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Population disparity between USSR and Germany

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by jrh1234, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. jrh1234

    jrh1234 New Member

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    Hey, a question for everyone out there about the Eastern Front. I've gathered from a few sources that a big factor in the Eastern Front was that the USSR had too large a territory and too large a population for Germany to conquer like they conquered France, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. Other factors have obviously been cited, but I'm just curious, what was the population disparity between Germany and USSR in 1941?

    The reason I ask this question is because of the relatively stable borders and efficient census keeping, the populations of the UK, France, USA, Italy, and Japan are fairly well documented and agreed on (UK's 47 million, France 42 million, USA 132 million, Italy 43 million, and Japan 73 million). But with Germany, they acquired Austria, Czechoslovakian Germans, and and Danzig in the years before the war. The USSR had Stalin's purges, the acquirement of the Baltic States and a portion of Poland before 1941, so I have a hard time finding a consistent listing of the populations of the 2 countries on the eve of the war.

    A google search of Nazi Germany's population yields a number of 91 million. According to other sources, Germany proper had around 70 million people, then the merger with Austria, and Czech Germans brought the total German population to 85-90 million. I'm seeing 90 million as the highest rough estimate for Germany's population on the eve of the war with USSR. Other sources list Germany's population at this time at around 70 million, which seems to me to be a bit too low of a total for Germany to have sustained so much success for so long over all of Europe.

    As for the USSR, I see fluctuating population numbers of 170-200 million people. I know that the territory they lost after WWI had reduced the population of the Russian Empire somewhat, not to mention the ensuing civil war and government purges. I also know that the re-acquisition of the Baltic States and a portion of Poland in 1941 boosted the USSR population somewhat. I have a hard time believing the 70 million Germans could have conquered most of Europe and occupied the USSR for so long if the USSR had a population of around 200 million. I also realize that there were other countries involved in the war against the USSR (Italy, Hungary, Romania, et al.). But still, can anyone give me any guidance on the precise population advantages between the 2 countries in 1941?
     
  2. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Wikipedia, quoting Statistical Yearbook of the German Federatal Republic (2006), estimated Nazi Germany's total population at 69.3 million in 1939. This is lower than reported by Nazi census taken at the time, probably adjusted for suspected errors. The Soviet population census, published in June 1941, estimated the Soviet population at 196.7 million. Obviously there's a gap there, but what can you do.
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The German 1938 census gives the following figures (Memelland not included):

    Alt Reich: 69,575 million

    Austria :6.881 million

    Sudetenland :2.919 million

    Total :79.375 million
     
  4. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    HItlers desires were never based on logic. He believed the Germans were so superior that the number difference would not make any difference
     
  5. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The trouble is, no one actually knows to within a reasonable degree of certainty how many people lived in the Soviet Union prior to the war:

    The two censuses carried out immediately prior to the war, in 1939, and in 1941, have too large a discrepancy:

    January 1926 : 148,656,000
    January 1937: 162,500,000
    January 1939: 168,524,000
    June 1941: 196,716,000

    There is always some political meddling, and someone has a point to prove, or facts to hide.

    We are expected to believe that the population grew some 14 million in 11 years. Then over the course of 2 years, it continued to grow by some 6 million. After which, more than 28 million arrived in 2 years? Where from? They can't all have been hiding uncounted in gulags, or in territories absorbed by Uncle Joe (Bessarabia, parts of Finland, and the Baltic states).
     
  6. jrh1234

    jrh1234 New Member

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    Well, I don't think anyone on this board would argue that Hitler's desires were rational. My curiosity over this issue was that, for whatever reason, Germany was able to control most of Europe and have the Soviet Union on the ropes for a few years, and I don't see how that could have happened if Germany had a population of just under 70 million while the USSR had a population approaching 200 million. Granted, if those were the actual numbers then that's that, but I just curious as to any consensus there was, if at all.
     
