Abstract ♦ The article deals with the historical “black legend” of the “limitless casualties” the Soviet Army suffered in the Second World War, when it purportedly “smothered the enemy with a pile of corpses”. This myth spread among a number of historians, journalists and writers during the perestroika and the early 1990s. As if competing with each other, year after year they cited higher and higher numbers of casualties, thus expressing their disdain and hatred of the Soviet Army and Soviet leadership.
To obtain more realistic data, the author refers to the fundamental work titled “The Great Patriotic War without Classification Level. The Book of Casualties” (Moscow, 2010). A very approximate comparison showed that the casualties of the USSR were 2.2 times as high as those of Germany. This is explained by the fact that the Soviet leaders never tasked its army with total destruction of German civilians and POWs. The losses of the USSR’s adversary also do not include those of Germany’s allies. A more detailed analysis of statistical data has revealed that the ratio of irrecoverable losses of Germany and USSR stood at 1:1.1.
These and other facts prove that the German troops fought no better than the Red Army. The USSR won the war, although the price paid by the people was truly immense.
Keywords: World War II, Great Patriotic war, historical myths, USSR, Nazi Germany, military casualties, ideology.
Ilinskiy Igor Mikhailovich, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor, Rector, Moscow University for the Humanities; President, National Union of Nongovernmental Institutions of Higher Education; President, Union of the Nongovernmental Higher Education Institutions of Moscow and Moscow Region. Postal address: 5 Yunosti St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 111395. Tel.: +7 (499) 374-78-78. E-mail:
Citation: Ilinskiy, I. M. (2015) Mif o bezmernykh poteriakh SSSR v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine [The myth of limitless casualties of the Soviet Union in World War II]. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 1, pp. 5–17. DOI: 10.17805/zpu.2015.1.1 (In Russ.).
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