Saturday, August 13, 2005


After my last entry, I found that I kept coming back to the estimated toll from WWII, almost fifty million. Some scholars raise the estimate to some fifty four million and add in the Chinese civil war that was going on at the same time.

I found myself wondering what a Viet Nam style memorial would look like. How far would it reach, that sort of thing. The fact that we don’t have names for many of the casualties. In my cyber wanderings I came across a site with casualties from all the wars, civil wars, ethnic cleansings, ad nauseum from the American Civil War to what is essentially the Civil War in Iraq. Many of the numbers look fairly accurate. I would imagine that our administration would argue about the figures for the Iraqi Civil War. A few tens of thousands in a possible total of 160,000,000 probably wouldn’t make much of dent. The site does include a small bibliography.

To put things in perspective: If you laid the casualties  end to end and allowed six feet per person you could circle the earth more than seven times. If you recited either names or said something like “known only to the creator” and allowed five seconds per person you’d be going 24/7 for more than nine thousand years. Yes, that’s thousand. I know, it took my breath away too.

What is heartbreakingly appalling is that a big chunk of the total is the result of governmental policies against their own people. The Stalinist purges, China’s Great Leap Forward, Rwanda, you name it. I’m not making this entry make people lose heart but to put what we’re doing to each other into some kind of perspective.

If anyone has suggestions on how we can put some sand in the gears or sugar in the gas tank of the steamrollers that go beyond praying my little heart out and voting very carefully I’m listening.

Wars and Genocides of the 20th Century

by Piero Scaruffi

160 million people died in wars during the 20th century

(See also 1900: A century of genocides)

1860-65: American civil war (360,000)
1886-1908: Belgium-Congo Free State (3 million)
1899-02: British-Boer war (100,000)
1900-01: Boxer rebels against Russia, Britain, France, Japan, USA against rebels (35,000)
1903: Ottomans vs Macedonian rebels (20,000)
1904: Germany vs Namibia (65,000)
1904-05: Japan vs Russia (150,000)
1910-20: Mexican revolution (250,000)
1911: Chinese Revolution (2.4 million)
1911-12: Italian-Ottoman war (20,000)
1912-13: Balkan wars (150,000)
1915: the Ottoman empire slaughters Armenians (1.2 million)
1914-18: World War I (8 million)
1917-21: Soviet revolution (5 million)
1928-37: Chinese civil war (2 million)
1931: Japanese Manchurian War (1.1 million)
1934: Mao's Long March (170,000)
1936: Italy's invasion of Ethiopia (200,000)
1936-37: Stalin's purges (13 million)
1936-39: Spanish civil war (600,000)
1939-45: World War II (55 million) including holocaust and Chinese revolution
1946-49: Chinese civil war (1.2 million)
1946-49: Greek civil war (50,000)
1946-54: France-Vietnam war (600,000)
1947: Partition of India and Pakistan (1 million)
1948-1958: Colombian civil war (200,000)
1948-1973: Arab-Israeli wars (70,000)
1948-: Kashmir's civil war (40,000)
1949-: Indian Muslims vs Hindus (20,000)
1950-53: Korean war (4 million)
1952-59: Kenya's Mau Mau insurrection (20,000)
1954-62: French-Algerian war (1 million)
1958-61: Mao's "Great Leap Forward" (30 million)
1960-90: South Africa vs Africa National Congress (?)
1961-2003: Kurds vs Iraq (180,000)
1962-75: Mozambique Frelimo vs Portugal (?)
1964-73: USA-Vietnam war (3 million)
1965: second India-Pakistan war over Kashmir
1965-66: Indonesian civil war (200,000)
1966-69: Mao's "Cultural Revolution" (11 million)
1966-: Colombia's civil war (31,000)
1967-70: Nigeria-Biafra civil war (800,000)
1968-80: Rhodesia's civil war (?)
1969-79: Idi Amin, Uganda (300,000)
1969-02: IRA - Norther Ireland's civil war (2,000)
1969-79: Francisco Macias Nguema, Equatorial Guinea (50,000)
1971: Pakistan-Bangladesh civil war (500,000)
1972-: Philippines vs Muslim separatists (120,000)
1972: Burundi's civil war (300,000)
1972-79: Rhodesia/Zimbabwe's civil war (30,000)
1974-91: Ethiopian civil war (1,000,000)
1975-78: Menghitsu, Ethiopia (1.5 million)
1975-79: Khmer Rouge, Cambodia (1.7 million)
1975-89: Boat people, Vietnam (250,000)
1975-90: civil war in Lebanon (40,000)
1975-87: Laos' civil war (184,000)
1975-2002: Angolan civil war (500,000)
1976-83: Argentina's military regime (20,000
1976-93: Mozambique's civil war (900,000)
1976-98: Indonesia-East Timor civil war (600,000)
1976-: Indonesia-Aceh (GAM) civil war (12,000)
1979: Vietnam-China war (30,000)
1979-88: the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (1.3 million)
1980-88: Iraq-Iran war (1 million)
1980-92: Sendero Luminoso - Peru's civil war (69,000)
1980-92: El Salvador's civil war (100,000)
1980-99: Kurds vs Turkey (35,000)
1982-90: Hissene Habre, Chad (40,000)
1983-2002: Sri Lanka's civil war (64,000)
1983-2002: Sudanese civil war (2 million)
1987-: Palestinian Intifada (4,500)
1988-2001: Afghanistan civil war (400,000)
1988-2004: Somalia's civil war (550,000)
1989-: Liberian civil war (220,000)
1989-: Uganda vs Lord's Resistance Army (30,000)
1991: Gulf War - large coalition against Iraq to liberate Kuwait (85,000)
1991-97: Congo's civil war (800,000)
1991-2000: Sierra Leone's civil war (200,000)
1991-: Russia-Chechnya civil war (200,000)
1991-94: Armenia-Azerbaijan war (35,000)
1992-96: Tajikstan's civil war war (50,000)
1992-96: Yugoslavia's civil war (200,000)
1992-99: Algerian civil war (150,000)
1993-97: Congo Brazzaville's civil war (100,000)
1993-: Burundi's civil war (200,000)
1994: Rwanda's civil war (900,000)
1995-: Pakistani Sunnis vs Shiites (1,300)
1995-: Maoist rebellion in Nepal (10,000)
1998-: Congo/Zaire's war - Rwanda and Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia (3.8 million)
1998-2000: Ethiopia-Eritrea war (75,000)
1999: Kosovo's liberation war - NATO vs Serbia (2,000)
2001: Afghanistan's liberation war - USA & UK vs Taliban (25,000)
2002-: Cote d'Ivoire's civil war (1,000)
2003: Iraq's liberation war - USA, UK and Australia vs Saddam Hussein (14,000)
2003-: Sudan vs Darfur (180,000)
2003-: Iraq's civil war (113,000)

