For those interested in how many Soviets, civilians and military personnel, died in the Second World War here is an excellent breakdown created by an Axis History Forum member Nick Terry:

There are so many different estimates simply because most of them are done by incompetent researchers.

Here’s how TOTAL demographic losses were calculated by Goskomstat (State Statistics Committee) during the Gorbachev period:

USSR population on 22 June 1941 — 196.7

USSR population on 31 Dec 1945 — 170.5

Of them, born before 22.06.41 — 159.5

Total population loss — 37.2

Children prematurely died during the war — 1.3

Natural mortality est. from 1940 level — 11.9

Total EXCESS population loss during the war — 26.6

Note that this includes emigration. Number of emigrants is estimated at 600,000. Therefore, the official estimated of war deaths is 26 million. However, an American demographer named Maksudov pointed out the unsanctioned emigration of ethnic Poles. Since the number is unknown, and it is also uncertain whether it was taken into account in the original Goskomstat estimates, the number of deaths might be reduced. So, 26 million should be treated as the highest bound, probably around 25 million — lowest.

Correspondingly, since military casualties are better accounted than civilian, the number of civilian deaths is calculated by subtracting military losses from total losses. The most reliable estimate for now is Krivosheev’s, which gives us 8.6 million military demographic casualties. Therefore, total civilian losses are in the area of 16.4 – 17.4 million. It should be noted that they include losses of partisans, people’s militia units, and conscripts who were called up but weren’t put on strength in their units before perishing (applies to the first month of the war).

The total civilian losses consist of a combination of civilians directly murdered by the occupiers and civilians who prematurely died due to worsened living conditions (starvation, epidemics) both on the occupied territories and on the homefront.

A post-war commission made the following estimate of the mortality attributed DIRECTLY to the occupiers:

Deliberately exterminated: 7,420,379

Died as slave laborers in Germany: 2,164,313

Died of the harsh conditions of the occupation regime: 4,100,000

Total: 13,684,692

That leaves us with 1.8-2.8 million excess deaths on the homefront, including mass starvation of civilians in Leningrad and other besieged cities.

Sources: Krivosheev, “Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX veka”; Harrison, “Accounting for War”

Here are numbers regarding German POWs from recent Russian statistics:

“According to German figures, between 35 and 37 per cent of the 3,155,000 German soldiers in Soviet captivity perished. A recent Russian statistical count gives a slightly different picture: between 1941 and 1945, a total of 3,576,300 Wehrmacht and SS soldiers were captured by the Soviets. Of this total, 551,500 were immediately released in May 1945, and the remainder were sent to be interned. A total of 220,000 Soviet citizens in Wehrmacht service and 14,100 Germans branded as war criminals were sent to special NKVD camps, and another 57,000 men died during transportation to POW camps. Out of a total of 2,733,739 Wehrmacht soldiers held in Soviet POW camps, 381,067 died, and 2,352,672 were repatriated to Germany.” “Barbarossa” by Christer Bergstrom pg. 120.

It was brought to my attention that in my reviews I don’t always provide the relevant information in my reviews when I criticize an author’s work. This might happen for two reasons, either I’m simply too lazy to do the work (happens to us all) or I’ve already provided the information, sources, facts, figures, etc, in another review. Thus, I decided that I’ll make separate posts with relevant information which I often find missing or misinterpreted from many author’s works. First, the Soviet POW situation, what happened to them after the war:

At the end of 1941 first special (i.e.“filtration”) camps were set for
– returning POWs and troops that were encircled by the German Army,
– civilian collaborators and
– civilians of draft age who have resided on the territory occupied by the Germans.According to an article published in “Свободная мысль” (“Free Thought”) magazine (1997, №9, page 96) by two “Memorial” researchers, A. Kokurin and N. Petrov, by March 1st , 1944, a total 312,594 Soviet POWs and former Red Army servicemen who were “encircled” by the Germans were checked by NKVD. Of those:- back to military service: 223,272 (71.4%)
– to work in defence industry: 5,716 (1.8%)
– to continue service in NKVD convoy troops 4,337 (1.4%),
– to hospitals for treatment 1,529 (0.5%),
– died while in “filtration” camps 1,779 (0.6%),
– sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (2.6%),
– arrested 11,283 (3.6%).The remaining 56,403 POWs (18.1%) were still in special camps as of March 1st, 1944.

