Special Report

Biggest Battles of World War II

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Nearly 74 years after the final shot was fired, the human cost of World War II still defies human comprehension. Estimates range from 60 million to 80 million people killed, most of them civilians. The Soviet Union suffered the most, losing as many as 27 million people by some estimates. To place the carnage in context, these staggering losses occurred over just a six-year period, 1939 to 1945, nowhere close to the longest wars fought by mankind. These are the longest wars in history.

Many of the battles on the list are conflicts between the Soviet Union, one of the Allied powers, and Nazi Germany, the main Axis power. These battles were characterized by the size of military resources involved and the significant civilian population loss. 

The fog of war always complicates exact casualty totals. The estimates are the result of historians patching together primary documents over many years. 

As the 80th anniversary of the start of the world’s worst conflict nears, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the largest battles of World War II based on the number of casualties, which includes deaths and wounded. When available, we included civilian casualties. To create our list, we reviewed material from sources such as the Imperial War Museum in London, World War II battle database, globalsecurity.org, history.com, and britannica.org.

Click here to see the biggest battles of World War II

18. Battle of Monte Cassino
> Estimated total casualties: 75,000
> Date: January 17 to May 18, 1944
> Combatants: Western Allies and Nazi Germany

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17. Battle of the Rhineland
> Estimated total casualties: 113,000
> Date: February 8, 1944 to January 25, 1945
> Combatants: Western Allies and Nazi Germany

16. Battle of the Bulge
> Estimated total casualties: 195,000
> Date: December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945
> Combatants: Western Allies and Nazi Germany

15. Invasion of Poland
> Estimated total casualties: 250,000
> Date: September 1 to October 6, 1939
> Combatants: Nazi Germany and Poland

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14. Second Battle of Kharkov
> Estimated total casualties: 300,000
> Date: May 12 to May 28, 1942
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

13. The Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign
> Estimated total casualties: 356,000
> Date: May 15 to September 4, 1942
> Combatants: China and Japanese Empire

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12. Battle of Luzon
> Estimated total casualties: 370,000
> Date: January 9 to March, 1945
> Combatants: United States and Japanese Empire

11. Battle of France
> Estimated total casualties: 517,000
> Date: May 10 to June 22, 1940
> Combatants: Western Allies and Nazi Germany

10. Battle of Narva
> Estimated total casualties: 550,000
> Date: February 2 to August 10, 1944
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

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9. Operation Overlord
> Estimated total casualties: 625,000
> Date: June 6 to August 30, 1944
> Combatants: Western Allies and Nazi Germany

8. Battle of Smolensk
> Estimated total casualties: 700,000
> Date: August 7 to October 2, 1943
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

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7. Battle of Berlin
> Estimated total casualties: 820,000
> Date: April 16 to May 8, 1945
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

6. Battle of Kiev
> Estimated total casualties: 822,000
> Date: August 23 to September, 1941
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

5. Battle of Kursk
> Estimated total casualties: 1,000,000
> Date: July 5 to August 23, 1943
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

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4. Operation Bagration
> Estimated total casualties: 1,080,000
> Date: June 23 to August 19, 1944
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

3. Battle of Moscow
> Estimated total casualties: 1,300,000
> Date: October 2, 1941 to January 7, 1944
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

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2. Dnieper-Carpathian Campaign
> Estimated total casualties: 1,442,956
> Date: December 24, 1943 to April 14, 1944
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Grermany

1. Battle of Stalingrad
> Estimated total casualties: 2,000,000
> Date: July 17, 1942 to February 2, 1943
> Combatants: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany

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