Gordon McFee answers:
I just noticed that your question had not yet ben answered. Sorry about that.
Most statistical breakdowns I have seen list the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. The estimates vary from around 4.1 to 6.0 million, with more recent research supporting an even higher figure. Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews gives a detailed breakdown of Jewish deaths. It is estimated that another 5-6 million non-Jews (Gypsies, homosexuals, prisoners of war - especially Russians - were killed during the Holocaust period.
As for the methods, Hilberg (op.cit.) gives a breakdown for Jews.
Hope this helps a bit.
Richaed C. Graves answers:
Rich Green is collecting estimates of noncombatant deaths at
Historians are able to agree on the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust within about a ten percent margin of error because of the convergence of a large amount of evidence. This evidence includes records on the number of people sent to the larger death camps, which were built and used primarily for Jews; reliable demographic studies of the number of Jews in Europe before and after the war; and progress reports from death camps and from organized killing squads in the conquered territories. There is more variance among estimates of the non-Jewish death toll because there is less data to go on. There is no census data on homosexuals, for example.
For some discussion of the historical methodology as applied to Auschwitz, See Mark Van Alstine's letter at
Terese Pencak Schwartz runs a web site dedicated especially to the non- Jewish victims at
Daniel Mittleman responds:I am one of the people who answer questions for The Holocaust History Project. I am not familiar with any recently found Nazi documents that would raise the Holocaust death toll by 3 million. I suspect that the information you heard is incorrect.
The estimate of the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust was established by Historians and demographers in the very late 1940s. While 6 million is a shorthand for the estimate (I have seen academic estimates from 4.8 million to 7.5 million), the estimation methodologies used back then have held valid all this time. There have been several subsequent studies all of which have produced findings within the same order of magnitude.
I hope this helps.
Richard J. Green answers:
A large number of non-Jews were killed in the camps and elsewhere by the Nazis. Most sources put the number of non-Jews at between 5 and 6 million, roughly equal to the number of Jews murdered.
There is some question of how you count. Not all murders by Nazis of Jews or non-Jews took place in camps.
I have been slowly trying to compile statistics on non-Combatant deaths during the period of WWII. Take a look at:
Richard J. Green answers:Hello I am one of the people who answers questions sent to the Holocaust History Project.
First question: According to one source, there were 2.7 million victimsof the Holocaust. Is this the correct?
No. Your source is wrong and you should be very skeptical of any information from that source.
Between 5 and 6 million Jews were killed in the Final Solution. Additionally millions of non-Jews were killed by the Nazis.
2nd question: How accurate is the total if there were no detailed records kept?
The total is quite accurate. Detailed records do exist, but the demographics can be difficult to understand.
See the answer by Jamie McCarthy to a similar question at:
3rd question: Has anyone researched what the world population would be now if all those people weren't murdered?
See the previous URL.
4th question: How could all those German citizens follow a crazy man like Hitler? What charisma did he possess?
I am not sure that I understand that question myself. A good starting place is a book by Christopher Browning entitled Ordinary Men: Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.
Harry W. Mazal OBE responds:
Further to the excellent response given to your questions by my colleague, Dr. Richard Green, I would like to touch on a couple of points.
It is not quite true that accurate records of Jewish population do not exist. While a town-by-town census of, say, the Jews in Poland, or Hungary or Germany (to name but three countries in Europe) might be lacking, the governments of those countries themselves required that every child born had to be registered with not only his parents and his or her name, but with the religion of all three. It was this that made it relatively easy for the Nazis to round up Jews in every country.
Highly accurate demographic estimates of the Jewish people exist and are available to the general public. One publication has been providing these statistics since 1900 in their yearly printing of _The American Jewish Year Book_ Although my own personal collection only dates from 1932, the older volumes are available in any good public library. The yearbook for 1932 states:
"Of the total number of 15,192,218 Jews in the world, 9,418,248 reside in Europe, 538,609 in Africa, 585,791 in Asia, 24,783 in Australasia, and 4,624,787 in America."
These numbers were assembled before the Holocaust, before the Nazis came into power, and before there was any particular threat to the Jews in Europe.
The yearbook for 1947 states:
"Estimates of the world Jewish population have been assembled by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (except for the United States and Canada) and are probably the most authentic available at the present time. [Note: the effective date of this census is May, 1946 - HWM]. The figures reveal that the total Jewish population of the world has decreased by one-third from about 16,600,000 in 1939 to about 11,000,000 in 1946 as the result of the annihilation by the Nazis of more than five and a half million European Jews."
"In Europe only an estimated 3,642,000 remain of the total Jewish pre-war population of approximately 9,740,000. The major part of the present Jewish population -- about 5,176,000 -- lives in the United States and Canada. [...]"
