Vancouver Sun

Holocaust murder rate higher than thought

- Sarah Knapton

LONDON • Nazi murder rates at the height of the Holocaust was almost three times higher than previously thought, and only declined once there was “no one left to kill,” a study has found.

At the genocidal regime’s peak about 15,000 Jews were being murdered every day in the death camps of German-occupied Poland under Operation Reinhard.

Previous estimates suggested that 6,000 people were murdered daily at Auschwitz alone, but exact figures were difficult to verify because the deaths were covered up by the Nazis.

To determine the true picture, Lewi Stone, a professor at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel, studied records of the “special trains” used to transport millions of people to the three camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. After studying the figures he found a “three-month phase of hyperinten­se killing” highlighti­ng the Nazis’ “pure focused goal of obliterati­ng the entire Jewish people of occupied Poland in as short a time as possible.”

The results, plotted on a graph, showed that of the 1.7 million people killed between 1942 and 1943, about 1.32 million died in a 100-day surge between August and October of 1942.

The number of deaths during those three months is so huge that it accounts for more than a quarter of the known Holocaust victims. Stone told The Daily Telegraph he “couldn’t believe his eyes” when he uncovered the results and looked back on previous research to check that he had not made a mistake.

“To my surprise historians have completely avoided quantitati­ve approaches for examining this period. But the graphs show with chilling immediacy the blood lust of the Nazi program to obliterate the Jewish people in as short a time as possible,” he said.

“The subsequent rapid plunge in the death rate in November and December 1942 simply reflects that there were very few Jewish victims left alive to murder.

“It highlights the frenzied killing the Nazis planned for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question and their ability and eagerness to carry it out.”

The new estimates are based on work by Yitzhak Arad, an Israeli historian who compiled data on 480 train deportatio­ns from 393 Polish towns and ghettos during the German offensive.

Most of the victims of the Nazi mission to wipe out Polish Jews were gassed to death and their bodies buried in pits. The corpses were later exhumed, cremated and their bones ground up to hide the huge numbers.

Commenting on the findings, published in the journal Science Advances, Holocaust expert Sir Richard J. Evans of Cambridge University, said a more orderly SS leadership took over in August 1942.

“It is not surprising therefore that the killing rate accelerate­d as it became more efficient,” he added.

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