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Victims and death toll[edit]

[[:Image:WieselAuschwitzpits.jpg|thumb|Members of the Sonderkommando burn corpses in the fire pits at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Courtesy of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, Poland.[1]]]

Victims Killed Source
Jews 5.9 million [2]
Soviet POWs 2–3 million [3]
Ethnic Poles 1.8–2 million [4][5]
Romani 220,000–1,500,000 [6][7]
Disabled 200,000–250,000 [8]
Freemasons 80,000 [9]
Slovenes 20,000–25,000 [10]
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000 [11]
Jehovah's
Witnesses
2,500–5,000 [12]

The number of victims depends on which definition of "the Holocaust" is used. Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia write in The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust that the term is commonly defined[13] as the mass murder, and attempt to wipe out, European Jewry, which would bring the total number of victims to just under six million—around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time.[14]

Broader definitions include approximately 2 to 3 million Soviet POWs, 2 million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals and 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, bringing the death toll to around 11 million. The broadest definition would include 6 million Soviet civilians, raising the death toll to 17 million.[13] R.J. Rummel estimates the total democide death toll of Nazi Germany to be 21 million. Other estimates put total casualties of Soviet Union's citizens alone to about 26 million.[15]

Jewish[edit]

Since 1945, the most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed has been six million. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, writes that there is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed. The figure most commonly used is the six million attributed to Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official.[16] Early calculations range from 5.1 million from Raul Hilberg, to 5.95 million from Jacob Leschinsky. Yisrael Gutman and Robert Rozett in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust estimate 5.59–5.86 million.[17] A study led by Wolfgang Benz of the Technical University of Berlin suggests 5.29–6.2 million.[18][19] Yad Vashem writes that the main sources for these statistics are comparisons of prewar and postwar censuses and population estimates, and Nazi documentation on deportations and murders.[18] Its Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names currently holds close to 3 million names of Holocaust victims, all accessible online. Yad Vashem continues its project of collecting names of Jewish victims from historical documents and individual memories.[20]

Entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1945

Hilberg's estimate of 5.1 million, in the third edition of The Destruction of the European Jews, includes over 800,000 who died from "ghettoization and general privation"; 1,400,000 killed in open-air shootings; and up to 2,900,000 who perished in camps. Hilberg estimates the death toll of Jews in Poland as up to 3,000,000.[21] Hilberg's numbers are generally considered to be a conservative estimate, as they typically include only those deaths for which records are available, avoiding statistical adjustment.[22]

British historian Martin Gilbert used a similar approach, but arrived at a number of 5.75 million Jewish victims, including 2 million gassed at Auschwitz.[23] Lucy S. Dawidowicz used pre-war census figures to estimate that 5.934 million Jews died (see table below).[24]

There were about 8 to 10 million Jews in the territories controlled directly or indirectly by the Nazis (the uncertainty arises from the lack of knowledge about how many Jews there were in the Soviet Union). The six million killed in the Holocaust thus represent 60 to 75 percent of these Jews. Of Poland's 3.3 million Jews, over 90 percent were killed. The same proportion were killed in Latvia and Lithuania, but most of Estonia's Jews were evacuated in time. Of the 750,000 Jews in Germany and Austria in 1933, only about a quarter survived. Although many German Jews emigrated before 1939, the majority of these fled to Czechoslovakia, France or the Netherlands, from where they were later deported to their deaths. In Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, over 70 percent were killed. More than 50 percent were killed in Belgium, Hungary, and Romania. It is likely that a similar proportion were killed in Belarus and Ukraine, but these figures are less certain. Countries with notably lower proportions of deaths include Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, and Norway. Albania was the only country occupied by the Nazis that had a significantly larger Jewish population in 1945 than in 1939. About two hundred native Jews and over a thousand refugees were provided with false documents, hidden when necessary, and generally treated as honored guests in a country whose population was roughly 60% Muslim.[25] Additionally, Japan, as an Axis member, had its own unique response to Nazi policies regarding Jews; see Shanghai Ghetto.

Year Jews killed[26]
1933–1940 under 100,000
1941 1,100,000
1942 2,700,000
1943 500,000
1944 600,000
1945 100,000
Extermination Camp Estimate of number killed
Auschwitz-Birkenau 1 million;[27]
Treblinka 870,000;[28]
Belzec 600,000;[29]
Majdanek 79,000 - 235,000;[30][31]
Chełmno 320,000;[32]
Sobibor 250,000.[33]

This gives a total of over 3.8 million; of these, 80–90% were estimated to be Jews. These seven camps thus accounted for half the total number of Jews killed in the entire Nazi Holocaust. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Poland died in these camps.[2]

In addition to those who died in the above extermination camps, at least half a million Jews died in other camps, including the major concentration camps in Germany. These were not extermination camps, but had large numbers of Jewish prisoners at various times, particularly in the last year of the war as the Nazis withdrew from Poland. About a million people died in these camps, and although the proportion of Jews is not known with certainty, it was estimated to be at least 50 percent.[citation needed] Another 800,000 to one million Jews were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet territories (an approximate figure, since the Einsatzgruppen killings were frequently undocumented).[34] Many more died through execution or of disease and malnutrition in the ghettos of Poland before they could be deported.


