How [many] Jews were killed for real?

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Post by David Thompson » 03 Feb 2006 06:21

Laments -- You wrote:
I don't see how or why historians would make these assumptions. Is it only becuase of the demonization of the Nazis? Certainly, by the same logic, the same assumptions should be made regarding the soviets. Seeing as they had the blood of millions on their hands before Hitler was even in power. I question why it is other documents, like those produced by the English or Americans, are treated in such a different manner? After all, they, just like the soviets or Germans, have motive to distort war documents as well. Shouldn't it be as objective as possible?
It should be as objective as possible. If you can show that there's something wrong with the Soviet, English or American documents, step right up with your sourced arguments. Please take the war documents one at a time, to allow for adequate discussion and to avoid cross-posting problems.

In the meantime, avoid the polemical asides ("Is it only becuase of the demonization of the Nazis?"; "they had the blood of millions on their hands"; "they [the English or Americans] just like the soviets or Germans, have motive to distort war documents as well.") We have sourced discussions of historical subjects here. Our readers are looking for verifiable facts. If they want to see spouts, they can go to the sea-coast and watch the whales.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 Feb 2006 14:08

gaussianum -- I read the articles contained in the links you gave at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 506#844506 (thanks, they were interesting). They dealt with the problems in showing how a statistical sample is a fair representation of a larger figure. The articles didn't mention, and I didn't see, any logical connection between the statistical treatment of small samples in polls and modern holocaust death statistics.

Could you explain how the problems in assuring the accuracy of small statistical samples apply to the holocaust death statistics discussed in nickterry's and iwh's posts?

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Post by Andreas » 03 Feb 2006 14:35

Isn't there a misconception at work in Gaussianum's approach (my stats classes are a distant memory now), but AIUI you use statistical analysis to draw conclusions from a sample representing the whole population.

If I understand the aim of those researching the holocaust correctly, they want to deal with the whole population. There is no sampling, therefore statistical methods are not central to the analysis.

As an example - you can try to statistically deduce the number of Holocaust victims in France by using a sample city or region, looking at how many victims it suffered, and then extrapolating your result to the whole of France. In that case you need to think about confidence intervalls, margin of error, sample verification, etc.pp.

But what holocaust researchers in France do instead is to arrive at the number of deaths by counting the whole population of victims. If your sample is 100% of the population, there is no need for a margin of error in statistical terms.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by nickterry » 03 Feb 2006 16:03

Andreas wrote:Isn't there a misconception at work in Gaussianum's approach (my stats classes are a distant memory now), but AIUI you use statistical analysis to draw conclusions from a sample representing the whole population.

If I understand the aim of those researching the holocaust correctly, they want to deal with the whole population. There is no sampling, therefore statistical methods are not central to the analysis.

As an example - you can try to statistically deduce the number of Holocaust victims in France by using a sample city or region, looking at how many victims it suffered, and then extrapolating your result to the whole of France. In that case you need to think about confidence intervalls, margin of error, sample verification, etc.pp.

But what holocaust researchers in France do instead is to arrive at the number of deaths by counting the whole population of victims. If your sample is 100% of the population, there is no need for a margin of error in statistical terms.

All the best

Andreas

this is exactly right.

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Post by nickterry » 03 Feb 2006 16:36

replying to Mr Mills from Down Under:
What methods did Altman and Polyan use to arrive at their figures for the numbers of victims of German action in the occupied Soviet Union?

Are their figures just an addition of statistics given in German documents?

Or are their totals when in excess of the totals obtained by adding up the statistics given in German documents, on the assumption that the German documents are incomplete or that not all the victims were counted?
I discussed the methodologies in my previous post on Altman and Polyan's figures
The opening up of the East European archives at the end of the 1980s had a similar effect - studies of Stalin written before 1990 are simply less well grounded that studies based on material released after 1991. In that particular instance, previous estimates of mortality in the Gulags as well as the number of executions were shown to be quite exaggerated.
This is precisely the reason why I am somewhat sceptical of recent claims about the number of victims of German actions in the occupied Soviet Union, particularly of the numbers of Jewish victims.

I have observed a rather strange trend in statistical work by Leftist historians in recent years in relation to the events of the 1930s and 1940s in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. On the one hand, estimates of the number of victims of the German Government are constantly being increased, while estimates of the number of victims of the Soviet Government are constantly being decreased.
There is no 'constantly' to the increases or decreases. Nice rhetorical try, but it won't wash.

