News, WW2

The Largest Battles of World War Two

  • The estimated number of people killed during World War Two ranges from 60 to 80 million.
  • Around 18 of the numerous battles of the war had the highest casualties.
  • The highest casualty combatants were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
  • The engagement that tops the list of 18 battles is the Battle of Stalingrad, with 2,000,000 casualties.
  • The least deadliest combat on the list is the Battle of Monte Cassino, with 75,000 deaths.

The human toll of World War Two, which ended nearly 78 years ago, is almost unimaginable. The estimated number of people killed ranges from 60 to 80 million. The majority of them were civilians.

The Soviet Union suffered more than any other state during the war. Some sources suggest that it lost as many as 27 million people. It’s important to note that these staggering losses occurred in just six years (1939-1945). Yet, World War Two is nowhere near the longest conflicts in human history.

World War Two

The most common combatants in numerous crucial battles were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In addition, the vast military resources and substantial numbers of civilian casualties played a prominent part in these battles.

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However, accurately determining the number of casualties in a war is challenging. The estimates we have today are due to the efforts of historians. They often spend years piecing together primary documents to estimate the number of casualties in a conflict.

Hence, a list of World War Two battles with the highest casualties is available to us today because of historical literature. 24/7 Wall St. came up with the list to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of the war.

The sources used for the list were from the Imperial War Museum in London, the World War II battle database,,, and The list of battles starts with the highest number of casualties.

Battle of Stalingrad

The desolation of Stalingrad
October 1942: A German soldier with a Soviet PPSh-41 submachine gun in the Stalingrad factory rubble

The Battle of Stalingrad happened from August 23rd, 1942, to February 2, 1943. It involved the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as primary opponents. The battle caused an estimated 2,000,000 casualties.

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The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle on the Eastern Front of World War Two. Germany and its allies unsuccessfully fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (later renamed Volgograd) in Southern Russia. The battle was marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, epitomizing urban warfare.

The Dnieper-Carpathian Campaign

It was a World War Two military campaign between December 24, 1943, and May 6th, 1944. It pitted the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany in the Dnieper and Carpathian regions. Approximately 1.4 million people died or were wounded during the battle. However, it is also the conflict that liberated the right-bank of Ukraine.

Battle of Moscow

The Battle of Moscow was a critical point in military engagement lasting for three years, from September 1941 to January 1942. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were the primary combatants. The conflict resulted in an estimated total of 1,300,000 casualties. Moscow was one of the Axis forces’ direct military and political objectives in their invasion of the Soviet Union.

Germans Tanks, Russia
A German armoured column advances towards Moscow. October 1941.

Operation Bagration

Operation Bagration was the codename for the Soviet Byelorussian strategic offensive from June 22nd to August 19, 1944. It again involved Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany. The operation ended with around 1.08 million people killed or wounded. At the same time, the Germans were also fighting the British and Americans during Operation Overlord. It was the biggest defeat in German military history.

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Battle of Kursk

It was a crucial World War Two conflict that started on July 5 and ended on August 23, 1943. The main combatants were the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The estimated total number of casualties was reportedly 1,000,000. In addition, the battle was a significant turning point in the war. That’s because it marked the end of the German advance on the Eastern Front and the beginning of the Soviet counter-offensive. So many tanks and armoured vehicles went into battle and were destroyed in their thousands.

Russian troops counter attack.
A remarkable photograph showing Soviet troops counterattacking behind a T-34 tanks at Prokhorovka, July 1943

Battle of Kyiv/Kiev

This battle was a significant engagement of World War Two in the fall of 1941. The conflict involved a massive clash between the Soviet and German armies, with nearly 822,000 casualties. Despite the heavy losses, the Soviet Union was ultimately able to push the Germans back and reclaim control of Kyiv in 1943 (Second Battle of Kyiv).

Battle of Berlin

The Battle of Berlin occurred from April 16 to May 2nd, 1945. It had the same rivals, i.e., the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, yet again. The intense fighting resulted in a high number of around 820,000 casualties. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union emerged victorious, and Hitler’s rule ended in Germany.

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Battle of Smolensk

Another notable World War Two conflict was the Battle of Smolensk, which lasted from July 8th to July 31st, 1941. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were again the main belligerents. The battle involved about 700,000 total casualties.

Battle of Smolensk
Map of the 1941 Battle of Smolensk. Casualties were immense on both sides.

Operation Overlord

Operation Overload was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, also known as D-Day. It was an Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. It began on June 6 and ended on August 30, 1944. The operation involved the largest amphibious invasion in history, with almost 625,000 casualties.

Battle of Narva

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The battle was a military campaign fought on the Eastern Front of World War Two in 1944. The Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany faced off again. The Battle of Narva was one of the deadliest conflicts, with an estimated 550,000 casualties.

Battle of France

Also Known as the Fall of France, it was a military engagement lasting from May 10th to June 25th, 1940. The battle ended in a significant victory for Germany and a crushing defeat for the Western Allies. There were roughly 517,000 casualties. In addition, the conflict marked the beginning of France’s long and brutal occupation period.

A black day for the Allies
The British Army in France 1940. Troops on their way to the port at Brest during the evacuation of British forces from France, June 1940.

Battle of Luzon

It was one of the most extensive fights on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The United States, its allies, and the Imperial Japanese Army were primary combatants. The battle took place in the early months of 1945. It resulted in an estimated total of 370,000 deaths and casualties.

The battle resulted in a U.S. and Filipino victory. The Allies had taken control of Luzon’s strategic and economically important locations by March 1945. Pockets of Japanese resistance held out in the mountains until Japan’s unconditional surrender.

The Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign

During World War Two, the Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign occurred between Chinese forces and the Imperial Japanese Army. The campaign began on May 15th, 1942, and ended on September 10th. The combat was fierce and resulted in almost 356,000 casualties.

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Second Battle of Kharkov/Kharkiv

This conflict occurred in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in May 1942. The primary opponents in the battle were Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany. It lasted 16 days and caused around 300,000 casualties.

Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead over Seversky Donets or the “Barvenkovo bulge,” which was one of the Soviet offensive’s staging areas.

The Invasion of Poland

Also remembered as the September Campaign, the invasion occurred on September 1, 1939. Hitler’s forces launched an unprovoked attack on Polish land, eventually triggering World War Two. There were nearly 250,000 casualties during the invasion, including military personnel and civilians.

Germany marches.
Hitler watching German soldiers march into Poland in September 1939.

Battle of the Bulge

It was a major military campaign fought during the war in Western Europe. The battle took place from December 16th, 1944, to January 28th, 1945, between the Western Allies and Nazi Germany. The conflict resulted in an estimated 195,000 people dead or wounded.

The primary military objectives were to deny further use of the Belgian port of Antwerp to the Allies. Secondly, to split the Allied lines, which could have allowed the Germans to encircle and destroy the four Allied forces.

The Battle of the Bulge
U.S. POWs on 22 December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.

Battle of the Rhineland

The battle of the Rhineland was a military engagement in Western Europe that lasted from February 8th, until March 27th, 1945. The conflict involved the Western Allies and Nazi Germany. The battle resulted in approximately 113,000 casualties.

Battle of Monte Cassino

The last biggest battle occurred from January 17th to May 18th, 1944 between the Western Allies and Axis Germany. The combat caused an estimated 75,000 casualties. Divided into four phases, it was one of the war’s bloodiest and most fiercely contested battles.

Finally, World War Two was a global conflict that resulted in significant loss of life and infrastructure. Moreover, its battles significantly impacted the war’s outcome and the fate of the world. Thus, the lessons learned from these conflicts continue to shape global events, even today