User:Pseudo-Richard/Estimates of the number of Holocaust victims

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This is a draft for a new article focusing on estimates of deaths caused by The Holocaust

Victims and death toll[edit]

Since 1945, the most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed has been six million. The Holocaust commemoration center, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, comments:

There is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. The figure commonly used is the six million quoted by Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official. Most research confirms that the number of victims was between five and six million. Early calculations range from 5.1 million (Professor Raul Hilberg) to 5.95 million (Jacob Leschinsky). More recent research, by Professor Yisrael Gutman and Dr. Robert Rozett in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, estimates the Jewish losses at 5.59–5.86 million, and a study headed by Dr. Wolfgang Benz presents a range from 5.29–6 million. The main sources for these statistics are comparisons of prewar censuses with postwar censuses and population estimates. Nazi documentation containing partial data on various deportations and murders is also used. We estimate that Yad Vashem currently has somewhat more than four million names of victims that are accessible.[1]

Raul Hilberg[edit]

Raul Hilberg, in the third edition of his ground-breaking three-volume work, The Destruction of the European Jews, estimates that 5.1 million Jews died during the Holocaust. This figure includes "over 800,000" who died from "Ghettoization and general privation"; 1,400,000 who were killed in "Open-air shootings"; and "up to 2,900,000" who perished in camps. Hilberg estimates the death toll in Poland at "up to 3,000,000".[2] Hilberg's numbers are generally considered to be a conservative estimate, as they generally include only those deaths for which some records are available, avoiding statistical adjustment.[3] British historian Martin Gilbert used a similar approach in his Atlas of the Holocaust, but arrived at a number of 5.75 million Jewish victims, since he estimated higher numbers of Jews killed in Russia and other locations.[4]

Lucy Dawidowicz[edit]

Lucy S. Dawidowicz used pre-war census figures to estimate that 5.934 million Jews died.[5]

Country or
Estimated Pre-War
Jewish population
Estimated Jewish
population annihilated
Percent killed Estimated Jewish
population survived
Poland 3,300,000 3,000,000 90 300,000
Baltic countries 253,000 228,000 90 25,000
Germany & Austria 240,000 210,000 90 30,000
Bohemia & Moravia 90,000 80,000 89 10,000
Slovakia 90,000 75,000 83 15,000
Greece 70,000 54,000 77 16,000
The Netherlands 140,000 105,000 75 35,000
Hungary 650,000 450,000 70 200,000
Byelorussian SSR 375,000 245,000 65 130,000
Ukrainian SSR 1,500,000 900,000 60 600,000
Yugoslavia 43,000 26,000 60 17,000
Romania 600,000 300,000 50 300,000
Belgium 65,000 25,000 40 40,000
Norway 2,173 890 30 1,283
France 350,000 90,000 26 260,000
Bulgaria 64,000 14,000 22 50,000
Italy 40,000 8,000 20 32,000
Luxembourg 5,000 1,000 20 4,000
Russian SFSR 975,000 107,000 11 868,000
Denmark 8,000 52 1 7,948
Finland 2,000 22 0.1 1,978
Total 8,862,173 5,918,964 67 2,943,209

Other estimates[edit]

One of the most authoritative German scholars of the Holocaust, Wolfgang Benz of the Technical University of Berlin, cites between 5.3 and 6.2 million Jews killed in Dimension des Volksmords (1991), while Yisrael Gutman and Robert Rozett estimate between 5.59 and 5.86 million Jewish victims in the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust (1990).[6]

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 6 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. 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. Finally, 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.

Number killed in extermination camps[edit]

The number of people killed at the major extermination camps has been estimated as follows:

Auschwitz: 800,000-1.4 million;[7] Belzec: 434,508;[8] Chelmno: 152,000-320,000;[9] Jasenovac: 600,000;[10] Majdanek: 78,000-360,000;[11] Maly Trostinets: 65,000;[12] Sobibór: 250,000;[13] and Treblinka: 700,000-870,000.[14]

This gives a total of over 3.8 million, excluding Jasenovac (where most victims were ethnic Serbs). Of these, 80–90% were estimated to be Jews. These seven camps alone 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.