Arab-Israeli wars

I (1947-49): 6,373 Israeli and 15,000 Arabs die
II (1956): 231 Israeli and 3,000 Egyptians die
III (1967): 776 Israeli and 20,000 Arabs die
IV (1973): 2,688 Israeli and 18,000 Arabs die
Intifada I (1987-92): 170 Israelis and 1,000 Palestinians
Intifada II (2000-03): 700 Israelis and 2,000 Palestinians

Main sources:

Charny: Genocide - A Critical Bibliographic Review (1988)
Stephane Courtois: Black Book on Communism (1995)
Clodfelter: Warfare and Armed Conflicts (1992)
Elliot: Twentieth Century Book of the Dead (1972)
Bouthoul: A List of the 366 Major Armed Conflicts of the period 1740-1974, Peace Research (1978)
R.J. Rummel: Death by Government - Genocide and Mass Murder (1994)
Matt White's website

Several general textbooks of 20th century history

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lisaram1955 said...

Appalling is the word...  Lisa  :-]

toonguykc said...

My favorite person in the whole world is Lynda Barry.  I've met her.  She's a cartoonist, artist. author and playwright.  She once said that war gets passed down through chromosomes.  Even after a war ends -- children carry on the pain from the conflict and eventually pass that pain on to their own kids.  Can we please just stop this???!!!!

martnessmonstr said...

Hello Jackie-

Very good and thought provoking entry.

I've often thought of how we will never forget the 60,000 US troops killed in Nam, yet don't seem to want to think about the 2 to 3 million Vietnamese we killed in that war.

My definition for Civilization is- A group of savages that band together and promise to only kill and fight against other groups of savages.

160 million, makes me wonder if maybe , despite our supposed intelligence, that we are really just another species on this planet no more responsible for our actions than a blade of grass, or a pod of whales beached on the shore. One must wonder how much larger the world population would be if those 160 million hadn't died.......  I find it easy to accept that our species is a part of nature- not somehow out side of nature specially placed here by god -160 million deaths seems more animal than made in the Image of God to me-(as love and rockets once sang- " you can't go against nature, cause when you do, going against nature is a part of nature too"-)

Actually,I think we are smart enough to regulate our worlds population without resorting to warfare- I think it's the few bad apples like Bush, Saddam, Kim IllJung, Bin Laden, Pol pot, Stalin, Hitler, that are the cause of the worlds misery.
I'm sure it's more complex than that, but Politician and Leaders of Nations have probably always latched upon some relatively minor grievance(compared to the misery of war) to trick "their" people into going to war- that the greed , ignorance and arrogance, the need for power, of World Leaders has always trumped whats best for humanity, makes Bob Dylan words "don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters" still very relevant.

schoolgal040 said...

My gosh, 3 million for Vietnam! I knew the number was extremely high but had no idea it was that high. WOW! And what exactly were we there for? Democracy? Just like Iraq and other stupid Presidential wars. Good grief, when will this madness stop? And the Pakistan-Bangladesh civil war (500,000). Again, wow. Rwanda's civil war with the number of 900,000 made me very upset and even brought tears to my eyes. What a waste of innocent life and just plain cruel. Did you watch the amazing movie "Hotel Rwanda"? Very great movie that was fact based. Also the next war involving Congo/Zaire's-Rwanda and Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia at 3.8 million. Again, 3.8 million lives gone!

Thanks for all of your hard work on finding these statistics.


hestiahomeschool said...

That is one of the reasons we went to the peace march last night. My children feel so helpless about what is going on. I needed to give them a chance to vent...