Archives really opened up from the 1980s (access to Western researchers to Soviet archives re: German war crimes) and the 1990s respectively (access to Party archives in Moscow). We're now 15 years into a research cycle.

I discussed methodologies for German war crimes before. For victims of Stalinism: you probably well know that statistical data was unearthed from the Archives re: deaths in the Gulags as well as death sentences per year, for the period 1921-1953, the data being that presented to Khrushchev before his famous speech at the 20th Party Congress in 1956.

Getty, J. Arch, Rittersporn, Gabor T. and Zemskov, Viktor N., ‘Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence’, American Historical Review 98/4,1993, pp.1017-1049

Wheatcroft, Stephen G., ‘The Scale and Nature of German and Soviet Repression and Mass Killings, 1930-1945’, Europe-Asia Studies 48/8, 1996, pp.1319-1353

Wheatcroft, Stephen G. ‘Victims of Stalinism and the Soviet Secret Police: The Comparability and Reliability of the Archival Data – Not the Last Word’, Europe-Asia Studies 51/2, 1999, pp.315-345

McLoughlin, Barry and McDermott, Kevin (eds), Stalin’s Terror. High Politics and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union. Basingstoke, 2003

Subsequent data came out in the course of the examination of cases and the rehabilitation of those wrongly convicted:

Reabilitatsiia: kak eto bylo. Dokumenty presidiuma TsK KPSS i drugie materialy mart 1953-fevral’ 1956. Moscow, 2000
Reabilitatsiia: kak eto bylo. Fevral’ 1956- nachalo 80-kh godov. Moscow, 2003
Istoriia Stalinskogo Gulaga konets 1920-kh-pervaia polovina 1950-kh godov. Tom 1: Massovye repressii v SSSR. S.B. Mironenko and N. Werth (eds). Moscow, 2004

All of this new material meant that older estimates such as that of Robert Conquest became obsolete.
It seems to me that that is because two different methodologies are being used by essentially the same school of scholars in relation to the two groups of victims.
I presume by 'essentially the same school of scholars' you mean 'Leftists'? Spare us the political tantrums. Do you honestly believe that just because the number of executions in the Great Terror of 1937-8 is now regarded as 700,000 and not xyz other figure, because we have better sources than before, there is now great rejoicing among the senior common rooms? Hurrah, we can rehabilitate Uncle Joe! I don't think so - Uncle Joe is the second most hated man in Modern European History after Uncle Dolfy.

Incidentally, the documents on Stalinist crimes are backed up with - gasp - eyewitness accounts. Indeed, for a long time, that's the only evidence we had.
In the case of the victims of the Soviet Government, it is assumed that the figures found in Soviet records indicate the maximum number of victims, ie it is assumed that all victims were recorded, and that there are no unrecorded victims, or missing Soviet documents.

Thus, if Soviet records show huge numbers of sick and exhausted prisoners in the cconcentration camps of the GULag being released before expiry of their respective sentences, it is taken for granted that those prisoners really were released, and that the category "released" was not simply a euphemism for the liquidation of prisoners no longer able to work, even though the phenomenon of such a huge number of sick prsioners being recorded as "released" should give rise to such a suspicion.
On the contrary, there are extensive discussions in the recent literature on the Gulag regarding the strong likelihood that extremely weakened prisoners were released back into civil society, where many would have died, in order that camp commandants could improve their statistics. (See Stephen Wheatcroft's articles in Europe-Asia Studies). Most serious scholars of the isue presume a Dunkelziffer over and above the statistics to take account of this sort of issue. The 'Khrushchev' figures are taken as a minimum.

Further to the over/under estimate issue: the Gulag and execution figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Not included are among other things:
- Cheka terror in especially 1921 versus peasant uprisings (e.g. 15,000 executions in the 'Antonovshchina' in Tambov province)
- special resettlements of kulaks, 1929-30
- resettlements of Poles in 1939-40
- deportation of entire nationalities, wartime
- the Ukrainian and Kazakhstan famine of 1932/33
- the Union-wide famine of 1947
- the repressions in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, from 1944 onwards
all of which have extensive specialised literatures on them.

The numbers here, too, will rise, and fall, depending on the empirical quality of further research. Many of these topics, however, have to rely perforce on the kinds of demographic data and reasoned estimates you criticise elsewhere.

