The human cost

By Times Staff
Published August 28, 2005

In all, 61 countries with 1.7-billion people, three-fourths of the world's population, took part. A total of 110-million people were mobilized for military service.


Battle deaths: 14.9-million

Battle wounded: 25.2-million

Civilian deaths: 38.6-million

The United States, which had no significant civilian losses, sustained 292,131 battle deaths and 115,187 deaths from other causes.

The Soviet Union lost more than 20-million people, military and civilian. Allied military and civilian losses topped 44-million; the Axis, 11-million.

The highest numbers of deaths, military and civilian, were as follows:

USSR - More than 13-million military and 7-million civilian;

China - 3.5-million and 10-million;

Germany - 3.5-million and 3.8-million;

Poland - 120,000 and 5.3-million;

Japan - 1.7-million and 380,000;

Yugoslavia - 300,000 and 1.3-million;

Romania - 200,000 and 465,000;

France - 250,000 and 360,000;

British Empire and Commonwealth - 452,000 and 60,000;

Italy - 330,000 and 80,000;

Hungary - 120,000 and 280,000;

Czechoslovakia - 10,000 and 330,000

Sources: Department of Defense; Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia


A blue star placed in the window indicated a family member had gone to war; a gold star meant a family member had been killed.


The average gross weekly wage in 1940 was $25.20. That increased 72 percent to $43.39 in 1945.

In 1939, roughly 10-million people were unemployed. Between 1941 and 1945, the number of jobless dropped to roughly 1-million. The output of manufactured goods increased by more than 300 percent and average productivity was up by 25 percent.


MAY 15, 1942: Gas is rationed on the East Coast.

NOV. 29, 1942: Coffee is rationed in the United States.

DEC. 2, 1942: Gas is rationed. Ration stamps on windshields, declaring a car was used for nonessential, essential purposes or used for transporting people to work, determined how much gas could be purchased.

FEB: 7, 1943: Shoes are rationed.

MARCH 24, 1943: Regulations are announced regarding the rations of meat, butter and cheese.

APRIL 1, 1943: Food rations begin.

July 1943: Coffee rations end.

May 3, 1944: Most meat rationing comes to an end.

IN 1944: Almost half of the steel, tin and paper needed for the war effort has been provided by people salvaging goods.

NOV. 23, 1945: Meat and butter rations end.

DEC. 31, 1945: Tire rations end.

JUNE 1947: Sugar rations end.

Shortages also dictated fashion changes for women and men. To save 40-million to 50-million pounds of wool each year, the War Production Board ordered the elimination of vests, patch pockets, cuffs and an extra pair of trousers in men's suits. The single breasted jacket was shorter and had narrow lapels. Women's fashions were shorter and more trim with few pleats and ruffles.

Victory gardens helped promote pride in "doing your part" and reduced dependence on a system working to supply food for the troops. In 1943, these gardens provided more than one-third of the vegetables grown in the country.

Sources: World War II The Encyclopedia of the War Years 1941-1945; Chronicle of America; Defense Department