The destruction of the Death Star was the first huge victory for the Rebel Alliance and marked the beginning of the end for the Empire. Understandably, the Rebels took time to celebrate their victory with a wholesome ceremony, with smiles and cheers all around. However, it’s easy to forget that the Death Star wasn’t just a super weapon but a home for over one million people from across the Star Wars galaxy — some of which were innocent families.
Of course, the Death Star needed to be destroyed; otherwise, billions more would perish like those on Alderaan. Plus, it’s hard to feel sorry for any Imperials, especially when they’re made out to be the Nazis of Star Wars. But there’s no avoiding the fact that with a space station that huge, there were bound to be innocent workers and prisoners who had no say in being on board. And these thoughts raise the troublesome question — how many people did Luke Skywalker kill by blowing up the Death Star?
The Death Star Had the Population of a Small Country
Known through numerous Star Wars visual guides, the general population of the Death Star was close to two million. Of that, about 1.2 million were personnel who kept the station running, ranging from those who fired the super weapon to the humble janitors. Most of the remaining crew were part of the milliary enforcement, with around 350,000 being navy and weapon pilots. It’s also known that around 25,000 Stormtroopers were on board, which sounds small in comparison, but it’s not as if the Empire was expecting much fighting within the station.
As for exactly how many people were on board the Death Star during Star Wars: A New Hope, a precise number has never been given. In the Star Wars: Bloodline novel, it’s said that “nearly one and a half million” people died; although many of the accounts seem to be influenced by Imperial propaganda, as other novels like Star Wars: Lost Stars have characters claim the deaths were under one million, and others say it was close to two million.
Were Innocent People on the Death Star?
Star Wars: A New Hope shows Princess Leia trapped in one of many cells onboard the Death Star, so at the very least, the station was likely full of prisoners. Although, whether they were people who deserved their fate is completely unknown. And when it comes to families living on the station, it’s a topic that Star Wars tries to avoid.
In the Star Wars #26 comic (Charles Soule and Andres Genolet), it was confirmed that workers had their families with them during the construction of the Death Star II. So the same could be assumed for the first Death Star, even if construction was fully completed. Plus, there’s no ignoring the fact it was an isolated station in space with (most likely) lonely men and women on board… so unexpected families may have appeared at any point.
Star Wars doesn’t focus on the details of the destroyed Death Star. But it’s more or less confirmed that over one million Imperials died that day. And while it was a necessary evil, it’s certainly understandable why the Empire quickly branded the Rebels as deadly terrorists threatening the galaxy.