Some, though, have hard archival data (e.g. deportation of Poles from Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine) now available which suggests a significantly lower figure than had been claimed by e.g. Polish nationalists or Jan Gross 15 years ago. Incidentally, the Memorial website has this publication online (html format) and the tables break down by ethnicity among other things. (memorial.org - bibliography section - in Russian.)
In the case of the victims of the German Government, it is assumed that the figures found in German records indicate the minimum number of victims, ie that there was a huge number of victims not recorded by the Germans, and/or that large numbers of german records are missing.
Large numbers of German records are missing. The figures found in the records indicate whatever the reporting periods indicate. They are moreover limited by their provenance from specific institutions, i.e. the Ereignismeldungen of the Einsatzgruppen only partially overlap with the activities of police battalions; Wehrmacht records don't always mention what the SS is up to, etc. That's why scholars spend literally years in the archives reading through as much as they can. The more that is researched, the more gaps in the records are closed.

In source-critical terms, the German reportage is of a fundamentally different quality to the overview reports now published for the Gulags and executions in the Soviet Union. The German reports are simply more fragmentary and often quite localised, and must be taken as a starting point towards building regional/national pictures. Thus one has generally to work from the bottom up. The Soviet reports are of a global order and are a starting-point for regional and local research, which is now beginning. Thus one ought to work from the top down.

Moreover, it's simply not true to imply that figures for German war crimes always rise. There are many instances of reductions in numbers re. E.g. Christian Streit estimated 600,000 commissars were executed by the Wehrmacht and SS, Alfred Streim and Reinhard Otto explored the question more thoroughly and calculated 120-140,000 was a more realistic number.

Similarly, Christian Gerlach as well as other historians of Belorussia have calculated that a more realistic death toll for Maly Trostinets is 50,000 not 200,000. But they also found plenty of evidence which placed the deaths elsewhere, e.g. in shooting actions not the gas van used at Maly Trostinets.

Similarly, for Stalinist crimes, the Kuropaty killing site near Minsk is claimed by Belarusian nationalists to encompass up to 200,000 victims in mass graves. A more realistic total backed up both by the eyewitness accounts and the archival data for repressions in 1937-38, and 1939-41, is 40-50,000.

Conversely, there are instances where numbers rise, because more work has been done, in greater detail.

The current trend is for empirical precision, i.e. itemisation encyclopedia-fashion wherever possible. Breakdowns by region, time period, individual 'actions', etc - that is the sort of thing one sees in e.g. Kruglov, Gottwaldt/Schulle, the forthcoming USHMM encyclopedia on ghettos, and will see much more of in the future.
Another difference is that German documents are claimed to be full of code-words, meaning that certain groups of persons included in the statistics can be assumed to have been killed, even though the records do not actually say that, whereas it is claimed that Soviet records are to be read literally.
I discussed the issue of 'releases' from Soviet gulags above. As for German euphemisms, don't make me laugh. In monthly reports of the Geheime Feldpolizei, one finds the term 'sonderbehandelt' used in the text portions, whereas the statistical summaries at the end record the same outcome as 'Erschiessungen' or 'Exekutionen'. The GFP drew their executive Beamten from the Gestapo and cooperated with the Sipo. There are other documents indicating what Sonderbehandlung meant, and were found of legal value and used to gain convictions by West German courts.

As for Umsiedlung, it depends on the context and time-period. But it's quite evident from the documents that when there is a normal usage, reports specificy where people were being resettled to. Note also that there were hundreds of other resettlements at the same time, and inordinate documentation of them. I've spent several months of my research time tracking Soviet civilian evacuees being resettled from the frontline areas to the rear, and I can track them quite precisely. Around 300,000 Russians were resettled from Army Group Centre to the Baltic States and civil-administered district of Weissruthenien, where many died of neglect in refugee/internment camps such as Slutsk, Lesna near Baranovichi, or Alytus in Lithuania. If resettled into towns they usually were assigned the homes of Jews left vacant after Sonderaktionen.