By country[edit]

The following figures from Lucy Dawidowicz show the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe by (pre-war) country:[2]
Country Estimated Pre-War
Jewish population
Estimated killed Percent killed
Poland 3,300,000 3,000,000 90
Baltic countries 253,000 228,000 90
Germany & Austria 240,000 210,000 90
Bohemia & Moravia 90,000 80,000 89
Slovakia 90,000 75,000 83
Greece 70,000 54,000 77
Netherlands 140,000 105,000 75
Hungary 650,000 450,000 70
Byelorussian SSR 375,000 245,000 65
Ukrainian SSR 1,500,000 900,000 60
Belgium 65,000 40,000 60
Yugoslavia 43,000 26,000 60
Romania 600,000 300,000 50
Norway 2,173 890 41
France 350,000 90,000 26
Bulgaria 64,000 14,000 22
Italy 40,000 8,000 20
Luxembourg 5,000 1,000 20
Russian SFSR 975,000 107,000 11
Finland 2,000 22 1
Denmark 8,000 52 0.6<1
Total 8,861,800 5,933,900 67

In the 1990s, the opening of government archives in Eastern Europe resulted in the adjustment of the death tolls published in the pioneering work by Hilberg, Dawidowicz and Gilbert, (i.e. compare Gilbert's estimation of 2 million deaths in Auswitz-Burkenau with the updated figure of 1 million in the Extermination Camp data box.) As pointed out above, Wolfgang Benz has been carrying out work on the more recent data. He concluded in 1999:

"The goal of annihilating all of the Jews of Europe, as it was proclaimed at the conference in the villa Am Grossen Wannsee in January 1942, was not reached. Yet the six million murder victims make the holocaust a unique crime in the history of mankind. The number of victims--and with certainty the following represent the minimum number in each case--cannot express that adequately. Numbers are just too abstract. However they must be stated in order to make clear the dimension of the genocide: 165,000 Jews from Germany, 65,000 from Austria, 32,000 from France and Belgium, more than 100,000 from the Netherlands, 60,000 from Greece, the same number from Yugoslavia, more than 140,000 from Czechoslovakia, half a million from Hungary, 2.2 million from the Soviet Union, and 2.7 million from Poland. To these numbers must be added all those killed in the pogroms and massacres in Romania and Transitrien (over 200,000) and the deported and murdered Jews from Albania and Norway, Denmark and Italy, from Luxembourg and Bulgaria."[35]

As most of the victims of the Holocaust were speakers of Yiddish, the Holocaust had a profound and permanent effect on the fate of Yiddish language and culture. On the eve of World War II, there were 11 to 13 million Yiddish speakers in the world.[36] The Holocaust, however, led to a dramatic, sudden decline in the use of Yiddish, as the extensive Jewish communities, both secular and religious, that used Yiddish in their day-to-day life were largely destroyed. Around 5 million, or 85%, of the victims of the Holocaust, were speakers of Yiddish.[37]

By country[edit]

