How [many] Jews were killed for real?

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gaussianum
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Re: The margins are the key.

Post by gaussianum » 08 Feb 2006 23:51

iwh wrote:
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.
Yes. It goes without saying. Historians know that their work is only as good as the sources they have. We can only speculate as why he had such an urge to emphasize the obvious.

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'?
I have an open mind. I'm prepared to accept both upwards and downwards revisions of the victim totals. I would like to look into Gutman and Rozett's work, to gain a clearer perspective. I would like to know their methodologies, assumptions, statistical data, etc.

Regards

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Post by michael mills » 09 Feb 2006 01:08

One of the issues in this thread seems to be the validity of the estimates made by Reitlinger back in 1954 as compared with more recent estimates made of the number of Soviet Jewish victims.

It seems to me that a lot of the argument is due to a definitional misunderstanding deriving from different understandings of what constitutes a "Soviet Jew".

Reitlinger based estimates of the number of Jewish victims in each country on the borders as they existed on 1 September 1939.

The more recent estimates, by contrast, are obviously based on the borders of the Soviet Union as it existed after 1945. Accordingly, their definition of "Soviet Jew" includes all the Jewish inhabitants of the territory included today in the Russian Federation, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

I will attempt to disaggregate Reitlinger's figures so that they can be more accurately compared with the more recent estimates of Soviet Jewish victims that have been quoted by Nick Terry and others.

As is well known, Reitlinger gave an estimate of 700,000 for the number of Jewish victims in the Soviet Union in its pre-war borders and of the Baltic States.

That figure does not include the following:

1. The Jews of the parts of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939, and which today are included in Lithuania (the Vilnius strip), Belarus and Ukraine. The Jewish victims of those areas are included in Reitlinger's estimate for Poland.

2. The Jews of Ruthenia, which today is part of Ukraine (Zakarpatskii Krai). Although the Jews of that area were deported in 1944 during the Hungarian deportation, in 1939 Ruthenia was part of Czechoslovakia, so Reitlinger includes the Jewish victims from that area in his total for Czechoslovakia.

3. The Jews of North Bukovyna and Bessarabia, annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and today included within Ukraina and Moldova. In 1939 they were part of Romania, and so Reitlinger has included the Jewish victims from those areas in his total for Romania.

I will attempt to subtract from Reitlinger's figures for Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania estimates of the numbers applicable to the territories that formed part of the Soviet Union after 1945, and add them to Reitlinger's figure for the pre-war Soviet Union, so as to arrive at a figure that is comparable with the more recent estimates.

First, I would like to say that in my opinion Reitlinger made an error when he took his figure of 700,000 as covering both the pre-war Soviet Union and the Baltic States.

It is most likely that that figure covered only the pre-war Soviet Union, and Reitlinger mistakenly omitted the Jewish victims in the Baltic States from his calculations. Accordingly, it is necessary to adjust his figure to take account of those victims.

The Jewish population of the Baltic States in 1939 was around 250,000, of which 150,000 were in Lithuania (not including the Vilnius strip, which at that time was Polish territory), 95,000 in Latvia, and 5,000 in Estonia. Those figures are based on censi undertaken in the 1920s, and the Jewish population had certainly not grown in the intervening period, owing to steady emigration from those countries, and may even have fallen slightly.

I do not know for certain how many Jews were evacuated from the Baltic States to the Soviet interior immediately prior to the German invasion. The number evacuated from Latvia was relatively high, but I am not sure about the number evacuated from Lithuania.

We are probably on safe ground if we assume 200,000 as a floor figure for the number of Jewish victims of the pre-war Baltic States (not including those of the Vilnius strip). Adding that figure to Reitlinger's 700,000 yields 900,000, which corresponds to Hilberg's figure for the pre-war Soviet Union and the Baltic States.

We now need to calculate Reitlinger's figure for the number of Jewish victims from the Polish territories annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939 and retained by it after 1945. The best way to do that is to calculate the number of victims from the area of Poland that came under German occupation in 1939 and subtract that number from Reitlinger's higher figure for Poland, 2.7 million.

The number of Jews in the German-occupied area of Poland, after subtracting the 300,000 or so who fled into the Soviet Zone of Occupation, was approximately 1.5 million, of which about one million was located in the Generalgouvernement and about 500,000 in the annexed territories (Wartheland, Zichenau, West Prussia, East Upper Silesia).