  7. jrh1234

    jrh1234 New Member

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    Yeah, this is where I see the biggest and most random fluctuation. I see fluctuations in Germany's population from that era, but generally the numbers come out to about 80-90 million (with the additions from Austria and Sudetenland included with the total). But with the USSR, I see estimates from just over 200 million to as low as 170 million. Personally, I find the high estimates to be a bit harder to believe. After the Russian Civil War and Stalin's purges, I find it hard to believe that the USSR had a population over 200 million in 1941. I do know that recent estimates of the deaths from Stalin have been estimated to be 15-20 million rather than the 40-60 million which at one point he was "credited" with, but even with those lower estimates for Stalin's death toll, I still can't see the USSR having a population of 200 million in 1941.
     
  8. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    When talking about the population of the Soviet Union, are the Central Asian countries and countries ending with -stan within the Union counted, or just European Russian and Siberia?
     
  9. jrh1234

    jrh1234 New Member

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    That's a good question. I always assumed the the Soviet Union population included every country that was a Soviet "republic." But maybe that's not the case.
     
  10. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The annexation of Eastern Poland,of the Baltic states,of parts of Rumania was good for more than 20 million people .
     
  12. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It is the case : the census was giving the population of the SU .
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Population of the annexed territories :

    Eastern Poland : 13.3 million

    Lithuania: 2.4 million

    Latvia 2 million

    Estonia 1.1 million

    Bessarabia 3.7 million
    +Bukowina


    Total : 22.5 million .

    Thus,an increase of 28 million between 1939/1941 is very possible .
     
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  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The only thing one can do with these estimates is to throw them under the bus .
     
  15. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    When I did some preliminary internet searches, I soon realized that contemporary censuses from both regimes were not terribly reliable. Nazi census seemed to be concerned with German "citizens", but many refugees, especially from Poland, were understandably trying to pass off as German citizens. The current, 2006 estimate published by the German Federal Republic of Nazi population of citizens in 1939 was downward adjusted probably in response to known problems in the original census. Soviet censuses were known to have been manipulated for political purposes. The 1937 census takers were shot or sent to Gulags because the results fail to meet the Party's expectations for large population increases.

    Number of victims of Stalinist purges is a floating target. Some of the original assessments were made by calculating the expected population in the target year given the rate of natural increase and the actual population, and expect the difference to be the result of deaths or births that had failed to occur.Those figures are useful perhaps for statecraft and assessing economic and military damages incurred but not useful as a way to tally victims.

    In any case, a totally mobilized Soviet war economy could field two to three times the manpower of Nazi Germany. Not a good place for an attacking army to be.
     
  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Those are Pre-invasion population figures.
    Because we know no one fled the Soviet invasion. No one was massacred. Peoples weren't forcibly displaced, thrown into Gulags and died. People weren't shot trying to cross borders (as didn't happen in Bessarabia).

    But you don't think it is suspicious when:

    The Soviet population growth rate between 1926 and 1937 is 0.8% (current the global PGR is around 1.2%)
    Then suddenly we're looking at a growth rate between 1937 and 1939 of 1.8%? More than doubles. Then you are saying that inspite of all the regional issues, population growth maintains that high rate.


    126,000+ Russian dead or missing in the Winter war.
    An estimated 200,000 dead Poles (military and civilian, East and West) during the 1939 invasion.
    An estimated 90,000+ dead Poles in Soviet Gulags (post invasion, deported).
    22,000+ Massacred at Katyn.
    14,000 Germans left Estonia for "Germany" between October 1939 and May 1940
    7,500 Germans left Estonia for "Germany" between January and April 1941.
    3,000 Estonian men died during the forced deportation in 1941.

    Before the Red Army fled the formerly Polish city of Lwów (currently in the Ukraine) (has been known as Lvov, Lviv, or Lemberg) 312,231 people lived: 157,490 of whom were Polish, 49,747 were Ukrainian, and 99,595 were Jewish, the NKVD murdered more than 3,000 prisoners it failed to evacuate. This is after all the deportations carried out earlier in 1940 and early '41. In Lviv, the Jewish population exploded with refugees from former Poland. Ukrainian poplaution increased because of Soviet policy. Immediately upon the German capture of the city, Ukrainians killed somewhere between 4,000 to 8,000 Jews. This killing started well before the arrival of Sonderkommando 4b. Then the murders move off the scale.

    The NKVD and Red Army killing civilian prisoners as they retreated was fairly commonplace throughout the Baltic states and the Ukraine.