An article in “Военно-исторический журнал” (“Military-Historical Magazine”), 1997, №5. page 32, by A. Mejen’kov corroborates the above: a total of 317,594 POWs went through special camps between October 1941 and March 1944. Their “fate” is very similar (with minor discrepancies, if any) to the “fate” of those described above by two “Memorial” researchers.

Accordingly, as of March 1944, 256,200 servicemen were checked by NKVD in special camps. Of those:

– “cleared” 234,863 (91.7%),
– sent to “penal” battalions 8,255 (3.2%),
– arrested 11,283 (4.4%),
– died 1,799 (0.7%)

In November 1944 “ГКО” (State Defence Committee”) issued a decree stating that until the end of the war POWs freed from captivity were to be sent to reserve military formations bypassing special camps. In such a way over 83,000 officers were re-incorporated into the service. Later on after NKVD clearance 56,160 were decommissioned, over 10,000 sent back to the Red Army, 15,241 were demoted, but continued to serve in the Red Army.

Upon analyzing several other sources the author(s) conclude(s) that over 90% of POWs were cleared, about 4% were arrested and the other 4% were sent to the “penal” battalions.

On May 11, 1945 a directive was issued regarding setting up 100 special camps to check the repatriated Soviet DPs (displaced persons). By March 1, 1946 a total of 4,199,802 Soviet DPs (POWs and civilians) were re-patriated. Of those:

– sent home: civilians 2,146,126 (80.68% of all repatriated civilians), POWs 281,780 (18.31% of all repatriated POWs),
– drafted (for civilians)/sent back (for POWs) to the Red Army: civilians 141,962 (5.34%), POWs 659,190 (42.82%),
– sent to “work battalions” (*): civilians 263,647 (9.91%), POWs 344,448 (22.37%),
– transferred to NKVD: civilians 46,740 (1.76%), POWs 226,127 (14.69%).
– still in camps or employed by the Red Army and military administration abroad: civilians 61.538 (2,31%), POWs 27.930 (1,81%)

(*) used for reconstruction work in the USSR

For those interested in the Ukrainian famine and the overall losses in Ukraine throughout the 30’s, here is some relevant data:

This is a summary of material from a 2002 article in Population Studies on the changes to the Ukraine’s population in the 1930s and 1940s. It’s evidently professional demographers at work (four of them, two French, one Russian and one Ukrainian).

They conclude for the 1930s

2,582 million excess deaths in the Ukraine from 1926 to 1939
930,000 lost due to out-migration*
1,057,000 birth deficit

* 400,000 dekukalisation, 530,000 GULag

for a 1939 population of 30,946,000.


As the German army was beginning to suffer its defeats from the Soviets, various military formations were formed from the indigenous population in Eurasian Russia. Although Hitler was reluctant to have any Russian volunteers in his army, due to changing conditions on the front Russians were hired and started out as Hiwis (Hilfswillige), performing such tasks as skirmishes and patrols. Originally they were forbidden to wear German uniforms, insignia and awarded German medals. Latter on such formations grew in size and eventually whole battalions and divisions were formed. People joined such formations either as a way of escaping the horrible death in the POW camps or from political reasons – as a fight against Bolshevism.

From the very beginning number of Ukrainians ended up in such formations. In most cases it was because of non-availability of Ukrainian formation to join to, or in some instances low national consciousness. Ukrainians can be found in every Russian formation that fought on the German side, occupying all kinds of positions, from generals to regular infantry. Because of that I will focus only on those Ukrainians who possessed higher ranks.