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. Another 800,000 to 1 million Jews were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet territories (an approximate figure, since the Einsatzgruppen killings were frequently undocumented). Many more died through execution or of disease and malnutrition in the ghettos of Poland before they could be deported.

Non-Jewish victims[edit]

Victims Killed Source
Soviet POWs 2–3 million [15]
Politicals 1–1.5 million
Serbs 600,000 [16]
Poles 200,000+[17] [18]
Roma 220,000–1,500,000 [19]
Freemasons 80,000–200,000 [20]
Disabled 75,000–250,000
Spanish POWs 7,000–16,000 [21]
Gay men 5,000–15,000 [22]
2,500–5,000 [23]

Soviet POWs[edit]

According to Michael Berenbaum, between two and three million Soviet prisoners-of-war—57 percent of all Soviet POWs—died of starvation, mistreatment, or executions between June 1941 and May 1945, most of them during their first year of captivity. The death rates decreased as the POWs were needed to work as slaves to help the German war effort; by 1943, half a million of them had been deployed as slave labor.[15]

According to other estimates by Daniel Goldhagen, an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs died in eight months in 1941-42, with a total of 3.5 million by mid-1944.[24] The USHMM has estimated that 3.3 million of the 5.7 million Soviet POWs died in German custody—compared to 8,300 of 231,000 British and American prisoners.[25] Nearly 5,000 Soviet POWs died every day in October 1941, according to the USHMM.[26]


Map of persecution of Roma (Gypsies)

Because the Roma and Sinti are traditionally a secretive people with a culture based on oral history, less is known about their fate than about that of any other group.[27][28] Yehuda Bauer writes that the lack of information can be attributed to the Roma's distrust and suspicion, and to their humiliation, because some of the basic taboos of Romani culture regarding hygiene and sexual contact were violated at Auschwitz. Bauer writes that "[m]ost [Roma] could not relate their stories involving these tortures; as a result, most kept silent and thus increased the effects of the massive trauma they had undergone."[29]

Donald Niewyk and Frances Nicosia write that the death toll was at least 130,000 of the nearly one million Roma and Sinti in Nazi-controlled Europe.[27] Michael Berenbaum writes that serious scholarly estimates lie between 90,000 and 220,000.[30] A detailed study by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, calculated a death toll of at least 220,000, and possibly closer to 500,000.[31][32] Ian Hancock, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued in favour of a higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000.[33] Hancock writes that, proportionately, the death toll equaled "and almost certainly exceed[ed], that of Jewish victims."[34]

Before being sent to the camps, the victims were herded into ghettos, including several hundred into the Warsaw Ghetto.[36] Further east, teams of Einsatzgruppen tracked down Roma encampments and murdered the inhabitants on the spot, leaving no records of the victims. They were also victimized by the puppet regimes that cooperated with the Nazis, especially the Ustashe regime in Croatia; in Jasenovac concentration camp, tens of thousands of Roma were killed.

In May 1942, the Roma were placed under the same labor and social laws as the Jews, and on December 16, 1942, Himmler issued a decree that "Gypsy Mischlinge (mixed breeds), Roma Gypsies, and members of the clans of Balkan origins who are not of German blood" should be sent to Auschwitz, unless they had served in the Wehrmacht.[37] On January 29, 1943, another decree ordered the deportation of all German Gypsies to Auschwitz.

This was adjusted on November 15, 1943, when Himmler ordered that, in the occupied Soviet areas, "sedentary Gypsies and part-Gypsies (Mischlinge) are to be treated as citizens of the country. Nomadic Gypsies and part-Gypsies are to be placed on the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps."[38] Bauer argues that this adjustment reflected Nazi ideology that the Roma, originally an Aryan population, had been "spoiled" by non-Romani blood.[39]

Disabled and mentally ill[edit]

Aktion T4 was a program established in 1939 to maintain the genetic purity of the German population by killing or sterilizing German and Austrian citizens who were disabled or suffering from mental illness.[41]

