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AskUs: There were 6 million victims of the holocaust. That is a huge number.

So one of our readers asked us this question the other day. There were 6 million victims of the holocaust. That is a huge number. I’m probably wrong here and I DO NOT doubt the facts of the holocaust but I’m struggling with the number. 6 million from 1938 to 1945 is around 100 per hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 7 years. That’s staggering!

Your question is one of the reasons why education about the holocaust is so important because you’re right, it is staggering. It’s difficult to even comprehend let alone believe for those who didn’t see it first hand and as history wears on it would be easy to say ‘Oh no, that surely cannot be. It must be exaggerated, that many is not even possible.’ Thankfully the Allies had the foresight to painstakingly document everything that they found, as they found it, rather than only going back to do so after the war was won.

Gas Chamber

In terms of just how such a thing is possible, it would be wrong to imagine the Nazis as gassing 100 people every hour of every day for years and years. In fact, much of their work was done through simple starvation, and working their captives to death. Many more would have been killed in mass exterminations on the Eastern Front, never having made it to a camp.

The most notorious of these was probably at Babi Yar, where over 30,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed over a period of just two or three days in mass shootings where people were machine-gunned, thrown into ravines and buried, in some cases still alive.

Rumbula Massacre

There’s also the Rumbula Massacre, where 25,000 Latvian Jews were killed in only a couple of days and then the killings in Budapest towards the end of the war, where the Germans and Hungarians had so many people to exterminate that, in order to save bullets, they would tie several Jews together, shoot one, and then throw the whole lot into the Danube river so that the dead one dragged the others down and they drowned.

Here is an article about a memorial commemorating the massacres that occurred on the banks of the Danube. The sculptures are in reference to the fact that the killers would make their victims take their shoes off before shooting them, because the shoes were becoming a valuable commodity which could then be sold or worn by the killers themselves.

BPK 30.017.023

And then there’s Aktion Erntefest, which translates cheerfully to ‘Operation: Harvest Festival’ where in a single day over forty-thousand Jews were liquidated throughout the Nazi Concentration Camps located in Eastern Poland, in anticipation of a Russian offensive.

These are just a few of the massed killings of thousands of people, often carried out by small numbers of men with little more than automatic weapons in their hands and hatred in their hearts. With these mass killings you can easily begin to understand how the Nazis managed to average out to your 100 per hour figure.

Just to add a little more context of how it all went down, in mid-1942, 75% of all Holocaust victims were still alive. About 10 months later in early 1943, 75% of all Holocaust victims had been murdered. Of the millions that died (more than the 6 million Jews), most of them were killed in less than a year.

Auschwitz trains

Keep in mind how frighteningly sophisticated the killing operations of the Nazis were. Death camps were run like the most effective slaughterhouses. Trains carrying repurposed box and cattle cars stuffed to the absolute brim with prisoners would roll up to the camps, where prisoners would be filed out, processed, stripped down, and forced into gas chambers. Once the execution was complete, workers (often times prisoners themselves) would salvage things like gold fillings from the bodies, which would be burned in industrial furnaces.

About 11 million people died in the Holocaust not 6 million. 6 million is just the number of Jewish people killed. The other 5 million in that 11 million is attributed to the murder of mainly Slavic peoples on the Eastern Front, mainly Poles, Russians, Baltic slavs, and Ukrainians, and other people like Gypsies, the disabled, Homosexuals, mentally impaired, etc. The reason why some people include the casualties of Slavs in the statistics of the holocaust, raising the number closer to 11 million, is because Nazi ideology branded Slavs as inferior just like Jews, with figures like Hitler despising Slavs; Russians in particular, because of their connections to Communism and because Slavs were perceived as backwards, and because the Germans captured incredible amounts of Slavs during the war and killed them in similar fashions as they killed Jews, largely through summary executions, firing squads, and starvation.

The 6 million vs 11 million figure debate however is heated among historians, and there is a split on whether or not the Holocaust should be defined as the exclusive mass murder of Jewish People, or a broader definition of the mass murders of the Nazi Regime of Jewish people and other victims.

Now all this begs an important question, how the Holocaust was possible from a material standpoint? The answers is that from a material standpoint, the Nazis wasted an immense amount of resources, besides reducing their population of more workers, soldiers and scientists, through the Holocaust, especially towards the end of the war, when fuel and transporting weaponry became a large issue, yet they continued sending trains full of Jews to their deaths. The Nazis did manage to finance themselves to a degree through confiscated goods and wealth, but by the time the Jews (and any others) would have gotten to the camps, the majority of their possessions, i.e. everything they couldn’t take with them, would have already been confiscated. The ones in villages in Eastern Europe, which were machine gunned in place, tended to not be particularly wealthy, due to being rural peasants.