Members of ROA staff:

Oberst prince Bojarsky (descendant of famous Ukrainian landlords)

Chief of Communications – Major G. Kremenetsky

Chief of sub-section in Recruitment section – Major G. Svyrydenko

Commander of 2nd sub-section of Military school – Oberst A. Denysenko

Commander of 3rd. sub-section (Cavalry) – Oberleutenant N. Vaschenko

Inspector of propaganda among volunteers – Captain A. Sopchenko

Administrative section – Captain P. Shyshkevych

Commander of Officer batallion – M. Golenko

In charge of special communications – M. Tomashevsky

Members of reconnaissance staff – Leutenants:

J. Marchenko, S. Pronchenko, J. Sytnyk.

1st division of ROA

Commander of the division – General-major S. Buniachenko

1st adjutant – Oberst Rudenko

Chief of Supplies – Oberst Gerasymchuk

Chief of Propaganda – Major S. Bozhenko

Chief of Recoinassance – Major Kostenko.

Officer of Communications – Leutenant Redko

Divisional superintendant – Captain Palamrchuk.

2nd division of ROA

Member of staff – Oberstleutenant Bogun.



Armed Forces

General-major D. Zakutnyi.

Generals F. Golovko, V. Lukjanenko.

Oberst Bondarenko, Lukjanenko,

Major J. Muzychenko

Captain V. Grechko

Professor Vasylakyi.


1st adjutant – Oberst Pliuschev-Vlasenko.

Oficer of Special Tasks – Major B. Klymovych

Chief of Cadre – Captain Naumenko

Chief of Medical personell – Oberstleutenant Levytsky.

Leutenant A. Skobchenko


The German prisoner of war camps, containing millions of Soviet prisoners, were a potential source of manpower. Faced with bad treatment and starvation and a distinct possibility of dying, an increasing number of Russian prisoners volunteered to work for the Germans in exchange for better food and conditions. [2]

The volunteers were called hiwis, a contraction of the German term for volunteer helper. They were widely used in the Replacement Army and railroad construction units for service duties to free men for the front. On February 6, 1943, the Luftwaffe had 100,000 hiwis in construction and antiaircraft units, replacing Germans.

Hiwis became part of the official table of organization of army units. The infantry division was assigned more than a thousand to perform supply duties, care for horses, and other noncombatant roles. In early 1943 the army replaced Germans with 200,000 hiwis and later an additional 500,000. Other ethnic groups were also used as hiwis. On March 18, 1943, the 715th Division in France used 800 black French prisoners, who volunteered to fill 800 vacancies as wagon drivers, grooms, laborers, and other noncombat positions.

In January 1943 the 9th German Army of Army Group Center included 39,400 Russians, either volunteers or conscripted. The infantry divisions in the 9th Army had a total of 7,700 hiwis assigned plus an additional group of 6,000 attached laborers. When the 9th Army evacuated the Rzhev salient, 21,800 more Russians were seized to prevent their working for the Red Army when it reoccupied the territory, and on March 20, 1943, many were assigned to construction battalions to work on fortifications and roads. The Russians made up one-quarter of the manpower for the 9th German Army. On the Eastern Front in 1943 nearly a million Russians were working or fighting for the German Army. Another 900,000 were employed in Germany to work in factories and on the farms.

The Soviet prisoners were also formed into Ost battalions, equipped with captured Russian weapons, and used to fight the partisans. In early 1943 the Germans had 176 Ost battalions; many formed by anti-Communist ethnic minorities from the Caucus, In May 1943 there were 32 Turkestan battalions, 12 Georgian battalions, 11 Armenian battalions, 8 North Caucasus battalions, 16 Muslim and Azerbaijan battalions, and 10 Volga Tartar battalions. By June 1943 there were 320,000 Ost troops.