By contrast, the Sipo was sloppy in its use of language. Umsiedlung did indeed become a euphemism.
Am 8. und 9. Februar 1943 wird in der Stadt Sluzk von dem hiesigen Kommando eine Umsiedlung der dortigen Juden vorgenommen....
Der Abtransport der Juden zum Umsiedlungsplatz geschieht mittels 6 Lkws, die von je 4 Letten begleitet werden...
Auf dem Umsiedlungsgelaende befinden sich 2 Gruben. An jeder Grube arbeitet je eine Gruppe von 10 Fuehrern und Maennern, die sich alle 2 Stunde abloesen. Zeiten 8-10 Uhr, 10-12 Uhr, 12-14 Uhr, 14- 16 Uhr....

Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei Weissruthenien, Einsatzbefehl v. 5.2.43, gez. Strauch, SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer
from: Tsentral'nyi Gosudartsvennoi Osobyi Arkhiv, Moscow, Fond 500, Opis 1, Delo 769, listy 113-116
So they were going to be 'resettled' into a ditch. Mmmm.

the above document is cited and contextualised to cover the entire action at Slutsk (Russian spelling of Sluzk) in February 1943, in Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pp.733-4. Curiously enough, a large contingent of refugees arrived within the week from the area of II Luftwaffen-Feld-Korps around Demidov/Belyi.

Theorder is reprinted in Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm, Rassenpolitik und Kriegfuehrung, pp.581-3 and Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Bd. 19, pp.198-200.

What I have found in relation to estimates of the number of victims of the German government in occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, particularly of the number of Jewish victims, is that there is always a huge gap between the estimated total and the total that can be supported on the basis of German documents. The difference is always justified on the basis on the basis of other methods of calculation, such as extrapolations from census data of varying degrees of reliability. And the constant tendency is to increase that gap.

The fact is that there are many unknowns that render unreliable any estimate of the number of victims of German actions over and above those actually recorded in German documents, for example the number of Jews evacuated by the Soviet Government to Central Asia before and immediately after the German invasion.

Thus, the tendency is to count any difference between a prewar figure of Jews lving in a certain area, eg Bessarabia, and the number registered after the war as victims of German action, without taking full account of the numbers that might have been evacuated by the Soviet Government in the period between the prewar count and the German invasion.
Oh, the evacuation chesnut. Actually, most historians do take evacuations into account, because lo and behold, in the RSFSR, to the east, the numbers of Jews left behind could be quite low. All historians use the 1939 census as a yardstick and naturally find evidence of considerable evacuations which saved part of the Jewish population of many larger cities. The Soviet government did not, however, pursue a preferential, ethnically based evacuation policy that can be seen from the documents in GARF. (Cf. Dubson, Vadim, ‘On The Problem of the Evacuation of Soviet Jews in 1941 (New Archival Sources)’, Jews in Eastern Europe, Winter 1999, pp.37-56) We also have hard data on the pre-June 1941 deportations from the annexed western territories. (cf memorial.org.) Local studies e.g. of Pinsk and Brest, take these deportations into account in their narratives.

One thing to note re: the western regions is that the German advance outpaced even the best efforts of refugees to evacuate themselves. You have cited Hersh Smolar's account of the Minsk ghetto before - he himself escaped from Bialystok to Minsk, but was then unable to escape further east. Most of the Party apparatus from Vileika oblast was caught and killed by the Germans while fleeing. This pattern repeated itself across much of Belorussia and the Ukraine. Thus the presence of Minskers as far away as Russian Monastyrshchina.

There was definitely an eastward drift of entire populations, Russians/Belorussians as well as Jews, but also many left behind. Thus the extensive reports in 1942 of internments and even executions of 'Ostmenschen' = Red Army officers' wives, Soviet functionaries sent to the annexed territories, non-locals - from across Lithuania and Belorussia.

It would really behove you to start posting hard data on this, rather than conjecture, surmise and insinuation. It's one of your favourite hobby-horses and is becoming quite tedious without actual information.
In short, any estimate of the number of victims of German actions in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland and the occupied Soviet territories needs to be treated with extreme caution. Reitlinger stands out because of his extremely sceptical and cautious approach, and despite the fact that he has been proved wrong in a limited number of cases, eg the number of deportees from France, his figures for places like Poland, the Soviet Union and Romania are probably quite acceptable as ball-park figures.
But, as stated before, Reitlinger was writing significantly before easy access to NARA/BA-MA let alone the East European archives. He certainly didn't for example factor in the original German records of Police Battalion 322, to name just one of many units whose reports survive in an archive he couldn't get into at the time. Or indeed the Kommandostab RFSS records, or the Einsatzgruppe B reports dating from both before and after the ending of the Ereignismeldungen. Or the reports being dug out of Wehrmacht unit files, or from Wirtschaftskommando records. The list goes on.

