In the April War of 1941, the Axis Powers (at that time Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania) invaded Yugoslavia. 11 days after the initial invasion, the Royal Yugoslav Army had surrendered. Many of the deaths came on April 6th, when the Germans bombed the capital city of Belgrade. Over 400,000 civilians were killed in the incident. The Soviet Red Army helped liberate Yugoslavia in 1944, and the country became a part of the United Nations once again a year later. Josip Broz Tito, the Yugoslavian prime minister, gained praise for helping his country unite.
#9. Philippines 1,057,000
The Philippines was not a country during World War II, but rather a protectorate of the US. This is one of the main reasons Japan attacked and invaded in December of 1941, not long after declaring war on the United States. Japan believed Asia rightfully belonged to them, and sought to make this a reality. The Philippine army was woefully unprepared, as even their shoes would wear out after only two weeks. Finally, a naval operation by the allied forces in 1944 liberated Philippines and the country was granted independence in 1946, after the end of the war.
#8. French Indochina 1,500,000
The French owned modern-day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia under French Indochina until 1954. Japan attacked in 1940 as they sought to construct strategic military bases, after the Nazis had forced France to sign an accord allowing Japan to build their bases in the area. The Vietnamese Resistance was more able at fighting than the Philippines’ army, and battled the Japanese until winning independence in 1945. However, France attacked, and a vicious war continued until 1954, when North Vietnam and South Vietnam became two independent countries.
#7. India 2,587,000
Yet another Asian country that gained independence following World War II, India declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939. As part of Britain, it was a part of the Allies by default, and sent 2 million troops to fight the Axis Powers. However, many Indians, led by Mahatma Gandhi, believed Britain’s war for liberty was hypocritical, as they were denying the Indians freedom. However, India remained an important part of the Allies, as their financial, industrial, and military assistance gave the British an advantage over Nazi Germany. India became one of the world’s largest economies when the war ended, and gained independence in 1947.
#6. Japan 2,700,000
The Japanese killed millions and millions of people during their conquest of Asia, but they also lost many people themselves. One of the most infamous moments of World War II was when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, respectively. Over 200,000 people died because of the bombings. Many of the deaths also came from soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) dying in battle. The kamikaze attacks contributed largely to the death totals.
#5. Dutch East Indies 4,000,000
When Japan attacked Indonesia in late 1941 and early 1942, the Royal Dutch East Indies Army was vastly outnumbered, and quickly lost. All able-bodied Europeans in the country were taken as Prisoners of War (POWs), and around 25% did not survive their imprisonment. The UN later estimated that 4 million Indonesians died from starvation and forced labor. The allied forces tried to assist, but were crushed by the Japanese in the Battles of Java Sea, Sunda Strait, and Second Java Sea. However, the Japanese did stop Dutch rule, and encouraged the independence movement. In 1949, Indonesia officially became a country.
#4. Poland 5,820,000
Almost 22% of Poland’s population was killed during World War II, and 3 million of the deaths were from Jews being killed in the Holocaust. It had the highest pre-war Jewish population in Europe. Almost 80% of Jews in German-occupied Europe were killed in the Holocaust. Numerous Polish citizens were also killed in the infamous blitzkriegs the Germans conducted. Poland was first invaded in September of 1939 and, despite their valiant effort, was outmatched and surrendered a month later. German forces reportedly lined up Polish citizens and shot them dead, with execution sites found with bodies numbering up to 20,000. When Poland was liberated in 1944, 90% of the deaths the country suffered was from civilians.
3. Germany 8,680,000
Germany tends to get chastised for World War II, but the fact is that most German citizens were against the war, and the country also suffered great losses from the war. A great deal of the deaths came from the military, as Hitler’s aggressive tactics took a toll on those fighting. Over 300,000 German civilians were also killed by their own government, as they were deemed dangerous by the Nazis. A further 400,000 more were killed in aerial attacks by the Allies. It is estimated that 5.3 million deaths were military, and 3.3 were civilians.
#2. China 20,000,000
The Nanking Massacre was a genocide Japan committed in the former Chinese capital of Nanjing (Nanking). During a six-week period, the Japanese military killed thousands and thousands of unarmed civilians, and tortured up to 80,000 more in a vile manner. Additionally, General Yasuji Okamura implemented his Three Alls Policy (Kill All, Burn All, Loot All) was responsible for around 3 million deaths in of itself. Due to the Japanese, 80% of Chinese who died during World War II were civilians. The way Japan slaughtered innocent Chinese is what caused tension between Japan and the rest of the world for many years, whether fair or unfair.
#1. Soviet Union 23,400,000
What is so shocking about the Soviet Union’s deaths is that most of the 23 million casualties was caused by a single man – Joseph Stalin. The vicious leader killed many more people than Adolf Hitler, and is in fact, known as the biggest killer in history. It is estimated that he caused the death of 43 million people, although many of the deaths did not come during World War II. The rest of the death toll can be accounted for as Soviet Union soldiers who died in the terrible battles against Germany. The infamous Battle of Stalingrad alone killed almost 2 million people
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