Half the People of Belarus Killed or Deported in WW2

From Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 2010), Kindle Loc. 4671-4686 (p. 250):

Of the nine million people who were on the territory of Soviet Belarus in 1941, some 1.6 million were killed by the Germans in actions away from battlefields, including about 700,000 prisoners of war, 500,000 Jews, and 320,000 people counted as partisans (the vast majority of whom were unarmed civilians). These three general campaigns constituted the three greatest German atrocities in eastern Europe, and together they struck Belarus with the greatest force and malice. Another several hundred thousand inhabitants of Soviet Belarus were killed in action as soldiers of the Red Army.

The Soviet partisans also contributed to the total number of fatalities. They reported killing 17,431 people as traitors on the terrain of Soviet Belarus by 1 January 1944; this figure does not include civilians whom they killed for other reasons, or civilians whom they killed in the following months. In all, tens of thousands of people in Belarus were killed by the partisans in their own retribution actions (or, in the western regions taken from Poland, as class enemies). A few more tens of thousands of people native to the region certainly died after arrests during the Soviet occupation of 1939-1941 and especially during the Soviet deportations of 1940 and 1941, during the journey or in Kazakhstan.

A rough estimate of two million total mortal losses on the territory of present-day Belarus during the Second World War seems reasonable and conservative. More than a million other people fled the Germans, and another two million were deported as forced labor or removed from their original residence for another reason. Beginning in 1944, the Soviets deported a quarter million more people to Poland and tens of thousands more to the Gulag. By the end of the war, half the population of Belarus had either been killed or moved. This cannot be said of any other European country.


Filed under Belarus, Germany, migration, USSR, war

4 responses to “Half the People of Belarus Killed or Deported in WW2

  1. Neil demunnick

    I was born in the Netherlands, Hitler entered my home land on the 10 may 1940, he left the 9 may 1945. during the 5 years of occupation the Germans deported many 1000 D’s to the war factories as slaves of the third Reich, they lived under terrible strain and many atrocities were committed by the Nazi es.they also had a lot of assistance from the Russian girls who were living in the camp. Several of my best friends were there , i was lucky to escape although the hitlerites tried hard to get me.It took me years,even when I moved to Canada, to forgive the German people , however , since it heard me the most I have and finally regained my freedom from the oppressive years .I wish for your people to forgive although it is difficult, one feels the freedom gained by forgiving the enemy of yesteryear.
    Thank you for sharing these comments with me. Neil

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