Between 1939 and 1941, 80,000 to 100,000 mentally ill adults in institutions were killed; 5,000 children in institutions; and 1,000 Jews in institutions.[42] Outside the mental health instituations, the figures are estimated as 20,000 (according to Dr. Georg Renno, the deputy director of Schloss Hartheim, one of the euthanasia centers) or 400,000 (according to Frank Zeireis, the commandant of Mauthausen concentration camp).[42] Another 300,000 were forcibly sterilized.[43]

The program was named after Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, the headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil und Anstaltspflege (General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care),[44] led by Philipp Bouhler, head of Hitler’s private chancellery (Kanzlei des Führer der NSDAP) and Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician.

Brandt was tried in December 1946 at Nuremberg, along with 22 others, in a case known as United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al., also known as the Doctors' Trial. He was hanged at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948.

Gay men[edit]

The Homomonument in Amsterdam, a memorial to the gay victims of Nazi Germany.
A memorial for Loge Liberté chérie, founded in November 1943 in Hut 6 of Emslandlager VII (KZ Esterwegen), the only Masonic lodge founded in a Nazi concentration camp.

Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men are estimated to have died in concentration camps.[22] James D. Steakley writes that what mattered in Germany was criminal intent or character, rather than criminal acts, and the "gesundes Volksempfinden" ("healthy sensibility of the people") became the leading normative legal principle.[45] In 1936, Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the SS, created the "Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion." Homosexuality was declared contrary to "wholesome popular sentiment,"[22] and gay men were regarded as "defilers of German blood." The Gestapo raided gay bars, tracked individuals using the address books of those they arrested, used the subscription lists of gay magazines to find others, and encouraged people to report suspected homosexual behavior and to scrutinize the behavior of their neighbors.[22][45]

Tens of thousands were convicted between 1933 and 1944 and sent to camps for "rehabilitation," where they were identified by yellow armbands[46] and later pink triangles worn on the left side of the jacket and the right pant leg, which singled them out for sexual abuse.[45] Hundreds were castrated by court order.[47] They were humiliated, tortured, used in hormone experiments conducted by SS doctors, and killed. The allegation of homosexuality was also used as a convenient way of dealing with Catholic priests.[22] Steakley writes that the full extent of gay suffering was slow to emerge after the war. Many victims kept their stories to themselves because homosexuality remained criminalized in postwar Germany and elsewhere in Europe.[45]

Freemasons and Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry had "succumbed" to the Jews: "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry is then transmitted to the masses of society by the Jewish press."[48] Freemasons were sent to concentration camps as political prisoners, and forced to wear an inverted red triangle.[49] It is estimated that between 80,000 and 200,000 were killed.[20][50][51]

Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Nazi party or to serve in the military, roughly 12,000 Jehovah's Witnesses were forced to wear a purple triangle and placed in camps, where they were given the option of renouncing their faith and submitting to the state's authority. Between 2,500 and 5,000 were killed.[23] Historian Detlef Garbe, director at the Neuengamme (Hamburg) Memorial, writes that "no other religious movement resisted the pressure to conform to National Socialism with comparable unanimity and steadfastness."[52]

