Go Figure on September 9th, 2014During the 1960s I read that during WWII, the Allies calculated that the Nazis killed almost 4 million Jews and almost 2 million others during what was later called the "Holocaust." This approximate figure was repeated often during the next few decades, even by representatives of the Holocaust Museum. So I had no reason to doubt it, and vilified those who denied this barbaric mass murder. I also saw this as undeniable reason for Israel to fight against Muslim attempts to destroy the re-occupied traditional Jewish homeland.
When the TV show, "Band of Brothers," had an episode on the military discovery of the Nazi concentration camps, the epilogue to the episode reported that 6 million Jews and 2 million others had been murdered. I thought this apparent error was typical of TV producers showing their high disregard for accuracy.
Until in a press conference a few weeks later when an Israeli politician, arguing his country's justification for fighting Arab terrorism, repeated the same 6 million figure! I took it as opportunism, since that figure would be known to enough people because of the TV show, and would be treated as factual.
Then last week, an editorial matter in my Sunday newspaper (yes, I read print, and in fact prefer it to the Internet because the author can't sneak in gross changes) mentioned that 5.5 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. I decided that I better check my memory, and found that the various articles on the Internet reported similar figures. Since I have solid, verifiable reasons to definitely distrust the generally unverified and unreliable "facts" reported on the Internet that contradict my experiences, I decided to investigate more deeply. I discovered that my fears were well-founded: all the articles I read, that others would find most easily, carried the same figures. But these were presented them in such a way that their accuracy and reliability were questionable and unverified except through other Internet articles that were equally questionable.
I cannot give a fuller argument in a single blog post to support my reasoning, but I will mention some of the most characteristic of the worrisome figures. I can say though, that the reported length of the Holocaust and the deaths due to it, have doubled since I read about it first fifty years ago. And I find no reason to reject those reports, just how the actual numbers were calculated. I can however argue that the contradictory figures I first mentioned at the start of this post are typically questionable, but in no way reject how poorly they reflect on humans, especially today.
The pages presented by "facts.randomhistory.com/holocaust-facts.html" are a good collection of about 90 paragraphs of information about the Holocaust. They are also presented in such a way as to be good evidence of why careful editing can make obviously "anecdotal" information appear to be verified fact. The comments are based on information gleaned from other sources, including the Internet, and I haven't checked their accuracy. Please note however, that the sources quoted as references were published between 1998 and 2011. I have no idea what these references used as references, or how reliable they were (given the timescale involved, there would be enough accidental misreporting of misreports of misreports of references to keep even Sherlock Holmes confused).
"The Holocaust began in January 1933...and ended on May 8th 1945...." The article continues with: "Between 1933 and 1945, more than 11 million men, women, and children were murdered in the Holocaust. Approximately six million of these were Jews."
I have no verification of these numbers, but since the length of the pogrom was doubled, increasing the number of Jewish murders by 50% to cover the extension of the period seems reasonable. I am disturbed that this is the first mention I have had that the non-Jewish murders being extended by 150% (from about two million) to cover the extended period. I would like an explanation why some people consider non-Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis and their sympathisers (especially in eastern Europe) to be less needy of accuracy.
The next comments in this article are interesting, and seemingly ignored by mankind at its peril. "Over 1.1 million children died during the Holocaust. Young children were particularly targeted by the Nazis to be murdered during the Holocaust...." This was published in a primary source on The Holocaust (Hayes, Peter. 1999. Lessons and Legacies: Memory, Memorialisation, and Denial).
The Nazis believed that since young children would parent the next generation of Jews, killing them would stop the next generation. The children were usually executed immediately on arrival at the concentration camps. No information on how many of the children were non-Jews, or what happened to the mothers (no waiting for the children to father the next generation if the mothers were allowed to live). But the positioning of the statement implies that the children were all Jewish.
Given the age distribution of the Jewish population, if it were a viable distribution, then there is a problem. Depending on the average age distribution of parents, their children, and their own parents, you would expect far less than five adults murdered per child murdered (no more than 3.5 per child murdered).
"An estimated 1/3 of all Jewish people alive at that time were murdered in the Holocaust." This was published in The Holocaust Encyclopedia in 2001. It conflicts with Angela Gluck Woods' book published in 2007, "Holocaust: The Events and Their Impact on Real People," that argues for 2/3 Jewish deaths out of a total population of nine million (in Europe, for these figures). I can't explain the discrepancy, but the six million/nine million pairing makes more sense (even though this still leave too few Jews after 1945 to rebuild the group).
"More than half of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were women. Most women with small children were immediately sent to the gas chambers...." This is taken from The Holocaust Encyclopedia. One reference quoted by this article (Byers, Ann. 1998: The Holocaust Camps), ascribed over one million deaths to Auschwitz, but at the end of the article, the same book has the number of deaths at this camp increased to two million.
Another "respected" source read for this post says in contradiction that at least half of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were males, with the other half being women and children. One of them has to be not quite correct. There seems to be no room for the children murdered.
One difficulty in querying the figures provided by the various sources is that each one seems to suggest that anyone who mentions that the figures given contain contradictions is a "Holocaust Denier" and therefore has no valid view.
There are other notions that suggest that writers are ignoring possibilities that should be considered. For example, a person was considered Jewish if just one grandparent was Jewish. Any children that person had fathered were not considered Jewish. It was irrelevant if that person had not practised that faith or did not associate with other Jews or did not considered themself to be Jewish, or was not considered Jewish for purposes of any census. Also, the Nazis often stated they preferred to move all foreign Jews to the concentration camps, to hide the industry of death. So not only was the total number of pre-Holocaust European Jews understated, the number of European Jew victims may have been overstated.
Nothing I have said in any way denies the number of deaths during the Holocaust. I just am arguing that there are many severe inconsistencies in how the figures are calculated and presented. Just one inconsistency casts doubts on the whole thesis, and 75 years have shown that a noisy minority will gleefully cast such doubts. Emotional attacks on anyone who even implies that there are such inconsistencies simply adds strength to the anti-Holocaust attacks.