WWII Killed So Many Russians You Can Still See It In Their Population Pyramid

A haunting picture of loss

Grant Piper

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(Public domain)

World War II was the bloodiest conflict in world history, but it was especially cruel to the Soviet Union. Estimates vary, but most historians put the number of people killed in Russia during the war at 27,000,000 people. That number includes 8.5 million military deaths and 18.5 million civilian deaths. Other estimates put the number closer to 40 million dead, but those are more heavily scrutinized.

For comparison, the United States suffered roughly 300,000 combat deaths during World War II and 400,000 deaths in total. That means that the Soviet Union suffered 67 times as many deaths as the United States during the Second World War. That number of dead is enough to change the face of a population for generations to come.

In fact, when you look at the population pyramid of the Russian Federation today, you can still see the echo of World War II moving through their society. Every generation connected to the World War II generation has been considerably smaller than the ones flanking it.

Echoes Of The Past

(Rosstat)

The population pyramid of Russia is all sorts of messed up. It is almost entirely unique due to the number of people killed during World War II. Other population pyramids look like, well, pyramids. Growing populations have more youth at the bottom than aging people at the top. Stable populations look like pillars. Russia’s pyramid looks like a choppy wave. That is because every thirty years, the generation connected to World War II produces far fewer people than the generations around them. That is because there were so many young men and women killed during the war that there were far fewer people to marry and have children after it was over.

The generation before the World War II generation’s children were too old to be affected, and so their children endured in greater numbers. This is why there is a dip that you can continue to see to this day in their pyramid.

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.