are not finding proofs,your conclusion is that there was a cover up. That's not serious . There are no proofs for such a famine .

    I suggest that you would read "The Bread of Affliction" which is the authorative work for this subject ,and its conclusions are :

    1)at the start of the war, the state admitted its incapacity to feed the population and said :take care of your self

    2) the population took care of herself (private gardening) and survived .
     

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