Ost battalions also replaced Germans in the occupation divisions in France. On January 27, 1943, the German High Command ordered the German divisions in France to send one of their infantry battalions to Russia and in exchange received an Ost battalion. The Ost battalion had German uniforms, but Russian weapons. The first ten battalions were quickly followed at a rate of three battalions in exchange for a single German battalion.

[1] Hilfswillige: Auxiliary Volunteers. After the invasion of the USSR, many thousands of Soviet citizens volunteered to fight the Soviet regime. At first, the German government refused to use them, but later relented (no doubt in the face of mounting casualties) and allowed the German Army to use them in non-combat roles. Hilfswillige served as auxiliaries to the front line troops on various support tasks such as construction or carrying ammo.

[2] Already post June 1941 the army had these Hiwis in their KStN (Unit organizations). The KStN says how many Hiwis are authorized for the unit. Which position they have can be determined by the commander, but they must be in the Tross section.

In this KStN it is the last point of the additional information at the end of the document.

Also note that the “authorized” numbers of Hiwi’s reported by units to be an accurate figure of the numbers that were employed. This is especially true during the early years of the war when “official” Hiwi policies were still unwritten. A lot of the field “improvisations” to solve manpower problems were either unreported or downplayed.

This is also true in the case of Hiwi’s joining combat formations – unfortunately there are no definitive records of when these laborers became soldiers.

After September 1943 thousands of Italian soldiers in Balkans and elsewhere were incorporated as Hiwis in Wehrmacht as an alternative to deportation in Germany.

FEATURED WEBSITE: Ukrainian formations in German and Axis armies.

This site is on the Ukrainian formations in German and Axis armies. 14th SS Galicia Division is in bold, this link leads to a whole site, as this formation was the largest and best organized. With regards to Ukrainian National Army – it was formed at the very end of the war and composed of following units:

1. 14th division SS Galicia, which became the 1st division UNA.

2. Anti-panzer Brigade “Vilna Ukraina” and “Pitulei” Brigade, which became the 2nd division UNA.

3. Parachute (Falschirmjaeger) Brigade “Gruppe-B”, commanded by general Bulba-Borovets.

As for the other formations, most of them eventually joined the ranks of Galicia division, or functioned within the ranks of Ukrainian Liberation Army (UVV), which to the very end of the war continued to function as an independent body. READ MORE


Although they have not yet been recognized by the Ukrainian state as war veterans who deserve official government pensions, the former soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) can justly be considered the unsung heros of World War II in Ukraine. In its struggle against the German and Soviet occupational regimes, the UPA’s ultimate goal was an independent and unified Ukrainian state. At the height of the UPA’s power, its units were composed not only of ethnic Ukrainians, but also of Azerbaidzhani, Uzbek, Georgian, and Tatar soldiers, and the UPA organized the Conference of the Oppressed Nations of Eastern Europe and Asia in order to support liberation struggles of other nations. After the Soviet ‘Great Blockade’ in the Carpathian Mountains in 1946, denied food and shelter, and forced to fight on the march at extremely low temperatures, the UPA (with the exception of the units operating in Ukrainian ethnic territories annexed by Poland after 1944) was forced to demobilize most combat troops. The UPA’s underground armed struggle continued until 1954. Learn more about the struggle for Ukrainian independence during World War II by visiting the following entries. READ MORE



There were about one million Russian volunteers in the German army still in 1944 there. In autumn 1944 two infantry divisions were formed from that men and creation of third such division started. Due of material shortcomings of the end of war only the 1st Division of Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvobozhditelnaya Armiya, ROA) was fully trained, equipped and used in action.

There is a few information about armoured vehicles in the 1st Division of ROA. Written sources claim that there were nine tanks T-34 in division during it’s forming in Muensingen. Two of them were photographed on a parade in front of general Vlasov, head of Russian anti-soviet opposition in Germany, and general Bunyaczenko, the division’s commander, on 10 February 1945. The tank in foreground has a white number “2” under the gun barrel and a shield divided horizontally white/blue/red from the top painted on the turret’s side.



