The tally

“By the time Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, the Second World War had lasted six years and a day, ensnaring almost sixty nations, plus sundry colonial and imperial territories. Sixty million had died in those six years, including nearly 10 million in Germany and Japan, and more than twice that number in the Soviet Union–roughly 26 million, one-third of them soldiers. To describe this ‘great and terrible epoch,’ as George Marshall called it, new words would be required, like ‘genocide’; and old words would assume new usages; ‘Holocaust.’ The war ‘was a savage, insensate affair, barely conceivable to the well-conducted imagination,’ wrote Lieutenant Paul Fussell. ‘The real war was tragic and ironic, beyond the power of any literary or philosophic analysis to suggest.’ To one victim, Ernie Pyle, this global conflagration had been simply ‘an unmitigated misfortune.’ For the Allies, some solace could be derived from complete victory over a foe of unexampled iniquity. An existential struggle had been settled so decisively that Field Marshal Brooke, among many, would conclude ‘that there is a God all-powerful looking after the destiny of the world.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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