The following figures from Lucy Dawidowicz show the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe by (pre-war) country:[2]
Country Estimated Pre-War
Jewish population
Estimated killed Percent killed
Poland 3,300,000 3,000,000 90
Baltic countries 253,000 228,000 90
Germany & Austria 240,000 210,000 90
Bohemia & Moravia 90,000 80,000 89
Slovakia 90,000 75,000 83
Greece 70,000 54,000 77
Netherlands 140,000 105,000 75
Hungary 650,000 450,000 70
Byelorussian SSR 375,000 245,000 65
Ukrainian SSR 1,500,000 900,000 60
Belgium 65,000 40,000 60
Yugoslavia 43,000 26,000 60
Romania 600,000 300,000 50
Norway 2,173 890 41
France 350,000 90,000 26
Bulgaria 64,000 14,000 22
Italy 40,000 8,000 20
Luxembourg 5,000 1,000 20
Russian SFSR 975,000 107,000 11
Finland 2,000 22 1
Denmark 8,000 52 0.6<1
Total 8,861,800 5,933,900 67
  1. ^ Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Oświęcim, Poland.
  2. ^ a b c d Dawidowicz, Lucy. The War Against the Jews, Bantam, 1986.p. 403
  3. ^ Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 125.
  4. ^ 1.8–1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens are estimated to have died as a result of the Nazi occupation and the war. Estimates are from Polish scholar, Franciszek Piper, the chief historian at Auschwitz. Poles: Victims of the Nazi Era at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference PolandWorldWarIIcasualties was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ "Sinti and Roma", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). The USHMM places the scholarly estimates at 220,000–500,000. Michael Berenbaum in The World Must Know, also published by the USHMM, writes that "serious scholars estimate that between 90,000 and 220,000 were killed under German rule." (Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 126.
  7. ^ "Romanies and the Holocaust: a Reevaluation and Overview". Radoc.net. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  8. ^ Donna F. Ryan, John S. Schuchman, Deaf People in Hitler's Europe, Gallaudet University Press 2002, 62
  9. ^ "GrandLodgeScotland.com". GrandLodgeScotland.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  10. ^ The number of Slovenes estimated to have died as a result of the Nazi occupation (not including those killed by Slovene collaboration forces and other Nazi allies) is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 people. This number only includes civilians: killed Slovene partisan POW and resistance fighters killed in action are not included (their number is estimated to 27,000). These numbers however include only Slovenes from present-day Slovenia: it does not include Carinthian Slovene victims, nor Slovene victims from areas in present-day Italy and Croatia. These numbers are result of a 10 year long research by the Institute for Contemporary History (Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino) from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The partial results of the research have been released in 2008 in the volume Žrtve vojne in revolucije v Sloveniji (Ljubljana: Institute for Conetmporary History, 2008), and officially presented at the Slovenian National Council ([File:ttp://www.ds-rs.si/?q=publikacije/zborniki/Zrtve_vojne]). The volume is also available online: [File:http://www.ds-rs.si/dokumenti/publikacije/Zbornik_05-1.pdf]
  11. ^ The Holocaust Chronicle, Publications International Ltd., p. 108.
  12. ^ Shulman, William L. A State of Terror: Germany 1933–1939. Bayside, New York: Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.
  13. ^ a b Niewyk, Donald L. and Nicosia, Francis R. The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, pp. 45-52.
  14. ^ Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of the Holocaust, 1988, pp. 242-244.
  15. ^ Fsmitha.com, The Soviet Economy to the mid-1960s
  16. ^ Wilhelm Höttl, an SS officer and a Doctor of History, testified at the Nuremberg Trials and Eichmann's trial that at a meeting he had with Eichmann in Budapest in late August 1944, "Eichmann ... told me that, according to his information, some 6,000,000 (six million) Jews had perished until then - 4,000,000 (four million) in extermination camps and the remaining 2,000,000 (two million) through shooting by the Operations Units and other causes, such as disease, etc."[1][2][3]
  17. ^ Israel Gutman. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Reference Books; Reference edition (October 1, 1995.
  18. ^ a b "How many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust?"[dead link], FAQs about the Holocaust, Yad Vashem.
  19. ^ Benz, Wolfgang (1996). Dimension des Völkermords. Die Zahl der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Dtv. ISBN 3-423-04690-2. 
  20. ^ About: The Central Database of Shoah Victims Names, Yad Vashem web site.
  21. ^ Hilberg, Raul. The Destruction of the European Jews. Yale University Press, 2003, c. 1961).
  22. ^ Gutman, Yisrael. (ed.) (1998). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 71. ISBN 0-253-20884-X. 
  23. ^ Martin Gilbert (2002). The Routledge atlas of the Holocaust, 3rd Ed. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28145-8. p. 100 "The gassing of more than two million Jews at Auschwitz began on 4 May 1942..."
  24. ^ Dawidowicz, Lucy S. (1986). The war against the Jews, 1933–1945. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34302-5. p. 403
  25. ^ Shoah Research Center;– Albania [4] The Jews of Albania during the Zogist and Second World War Periods [5] and see also Norman H. Gershman's book Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II -- for reviews etc [6] (all consulted 24 June 2010)
  26. ^ The Destruction of the European Jews - Revised and Definite Edition 1985, Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc. Table B-3, p. 1220
  27. ^ Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Piper, Franciszek. "Gas chambers and Crematoria", in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1994, p. 62.
  28. ^ Treblinka, Yad Vashem.
  29. ^ Belzec, Yad Vashem.
  30. ^ Majdanek, Yad Vashem.
  31. ^ Reszka, Paweł (2005-12-23). "Majdanek Victims Enumerated. Changes in the history textbooks?". Gazeta Wyborcza. Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  32. ^ Chelmno, Yad Vashem.
  33. ^ Sobibor, Yad Vashem.
  34. ^ Rhodes, Richard (2002). Masters of death: the SS-Einsatzgruppen and the invention of the Holocaust. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40900-9. 
  35. ^ Benz, Wolfgang (1999). The Holocaust: a German historian examines the genocide. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11214-9. pp. 152-153
  36. ^ Jacobs, Neil G. Yiddish: a Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005, ISBN 0-521-77215-X.
  37. ^ Solomo Birnbaum, Grammatik der jiddischen Sprache (4., erg. Aufl., Hamburg: Buske, 1984), p. 3.