The Second World War proved the costliest conflict in human lives in all of history. It was also the first war in which civilians were targeted to such an extent. Allied and Central Powers casualties amounted to :
- – URSS : 21,400,000 dead
- – Germany : 7,060,000 dead
- – Poland : 5,820,000 dead
- – Japan : 2,000,000 dead
- – France : 541,000 dead
- In total between 50 and 60 million dead including :
- – 22 million soldiers
- – 31 million civilians
Civilians suffered the most during this war, with certain peoples (notably Jews) being specifically targeted. Over 6 million Jews were killed during World War II, principally in work and concentration camps.
Bombings engendered massive urban destruction throughout Europe. Berlin and Warsaw were unrecognizable by the end of the war, while the cities of Dresden and Hamburg in Germany and Stalingrad, Leningrad, Sebastopol and Kiev in the USSR were also devastated. In France, various cities, notably Caen and Le Havre, were largely destroyed. The cost of reconstruction amounted to 4.9 billion francs.
Transport networks were also targeted by the various armies and resistance movements, with roads, bridges, railways and ports all being heavily damaged or destroyed. This wide-spread destruction was accompanied post-war by famine and food rationing due to the pillaging of resources by the Nazis.