Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

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Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by DavidlVofGeorgia on Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:58 pm

I am trying to figure out what ideological conflict killed more lives. I believe there is a good argument to make that the Cold War's proxy wars (including the Chinese, Cuban, Angola, Korean, and Vietnam civil wars) killed more people over the course of 46 years than WW2 killed in 6 years.

Conflicts that are counted:
1. Any conflict where one side was overtly ideological
2. Any proxy war where the backers were overtly ideological
3. Any genocides or forced famines by overtly ideological regimes.
4. Any genocides or forced famines against suspected ideological groups.

So far this is my list:
Greek Civil War
Chinese Civil War
Korean War
1953 East German Uprising
1956 Poznan Protest
1956 Hungarian Revolution
Cuban Revolution
Bay of Pigs Invasion
Cuban Missile Crisis
First Indochina War
Suez Crisis
1959 Tibetian Uprising
1968 Invasion of Czechoslovakia
Vietnam War
Soviet-Afghan War
Invasion of Grenada
Angola Civil War
Nicaraguan Revolution
Romanian Revolution
8888 uprising
Tiananmen Square 1989
Eritrean War of Independence
1982 Ethiopian–Somali Border War
Ethiopian Civil War
Nigerian Civil War
Sudan Civil War
Republic of Congo Civil War
Yom Kippur War
Zaire Civil War
Indonesian mass killings (1965-66)
Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War

Overall, I am trying to counter the narrative that the Cold War was a bloodless conflict and that America and the USSR did the right thing by letting it run its course.


Last edited by DavidlVofGeorgia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:19 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by Cold War Communist on Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:23 pm

Mao Zedong is going to tip this list on his own. His "Great Leap Forward" and Cultural Revolution policies were devastating. Going to have to say the Cold War killed more.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by Aaronklk on Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:05 pm

The Cold War.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by DavidlVofGeorgia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:30 pm

Cold War Casualities
Chronology Event Killed Wounded Captured Missing Casualties Result
12 March – 24 April 1948 Costa Rican Civil War 2000 0 0 0 2000 Anti-Communist Victory
30 March 1946 – 16 October 1949 Greek Civil War 158,000 41,398 20,128 4,735 224,261 Anti-Communist Victory
1 August 1927 – 22 December 1936 and 31 March 1946 – 1 May 1950 Chinese Civil War 8,000,000 0 0 0 8,000,000 Communist Victory
16–17 June 1953 1953 East German Uprising 637 1838 5100 0 7575 Communist Victory
25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953 Korean War 2,706,806 1,585,059 0 420,669 4,712,534 Stalemate
19 December 1946 – 1 August 1954 First Indochina War 834,500 64,127 40,000 0 938,627 Communist Victory
June 28–30, 1956 1956 Poznan Protest 108 603 500 0 1,211 Communist Victory
29 October 1956 – 7 November 1956 Suez Crisis 4,257 5928 30,004 0 40,189 Western Defeat
23 October – 10 November 1956 1956 Hungarian Revolution 6,722 14.54 26 0 6,763 Communist Victory
10–21 March 1959 1959 Tibetian Uprising 87,000 0 0 0 87,000 Communist Victory
26 July 1953 – 1 January 1959 Cuban Revolution 5,000 0 0 0 5,000 Communist Victory
17–20 April 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion 298 860 1,202 3.324 2,363 Communist Victory
October 16–28, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis 1 0 0 0 1 Stalemate
April 24 – September 3, 1965 Dominican Civil War 2,869 294 3,163 Anti-Communist Victory
1965-1966 Indonesian Mass Killings 3,000,000 0 0 0 3,000,000 Anti-Communist Victory
20 August 1968 – 21 August 1968 1968 Invasion of Czechoslovakia 225 500 0 0 725 Communist Victory
1 November 1955 – 30 April 1975 Second Indo-China War 4,211,451 1,944,200 6,155,651 Communist Victory
1949-1976 Great Leap Forward + Cultural Rev. 78,000,000 0 0 0 78,000,000 Communist Victory
1975–1979 Cambodia Genocide 3,000,000 0 0 0 3,000,000 Communist Victory
June–August 1982 1982 Ethiopian–Somali Border War ? ? ? ? 0 Anti-Communist Victory
1974–1983 Argentinian Dirty War 30,770 0 0 0 30,770 Anti-Communist Victory
25 October – 15 December 1983 Invasion of Grenada 112 512 638 1,262 Anti-Communist Victory
12 March 1988 – 21 September 1988 8888 uprising 10,000 0 0 0 10,000 Communist Victory
December 24, 1979 – February 15, 1989 Soviet-Afghan War 2,122,753 3,128,753 0 264 5,251,770 Anti-Communist Victory
April 15 – June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square 1989 2,650 0 0 0 2,650 Communist Victory
16–27 December 1989 Romanian Revolution 689 3,352 0 0 4,041 Anti-Communist Victory
1962–1990 Nicaraguan Revolution 40,000 0 0 0 40,000 Anti-Communist Victory
October 15, 1979 – January 16, 1992 Salvadorian Civil War 80,000 0 0 8,000 88,000 Anti-Communist Victory
13 November 1960 – 29 December 1996 Guatemala Civil War 200,000 0 0 0 200,000 Anti-Communist Victory
11 November 1975 – 4 April 2002 Angola Civil War 517,092 0 0 0 517,092 Anti-Communist Victory
total 103,023,940 6,777,439 97,598 433,671 110,332,648


Last edited by DavidlVofGeorgia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by BigMacArthur on Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:05 pm

What is it? 103,023,940, 6,777,439, 97,598, 433,671 or 110,332,648?
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by Big_Appa on Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:06 pm

Props to OP for the brilliant question.

