History of Statistics Section meeting: Counting the dead in WW2

On 2 July 2018, the distinguished historian Richard Overy, professor of history at Exeter University and author of many works including the acclaimed The Bombing War: Europe 1939–1945, spoke on 'Counting the dead: Statistics on bombing and victims in the Second World War'.

Professor Overy’s starting point was that bomb casualty figures are among the many historical statistics from World War II that are prone to distortion and misuse. He explained how these figures matter for many reasons, but recovering statistics that can be regarded as plausible is a major historical challenge.

There is much invested in many cases in deliberately exaggerating the record in public memory of the war. Statistics have become an element in current arguments about victimisation and war crimes. Professor Overy paid particular attention to the role of statistics in debates on the losses suffered by the Soviet Union.

A question and answer session followed. The discussion was lively and the audience appreciated Professor Overy’s effort.

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