A War of Attrition…

“It was a war of attrition. From near-defeat in 1941 the Soviet Union drew the German forces deeper and deeper into Russia until they were overstretched and vulnerable. The Soviet armies then counter-attacked, pushing the enemy back into Germany until Berlin itself fell in May 1945.

Soviet casualties were prodigious. In the worst years, 1941-42, the Red Army lost an average of 15,000 men each day. To put that in perspective: in one week its losses of over 100,000 matched that of all the British troops killed between the Normandy landings in June 1944 and the end of the war in May 1945. In the course of the war overall, more than five and a quarter million Soviet troops became prisoners of war.

Four million of these POWs were shot or died in captivity. Since the USSR had not signed the Geneva Convention, Soviet prisoners had no protection, though it is doubtful, given the savagery with which the war was fought on the eastern front, whether either side would have honoured the Convention.” (Lynch, 2008, p.93).


Lynch, M. (2008) Stalin’s Russia, 1924-53. 4th Ed. London: Hodder Education.


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