Never mind the West/East German war crimes investigations, the Soviet investigative materials or memorial books compiled by survivors. Or, indeed, eyewitness testimony from recent oral history work. (Cue rant about untrustworthiness of such sources from Mr Mills, no doubt.)

And I haven't even begun to discuss Poland.

So the answer is, given that he was writing forty-five years ago, why should we regard Reitlinger as more trustworthy than anyone else? Is it simply because he offers comfortingly lower numbers?

I find it curious - actually, no unsurprising - that for all the intellectual gyrations displayed by revisionists in dealing with the camps, they have consistently shied away from confronting the reality of wie es eigentlich gewesen war across Eastern Europe under Nazi occupation. This applies both to the crimes committed against Slavs as well as against East European Jewry.

Evidently it is too much work to come up with a plausible alternative account that has anything like the detail offered by historians of all nationalities and backgrounds who have researched the different regions of the Generalgouvernement, the Ostland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Crimea, Baltic States etc. Not even one attempt has been made by a revisionist to conduct a regional study.

The burden of proof is as much on sceptics as on anyone else. I don't yet see any scepticism meeting a meaningful standard of burden of proof.


To return to the original starting-point:

Might the regional/republic figures offered by Altman and Polyan among others be overestimates? Yes, possibly. I would quibble with some of Altman's calculations for Smolensk province, for example. These are however factored into his estimate range for the RSFSR. No doubt other regional specialists could find other examples of uncertainties. But the only way to do that is to proceed town by town, district by district, and incident by incident.

As I have said before, there are plenty of incidents and spates of deaths which are not registered and recorded by either historian, so that when one is looking for a median figure which accepts that some figures may be exaggerated, but also accepts that others may be underestimates, the figure of 6 million Soviet civilians overall, and within that number up to 2.8 million Soviet Jews, dying under German occupation, is as good as it's going to get for the moment. My personal view is the figure of 2.8 million Soviet Jews is near the ceiling, the 6 million civilians overall very much nearer the floor, of the range of possibilities that can be empirically proven.

Note that these figures exclude Leningrad siege victims, deaths among Ostarbeiter/Soviet KZ inmates, deaths among Soviet POWs, military deaths and deaths among evacuees sent east in 1941.

Liudskie poteri SSSR v Velikoi Otechestvennnoi voine. Sankt-Petersburg 1995

Rossiia i SSSR v voinakh XX Veka. Poteri vooruzhenykh sil. Statistcheskoe issledovanie. G.F. Krivosheev (ed). Moscow, 2001.

Wheatcroft S.G. and Davies, R.W., ‘Population’ in: R.W. Davies, Mark Harrison and S.G. Wheatcroft (eds); The Economic Transformation of the Soviet Union 1913-1945, Cambridge, 1994

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iwh
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Re: The margins are the key.

Post by iwh » 03 Feb 2006 21:16

gaussianum wrote:Despite the fact that you have not answered my original question,
I know absolutely nothing about statistics. I hold my hands up high! However, looking at other posts here, there are those who do.
gaussianum wrote:Why are you so willing to reject Reitlinger's numbers?
..because his work has now been updated by others in his field. My previous post shows a certain doubt in figures, that even he admits to. A lot more evidence has come out since Reitlinger carried out his excellent study all those years ago.
gaussianum wrote:This is the reason why Reitinger's numbers are the only ones we can trust; they are, as far as I can tell, the only ones that have an intrinsic margin of error.
You don't seem too sure. How do Reitlinger's figures differ to those of Gutman and Rozett, for example. They give us a death number of 5,859,622. Looking at the chart in front of me, both Reitlinger and Gutman/Rozett seem to give similar "margins of error" for each region.

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Post by gaussianum » 04 Feb 2006 01:14

David Thompson wrote:gaussianum -- I read the articles contained in the links you gave at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 506#844506 (thanks, they were interesting). They dealt with the problems in showing how a statistical sample is a fair representation of a larger figure. The articles didn't mention, and I didn't see, any logical connection between the statistical treatment of small samples in polls and modern holocaust death statistics.