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  • A man, particularly Jeremy Harper, counted to one million out loud over the course of three months to set a Guinness world record.

    Mr. Harper sufficed this accomplishment using merely biology (eating food and breathing atmosphere) and psychology (withstanding ordered logic and endless publicity).

    The gross atrocities suffered by Hebrews and others alike cannot be compared to any other feat. By comparing the single challenge of one man counting haplessly from one to one million over the span of three months to the savage and counted extermination of groups of individuals means very little. Constant droning of sequential numbers determinately until finished could be hard to say the least. To finish off people with the expected outcome to be a superior race is unfathomable. Jeremy Harper would probably know better than most people today that one million is a VERY large number. Unfortunately, none of us know how much suffering happened to free all victims of the intolerable genocide during World War II. The incurred casualities are still languished by both axis and ally to this day. I cannot imagine how either of these events happened. Will I or you yourself count to one million, one number at a time? If you do, can you make it to two or three or four or 11 million just as fast? If you start now, counting from one to 1,000, would you continue to 2,000 or another thousand after that?

    How many people died during the holocaust?

    Too many. Too many for any reason.

    I hope you start counting out loud and continue counting until you run out of breath or become tired. Your effort will not be wasted because you will only begin to estimate how incomprehensibly one million is immediately.

  • What about the overlooked genocide against the chinese by the Japanese happening at the same time as the holocaust

    • Yeah that always grinds my gears when people overlook this no less tragic incident. Dont get me wrong,the Holocaust was one of the most tragic events in history, but this incident too deserves equal amounts of recognitiona nd condemnation.

      • One of? How about hands down the most tragic event in history because on a scale you can’t even think of. Let me break it down to you. Out of a population of 9 million Jews, 6 millions were killed. To put that in a scale you can understand better that’s roughly 67% of the ENTIRE JEWISH POPULATION IN EUROPE. To even break it down to even more shocking numbers the total Jewish population in 1939 in the world was 16,728,000 (average) and in 1945 after WW2 the world population of Jews was 11,000,000 (average). This is a 40% loss in the WORLD JEWISH POPULATION. People only overlook it because it’s not 1. A genocide 2. A state sponsored genocide and 3. The scale of losses of a country of hundreds of millions compare to the scale of the Jewish victims is extremely small. I understand the Japanese did horrible things, but lets be real the mass civilian deaths was because of massive Japanese bombings on cities along with soldiers conducing ‘spoils of war’ to promote morale boost. You can also try the ‘experiment on humans’ argument, but the Allies and the Soviets were just as guilty as the Japanese.

  • The idea that the holocaust should only apply to Jews is disgusting and absurd. Not only were 6 million others slaughtered across Europe, but many more that don’t get included that were killed through starvation or slave labor by the occupation across eastern europe. This idea that the Jews are somehow special is absurd.

    • Great logical fallacy implying someone stated something. What do people think of when they hear the word ‘Holocaust’ – the Jewish victims. In fact the terms, ‘Holocaust’ meaning ‘whole burnt’ in which to describe the mass burning of Jewish bodies in the extermination camps. The vast majority of the second largest group killed in concentration camps were Soviet POWs, but none of the groups suffered the amount of vast state wide extermination such as the Jews. Oh by the way, MOST historians agree that the Holocaust mostly revolves around the Jews. You can’t seems to understand the scale of the losses the Jews suffered and attempted this ‘holier than thou’ argument to try and sway your argument over. Please.

      • My Grandfather was in the US Army and was at the liberation of one of the camps. He told me that he would hate the German people because of that until the day he died. when he passed we where going through his stuff and he had a picture of him and a little boy sharing a c-ration, in his journal about a page later he wrote that it was so bad he no longer feared hell. Anyone that had to go through it should be included. to exclude someone based on them not being like one group is exactly the kind of thing that cause this atrocity in the first place

  • God, when you break it down like this it’s horrific that this happened only 75 years ago. The time and effort the Germans put into this shows the power one man had over an entire nation…..staggering. The amount of people who could still be alive today if this barbaric episode in mankind’s history hadn’t happened is heartbreaking. A pity the vast majority of leaders who carried this atrocity out escaped the hangman’s noose…..I doubt they would have last more than a few weeks in the concentration camps. People through no fault of their own, wiped out because of the ideology of one maniac and the toady yes men who were more than happy to follow orders.

  • THIS IS long past surrendered. Anyone paying attention knows teh 6 million number was made up, they don’t even try to defend it.

    The Ukrainian holodomor saw well over 10 million christians killed, by the Soviets who were mostly jewish at the top.

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