According to official census data, Soviet Union had around 168 million people in 1939, and around 196 million in 1941 (annexation of Baltic states and part of Poland). Germany (Third Reich) had around 80 million. But, after operation Barbarossa started, Soviet Union lost huge part of its territory, including major cities like Kiev, Minks, Smolensk etc ...

Therefore, population available for conscription and any kind of mobilization(work in industry, agriculture etc) was reduced. What was effective available population in various stages of war? I'm especially interested in December 1941 and October 1942, because Germans held biggest swaths of Soviet territory at that time.

Demographics of the Soviet Union

Census in Germany

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    Even though the Soviet Union lost huge parts of its territory, many people abandoned these zones while germans advanced. Also, some people who was left behind in the occupied zone joined to the guerrillas. Hence, any population statistics would be flawed.
    – Santiago
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 21:53
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    @Santiago I doubt Soviet Union managed to evacuate many people, considering what happened in Leningrad, Stalingrad and other large cities where much of population simply stayed behind. Also, large number of POWs and abandoned military equipment in chaotic first months of war in the East .
    – rs.29
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:30
  • Indeed @rs.29. Not always civilians were able to evacuate. But men in military age had to move, either because they were drafted, moved with factories or joined to the guerrilla. Because it was well known that germans usually killed them when they arrived to a village. Many narrations of war (like the Nobel Prize Svetlana Alexievich) describe the occupied zone as a place without men on military age.
    – Santiago
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:55
  • @Santiago I would disagree, because Soviets lost millions of soldiers who were already in the army, and were simply cut off by Germans and later captured. Therefore, retreat was disorganized and chaotic . Also, lot of people on occupied territories were later conscripted into Red Army when they were liberated in 1944.
    – rs.29
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 17:44
  • @rs.29 Actually large numbers of civilians were evacuated ahead of the German advance. The city of Tashkent alone added 200,000 people to its population of around 650,000 due to the influx of evacuees in a very short period of time. Workers and their families were often relocated along with the factory equipment when evacuated factories were shipped east. Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


Let's start with the 165-170 million based on the 1939 borders. The Soviets lost all of Poland and the Baltic states and Bessarabia, so those numbers (about 25 million) don't count. They also lost about 10 million Bylorussians and 40 million Ukrainians. Count 20-25 million casualties and occupied people not in the above categories, so a total reduction of 70-75 million seems about right from the original total, leaving 95-100 million. The Germans started with about 70 million but this total rose to about 85 million counting ethnic Germans in Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and elsewhere.

It's true that by the end of 1942, that the Soviet Union had a bare population preponderance over German, having lost half of its population conquered territories. The balance of power was held by the nearly 100 million "East Europeans," (Poles, Baltics, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, etc.) as the "Heartland Theory" would predict. If Germany had turned those East Europeans against "Russia," it could have won the war on the eastern front.

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    Certainly some population fled the German advance right? What I'm wondering now is how many fled and how much of that population ended up being conscripted? Probably is a difficult number to calculate.
    – Caimen
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 21:28
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    @Caimen: The above is a "best guess." And "fled" would have been a non-issue if the Germans had behaved better. Some fled of course. And of those, some lived and some died. But my numbers "tied" with Stalin's own, in the Order 227 of the other answer. Given the difficulties of "taking census" during the war, if we can get the number to within 5 million, we'd be doing well. As for "conscription" a lot of that took place on the way back in 1943-44. So as the Soviets regained territory, they also regained manpower, creating a virtuous cycle.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 22:12
  • 50 million Ukrainians? Where does the number come from? the Ukraine had 52 million in 1989 or so. In 1941 it had 40,468,800 according to Russian Wikipedia. I saw different numbers on this, but they ranged between 36-40 million of people, nowhere near to 50. Also I doubt your claim about 10 million Belorussians, since Belorussia now, in 2017, has around 10 million of people.
    – d.k
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 5:33
  • correction: it had 40,468,800 in 1939, not 1941
    – d.k
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 5:46
  • @user907860: Corrected 50 million Ukrainians to 40 million. "About" 10 million Byelorussians in 1941 to the nearest 5 million; if the true number was 8 million, (to the nearest miilion), I've "rounded.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 11:28

I don't think it would be possible to produce a "day to day" statistics.

One datapoint is Order No. 227 (1942 July 28):

The territory of the USSR which the enemy has captured and aims to capture is bread and other products for the army, metal and fuel for industry, factories, plants supplying the army with arms and ammunition, railroads. After the loss of Ukraine, Belarus, Baltic republics, Donetzk, and other areas we have much less territory, much less people, bread, metal, plants and factories. We have lost more than 70 million people, more than 800 million pounds of bread annually and more than 10 million tons of metal annually. Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human reserves, in reserves of bread.

Note that the numbers here are not necessarily true (just like all official Soviet data).

PS. When making manpower comparison, you can easily dig yourself into a sinkhole. E.g., from the POV of productive work, Germany could draw upon not just Germany, but France, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania. However, USSR was also helped by US and Britain. However a Germany was also fighting in Atlantic and North Africa. However, US was also fighting Japan...

PPS. When making rough estimates like @TomAu does, one must account for evacuation which, in the case of USSR, had truly gargantuan scales.

  • I'm not looking for detailed statistics, broad estimation would be fine. Order No. 227 is a good starting point, although it is still propaganda piece so veracity is doubtful .
    – rs.29
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:25
  • @rs.29: you are right. This is the best I can offer at this time, I might dig up something else, but don't hold your breath. :-(
    – sds
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:49
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    On the truth aspect: there are counter-acting self-interests I believe, tending to suggest that there was no significant intentional misstatement. Yes, the sheer scope of the industrial relocation to beyond the Urals resulted in the founding of entirely new cites, of significant size and trained manpower. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 22:28

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