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Part of my field of study and thus research deals with the casualties of the Red Army and Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. I will be referencing two primary works that I recommend for your interest on this subject, specifically on the Red Army. One is the Soviet, then Russian, official study on the losses during the Great Patriotic War in "Soviet Combat losses throughout the 20 century," done by Krivosheev. This is however a controversial study as there are many accusations on the veracity of some of their numbers/methodology. This is expertly covered in the second book, "The Price of Victory." A more recent study by Russian historians that is more or less a commentary and rebuttal to the offical state study. Regardless, the former is still indispensable as there is no other, as of yet, exhaustive study that has access to primary sources on Red Army losses as the offical study had. These sources are still classified in the state archives, curious thing right? The Red Army, as stated by Soviet Military Historians David Glantz and Roger R. Reese, was rebuilt twice during the Great Patriotic War. This should give a good indicator of where this is going. Roughly 2.8m men were serving in the Western Red Army when Germany invaded. By the end of the war, nearly 34m men had served in the Red Army, of which this massive organization took almost 22m casualties! Now that is casualties, not deaths. But before we get into fatalities we can see that more than half of those that served in the Red Army suffered at least an injury. This is obviously not all from combat. Sick and frostbite were high, accidents too, and some were repeat casualties as in that they went back to service and got injured again. Krivosheev claims 8.6m Red Army soldiers died during the war, but most historians contest this is too low. The other work, Price of Victory, claim 14m. So we can work with both these figures. However these are only irredeemable losses. Millions of men were POWs until the end of the war, meaning for the purpose of how many originally serving were still there at the end of the war we have to, in my opinion, right them out as they didn't contribute anymore to the war effort untill hostilities ended. Krivosheev adds about 3m more men to this then. This number of POWs and MIA, as you may guess, is also viewed as too low by most historians. German accounts have their number around 5.7m. This is probably more accurate as the Germans had a vested interest in wanting to know how many slave laborers they had for their economy. But it is estimated roughly 800k of MIA or POW were reintroduced into the Red Army as it liberated its land according to Krivosheev. So we can say 4.9m then. So using Krivosheev, we have 12.5m men were irredeemable losses. With the study from Price of Victory we have nearly 19m! Use whatever number you prefer though for the sake of this investigation. Remember I said only 2.8m men roughly served in the Red Army at the start of the war? And by the end of it 34m served overall. Well at the Red Army's hight towards the end of the war about 12m were serving in the military concurrently. Now also remember I stated two historians effectively said the Red Army was rebuilt twice? The likelihood that some of the original 2.8m serving in the Western districts were still serving in the massive 12m sized Red Army at the end of the war is very low. For higher ranking officers and General Staff, yes absolutely they were still there from beginning to end, but I assume you were mostly thinking about the average foot soldier, or frontoviki in Russian. Two main reasons for this. First the original peacetime forces were overwhelmingly concentrated on the frontier of the German-Soviet border at the start of the war. These were the forces that would be overun and encircled in the first few months of the war, where Germany accumulated millions of POWs. Secondly, we know from mobilization plans and implementation how the Red Army constituted new forces, and spoiler, at the first phase of the war, from June 22 to roughly about October of 1942, Stavka (Russian high command) was in a constant state of panic putting out fires everywhere. Russia had an impressive 14m men in their reserves. Stavka, through the creation of Stavka reserve armies and marching battalions, so hurriedly funneled millions of these reserves in the first phase of the war to replace losses we don't even know what happened to many of the marching battalions sent off to join the Red Army units at the front! Suffice it to say then, the rapidity Stavka mobilized reserves, and at the haphazard way it did it in the beginning of the conflict, indicates very few of the original peacetime force even survived the first winter in the Battle for Moscow. Grim stuff, but an utterly fascinating subject on how a country organized and prosecuted a war.


Thank you for taking the time to type this! It’s very well said and I’ll have to check out those books, again thank you!