Could you explain how the problems in assuring the accuracy of small statistical samples apply to the holocaust death statistics discussed in nickterry's and iwh's posts?
Yes, the articles are directed towards polling applications of statistical methods. Since this is a very technical matter, I'm going to research it further, and will post specific examples of quantitative methods applied to historical research, and the holocaust, as soon as I can find them.

I did find an article describing the general usage of statistics, and some general guidelines to write good historical papers.

Richard Marius writes( on page 4):

"8. The Use of Statistics. Statistical information has become a major sources for writing history. The United States Census provides a wealth of information. The use of statistical information is possible whenever we can reduce evidence to numbers. Statistics help put complex matters into terms that are easier to understand. One out of every two Frenchmen who were between the ages of 18 and 32 died during the First World War. During 1916 the British casuality rate was one every forty-five seconds.
But the interpretation of statistics requires a high level of skill. Just because the counties of East Tennessee voted to remain in the Union in 1861 does not mean that the inhabitants favored abolishing slavery and extending equal rights to blacks. Statistics also cannot measure the intensity of beliefs. A majority of Americans favored the Vietnam War, but not with the same intensity that a minority opposed it."

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:3Nx ... =firefox-a

My experience with margins of error comes from the analysys of measured quantities, not statistical extrapolations. However, whatever the statistical means employed, the final result's accuracy can always be calculated as a function of the given figure.

Let me give you an example. Using a range of (12000-15000) you will get an average of 13500. This will give you an error of + or - 1500. As a percentage of the original number, you will obtain a "relative" error of + or - 11.11%. This is a fairly good estimate. Let me give you an empirical (and in my opinion, a bit generous) table of what can be considered accurate data, as a function of the calculated "relative" error:

0% - 20% : suitable data

20% - 50% : adequate data

50% - 70% : unsuitable for publication

over 70%: totally unacceptable

I'm sure another scientist/statistician would disagree with me, but they would probably call me too generous. Of course, this is the treatment given in the physical sciences.

Historians, however, do not have the luxury of working with measured quantities. Also, most of them have no mathematical training, which makes them opt for alternative methodologies.

Actually, I've spoken to a historian today, and he told me that whenever statistical methods were employed, the final result should have a margin of error. But he also told me that whenever a figure appeared without a margin of error, the historian had resorted to some alternative methodology. This places the burden of interpretation upon the reader, which is not at all apparent to the layman who looks at the tables. So, this explains why they don't have margins of error. So, the question shifts from:" What are the margins of error?" to:

What was the specific methodology used for each country?

How is this methodology superior or inferior to standard statistical methods?

Regards

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Re: The margins are the key.

Post by gaussianum » 04 Feb 2006 01:47

iwh wrote:
My previous post shows a certain doubt in figures, that even he admits to.
I don't know what would make a historian doubt his own work, much less a prodigious work (the work of his lifetime?). If it indeed is so doubtful, what would that make of all other historians who accepted his work as scientifically valuable?Geniuses?

Actually, Reitlinger's opinion on his work is as relevant as Einstein's, Fermi's or Oppenheimer's opinions on the atom bomb. It works. It goes off. What the creators think about it doesn't invalidate the fact that it really works. So does Reitlinger's work.
gaussianum wrote:This is the reason why Reitinger's numbers are the only ones we can trust; they are, as far as I can tell, the only ones that have an intrinsic margin of error.
You don't seem too sure. How do Reitlinger's figures differ to those of Gutman and Rozett, for example. They give us a death number of 5,859,622. Looking at the chart in front of me, both Reitlinger and Gutman/Rozett seem to give similar "margins of error" for each region.
[/quote]

Well, this is rather obvious, but I will explain it anyway. "As far as I can tell" means that I am waiting for someone to give me statistically valid data, with margins of error. I'm trying to determine which one is more realistic, as much as you are.

You're right. Gutman et Rozet's result is not as good as Reitlinger's, but much better than Benz's, that's for sure.

Best regards.

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Post by michael mills » 04 Feb 2006 04:06

.....up to 2.8 million Soviet Jews, dying under German occupation,....
By "Soviet Jews", do you mean all the Jews do you mean all the Jews living in the Soviet uNion in its borders of 22 June 1941.

IE, including the Jews of the Baltic States, of Eastern Poland and of Bukovina and Bessarabia?