Assuming a 90% death-rate yields an estimated total of 1.35 million victims in the German-occupied areas. Subtracting 1.35 million from Reitlinger's higher total of 2.7 million for all Poland leaves 1.35 million as the estimated number of victims from the part of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939.

The waters are muddied somewhat by the fact that although the whole of the Bialystok district was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939, in 1945 the western part of it, including the city of Bialystok, was returned to Poland while the larger eastern part was retained by the Belorussian SSR and is today part of Belarus.

I do not know for sure the Jewish population of the Bialystok District, or how that population was distributed between the western part that today is in Poland and the eastern part that today is in Belarus. I assume that a large part of the Jewish population lived in the city of Bialystok itself, and therefore the greater part of the Jewish victims from the Bialystok District should be attributed to Polish rather than Soviet Jewish victims.

I propose to make a rough allowance for that by transferring 100,000 victims from the estimate for East Poland to the estimate for West Poland. That reduces the estimate for East Poland to 1.25 million, and that is the figure that should be added to Reitlinger's adjusted figure for the pre-war Soviet Union and the Baltic States.

Adding 1.25 million to 0.9 million yields 2.15 million.

Although Reitlinger included the Jewish victims from Ruthenia in his total for Czechoslovakia, he also gave a separate estimate, namely 85,000. Since Ruthenia is today part of Ukraine, that figure should be added to the estimate of Soviet Jewish victims.

Adding 85,000 to 2.25 million yields 2.235 million.

Reitlinger included the Jewish victims from North Bukovyna and Bessarabia in his 200,000 estimate for Romania, which consisted of those victims plus those deported in 1944 from North Transylvania, then part of Hungary. His total appears to consist of 100,000 victims from each of the two areas in Romania from which they came.

Reitlinger's estimate of 100,000 Jewish victims from North Bukovyna and Bessarabia needs to be added to the Soviet Jewish total, since North Bukovyna is today part of Ukraine, while Bessarabia is divided between Moldova and Ukraine.

Adding 0.1 million to 2.235 million yields 2.335 million as the total number of victims from the territory that was within the borders of the Soviet Union after 1945, according to Reitlinger's estimates.

It is obvious that the figure of 2.335 million based on Reitlinger's estimates made in 1954, with an adjustment for the number of victims from the Baltic States which Reitlinger appears to have mistakenly omitted, is not all that different from the more recent estimates, with an upper limit of 2.8 million, posted by Nick Terry and others.

So it seems that the argument over Reitlinger's figures is more apparent than real.

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Post by nickterry » 09 Feb 2006 02:15

Thank you Michael. The summary you made covers a lot of the grey areas.

I can add to this that the Belorussian proportion of the Bialystok district was inhabited by 60,000 Jews (primarily Grodno, Wolkowysk), a figure which Gerlach uses, and which conforms to the Extraordinary Commission reports of deportations from the Distrikt Bialystok in 1942-3. That would be the figure to work with.

But this to my mind highlights the general feeling I've had during this debate, which is that really we should study the entirety of Poland - Soviet Union as one for these purposes. It seems there is a grey area of about half a million Polish Jews, and half a million Soviet Jews, on each side of the 1941 border. This holds true whether one transfers Polish Jews to Reitlinger's Soviet Union total, or subtracts Polish territory from the Soviet totals offered by Robel and Altman.

Your subtractions from Reitlinger's total definitely followed the appropriate borders, but I think I'm right in saying that the lower estimate he offered was 2.3 million for Poland, which minus everything you take away seems too low when contrasted with e.g. Golczewski, who proceeds also from 1.68 million Jews under German occupation in western Poland after the dust had settled and refugees had fled east.

This is why I speak of a grey area of half a million Polish Jews.

Then there is the grey area of half a million Soviet Jews stemming from your adjustments to Reitlinger = 2.3 million, versus the Robel/Altman totals of 2.8 million. I think some of this discrepancy can still be ascribed to better sources available more recently and not so easily available to Reitlinger.

The better methodology would be to break each territory down several times over, by occupation structure and by pre/postwar borders, e.g. the above split highlighted within the Distrikt Bialystok.

And to track the refugees better through post-1991 Soviet sources. I have an article with archival data on refugees in Western Belorussia and Ukraine in 1939-41 I will dig out, and contrast with the data on deportations eastwards in 1940-41, plus the archival data for the post-22.6.41 evacuations from Dubson.

