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This is a list of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll. It covers the lowest estimate of death as well as the highest estimate, the name of the event, the location, and the start and end of each event. Some events may belong in more than one category. In addition, some of the listed events overlap each other, and in some cases the death toll from a smaller event is included in the one for the larger event or time period of which it was part.
These figures of one million or more deaths include the deaths of civilians from diseases, famine, etc., as well as deaths of soldiers in battle and massacres and genocide. Where only one estimate is available, it appears in both the low and high estimates. This is a sortable table. Click on the column sort buttons to sort results numerically or alphabetically.
The United NationsConvention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) defines genocide in part as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group". Determining what historical events constitute a genocide and which are merely criminal or inhuman behavior is not a clear-cut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have disputed the interpretation and details of the event, often to the point of promoting different versions of the facts. An accusation of genocide will almost always be controversial. Determining the number of persons killed in each genocide can be just as difficult, with political, religious and ethnic biases or prejudices often leading to downplayed or exaggerated figures. Some of the accounts below may include ancillary causes of death such as malnutrition and disease, which may or may not have been intentionally inflicted.
During the Great Leap Forward under Mao Zedong tens of millions of Chinese starved to death. State violence during this period further exacerbated the death toll, and some 2.5 million people were beaten or tortured to death in connection with Great Leap policies.
An estimated 2.4 million Indonesians starved to death during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. The problem was partly caused by failures of the main 1944–45 rice crop, but mainly by the compulsory rice purchasing system that the Japanese authorities put in place to secure rice for distribution to the armed forces and urban population.
An estimated 2 million Cambodians lost their lives to murder, forced labor and famine from the Cambodian Communist government, of which nearly half was caused by forced starvation. Came to an end due to invasion by Vietnam in 1979.
Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland—where a third of the population was significantly dependent on the Irish Lumper potato for food—was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors which remain the subject of historical debate.
Private forces under the control of Leopold II of Belgium carried out mass murders, mutilations, and other crimes against the Congolese in order to encourage the gathering of valuable raw materials, principally rubber. Significant deaths also occurred due to major disease outbreaks and starvation, caused by population displacement and poor treatment. Estimates of the death toll vary considerably because of the lack of a formal census before 1924, but a commonly cited figure of 10 million deaths was obtained by estimating a 50% decline in the total population during the Congo Free State and applying it to the total population of 10 million in 1924.
The Nanking Massacre, commonly known as the Rape of Nanking, was a war crime committed by the Japanese military in Nanjing, then capital of the Republic of China, after it fell to the Imperial Japanese Army on 13 December 1937.
Fires set during attacks on Greeks and Armenians by Turkish mobs and military forces in Smyrna at the end of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). The violence and fires resulted in the destruction of the Greek and Armenian portions of the city and the evacuation of their former populations by British and American military forces. After the attacks 30,000 Greek and Armenian men left behind were deported by Turkish forces, many of whom were subsequently killed.
^France Meslé; Jacques Vallin (2003). Mortalité et causes de décès en Ukraine au XXe siècle: la crise sanitaire dans les pays de l'ex-URSS. Ined. ISBN978-2-7332-0152-7.
^– "The famine of 1932–33", Encyclopædia Britannica. Quote: "The Great Famine (Holodomor) of 1932–33—a man-made demographic catastrophe unprecedented in peacetime. Of the estimated six to eight million people who died in the Soviet Union, about four to five million were Ukrainians... Its deliberate nature is underscored by the fact that no physical basis for famine existed in Ukraine... Soviet authorities set requisition quotas for Ukraine at an impossibly high level. Brigades of special agents were dispatched to Ukraine to assist in procurement, and homes were routinely searched and foodstuffs confiscated... The rural population was left with insufficient food to feed itself."
^Stannard, David E. (1993). American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 11. ISBN978-0-19-508557-0. "In the 1940s and 1950s conventional wisdom held that the population of the entire hemisphere in 1492 was little more than 8,000,000—with fewer than 1,000,000 people living in the region north of present-day Mexico. Today, few serious students of the subject would put the hemispheric figure at less than 75,000,000 to 100,000,000 (with approximately 8,000,000 to 12,000,000 north of Mexico)."
