The Staggering Human Cost of World War II Visualized in a Creative, New Animated Documentary

“More peo­ple died in World War II than any oth­er war in his­to­ry,” explains Neil Hal­lo­ran in The Fall­en of World War II. In his 15-minute film, Hal­lo­ran uses inno­v­a­tive data visu­al­iza­tion tech­niques to put the human cost of WW II into per­spec­tive, show­ing how some 70 mil­lion lives were lost with­in civil­ian and mil­i­tary pop­u­la­tions across Europe and Asia, from 1939 to 1945. As one com­menter put it, “One mil­lion, six mil­lion, sev­en­ty mil­lion. Spo­ken or writ­ten, these num­bers become … incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Pre­sent­ed graph­i­cal­ly, they hit clos­er to the heart. As the Sovi­et loss­es climbed, I thought my brows­er had become frozen. Sure­ly the top of the col­umn must have been reached by now, I thought.” He’s refer­ring to the stag­ger­ing num­ber of Sovi­ets who died fight­ing the Nazis. If you fast for­ward to the 6‑minute mark above, you can see what he means.

The video comes accom­pa­nied by an inter­ac­tive web­site, where users can “pause dur­ing key moments to inter­act with the charts and dig deep­er into the num­bers.” To use this inter­ac­tive web­site, you will need a fair­ly new com­put­er and a mod­ern brows­er.

You can con­tribute mon­ey and sup­port the ongo­ing Fall­en of World War II project here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online His­to­ry Cours­es

Watch World War II Rage Across Europe in a 7 Minute Time-Lapse Film: Every Day From 1939 to 1945

31 Rolls of Film Tak­en by a World War II Sol­dier Get Dis­cov­ered & Devel­oped Before Your Eyes

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Comments (24)
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  • Hanoch says:

    The sad­dest thing is that Hitler would have been eas­i­ly crushed after remil­i­ta­riz­ing the Rhineland in 1936 had not the advo­cates of “peace” and appease­ment pre­vailed. Iron­i­cal­ly, it was the so-called “war­mon­gers”, like Churchill, who would have pre­vent­ed this cat­a­stro­phe by deal­ing with Hitler when he was most vul­ner­a­ble.

  • Ryan says:

    No men­tion of the Cana­di­ans?

  • derrick says:

    There is also no men­tion of the hor­rif­ic death tolls between the year 1957 to 1959 (The Great Leap For­ward move­ment in Chi­na) and 1960 to 1969 (The Cul­tur­al Rev­o­lu­tion in Chi­na). The 3 years from 1957 to 1959 alone result­ed in a death toll of at least 22 mil­lion to a high­er esti­mat­ed of 43 mil­lion human lives. This is a mas­sive piece of tragedy with such an enor­mous loss of lives that should not be mut­ed.

  • derrick says:

    and by the way, the low­er esti­mate of 22 mil­lion souls who died large­ly to star­va­tion, is based on the offi­cial esti­mate from the Chi­nese.

  • Anne says:

    Typ­i­cal. Cana­da is com­plete­ly dis­missed. How insult­ing!

  • tmp says:

    There’s a bar for Mao.

  • Scott says:

    I’m Amer­i­can and I hear about Cana­di­an roles in WW2 some­times. Fought brave­ly in Tank bat­tles. The role lead­ing up to and dur­ing D‑day.

  • gnh says:

    Every­one always for­gets about Cana­da. Accord­ing to Wikipedia, Canada’s war deaths out­pace the US per capi­ta, 0.32 for the US vs. .40 for Cana­da. Cana­di­ans were there from the start and took part in some of the blood­i­est bat­tles in WWII.

    Please stop ignor­ing us, it’s real­ly insult­ing. It’s like we don’t exist.

  • Mark Hughes says:

    Why am I not sur­prised that the Cana­di­an con­tri­bu­tion to World War Two has again been ignored by an Amer­i­can recount­ing that war. I guess hav­ing the third largest Navy in WW2 and being one fifth of the D‑Day inva­sion force does­n’t mer­it men­tion.