In that case, the figure is not directly comparable with Reitlinger's estimate of 750,000 which covered only the Jews living in the Soviet Union in its borders of 1939, plus the Jews of the Baltic States. (My own feeling is that Reitlinger's figure is a bit low, and probably should not include the Jews of the Baltic States).

It should be noted that the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, in its famous Crimea brief to Stalin of February 1944, estimated that as of that date a total of 1.5 million Jewish Soviet citizens had perished at German hands. By definition, "Jewish Soviet citizens" would have included the Jews of the areas annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939 and 1940.

Since the Germans had been expelled from the Soviet Union as of February 1944, no more Soviet Jews could have been killed by them, so the above figure represents the total for the whole period of German occupation.

If we deduct from the 1.5 million a figure of 700,000 representing Jews who had been citizens of the USSR in 1939, before the Soviet expansion, that leaves only 800,000 for the total Jewish dead of the Baltic States, East Poland and Bukovina/Bessarabia, which is probably too low.

Accordingly, the figure given by the Jewish anti-Fascist Committee needs to be adjusted upward, closer to two million.

But whatever estimate is given for the casualties of Soviet Jewry, care must be taken not to include part of that figure in the estimates for Poland or Romania.

For example, if the Jews of Bessarabia and Bukovina are included within "Soviet Jewry", then the only Jewish casualties for Romania would be those deported from North Transylvania in 1944 (when that province was part of Hungary), plus a few thousand victims of pogroms in the Iasi region in 1941 or deportations to Transnistria along with the Jews of Bukovina and Bessarabia.

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Post by Andreas » 07 Feb 2006 09:36

michael mills wrote:Since the Germans had been expelled from the Soviet Union as of February 1944, no more Soviet Jews could have been killed by them, so the above figure represents the total for the whole period of German occupation.
Better check your dates before posting next time.

Regards

Andreas

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Post by michael mills » 07 Feb 2006 23:46

If anyone knows of any large massacres of Soviet Jews occurring after February 1944 that would have added substantially to the estimated total of victims made by the JAFC in that month, then please post the details.

The point is that in February 1944, the JAFC would have had sufficient information on the fate of Soviet Jews under German occupation to make a reasonable estimate.

In areas which had been recaptured (ie by far the greater part of the area that had been under German occupation), the JAFC had had the opportunity to question the local people about what had happened to the Jews in those localities. Il'ia Erenburg was particularly assiduous in collecting information.

In those areas which had not yet been recaptured ( most of the Baltic States, the western part of Belorussia, the extreme western part of Ukraine), enough information had been gathered by local Soviet underground groups and transmitted to the Soviet Government for the JAFC to make a reasonable estimate of the number of victims.

It should be remembered that as early as November 1941, the Soviet Government had received enough information about what was happening in German-occupied areas for Molotov to make a major public statement about a vast massacre of Soviet Jews then in progress.

We can be reasonably certain that the JAFC did not deliberately minimise its estimate of the number of Soviet Jewish victims of the German occupiers. It probably had information on the number of Jews evacuated to the interior of the Soviet Union both immediately before and immediately after the german invasion in 1941. From that information it would have been able to make a reasonable of the number of Soviet Jews remaining in the area that came under German occupation.

In the recaptured areas, the JAFC could determine the fate of the Soviet Jews who had fallen into German hands there through actual investigation and interrogation of the local population. As for the few areas that remained to be recaptured, the JAFC must have assumed that the Jews who had not been evacuated from there had nearly all perished. In both cases, the JAFC could have made a reasonably accurate estimate of the number of Jews who hadremained in those areas and had come under German control.

For those who are interested, the full text of the Crimea Brief is given in the book by Gennadi Kostyrchenko, "Out of the Red Shadows".

In that same letter to Stalin, the JAFC estimated the total number of Jews who had perished throughout German-occupied Europe as at least 4.5 million as at February 1944. That was probably more of a guesstimate than its figure of Soviet Jewish victims.

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Post by nickterry » 08 Feb 2006 00:15

The JAFC should be commended for its restrained estimates at the time of the report you have brought up, but this was at a time when hardly any systematic investigations had been conducted in the areas of greatest Jewish population, which remained under German occupation as of February 1944.

Partisan units and underground organisations did indeed report on massacres, but not always consistently - there were many areas of eastern Poland, ie western Belorussia and western Ukraine, where Soviet units could barely operate because of the AK, UPA, etc, which also happened to be where some of the greatest concentrations of Jewish communities were to be found. There was also much antisemitism among some Soviet partisan units.

