The fighting involved millions of Axis and Soviet troops along the broadest land front in military history. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of war in World War II, with over 9 million military deaths on the Soviet side (out of which 3.6 million died in German captivity[87]); Axis military deaths were over 5 million (out of which 824,000 died in Soviet captivity).[88] Included in this figure of Axis losses is the majority of the 2 million German military personnel listed as missing or unaccounted for after the war. Dr Rudiger Overmans states that it seems entirely plausible, while not provable, that one half of these men were killed in action and the other half dead in Soviet custody.[89] Estimated civilian deaths range from about 14 to 17 million. Over 11.4 million Soviet civilians within pre-1939 borders were killed, and another estimated 3.5 million civilians were killed in the annexed territories.[90] The Nazis exterminated one to two million Soviet Jews (including the annexed territories) as part of the Holocaust.[91] Soviet and Russian historiography often uses the term "irretrievable casualties". According to the Narkomat of Defence order (¹ 023, 4 February 1944), the irretrievable casualties include killed, missing, those who died due to war-time or subsequent wounds, maladies and chilblains and those who were captured. The huge death toll was attributed to several factors, including brutal mistreatment of POWs and captured partisans, large deficiency of food and medical supplies in Soviet territories, multiple atrocities by the Germans and the Soviets against the civilian population and each other. The multiple battles, and most of all, the use of scorched earth tactics destroyed agricultural land, infrastructure, and whole towns, leaving much of the population homeless and without food. Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[92] Forces fighting with the Axis Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Soviets Prisoners who died in Captivity Greater Germany 4,300,000 4,000,000 3,300,000 374,000

Soviet residents who joined German army 215,000+ 215,000 1,000,000 Unknown Romania 281,000 81,000 500,000 200,000 Hungary 300,000 100,000 500,000 200,000 Italy 82,000 32,000 70,000 50,000 Total 5,178,000+ 4,428,000 5,450,000 824,000 Soviets bury their fallen, July 1944 Military losses on the Eastern Front during World War II[93] Forces Fighting with the Soviet Union Total Dead KIA/MIA Prisoners taken by the Axis Prisoners who died in captivity Soviet 10,600,000 6,829,437[94] 5,200,000 3,600,000 Poland 24,000 24,000 Unknown Unknown Romania 17,000 17,000 80,000 Unknown Bulgaria 10,000 10,000 Unknown Unknown Total 10,651,000 6,927,204 + Partisan KIA. 5,280,000 3,600,000 Polish Armed Forces in the East, initially consisting of Poles from Eastern Poland or otherwise in Soviet Union in 1939–1941, began fighting alongside the Red Army in 1943, and grew steadily as more Polish territory was liberated from the Nazis in 1944–1945. Dead Soviet soldiers, January 1942 When the Axis countries of Central Europe were occupied by the Soviets, they were forced to change sides and declare war on Germany. (see Allied Commissions). Some of the Soviet citizens would side with the Germans and join Andrey Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. Most of those who joined were Russian POWs. These men were primarily used in the Eastern Front but some were assigned to guard the beaches of Normandy.[citation needed] The other main group of men joining the German army were citizens of the Baltic countries annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 or from Western Ukraine. They fought in their own Waffen-SS units. Most Axis POWs were released from captivity several years after the war, but Nazi troops who captured Red Army soldiers frequently shot them in the field or shipped them to concentration camps for execution.[citation needed] Hitler's notorious Commissar Order called for Soviet political commissars, who were responsible for ensuring that Red Army units remained politically reliable, to be summarily shot when identified amongst captured troops.