These refugees/evacuees/expellees aren't the same groups, but since quite a lot get 'recaught' due to Barbarossa, it's interesting that something of the order of 300-500,000 Jews manage to escape each time there is an invasion. Given all other factors e.g. age/mobility and so forth, this seems logical, but let's see what the detailed numbers bring.

In the overview post I took the easy way out at the end and averaged out the combined Poland-Soviet Union estimates; it was ca. 4 million as opposed to a high of 4.8 and a low of well under 4 million.

That would still be my best estimate until all the territories have been re-surveyed, using the latest research.

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Post by alf » 09 Feb 2006 02:25

Much of this appears to be an exercise in futiliy though I'm sure a few have a hidden agenda to pursue

The quote "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistcs" is most apt. I see a lot of "rationales" and a lot of words but few proofs.

And for those not familair with Statistics perhaps this will provide an introduction, http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1091350
Statistics are governed by a term used to describe computer problems 'GIGO', or 'Garbage In Garbage Out'. If the survey asked the wrong question, asked the wrong group of people or was subject to any other major problem, there is no statistical analysis method in the world that can create meaningful information from the raw data. There are some techniques that can correct small errors, but the more small errors corrected, the less accurate the results will be.
A simple summary of the varying Holocaust statistics can be found at http://holocaust-info.dk/ or at http://www.adl.org/holocaust/response.asp

Is it that difficult to post the figures? I also see some pushing Gerald Reitlinger hard, Reitlinger used the Korherr Report for much of his work. So for those who have had enough of long winded sermons conspicously devoid of any proofs, go to the link below and see some orginal documentation. Something sadly lacking so far in this debate. http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/korherr.html
Korherr had been employed by the West German Ministry of Finance, but was dismissed from this post in 1961 following the publication of Gerald Reitlinger's book "The Final Solution", in which the Korherr Report featured prominently
The question for me becomes what are the statistics for? To show the Nazis only murdered 4.1 million people instead of 5 million or 6 million? A single simple example of Nazi intentions is the Jaeger Report http://www.holocaust-history.org/works/ ... tro000.htm. The intent was to exterminate and the fact they killed millions of innocent people is the salient point.

An interesting book to get hold off is "Jews in Post-Holocaust Germany, 1945–1953 by Jay Howard Geller published in 2005 http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/c ... 0521541263

The figures have been revised for over 40 years by serious historians, the total range has not varied manifestlly. Indeed as the Soviet records have been opened up, more information is available for research. Gerad Reitlinger died before much of this was available, hence his works need to be counter balanced against this. Hilberg updated his figures in 2003 with new sources to draw from ( The Destruction of the European Jews, Third Edition 2003 Yale University Press). So why are some people clinging to Reitlingers 1953 figures?
Especially as from http://www.adl.org/holocaust/response.asp (footnote 23)
23 Reitlinger, who conducted his research before Hilberg and other scholars, arrives at a more conservative figure of approximately 4.5 murder victims; he nonetheless estimates that one-third of the internees at concentration camps died as a result of starvation, overwork, disease, and other consequences of their captivity. Although his murder count is somewhat lower than that of later scholars, his overall death count remains consistent with subsequent research.
To pick ONE set of figures because they best suit your own belief structure is not serious research at all. All the figures from all the serious historians are in fairly close agreement.

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Post by David Thompson » 09 Feb 2006 02:52

Is a proven murderer, thought to have killed 60 victims while on a murderous spree, somehow better if it turns out he only killed 45 or 51 persons, or somehow worse if we know now he killed 62?
Last edited by David Thompson on 09 Feb 2006 02:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Karl » 09 Feb 2006 02:56

David Thompson wrote:Is a proven murderer, thought to have killed 60 people, somehow better if it turns out he only killed 45 or 51, or somehow worse if he killed 62?
Yeah David.

Excellent post to read alf.

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Serious posts seem to be rare.

Post by gaussianum » 09 Feb 2006 20:29

Correct me if I'm wrong, but, has anyone addressed the issue of the veracity of the soviet 1939 census? I didn't read it, must have escaped me somehow.

Statistics can be used for positive, and nefarious purposes. It's a mathematical tool. It is not inherently evil or good, but it can be used for both purposes.

