Former Belgian PM, Guy Verhofstadt says:

Al Jazeera


Did 20 million people die because of Nationalism in Europe before the formation of the EU?

  • 8
    I think you can get that number from Nazi Germany and WWII alone.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jan 29, 2017 at 20:11
  • @AndrewGrimm Were nazis nationalist? I heard Nazi means National Socialist. Is it nationalist or socialist? Jan 29, 2017 at 20:47
  • 8
    @MohammadSakibArifin Nationalism and socialism are not mutually exclusive standpoints: the Nazis were most definitely nationalists - also, the Nazis were anti-Marxist and anti-liberalist. They were "socialist" in that they were also anti-capitalist, but not in the same way as communist.
    – user2276
    Jan 29, 2017 at 22:33
  • The image restricts the number to ethnic cleansings. Your broad fomulation would probably include all the war deaths of ww1, ww2 and various earlier wars, easily exceeding 20 mio. I suggest editing your question to bring it in line with the image. Jan 29, 2017 at 22:42
  • 6
    @MohammadSakibArifin Would you consider North Korea to be a democratic country just because they call themselves that?
    – liftarn
    Jan 30, 2017 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


There have been many wars fought within and between European nations . Whether you consider wars between nations to be nationalistic is a matter of opinion.

Notwithstanding, the following wars were started (or purportedly started) for unambiguously nationalistic reasons since in the 20th century:

  • The Balkan Wars fought to liberate ethnic minorities from Ottoman rule - 224,000 killed
  • The First World War initiated by Austria/Hungary to avenge the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand killed by an ultra-nationalist Serbian organisation - 8 million battle deaths perhaps as many as 20 million civilian deaths through consequential famine. If the 1918 flu pandemic is considered a consequence of the war (and at the very least its global spread was heavily dependent on the movement of servicemen across the world) this adds another 50-100 million deaths.
  • The Spanish Civil war, a conflict that started in a political plot by the fascist Falange and CEDA political parties to overthrow the republican government, and when the coup failed (17-18 July 1936), the generals affiliated to those parties rose with their regiments in an act of war against the government. The conflict had an estimated casualties of around 500.000 estimated deaths, a similar amount of injured or amputees, and over 300.000 (the estimate in that document is previous to the 2011 and 2012 investigations) executions after the war. The war was waged by the most fascist and conservative sectors of Spain, Recieved support from Germany and Italy, and served as testing grounds for WW2 (Panzer 1 and 2, Strategical and civilian bombing, Shock infantry charges, urban warfare, etc).
  • World War II in Europe in 1939 (some argue that the war started in 1937 in China) was launched by Germany over demands on Poland to cede German speaking parts of Poland - an estimated 50-85 million people were killed worldwide by direct or indirect violence: these deaths were not limited to Europe or European nations, however, 27 million were Soviets (again not all of the European as the USSR was both a European and Asian nation) and Germany lost 5.3 million service personnel.
  • Yugoslav Wars were ethnic/nationalistic conflicts prompted by the dissolution of Yugoslavia - figures are hard to come by but certainly tens and possibly hundreds of thousands were killed.

If this is the basis then 20 million is an extremely conservative estimate.

  • 1
    Add the ultra catholic nationalist rising in spain in 1936 (spanish civil war) and you get an upvote. more than 1M casualties, 300.000 still unkown location and dissapared :I.
    – CptEric
    Jan 30, 2017 at 8:10
  • @CptEric please feel free to do so - I lack the knowledge
    – Dale M
    Jan 30, 2017 at 23:52
  • Done! the linked data is slightly outdated but serves right for the purpose, for example, the number of spanish citiziens in concentration camps has risen to around 75.000, with 50.000 having been killed on the first days of the Last Solution.
    – CptEric
    Jan 31, 2017 at 7:26
  • 1
    the Japanese invasion of china (battle of marco polo bridge) and the arrival of allied American OSS and marine units to protect vital points on the country might be a precedent of WW2, and if joined with the spanish civil war, one could argue that the three wars were the same conflict as the same contestants participated, just on different fronts / Theaters.
    – CptEric
    Jan 31, 2017 at 12:03
  • 2
    @DrakaSAn The European and Pacific wars can be considered to be parallel conflicts rather than a single conflict before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7/12/41. As such, when the war started becomes a matter of asking "for whom?"
    – Dale M
    Feb 1, 2017 at 0:02

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