Military history

A NOTE ON CASUALTIES
 
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Even twenty years later no one knows with any certainty what the civilian losses were during the battle of Berlin. Even yet, bodies are being unearthed from ruins, in gardens, in parks where they were hurriedly interred during the battle, and from mass graves. However, based on statistical studies, probably close to 100,000 civilians died as a result of the battle. At least 20,000 succumbed to heart attacks, some 6,000 committed suicide, the remainder were either killed outright from shelling or street fighting or died later from wounds. The number of people who fled Berlin in the last days and died elsewhere in Germany has also never been accurately estimated. If at least 52,000 were killed from bombing alone, and if the estimates above are accepted, the figure rises to more than 150,000. This does not include wounded.

How many were raped? Again no one knows. I have had estimates from doctors running from 20,000 to 100,000. Abortions were unofficially permitted, but for obvious reasons no one is willing to even guess at the number.

As for German military casualties, like those of the civilians, no one really knows. Complicating the problem is the fact that they are included in Germany’s total war casualty figure; thus it is impossible to say how many fell in Berlin alone. The Russians are quite definite about their losses. Soviet Defense authorities say that they had “in excess of 100,000 killed” in the battle from the Oder to the final capture of Berlin. To me that figure seems high, but it may have been deliberately inflated to dramatize the victory. On the other hand Marshal Koniev told me that his forces alone suffered “in the entire battle from the Oder to Berlin and with my southern flank going toward the Elbe … 150,000 killed.” Thus it would seem that Zhukov’s and Koniev’s combined forces lost at least 100,000 killed in the taking of Berlin. Curiously, General Omar N. Bradley, commander of the U. S. 12th Army Group, had warned Eisenhower that if he tried to take the capital he might suffer 100,000 casualties, but Bradley was talking about a total of killed, wounded and missing.

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