The topic of this thread is "How many jews were killed for real?". Any political/religious/moral personal remarks are clearly outside the boundaries of this dicussion. If some poster(s) wish to engage in such discussions, I'm sure there are a lot of other forums out there, suited for such needs. I won't engage in them, since they are counter-productive for the discussion itself.

Due to some poster's political agendas, even the possibility that downwards-revising estimates have been given by serious researchers, is immediately discarded. However, proof to the contrary, that such estimates exist, is given by nickterry himself, when he mentions the results of a Dutch team, using linear reggression, having "revolted his soul". It's a pity that some people avoid discussing this with seriousness, but pretend to do so. Maybe the Dutch team was carefully composed of revisionists and anti-semites? Only nickterry could give us an answer, if he wasn't purposefully avoiding it.

And finally, let me state the obvious. Obviously, it is as heinous to murder 4 million, as it is to murder 6 million. Only a religious fanatic would stick to a specific estimate, and insult everyone who contemplates any other estimates.

A personal comment: this is the second time that I have tried to disengage from this discussion, only to be "back-stabbed" at the last posts. Maybe someone is not interested in free discussion, for fear of what?

Let's drop the ridiculous innuendo, and get back to numerical issues, shall we? Michael Mills and iwh seem to be some of the few serious posters around here. Let's hope others follow their example.

Regards

PS: Did I actually see someone quoting from the ADL?

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Re: Serious posts seem to be rare.

Post by Andreas » 09 Feb 2006 21:21

gaussianum wrote: Due to some poster's political agendas, even the possibility that downwards-revising estimates have been given by serious researchers, is immediately discarded. However, proof to the contrary, that such estimates exist, is given by nickterry himself, when he mentions the results of a Dutch team, using linear reggression, having "revolted his soul". It's a pity that some people avoid discussing this with seriousness, but pretend to do so. Maybe the Dutch team was carefully composed of revisionists and anti-semites? Only nickterry could give us an answer, if he wasn't purposefully avoiding it.
Where does he talk about 'downward estimates' by the Dutch? Or that it was the results that revolted him? I took it to be the method, since that is what was talked about.
nickterry wrote: By and large, historians don't work with a scientific principle of margin of error imported from pure science experimental methodologies. I have seen Dutch historians, as I think I mentioned before, perform statistical regression analysis on Holocaust numbers and it revolted the soul.
I suggest you are a bit more careful with your claims about what people said.

Regards

Andreas

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Re: Serious posts seem to be rare.

Post by gaussianum » 09 Feb 2006 21:58

Andreas wrote:

Where does he talk about 'downward estimates' by the Dutch? Or that it was the results that revolted him? I took it to be the method, since that is what was talked about.
nickterry wrote: By and large, historians don't work with a scientific principle of margin of error imported from pure science experimental methodologies. I have seen Dutch historians, as I think I mentioned before, perform statistical regression analysis on Holocaust numbers and it revolted the soul.
I suggest you are a bit more careful with your claims about what people said.

Regards

Andreas
I'm sorry, but his sentence is open to the interpretation that I have given. I can't see how a statistical method would revolt anyone's soul, unless its results contradicted "known" estimates. I have tried repeatedly for nickterry to elaborate, but to no avail.

People are making ridiculous innuendo about my postings. Shouldn't they be more careful about it, thus deserving a warning from your part? Or aren't all posters equal?

With all respect

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Re: Serious posts seem to be rare.

Post by Andreas » 09 Feb 2006 22:11

gaussianum wrote:I'm sorry, but his sentence is open to the interpretation that I have given. I can't see how a statistical method would revolt anyone's soul, unless its results contradicted "known" estimates. I have tried repeatedly for nickterry to elaborate, but to no avail.

People are making ridiculous innuendo about my postings. Shouldn't they be more careful about it, thus deserving a warning from your part? Or aren't all posters equal?

With all respect
You can interpret as much as you like, as long as you make it clear that it is an interpretation, and do not put words into other posters' mouths.

I am not aware of 'ridiculous innuendo' about your posting but I have not followed the whole discussion. Neither do I intend to. Other posters are questioning your very strong opinion that Reitlinger is correct, and I have questioned your view that figures without margins are useless. If you feel hard done by other posters it is up to you to alert the moderators, the correct course of action is not to resort to misquoting them in an attempt to get even.

Regards

Andreas

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Post by gaussianum » 09 Feb 2006 22:28

In all fairness, the only expression quoted was: "revolted the soul".

