In the years following World War II, the cost of war was a major topic of discussion. The United States and its allies had spent billions of dollars on the war effort, and there was a lot of debate about how to pay for it all. Finally, in September 1945, President Harry Truman sent a proposal to Congress asking for $50 billion in war debt forgiveness. Congress ultimately approved $13.3 billion in debt forgiveness, but that was just a small fraction of the total cost of the war.

The exact cost of World War II is impossible to calculate. However, estimates vary from $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion. This includes both direct and indirect costs, such as spending on military arms and supplies, veteran services, and repairs or reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.

The human cost of the war was also immense. More than 60 million people were killed or wounded, including more than 400,000 Americans. Many families were torn apart by the conflict, and millions of people were left homeless.

Hoboken World War II Memorial
(Source: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

The aftermath of World War II left countries around the world struggling with immense financial burdens. It would take many years for them to recover from the devastation wrought by the war.

What was the total cost of World War II?

The total cost of World War II is nearly impossible to calculate. To start, there are a number of ways to measure cost—and when you add them all up, you get an even bigger number.

The best way to look at the cost of World War II is in two categories: direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are expenses that were paid during the war—things like military salaries, equipment, and supplies. Indirect costs are those paid afterward—like veterans’ benefits, the expense of repairing damaged property, and lost productivity due to the war effort. The direct costs of World War II were astronomical.

Globally, countries spent $4.38 trillion on the war effort. The US spent $342 billion on the war—or 46% of the total cost. The UK spent $98 billion, Canada spent $10 billion, Australia spent $3 billion, and the Netherlands spent $6 billion.

Wartime Expenditures during the Second World War 1939-1945 in Billions USD

Country Billions USD
United States of America $ 341.491
Germany $ 270.000
Soviet Union $ 192.000
China $ 190.000
United Kingdom $ 120.000
Canada $ 15.680
Italy $ 94.000
Japan $ 56.000
France $ 15.000
Belgium $ 3.250
Poland $ 1.550
Netherlands $ 0.925
Latin American countries (total) $ 1.000
Greece $ 0.220
Yugoslavia $ 0.200
Total $ 1,301.316


The table above outline the approximate expenditures of various world nations during World War II. The U.S.A. spent the most on the war, just over 340 billion dollars. All together, this table, which includes more than 15 countries and its allies, totals 1,301.316 billion dollars.


World War II left an enormous impact on the world and its people. Lives were lost, families were torn apart, and homes were destroyed. But even though it has been over 70 years since the end of World War II, the effects are still being felt today. Countries are still feeling the financial strain of war and the toll it took on their citizens. That’s why we’re taking a closer look at just how much World War II cost in terms of money, lives, and property. From spending on military arms and supplies to paying for veteran services like education, housing, job training, and more—the final price tag is staggering.