As Veteran’s day approaches, it’s time to talk about the casualties of war who did not wear uniforms and for the most part, didn’t carry guns. We don’t have a holiday for them. They’re just dead.
Most of these were people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were the wrong race, the wrong religion, believed the wrong things. The elderly, mothers, and children whose lives were lost in the battles or backwash of wars are just as dead as the soldiers who fought. Is it not painfully ironic that the men who start these wars are the ones most likely to escape its ravages unscathed?
It is the job of important men to make grand speeches about the justness of whatever cause for which we are currently killing one another. They always point out that God is on their side, and apparently God is on everybody’s side because every leader who takes his people to war says so. I don’t know that the dead would agree. I think if a deity sanctions war, it is far more likely to be Satan than God. It is the job of we the living to remember that death by war is not picky. It will take anyone into its bloody maw.
I honor our soldiers. It’s an ugly, dangerous, and often thankless job. But I would also like to honor all the others, the people swept up in events beyond their control, caught in the midst of a battlefield that was once their home.
Statistics to chill your soul
Here are statistics to chill your soul. They ought to, because they always freeze mine.
The number of military and civilian casualties in World War I totaled more than 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history. The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead. American military deaths total 53,402.
World War II fatality statistics vary depending on who and how they are being counted. The estimates of total dead range from 50 million to more than 70 million, making it the deadliest war in world history in absolute terms of total dead but not in terms of deaths relative to the world population. Civilians killed totaled from 40 to 52 million, including 13 to 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead range in estimate from 22 to 25 million. These numbers include the deaths in military prison camps of about 5 million prisoners of war. American military deaths came to 291,557.
Civilian Murder Counts
- Handicapped persons: 200,000 to 250,000 handicapped persons were victims of Nazi Euthanasia. A 2003 report by the German Federal Archive put the total murdered during the Action T4 and “14f13,” euthanasia programs at 200,000.
- Prisoners of War: POW deaths in Nazi captivity totaled 3.1 million including 2.6 to 3 million Soviet prisoners of war.
- Ethnic Poles: 1.8 to 1.9 million ethnic Polish civilians were victims during the German occupation. (see Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles).
- Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians: According to Nazi ideology, Slavs were useless and sub-human. As such, their leaders, the Soviet élite, were to be killed and the remainder of the population enslaved or expelled further eastward. As a result of these racist fantasies, millions of civilians in the Soviet Union were deliberately killed, starved, or worked to death. Civilian deaths in the Nazi occupied USSR are believed to be about 13.7 million persons including 2 million Jews. There were an additional 2.6 million deaths in the interior regions of the Soviet Union. The scope for error in this number is wide.
At least 1 million perished in the wartime GULAG camps or in deportations. Other deaths occurred in the wartime evacuations and due to war related malnutrition and disease in the interior. Most scholars believe that both Stalin and Hitler were responsible for these deaths. You don’t have to hold the gun and pull the trigger to kill someone.
They did not have to sully their hands with blood; they left that to others. That by itself is a blood curdling thought.
When I see people slinging the word “Nazi” around on Facebook and other social media, I remember that my entire family except those lucky few of us that are the descendents of immigrants who came to the United States around the turn of the century, before this country turned its welcome mat face down were all murdered. Of the family members remaining in Europe, every single one died. There were about 75 members of extended family in touch with their American relatives before the war. Not one was ever seen or heard from at war’s end. They were annihilated.
The slingers of hate, the advocates of violence are the harbingers of death and destruction. Those who foment killing and incite rage and urge others on are every bit as guilty of the deaths that follow as those who pulled the triggers. If you are one of them, if you are urging violence, slinging veiled or not-so-veiled death threats because you have political disagreements with members of another party … you are murderers. Refraining from pulling the trigger does not exculpate you.
And to all those militant Christians so eager to force their beliefs on everyone else, be careful what you wish for. Recommending violence to people who love to hate is as likely to make you a victim as it is to get rid of those you’d like gone.
It is long overdue in this nation for everyone to stop the verbal violence before it becomes civil war. Have we not had enough deaths? Have we not killed enough? Tortured enough? Destroyed enough? Is there such a thing as enough death and violence? Will no amount of death and blood satiate us?
Anyone who promotes hate or encourages violence is corrupt and immoral,regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, and without regard to any supposed political affiliation. The harm they do to the country they claim to love is beyond calculation.
It appears that our nation’s honor is becoming another piece of collateral damage.
- Merkel to unveil Roma memorial this week (thelocal.de)
- Why we must remember Kristallnacht (jsonline.com)
- Germany Opens Memorial to Roma Holocaust Victims (voanews.com)
- Oldest Known Auschwitz Survivor Dies Aged 108 (uk.news.yahoo.com)
- For the last Nazi hunter, the inevitable comes into focus (timesofisrael.com)
- Germany Opens Memorial to Roma Holocaust Victims (blogs.voanews.com)