^ abHeuveline, Patrick (2001). "The Demographic Analysis of Mortality in Cambodia." In Forced Migration and Mortality, eds. Holly E. Reed and Charles B. Keely. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
^John Shertzer Hittell, "A Brief History of Culture" (1874) p.137: "In the two centuries of this warfare one million persons had been slain..." cited by White
^Robertson, John M., "A Short History of Christianity" (1902) p.278. Cited by White
^Jurg Meister, Francisco Solano López Nationalheld oder Kriegsverbrecher?, Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag, 1987. 345, 355, 454–5
^Another estimate is that from the pre-war population of 1,337,437, the population fell to 221,709 (28,746 men, 106,254 women, 86,079 children) by the end of the war (War and the Breed, David Starr Jordan, p. 164. Boston, 1915; Applied Genetics, Paul Popenoe, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1918)
^ abHenry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, Doubleday, Page & Company, Garden City, New York, 1919.
^Yitzhak Arad, Bełżec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987, NCR 0-253-34293-7
^Ludwik Kowalski: Alaska notes on Stalinism Retrieved 18 January 2007. Case Study: Stalin's Purges from Genderside Watch. Retrieved 19 January 2007. George Bien, Gulag Survivor in the Boston Globe, June 22, 2005, Kolyma
^Stéphane Courtois; Mark Kramer (1999-10-15). Livre Noir Du Communisme: Crimes, Terreur, Répression. ISBN978-0-674-07608-2.
^Wemheuer, Felix (July 2011). "Sites of horror: Mao's Great Famine [with response]". The China Journal (66): 155–164. JSTOR41262812. on p.163 Frank Dikötter, in his response, quotes Yu Xiguang's figure of 55 million
^Marek Sliwinski (1995), Le Génocide Khmer Rouge: Une Analyse Démographique, L'Harmattan, p. 82.
^Foster, R.F. 'Modern Ireland 1600–1972'. Penguin Press, 1988. p324. Foster's footnote reads: "Based on hitherto unpublished work by C. Ó Gráda and Phelim Hughes, 'Fertility trends, excess mortality and the Great Irish Famine'...Also see C.Ó Gráda and Joel Mokyr, 'New developments in Irish Population History 1700–1850', Economic History Review, vol. xxxvii, no.4 (November 1984), pp. 473–488."
^Joseph Lee, The Modernisation of Irish Society p. 1. Lee says 'at least 800,000'.
^Vaughan, W.E. and Fitzpatrick, A.J.(eds). Irish Historical Statistics, Population, 1821/1971. Royal Irish Academy, 1978
^The Great Irish Famine Approved by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education on 10 September 1996, for inclusion in the Holocaust and Genocide Curriculum at the secondary level. Revision submitted 11/26/98.
^Cecil Woodham-Smith (1991). The great hunger: Ireland 1845–1849. Penguin Books. p. 19. ISBN978-0-14-014515-1.
^This toll is only for the number of Japanese pilots killed in Kamikaze suicide missions. It does not include the number of enemy combatants killed by such missions, which is estimated to be around 4,000. Kamikaze pilots are estimated to have sunk or damaged beyond repair some 70 to 80 allied ships, representing about 80% of allied shipping losses in the final phase of the war in the Pacific (see Kamikaze).
^Cribb, Robert (2002). "Unresolved Problems in the Indonesian Killings of 1965–1966". Asian Survey42 (4): 550–563. doi:10.1525/as.2002.42.4.550.
^Donald Greer, The Terror, a Statistical Interpretation, Cambridge (1935)
^ abReynald Secher, La Vendée-Vengé, le Génocide franco-français (1986)
^Jean-Clément Martin, La Vendée et la France, Éditions du Seuil, collection Points, 1987 he gives the highest estimate of the civil war, including republican losses and premature death. However, he does not consider it as a genocide.
^Jacques Hussenet (dir.), « Détruisez la Vendée ! » Regards croisés sur les victimes et destructions de la guerre de Vendée, La Roche-sur-Yon, Centre vendéen de recherches historiques, 2007, p.148.
^Gough, Hugh (December 1987). "Genocide and the Bicentenary: The French Revolution and the Revenge of the Vendee". The Historical Journal30 (4). JSTOR2639130.