WW2 Casualty Rates By Country

Quote of the Day

Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelt upon and stored.

— Tim Fargo. I know a number of people that live their lives in constant fear of making mistakes. No one likes mistakes, but people who make no mistakes do not make anything. You must develop a work style that is tolerant of mistakes and that allows you to make them early when they are generally less costly.


Figure 1: WW2 Casualty Percentages By Country.

Figure 1: WW2 Casualty Percentages By Country. (Source)

I recently was watching a documentary on WW2 that mentioned that Greece and Yugoslavia suffered some of highest casualty rates during WW2. While I have read much about WW2, I had not looked at the casualty rates as a percentage of each country's population. I did some quick web searching and found that the Wikipedia has an excellent table summarizing WW2 casualties by country and population, which I imported into Excel and sorted by casualty rates. These percentages are mind numbing. While Greece and Yugoslavia suffered terribly, other countries suffered even more.

National traumas like WW2 last many generations. Over 150 years ago, we suffered a 2% loss of population during the Civil War, and that loss affects us to this day. One personal story will illustrate my point. I used to work in Panama City, Florida – a great place to be during the winter. Because of my accent, people knew I was not a local, and one coworker told me he would not hold the "Recent Unpleasantness" against me. I had to ask "What was the Recent Unpleasantness?" and was floored to find out it was the Civil War.

There are a couple of items in Figure 1 that I would like to highlight:

  • Nauru and Portuguese Timor
    Their occupation by the Japanese was particularly brutal.
  • Ruanda-Urundi
    While WW2 in Northern Africa is well documented, I had no idea of the casualties caused by WW2's demand for resources.

For those who wish to work with the data themselves, I include my Excel Workbook here.

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