It's estimated that between 75-85M died during WWII. I'll estimate that 80M died.

Let's move onto the Cold War, starting with this list which mostly covers criteria 1 and 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_conflicts_related_to_the_Cold_War. Also note that these are mostly estimates. Sorry if the formatting seems poor, I'm copying and pasting excel cells. Also, some events were not counted to keep this simple.
Ranked from most to least deadly:
Conflict Deaths
Chinese CW 8,000,000
Vietnam War 2,751,438
Korean War 1,923,599
Indonesian Mass Killings (55-56) 1,700,000
Bangladesh Lib 1,689,500
Ethiopian CW 1,500,000
Mozambican CW 1,000,000
First Indochina War 655,000
Angolan CW 511,000
Cambodian CW 270,000
Eritrian Rev 230,000
Colombian Conflict 218,094
Guatemalan CW 170,000
Green CW 158,000
Invasion of East Timor 140,000
Yugoslav Wars 140,000
Lebanese CW 135,000
Portuguese Colonial War 108,827
Congo Crisis 100,000
1959 Tibetan Rev 86,000
Mozambican Rev 76,500
Cambodian-Vietnamese War 70,000
Laotian CW 41,000
Nicaraguan Rev 40,000
Six Day War 21,864
Rhodesian Bush War 19,619
South African Border War 18,335
Yom Kippur war 15,000
Ogaden War 14,000
Guinea-Bissau War 13,069
Indo-Pakistani War 12,000
Malayan Emergency 11,053
Hukbalahap 9,965
War of Attrition 9,903
8888 Uprising 6,500
Hungarian Rev 6,472
Cuban Rev 5,000
Gulf War 5,000
Black September 4,084
Suez Crisis 3,582
Dominican CW 2,825
Operation Masterdom 2,740
Sino-Indian War 2,105
Iran-Azerbaijan 2,000
Taiwan Strait 1,118
Romanian Rev 1,000
Sino-Soviet 930
Operatio Independence 370
Malay Emergency II 367
Bay of Pigs 298
Shaba II 260
Iranian Coup 250
Invasion of Panama 250
Tiananmen Square 250
Warsaw Pact Invasion of Czech. 220
14 Jul Rev 100
Poznan Uprising 87
Bombing of Libya 75
Invasion of Grenada 65
Operation Entebbe 56
Corfu Channel 44
U-2 Incident 1
Libyan Coup 1
Current total: ~22M

However, categories 3 and 4 count genocide and famine. Some relevant ones:
Great Leap Forward: 30M
Cultural Rev: 5M
1946 Famine: 1.5M
Cambodian Genocide: 3M
These bring the total up to 61.5M. Still pretty far from WWII, but I couldn't count every single conflict in the Cold War, not to mention there were probably more purges done by Mao and Stalin I didn't count.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by DavidlVofGeorgia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:16 pm

@bigMac I used the highest estimates for everything so the cold war couldn't have killed more than 103 million people with 110 million casualties.

@Big Appa You actually answered the right question. I was taking into account wounded, missing, and captured under the umbrella "casualties" but the specific question is related to killed.  So you get the gold medal. I hope you don't mind if I take copy your work into an Excel file of my own. Fantastic work.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by DavidlVofGeorgia on Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:27 pm

Wikipedia says that WW1 killed 18 million and 23 million wounded so I think we can say that the Cold War was more deadly than WW1 at least.

I wonder if we will ever get to a time when future historians will calculate the human cost of the decades of the War on Terror and rival that with these horrible conflicts. I certainly hope not.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by Big_Appa on Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:17 am

[quote="DavidlVofGeorgia" @Big Appa You actually answered the right question. I was taking into account wounded, missing, and captured under the umbrella "casualties" but the specific question is related to killed.  So you get the gold medal. I hope you don't mind if I take copy your work into an Excel file of my own. Fantastic work.[/quote]

Not at all. Be sure to send your own results when you finish.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by EmperorTigerstar on Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:50 am

The problem is what proxy wars do we count under the Cold War? The Soviets and Americans influenced everything in that time period but didn't necessarily cause it.
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Re: Who killed more? WW2 or Cold War?

Post by Johnnythewizard on Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:25 pm

Even without the Proxy wars, Mao, Stalin and Kim Il Sung singlehandedly give the Cold War the title through their mass-murders amounting to over 94 million.

Communism kills.
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