  1. ^ "How many Jews were murdered in the Holocaust?", FAQs about the Holocaust, Yad Vashem.
  2. ^ Hilberg, Raul. The destruction of the European Jews (Yale Univ. Press, 2003, c1961).
  3. ^ Yisrael Gutman, Michael Berenbaum, Raul Hilberg, Franciszek Piper, Yehuda Bauer, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, 1998, p.71.
  4. ^ Gilbert, Martin, Atlas of the Holocaust, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1993.
  5. ^ Dawidowicz, Lucy. The War Against The Jews, 1933–1945. New York : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.
  6. ^ Wolfgang Benz in Dimension des Volksmords: Die Zahl der Jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (Munich: Deutscher Taschebuch Verlag, 1991). Israel Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan Reference Books; Reference edition (October 1, 1995)
  7. ^ "Learning and Remembering about Auschwitz-Birkenau", Yad Vashem.
  8. ^ Belzec, Yad Vashem.
  9. ^ Chelmno, Yad Vashem.
  10. ^ Jasenovac, Yad Vashem.
  11. ^ Majdanek, Yad Vashem.
  12. ^ Maly Trostinets, Yad Vashem.
  13. ^ Sobibór, Yad Vashem.
  14. ^ Treblinka, Yad Vashem.
  15. ^ a b Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holcoaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 125.
  16. ^ Yad Vashem Center
  17. ^ This figure represents victims who died in camps.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ a b Hodapp, Christopher. Freemasons for Dummies, For Dummies, 2005. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Dummies" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  21. ^ Wingeate Pike, David. Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the Horror on the Danube, 2000; Razola, Marcel & Constante, Mariano. Triangle bleu; Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War, Owl Books, 1987; "Spanish prisoners at Mauthausen",
  22. ^ a b c d e The Holocaust Chronicle, Publications International Ltd., p. 108.
  23. ^ a b Shulman, William L. A State of Terror: Germany 1933-1939. Bayside, New York: Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.
  24. ^ "Soviet Prisoners of war". 
  25. ^ "Nazi persecution of Soviet Prisoners of War". 
  26. ^ "The treatment of Soviet POWS: Starvation, disease, and shootings, June 1941 - January 1942". 
  27. ^ a b Niewyk, Donald & Nicosia, Frances. "The Gypsies," The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, p. 47.
  28. ^ "We had the same pain", The Guardian, November 29, 2004.
  29. ^ Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 453.
  30. ^ Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006, p. 126.
  31. ^ cited in Re. Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation (Swiss Banks) Special Master's Proposals, September 11, 2000).
  32. ^ "Sinti and Roma", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  33. ^ Hanock, Ian. "Romanies and the Holocaust: A Reevaluation and an Overview", published in Stone, D. (ed.) (2004) The Historiography of the Holocaust. Palgrave, Basingstoke and New York.
  34. ^ Hancock, Ian. Jewish Responses to the Porajmos (The Romani Holocaust), Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota.
  35. ^ Kermish, Joseph. (ed.) ""Emmanuel Ringblaum's Notes, Hitherto Unpublished"" (PDF).  (31.2 KiB), , Yad Vashem Studies VII, Jerusalem 1968, pp. 177-178.
  36. ^ "Deportations to and from the Warsaw Ghetto", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  37. ^ Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 444.
  38. ^ Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 445.
  39. ^ Bauer, Yehuda. "Gypsies," in Berenbaum, Michael & Gutman, Yisrael (eds). Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Indiana University Press and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1994); this edition 1998, p. 446.
  40. ^ Holocaust Remembrance Network.
  41. ^ Kershaw, Ian. Hitler, volume II, Norton 2000, p. 430.
  42. ^ a b Lifton, Robert J. The Nazi Doctors" Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide. London: Papermac, 1986 (reprinted 1990) p. 142.
  43. ^ Neugebauer, Wolfgang. "Racial Hygiene in Vienna 1938", Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, special edition, March 1998.
  44. ^ Sereny, Gitta. Into That Darkness, Pimlico 1974, p. 48.
  45. ^ a b c d Steakley, James. "Homosexuals and the Third Reich", The Body Politic, Issue 11, January/February 1974.
  46. ^ Cite error: The named reference EBnon-Jews was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  47. ^ Giles, Geoffrey J. "The Most Unkindest Cut of All': Castration, Homosexuality and Nazi Justice," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 1, (January 1992): pp. 41-61.
  48. ^ Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf, pp. 315 and 320.
  49. ^ Katz, Jews and Freemasons in Europecited in The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, volume 2, page 531.
  50. ^ Documented evidence from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum pertaining to the persecution of the Freemasons accessed May 21, 2006.
  51. ^ RSHA Amt VII, Written Records, overseen by Professor Franz Six, was responsible for "ideological" tasks, by which was meant the creation of antisemitic and anti-masonic propaganda.
  52. ^ Persecution and Resistance of Jehovah's Witnesses During the Nazi-Regime 1933-1945 Social Disinterest, Governmental Disinformation, Renewed Persecution, and Now Manipulation of History? p. 251.