  • Jason says:

    It’s WW2 deaths you moron

  • Brian says:

    I always remem­ber the Cana­di­an involve­ment (as well as Aus­tralian and the oth­er coun­tries asso­ci­at­ed as “The British Empire”) in WW2 talked about as a whole and the sta­tis­ti­cal contributions/deaths they con­tributed to the war effort includ­ed with the English/United King­dom num­bers and then that num­ber would be fol­lowed by a break down of that num­ber to reveal Cana­da, Aus­tralia, India and so forth’s indi­vid­ual num­bers in his­to­ry class­es I’ve had over the years. This is espe­cial­ly true as the class­es were of high­er lev­el (high school and col­lege) and were cov­er­ing more spe­cif­ic eras as opposed to a “World His­to­ry” course or sim­i­lar over­all his­to­ry overview com­pressed into a three to four month time frame. Seems like that’s a func­tion of being a mem­ber of the com­mon­wealth and how it’s data is report­ed to the world and not some U.S. con­spir­a­cy to hog WW2 glo­ry. Per­son­al­ly, I have rel­a­tives and and know a few through them that were shot down over occu­pied Europe who would not have prob­a­bly sur­vived if not for all the work and sac­ri­fice pro­vid­ed by the Free French and Free Dutch forces that helped get them before Ger­man troops found them and smug­gled them to places where they could then be picked up by boat to get across the chan­nel to Eng­land. Those guys get very lit­tle respect and recog­ni­tion for all that they did and the fact that ulti­mate vic­to­ry would have been expo­nen­tial­ly hard­er with­out their contributions.What lit­tle you do hear about them is almost exclu­sive­ly about the French and not the Dutch, Pol­ish and numer­ous oth­er Free Forces of Ger­man occu­pied coun­tries. In oth­er words, there’s no way to ever ful­ly give each their due in regards to their con­tri­bu­tion and sac­ri­fice in those dark years, and I hope as time goes on all can take more of a “Tomb of the Unknown Sol­dier” approach to giv­ing cred­it to all we were unable know or iden­ti­fy and hon­or them as best we can. Bick­er­ing over who did what and how much ulti­mate­ly makes us all look fool­ish and pet­ty while fur­ther obscur­ing the peo­ple and con­tri­bu­tions that we should be try­ing to uncov­er and rec­og­nize going for­ward. By the way, my friends to the north, thank you for what you have and done for what you will do to help us out. With all the Hol­ly­wood movie pro­duc­tion that goes on in Cana­da, how about some movies to illus­trate those shin­ing moments and the Cana­di­an person/people that were involved? Amer­i­can’s enjoy hero­ic peo­ple and their exploits from all over, we just need you to bring them to our atten­tion most of the time…

  • Rob says:

    I see some com­ments from my fel­low Cana­di­ans regard­ing this film. I can’t real­ly see why you guys and gals are so upset at Cana­da not being men­tioned. This was a film pro­duced by Amer­i­cans for Amer­i­cans. Hav­ing said that, there are two fac­tors to keep in mind:

    1.) Amer­i­cans are noto­ri­ous­ly igno­rant of his­to­ry, even their own.

    2.) The Unit­ed States is an empire in decline and there­fore the opin­ions of Amer­i­cans are becom­ing less and less rel­e­vant to the rest of the world.

    So, no wor­ries! We know what our par­ents and our grand­par­ents achieved in the Sec­ond World War as do our friends in the UK, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the Nether­lands, Bel­gium and France and that’s all that mat­ters.

  • Heartland Patriot says:

    Its peo­ple like you that enabled all those deaths. I bet you are an anti-cap­i­tal­ist of some sort and prob­a­bly think that once cap­i­tal­ism is gone, you’ll get some sort of utopia. That’s what the Nazis, Fas­cists and Com­mu­nists were pushing…and it result­ed in all those deaths.

  • Rob says:

    It’s peo­ple like you who embar­rass them­selves by post­ing puerile non­sense on the Inter­net. Don’t bet too much on your idi­ot­ic assump­tion, son, you’ll lose your wager plus your dig­ni­ty (and you obvi­ous­ly don’t have much of that to begin with).
    It’s unques­tion­ing sheep like you that are any­thing but patri­ots. In the Sec­ond World War both Cana­da and the U.S. fought for free­dom of thought, speech and ideas and it’s peo­ple like you who betray our fall­en sol­diers. No doubt you have a huge U.S. flag fly­ing out­side your house, a house devoid of any true free­dom. Iron­ic and pathet­ic.

  • James says:

    Cana­da lost what? 10%(45,400) of what the US lost(407,000 not includ­ing the 12,000 civil­ian deaths of which Cana­da had none). Of course these num­bers are from Wikipedia.

  • Rob says:

    Pop­u­la­tion of Cana­da in 1939: 11,267,000 (Source:–187‑x/4151287-eng.htm)

    Pop­u­la­tion of the Unit­ed States in 1939: 130,879,718 (Source:

  • me says:

    wow. I think you guys are all miss­ing the point.