    As an example of just how organised and effective Soviet repression was:
    In Estonia, 11 men served as Prime Minister and Head of State (Riigivanem) in the period between 1918 and 1940. Only 1 survived the Soviet occupation, by escaping to Sweden. One shot himself before being arrested by the NKVD. The 9 others were imprisoned, 3 of them were executed, the remaining 6 died in captivity.

    A total of 105 other men were involved in the Estonian Government in the same period (1918-1940). 73 were still alive when the Soviets occupied Estonia. 49 were imprisoned immdiately, and two committed suicide. 3 of the 49 arrested survived. One of three escaped during the transport, the other two survived their imprisonment. Of those 46, 15 were shot, and 31 died in captivity.

    So we have large groups of people fleeing war and oppression (Jews), migrating (Ukrainians, Russians, Germans), pogroms, displacement, IOW increased fatality, attacks on Intelligentsia, the wealthy, the land owners, and yet we can assume that the population figures of these states remain stable?

    Somehow, the Jewish population of the British Mandate of Palestine grew from less then 200,000 in 1931, to nearly 500,000 in 1940... (most countries had very restrictive immigration policies because so many people wanted to flee elsewhere).

    We have to remember, the immigration figures published for countries refer often to legal immigrants... and in Europe you don't have to cross an ocean.
     
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  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    On the other hand compare the populations of China and Japan in say 1933. If Japan had kept control of her army in 1937-38 they would probably have maintained control of a good chunk of China. Indeed but for the attrocities and actions against western economies they might have prevailed in the war with China although I'm not sure they could have taken the entire country. Numbers are important but they aren't everything.
     
  18. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    From "a note on the number of 1933 famine victims" ( by Michael Ellman)

    Births in the SU between 1927 and 1940:

    1927 : 7 million
    1928 : 6.9 million
    1929: 6.9 million
    1930: 6.7
    1931: 6.5
    1932: 5.8
    1933 : 5.5
    1934: 4.8
    1935 : 5.2
    1936 : 5.6
    1937 : 6.5
    1938 : 6.5
    1939 : 7.6
    1940 : 7

    Deaths (for the same years)

    4 million
    3.9 million
    4.1 million
    4.3
    4.5
    4.8
    11.5
    3.4
    3.3
    3.2
    3.6
    3.5
    3.8
    4.2
    Thus, the deaths of Katyn,etc are only peanuts,besides,the Katyn victims were not all originated from Eastren Poland ,and,there wre also a lot of Poles leaving the German occupation zone for the Russian zone.
     
  19. jrh1234

    jrh1234 New Member

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    On that last point you are unquestionably correct. Population alone doesn't decide wars. No one disputes that the USSR had a population advantage over Germany; my inquiry was about the size of the disparity. And as you point out, there was a larger population disparity between Japan and China, yet Japan thoroughly subdued China to a degree greater than Germany did with the USSR. As I understand it, Japan conquered the more industrial areas of China along the coast, but avoided plunging deep into the heart of China, which was of little military value.

    Population as just one factor in a war. Obviously, other factors include the goals of the opposing armies (the number of troops required merely to hold off an aggressor will usually be smaller than the number of troops required to conquer another territory), the economies of the opponents (being able to feed and arm their troops), the motivations and loyalties of the armies in question, and numerous other factors. The USSR may have officially had a population of 196 million according to their census, but how much of that population consisted of soldiers that could effectively be utilized in a war?

    I hope no one interprets this comment as any sympathy on my part towards the Axis, but as brutal as they were, Germany and Japan clearly had extremely effective militaries at the time. It took the combined power of the UK, USA, and USSR four years to take out Germany, and Japan held out for about as long a period of time as well. I hate to admit this, being a U.S. citizen, but I've read in a few sources that on average, an individual German or Japanese soldier was more effective and professional than your average Allied soldier. Of course, the U.S. didn't really develop a large, professional military until the Cold War, and the U.K. typically relied on their navy more than their army, so this evaluation does make sense.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Soviet growth rate (in per thousand)

    1940 : 14.4
    1939: 20
    1938: 18.2
    1937: 18.2
    1936: 14.7
    1935: 12.4
    1934: 8.7
    1933 : -36.9
    1932: 6.5
    1931 12.5
    1930: 15.2
     

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