The UVV armlet

In spring 1943 the Ukrainians who served in Wehrmacht and in some of the Schutzmannschaft Bataillonen were put together into Ukrainian Liberation Army (UVV). The former ‘hiwi’, some UPA members, volunteers from Eastern Ukraine, 200 persons from Vlasov Officers’ school in Saubersdorf and Soviet prisoners of war also became also the members of UVV.

By 1942 backed by General Kestring, who was responsible for the Ostbatallionen formation, the strength of UVV was 50.000 persons. By the war end it became 80.000 already. UVV became the part of Wehrmacht and a lot of German officers strengthened it. Omelyanovich-Pavlenko was the commander, Colonel Petro Krizhanivsky — the chief headquarters officer, the first deputy commander — M.Kapustyansky. In 1945 after the formation of UNA the 1st UVV battalion joind the 2nd UNA division and some other UVV detachments became the part of the 1st UNA division (the former 14th SS Grenadiers “Galicia” division).

But the larger UVV part remained the independent detachment. In 1945 its units were transfered from Southern France to Prague to help the 2nd UNA division. The greater part of UVV soldiers and officers were killed in the struggle against Bolsheviks. And those captured were repatriated and died in Siberian camps.

The Uniform and Insignia.

The UVV personnel was fitted with the standard Wehrmacht uniform. Under the chief officer of Wehrmacht ground forces order from April 29, 1943 (N 5000/43) the Ukrainian volunteers and the UVV personnel wore the same tabs and shoulder-straps as in Russian units and yellow-blue oval cockade and yellow-blue armlet with trident and letters UVV.

Bataillon Nachtigal

Bataillon Nachtigal The formation of the ‘Nachtigal’ battalion (‘Nightingale’) began in Krakov in March, 1941. The formation centre was located in the suburb in former “Arbeitdienst” barracks. German instructors trained there the volunteers that wore the “Arbeitdienst” uniform for security. Those students who had pretensions to get sergeant-major posts finished their training in Germany. Others (50 students) were moved into the Barvinok school. In Neuhammer the volunteers got the Wehrmacht uniform and arms. The strength of the battalion was 330 soldiers and officers. It had four companies.

Herzner was the battalion commander, Vontun, Gogenstein, Middelhauwe and Schiller were the companies commanders. Sotnik Roman Shukhevich was considered as the commander from the Ukrainian part. The ‘Nachtigal’ was regarded as an insignificant operational unit, so it was attached to the 1st battalion of the “Brandenburg 800” regiment.

On the 18th of June, 1941, Nachtigal was transfered to the region that was contiguous with the USSR. On the 22nd of June, 1941, in 3.15 a.m. the 1st Brandenburg battalion got the order to cross the river San and to advance on Peremyshl. It was to attack the Soviet Army defensive positions in Lvov fron the North. Nachtigal marched as its reserve in the front line.

Both battalions joined the 1st Mountain Infantry Division and had the order to defend it on march to Lvov. Receiving the reconnaissance information of the mass executions in the town the “Brandenburg 800” commander ordered to capture it. Both units came into Lvov at 4.30 a.m. The Nachtigal companies occupied some strategic and industrial objects, including radio.

Ukrainian commander Shukhevich (his brother was executed in Lvov prison by NKVD) took part in the work of Ukrainian Representatives’ Assembly, that declared the restoration of independent Ukraine. After this declaration all Ukrainian officers from Nachtigal were deprived of their posts and put under the direct German command. On the 7th of June the battalion moved in the direction of Ternopol and on the 14th of June reached Proskurov. It didn’t see action even once till the 5th of June. Later the battalion fought near Brailov and after Vinnitsa stayed for two weeks in Yuzvin. There the volunteers learned that Galicia became the part of Hans Frank’s General-Governorship and Reichscommissariat “Ukraina” was created. On the 13th of August Nachtigal was withdrawn from the front and was sent to Neuhammer for additional training. But there battalion was disarmed and dismissed.