  • Bert says:

    Maybe it’s best to send Neil Hal­lo­ran an e‑mail thank­ing him for his effort but also help­ing him with the miss­ing parts, in stead of telling each oth­er what he missed. Hope­ful­ly he can make a ver­sion 2.0 with all the cor­rect infor­ma­tion, because his visu­al­iza­tion is one of the best I’ve ever seen and it’s worth shar­ing this with every­one.

  • G says:

    Actu­al­ly Hitler pushed for peace and avoid­ing arms race. We know that Neville Cham­ber­lain had severe pres­sure to get Great Britain into World War 2. Before he died, he revealed Amer­i­ca and World Jews forced Britain into war against Ger­many (men­tioned in The For­re­stal Diaries from 1945.)

    But one of the most hon­or­able things about Cham­ber­lain was he was a pro­nounced oppo­nent of the use of the bomber as a weapon of ter­ror­i­sa­tion (men­tioned in David Irving’s book “The Destruc­tion of Dres­den” (1995), Page 7–8).

    With Cham­ber­lain, he had a pub­lic guar­an­tee to respect Ger­man civil­ian lives. This applied till the last day of Cham­ber­lain as the prime min­is­ter of Great Britain (May 9, 1940).

    But when the Anti-Ger­man mon­ster Churchill became British prime min­is­ter on May 10, 1940, the British gov­ern­ment now pub­licly pro­claimed that it reserved the right to take what­ev­er action it con­sid­ered appro­pri­ate in the event of Ger­man air raids on civil­ian pop­u­la­tions. Churchill was not elect­ed in.

    So the cab­i­net on its very first day of office under Mr Win­ston Churchill, the new prime min­is­ter, was able to dis­pose of Mr Chamberlain’s pub­lic guar­an­tee to respect Ger­man civil­ian lives (David Irving’s “The Destruc­tion of Dres­den” (1995), Page 8–9).
    That was the begin­ning of the hor­ror on Ger­man civil­ian lives which result­ed in hor­rors like Oper­a­tion Gomor­rah (the bomb­ing of Ham­burg) in 1943, and the bomb­ing of all Ger­man cities (Dres­den, Rot­ter­dam, Berlin, etc.). Churchill was only the front man for the Estab­lish­ment. Remem­ber Churchill was not vot­ed in demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly, he was placed in charge. Which means he had a boss or boss­es. You also have to remem­ber the per­son or peo­ple who did put him in charge are always in charge. Hitler nev­er bombed civil­ians first and the pilots on the mas­sacre of Blieburg broke their silence. Find out who prof­its from wars and you will see who Hitler warned and talked about. Enjoy­ing the end­less wars and end­less cycle of usury and debt today? More death to come.

  • Joe Turner says:

    Hind sight is always 20–20. I want to know why the USA was stu­pid enough to fight the Japan­ese island by island instead of using air bases in Chi­na or Rus­sia.

  • j says:

    Actu­al­ly Hitler pushed for peace and avoid­ing arms race. We know that Neville Cham­ber­lain had severe pres­sure to get Great Britain into World War 2. Before he died, he revealed Amer­i­ca and World Jews forced Britain into war against Ger­many (men­tioned in The For­re­stal Diaries from 1945.)

    Ha this is fun­ny yes lets talk about this in real­i­ty.
    A guy took pow­er in a severe­ly depressed coun­try and tried to use mil­i­tary to get the econ­o­my going… He did, his name is Hitler, here is a fact that you did­n’t men­tion when you said Hitler was­n’t tar­get­ing civil­ians… and he also start­ed eth­nic geno­cide and con­cen­tra­tion camps that the video points out. If there were Jews of the world which sounds like some secret orga­ni­za­tion you think there is… then yes they did. I would have begged any­one to stop the Ger­man Hitler form exe­cut­ing men so they would­n’t revolt then throw­ing women and chil­dren in the gas cham­bers. Eng­land lis­tened and was the only coun­try that was­n’t rolled by the Ger­mans and had the abil­i­ty to stop their onslaught, by doing what­ev­er they could to stop them, any­thing they could.

    What would have been your course of action to stop Ger­many if hind sight is 20–20?

  • Sigma says:

    What’s up broth­er!, that’s so sig­ma, your the skibi­di riz­zler

  • RyanToysreview says:

    Whomp Whomp

  • what's up brother!!! says:

    I was in my sink last night look­ing up infor­ma­tion about WWII!!!! So informationalLllllllL!L1l1l1l3jfioafqp3r

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