How many Austrians were killed in World War II? A huge number compared to population size

World War II military graves Hütteldorf, Vienna — copyright D-Kuru, Creative Commons

How many Austrians, both military personnel and civilians, were killed in World War II?

I am currently visiting my parents in the United States and, being British and now mourning the loss of our beloved monarch Queen Elizabeth II, over the last few days conversation has turned to European history.

History that has included talk about both world wars, including the number of people killed during World War II — the war that was the cause of death of more people around the world than any other war in history.

That conversation left me asking the question “How many Austrians were killed in World War II?”

A subject, I must admit, that hadn’t crossed my mind before in any detail.

Not until I began thinking of how the Austrian government of the time allied the country with Germany and how, while most Austrians were not Nazis, many did support Germany, and so suffered many of the same consequences the Germans suffered.

So, how many Austrians were killed in World War II?

What about the number of military personnel compared to the number of Austrian civilians who lost their lives?

What was the population of Austria at the beginning of World War II in 1939, and what percentage of the Austrian population lost their lives?

 

Albertinaplatz Memorial in Vienna, dedicated to all victims of war and fascism. Photo — Fred Romero, Creative Commons license

How many Austrians were killed in World War II?

Like in any war and any country, it is impossible to know with absolute precision how many Austrians were killed in the war.

Some people’s bodies were recovered, while others were not. Some went missing in action, while others just disappeared from civilian populations.

Others escaped to other countries without the knowledge of Austrian authorities.

Overall, however, here is as accurate of a breakdown as there seems to be when it comes to how many Austrians were killed in World War II.

Around 950,000 Austrians fought for Nazi Germany’s armed forces.

Out of that number, approximately 261,000 Austrians had either been killed or were missing in action when World War II ended in 1945. (citation)

A small number of Austrians also joined the Allies and died while fighting the Germans as part of the Allied forces.

An additional 20,000 to 30,000 Austrians were killed in American and British bombing raids. Vienna alone was bombed 52 times, and tens of thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Tens of thousands of Austrians were also arrested and sent to prison or to Nazi concentration camps.

Some were arrested for political reasons, while many others were arrested due to being Jewish, a member of specific ethnic minorities, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or homosexual.

Many of those arrested and taken away died.

Another 2,700 were executed.

Altogether, it is estimated around 109,000 Austrian civilians were killed during World War II.

The closest it is possible to get to an accurate answer to the question “How many Austrians were killed in World War II?” then is this — approximately 370,000 Austrians were killed during World War II.

Considering the entire population of Austrian in 1939 was 6,652,567quite a small country compared to many others — that means around 5.56% of the Austrian population was killed between 1939 and 1945.

As is often said, while there may be victors of war, there really are not any winners as every country and every population involved in war suffers greatly.

Michelle Topham