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Quantifying the Holocaust: Hyperintense Kill Rates During the Nazi Genocide

Penelitian - The Nazi murder rate during the height of the Holocaust was almost three times higher than previously thought, and only declined because there was "no one left to kill", a disturbing new study has found.

At the regime’s murderous peak, around 15,000 Jews were slaughtered every day in the death camps of German-occupied Poland under Operation Reinhard, new research shows.

Penelitrian Quantifying the Holocaust Hyperintense Kill Rates During the Nazi Genocide

Previous estimates suggested that the maximum Holocaust death rate was around 6,000 victims each day at Auschwitz, but evidence of exact figures has proved difficult to find because the killings were covered up by the Nazis.

To determine the true picture, Professor Lewi Stone, of the University of Tel Aviv in Israel, studied records of the ‘special trains’ used to transport millions of Jews to the three camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka in Poland.

After plotting the numbers on graphs over time 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 as time possible".

The results showed that of the 1.7 million people killed between 1942 and 1943 under Operation Reinhard, 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, it accounts for more than a quarter of the five million known Holocaust victims.

“I couldn't believe my eyes and at first thought there must be a bug with the computer program I had put together to plot the graphs. I was in shock for quite a while, and this led me to check the Holocaust literature thoroughly to try and understand what is known,” Stone said.

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

“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,” Stone said.

The new estimations are based on work by Yitzhak Arad, an Israeli historian specializing in the Holocaust, who compiled railway data on 480 train deportations from 393 Polish towns and ghettos during Operation Reinhard and estimated the number of victims on each transport.

Most of the victims of Operation Reinhard - 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.

"The Operation Reinhard camps were poorly managed in the early period of operation, with the crude machinery of extermination (by vehicle exhaust fumes) frequently breaking down," said Sir Richard J Evans, President of Wolfson College at Cambridge University.



"There was corruption among the SS officers and Ukrainian auxiliaries on a massive scale, unburied bodies lying around decomposing in the summer heat etc., and uncontrolled sadism and brutality on the part of the camp personnel," Evans said.

"In August 1942 the SS leadership stepped in and imposed a new, more orderly management of the camps. It is not surprising therefore that the killing rate accelerated, as Stone shows, as it became more efficient," said Evans.

"It is perfectly correct to say that the deportations slowed down at the end of 1942; the SS were faced with the problem of disposing of the victims' bodies, which they had buried very ineffectively, and had them dug up and incinerated, an operation that continued for some time," Evans said.

The new murder rate also shows that the Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were murdered in only 100 days, was not the most intense of the 20th century, as claimed in most history books.

Scholars have estimated the killing rate in the 1994 civil war was three to five times faster than the Holocaust but the new figures suggest the rate of Nazi slaughter was 83 per cent greater.

“Operation Reinhard had extraordinary rates of killing. That the massacre occurred in such a short-time frame, and under complete deception, ensured the Jewish people did not have a chance and made the formation of organised resistance extremely difficult,” added Stone.

“These events are not conveyed on standard historical books and encyclopedias, and even the specialist Holocaust literature is vague. 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,” Stone said.

Journal : Lewi Stone. Quantifying the Holocaust: Hyperintense kill rates during the Nazi genocide, Science Advances, 02 Jan 2019, DOI:10.1126/sciadv.aau7292

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