The partisan movement reports I have seen offer only a fragmentary picture.

Whether the JAFC had access to NKVD and partisan movement reports is an interesting question that remains to be answered. I suspect access was not complete.

Ilya Ehrenburg, member of the JAFC, was shocked at the extent of what he found in western Belorussia in the summer of 1944 after 'Bagration' had liberated the area.

Smilovitsky, Leonid, ‘Ilya Ehrenburg and the Holocaust in Byelorussia’, East European Jewish Affairs 29/1-2, 1999, pp.61-73

Since the rise in aggregated numbers to circa 2.8 million was the work of well over 1000 individual district and town commissions, most staffed by Russians/Ukrainians and not by Jews, and the data they compiled was not aggregated specifically to calculate the number of Jewish victims systematically until the 1990s, with tentative efforts beginning in the early 1970s - one must conclude that there was no propaganda purpose in raising the total, but that the investigations simply needed time to establish the true scale of what had ensued.

The suppression of the Black Book, the Unknown Black Book of extra materials, and the collection 'Partizanskaia druzhba' very shortly after the war is all in all rather telling about basic Soviet/Stalinist attitudes towards the fate of Soviet Jews. To preserve the image of a unified Soviet people suffering as one, they deliberately suppressed the evidence of specific Jewish suffering.

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Post by Andreas » 08 Feb 2006 08:52

michael mills wrote:The point is that in February 1944, the JAFC would have had sufficient information on the fate of Soviet Jews under German occupation to make a reasonable estimate.
No, the point is that you got a very basic and easy to check date quite wrong. That you don't admit it and say 'whoops, my mistake', instead trying to obscure your error, is no surprise.

You made the claim that no Jews perished on Soviet territory after February 1944 on false grounds. I am not going to do your research for you.

Regards

Andreas

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Post by gaussianum » 08 Feb 2006 19:51

Don't know if this is relevant to the specific discussion, as it stands, but I thought it was interesting. Since the data from census is at the core of victim estimates, I think it is important. If true, it makes the reliability of soviet data very debateable. From Anton Antonov-Ovseenko, "The Time of Stalin--Portrait of a Tyranny", here's an excerpt:

"But the 1937 census results were shattering. There were only about 156 million citizens in our great socialist state after all. The increase had been only 7.2 million. A deficit of 30.4 million. How many of those deaths should be attributed to the prisons and camps and how many to the famine? It’s difficult, in fact impossible to tell.
Should the census results be announced? Wouldn’t it be better to denounce them as the product of sabotage and ‘wrecking’? That’s exactly what Stalin did. On September 26 Pravda published a communique of the Council of People’s Commissars. It seems that ‘extremely crude violations of the elementary principles of statistical science’ had occurred in the census taking. Therefore the government was declaring the census results unsatisfactory.
The data was immediately confiscated and destroyed, but the figures were still being carried around in the heads of statistical agency chiefs. The first head to fly off its shoulders was that of Ivan Kraval, head of the Central Statistical Bureau. . . . All of Kraval’s deputies disappeared with him. No, I’m wrong--one of them survived. . . .
Thus, the 1937 census became an un-thing. Yet it was awkward somehow to go without a census altogether, especially in the eyes of Western Europe. The Gensek [General Secretary, i.e. Stalin] set a new census for 1939.
The results of this one were more like it. His subjects numbered 170 million--a two-year increase of fourteen million."

Here's the link:

http://www.databank.neu.edu/census.htm

Regards

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Re: The margins are the key.

Post by iwh » 08 Feb 2006 22:12

gaussianum wrote:
I don't know what would make a historian doubt his own work, much less a prodigious work (the work of his lifetime?).
Reitlinger admits that his figures for jewish deaths in the holocaust are conjectural, because of the lack of available data, especially concerning Poland, Rumania and the USSR. In other words surely he is saying that he can only give numbers for the data he can actually get his hands on, data that is now, 45 years later easier to come by, and which other historians now have their hands on.
gaussianum wrote: You're right. Gutman et Rozet's result is not as good as Reitlinger's.
Why not? Surely Gutman and Rozett have got more up to date information. They also give ranges, as Reitlinger does, so why are their figures not more realistic than Reitlingers'?

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