Even with limited skills in the field of statistics it is possible to confirm that a potential growth from 15,192,000 in 1932 to a population of 16,500,000 in 1946 would not have been impossible nor unreasonable. It would have signified a growth of just over 9% in Jewish population in a period of 15 years. This was, of course, not to be. With the murder of 1/3 of the Jews in the world during the period 1940-1945, the world population of Jews has not even reached the levels of 1940.
"Had the Holocaust not Happened, How Many Jews Would be Alive Today? A Survey of Jewish Demography 1890-2000" written by Prof. Sander A. Diamond.
The article can be found between pages 21 and 54.
A table published on page 48 is far more enlightening than anything I can say here.
Harry W. Mazal OBE
Brian Harmon answers:
I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.
I know that Martin Gilbert's Atlas of the Holocaust provides the answers to your questions in great detail, if you cannot locate this book the more recently published Historical Atlas of the Holocaust should be helpful. Full references are provided below:
Gilbert, Martin Atlas of the Holocaust. William Morrow & Co; ISBN: 0688123643 Reprint edition (May 1993).
Historical Atlas of the Holocaust : The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Simon & Schuster; ISBN: 0028974514
Do not hesitate to contact us if you need further help.
- Brian Harmon
I have two questions.
Jamie McCarthy responds:
Pardon me for giving only a short answer to these questions. The first comes up fairly often and we should probably write a "short essay" about it; watch that page for a possible future treatment. Its short answer is that, starting with Reitlinger's analysis in the early 1950s, serious researchers never accepted the Soviets' claim of four million killed at Auschwitz. Historians worked their own figures to calculate how many were killed. Independent methods of calculation and independent researchers all came to a conclusion of roughly five to six million.
Regarding your second point: the figures you will usually hear cited do not include military deaths. Many millions of Soviet soldiers died in battle, and many were surely Jewish, but these are not usually considered to have died in the Holocaust. And anti-Nazi partisans played a small role (militarily and numerically).
If there are specific points regarding the Auschwitz numbers you would like more detail on, feel free to email me directly and I will take them into consideration when preparing a short essay on that subject.
Thank you for writing.
-- Jamie McCarthy
Gordon McFee responds:
The 4 million figure was derived from a Soviet estimate of the number who would have been killed if the gas chambers and crematoria had operated at maximum capacity 24 hours a day over the life of Auschwitz. They simply assumed that that had been the case. The figure was never accepted by any serious historians, and in fact, was "challenged" as early as the testimony of the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess in 1946 at Nuremberg. He put the figure at 2.5 million, based on an estimate he had received from Adolf Eichmann. But Hoess himself revised the figure to 1.13 million in his memoirs, stating that the 2.5 million figure was impossible. Gerald Reitlinger, in his book The Final Solution: Hitler's Attempt to exterminate the European Jews (1952), put the figure at about 800,000. Raul Hilberg, in his Destruction of the European Jews (1962), put the figure at around 1 million. I am unaware of any historian who has accepted the 4 million figure.
As far as I know, there is no "missing 3 million". The overall death total was not arrived at by using 4 million as the Auschwitz figure.
2. A writer on your site cites demographic studies showing that the population of European Jews dropped by around 6 million during World War II. Is it possible that many of these Jews were partisans and soldiers--in the Red Army for example--who died in battle?
Some could have been, but not very many. Nazi documents, especially the Jaeger Report, list the dead by gender and age. Thus, in a particular village, the dead will be listed as 1000 Jews, 400 Jewesses and 600 Jewish children. These people were not partisans.
I hope you do not find these questions offensive, but I have had difficulty getting answers to them.
Hope this is useful to you.
Richard J. Green comments:
The four million issue is discussed in some detail in an article on the Nizkor site at http://www.nizkor.org/features/techniques-of-denial/four-million-01.html
Eugen Kogen in The Theory and Practice of Hell (1950) does cite the erroneous 4 million number.
Mikkel Andersson responds:I am one of the volunteers that answers questions submitted to the Holocaust History Project.
You will find some statistics regarding the number of victims transcribed from various sources, including Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg, available here:
Furtheremore, the Yizkor books, and excepts thereof, available at the JewishGen site provides a wealth of information regarding the destruction of various Jewish communities primarily in Poland: http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/
Andrew Mathis responds:
I am one of the volunteers that answers questions submitted to the Holocaust History Project.
The best accounting that I have personally seen for Holocaust casualties is contained in Raul Hilberg's three-volume The Destruction the European Jews (1961). Hilberg's analysis is unique in that it reconciles the statistics not only by country of origin, but also by concentration camp and by cause of death (noting that roughly half of the deaths in the Holocaust took place outside the concentration camp system and that not all deaths in camps were the result of gassings).
You should be aware, however, that Hilberg's death-toll estimate (5.1 million) is at the lower end of the range accepted by most Holocaust historians. A precise accounting is virtually impossible, but most estimates are in the 5.8 million range.
As for Nazi profits from the Holocaust, please see this short essay by my colleague Patrick Groff:
That may be a good place for you to start.
Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.
back to the list of questions
Last modified: October 8, 2000