If you backtrack somewhat, You will see that Reitlinger's figures and margins of error are no longer the focus of my intervention.

I did not attempt to misquote anyone, to "get even". That was never my intention, but if anyone thinks otherwise, please do prove it.

Any eventual misquote was absolutely unintentional.

Perhaps someone else could give us an interpretation of nickterry's sentence?
Last edited by gaussianum on 09 Feb 2006 22:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Serious posts seem to be rare.

Post by sallyg » 09 Feb 2006 22:33

gaussianum wrote:However, proof to the contrary, that such estimates exist, is given by nickterry himself, when he mentions the results of a Dutch team, using linear reggression, having "revolted his soul". It's a pity that some people avoid discussing this with seriousness, but pretend to do so. Maybe the Dutch team was carefully composed of revisionists and anti-semites? Only nickterry could give us an answer, if he wasn't purposefully avoiding it.
I cannot speak for nickterry and he is more than capable of speaking for himself.

What I took from his words was that the process of reducing the murder of millions of people to formulae reduces their lives, and their deaths.

These were real people, with the normal human needs and wants.. "if you cut me, do I not bleed?" That sometimes gets lost in the analysis of demographics and the minutiae of ventilation rates and cyanide binding pathways. :cry:

People

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Post by David Thompson » 09 Feb 2006 22:33

gaussianum -- This remark by nickterry doesn't mention you and, as far as I can determine, doesn't have anything to do with you:
I have seen Dutch historians, as I think I mentioned before, perform statistical regression analysis on Holocaust numbers and it revolted the soul.
Everyone -- Let's move on, drop the personal remarks, and discuss the merits of the various estimates.

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Post by nickterry » 09 Feb 2006 23:16

It's of incidental curiosity, but let me elaborate on the 'Dutch historian' I listened to at a conference in 2002:

The Dutch researcher, actually a political scientist by training, was not 'revising downwards', but instead was engaged in statistical analysis of precisely known figures concerning the deportation of Dutch Jews (102,000) and breaking them down by province and prewar population. So far so fine.

The Dutch, like the French, Czechs, Germans, Italians and Austrians, are pretty much now at the stage where they have computerised databases of all known, named victims killed in the Holocaust.

The Dutch researcher used statistics to come up with probabilities regarding the greater or lesser likelihood of being caught and deported from these provinces. So far so fine.


He then compared the data with factors such as the greater or lesser preponderance of Protestantism or Catholicism, prewar voting patterns, membership of the Dutch Nazi Party during the war, and the like. He tested a variety of analytical hypotheses against this statistical evidence, but because of the statistical spread, as is often the case, the results were equivocal and really didn't lead anywhere in terms of an interesting discussion.

If I have got it wrong and should have called this kind of statistical analysis something else, then pardon me, but he definitely used the term 'regression' and had all manner of funny numbers that meant f u c k a l l as far as both I and everyone else at the conference was concerned.

So there was no attempt at 'linear regression'. The Dutch researcher was neither an antisemite nor a revisionist, just deeply boring.

This tedium is what revolted my soul.

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A quote and a question.

Post by gaussianum » 10 Feb 2006 00:08

For anyone who couldn't be bothered with reading my latest postings, here's my latest question.

All estimates are based on the soviet 1939 census, right?. Let me quote from Antonov-Ovseenko, "The Time of Stalin--Portrait of a Tyranny". This is what the author has to say about it:

"The first Soviet census was taken in 1920, the second in 1926. The population figure reported then was 148.8 million. The demographers estimated the yearly ‘natural increase’ at 2.3 percent, with the rural districts accounting for between 2.7 and 2.8 percent and the urban districts between 1.7 and 1.8 percent. (As I have said, the Soviet population was predominantly rural.)
The third census was carried out in January 1937, Stalin placed great hopes in it. To show the world one more great achievement of the land of socialism. The natural increase since 1926 should have been about 37.6 million. (Calculating simply, without compounding the percentage: 11 x 2.3% = 25.3% = 37.6 million.)
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."
http://www.databank.neu.edu/census.htm

It would appear that a possible discrepancy of 14 million would reveal itself in the census. How would this impact the pre-war estimate of the jewish population of the Soviet Union? How would this impact the holocaust survivor estimates?

Mind you, I present a quote and a question, not an interpretation.

Regards

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