The Holocaust Historiography Project

Jewish Casualties During WWII Another Look

Many times during discussions with anti-revisionists, the challenge is made, "Alright then. How many Jews do you say died during WWII?" Launching into a discussion of the difficulties of finding and verifying Jewish population figures before, during, and immediately after the war — as pointed out by Hankins, Butz, and others — satisfies no one.

In an attempt to come up with a better answer, I have examined population figures from revisionist sources and from exterminationist sources as well. Not having a background in demographics or statistics, this has proved to be a disappointing pastime. An article in the Summer 1990, Journal of Historical Review on the fate of a certain select group of Jews by Carl O. Nordling was helpful but contained tables that seemed impenetrable. Even books dedicated to the topic were of limited use, as Butz points out in the introduction to Walter Sanning's study, The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry:

… the person looking for light reading is advised to look elsewhere; this book is difficult to read even for somebody who is accustomed … to reading texts with high quantitative components.

Then in the Fall, 1991, issue of the JHR, there appeared another article by Carl O. Nordling, who this time compared the results from his earlier study against those in Sanning's book. This seemed to be my best bet for getting a handle on the subject. The problem again was that the supplied table, which claimed to show the correlation between the two sets of figures, was as incomprehensible as the tables in his previous article.

However, I felt that if the table in this second article could only be made to reveal its secrets, I would have the answers I sought.

The first thing I did was rearrange the data into a form more easily grasped. Nordling's presentation makes it difficult even to check the figures on an adding machine to see if they pencil out. After some trial and error, I decided upon a cross between a balance sheet and an income summary, as might be found in a financial statement. As on a financial statement, "assets" are listed above and "liabilities" below. In this case, the "assets" are those Jews who either 1) survived the war (whether through emigration, luck, or physical hardiness), or 2) died of natural causes with no intervention on the part of the Nazis. This latter group is a subset of those Jews who remained in German-controlled territories but who were not molested.

The "liabilities" include all those Jews executed (for any reason), who died in custody, who died in concentration or POW camps, or were missing at the war's conclusion (whether alive or dead).

One of the hurdles to comparing Nordling's first set of figures with Sanning's is that each study covers population figures for different areas, and the resulting figures are grouped into different categories. Nordling adjusts the underlying data of his figures to match Sanning's area of study, and then re-categorizes his data by adopting those used by Sanning. This does the job of establishing the relationship between the two sets of numbers, but Nordling's first group of categories is more easily used by the lay person.

The goal, then, was to preserve the categories of the first Nordling sample, yet at the same time decode the second Nordling sample and the Sanning sample, and then see if there were any conclusions that can be drawn from simultaneous comparison. This I achieved by adding one category from Sanning's group to Nordling's original categories, and then cross-matching (and in some instances collapsing) Sanning's categories to fit.

For example, Sanning's category for emigrants matches one of Nordling's earlier categories. But Sanning's figures for Jews who remained in Germany did not match any of Nordling's more detailed categories. Thus, I had to add a category under the "assets" section. In Nordling's critique of Sanning, however, he does not give one single number that represents those Jews who remained in Germany unmolested (which he provided in his first article); this figure must be calculated by subtracting all survivors (144,500) and all dead or missing (544,500) from Sanning's figure for the number of Jews present in the area of study after 1941 (2,847,000).

Similarly, the figure for the total number of Jews who survived the camps is calculated by adding Sanning's figures for Jews who survived Auschwitz (37,000), Jews who survived Theresienstadt (19,500), and Jews who were forwarded from Theresienstadt (88,000). Obviously, not all Jews forwarded from Theresienstadt automatically survived the war, but even if all of them died, this represents less than 2 percent difference in the totals.

Finally, the figure for missing Jews is calculated by adding Sanning's figures for those missing in 1945 (207,000) and those missing not due to emigration or normal mortality (304,000). It should be pointed out that not all missing persons are necessarily dead, but making the assumption that they are results in a conservative estimate and one against which it is difficult for anti-revisionists to argue.

The same process was followed to transform Nordling's second set of figures. This resulted in three sets of figures: the original set from Nordling, the adjusted set from Nordling, and the set from Sanning that Nordling uses by way of comparison against his second (adjusted) set.

  Nordling 1 Nordling 2 Sanning
  # % # % # %
Survivors & natural deaths      
  Remained free
  Emigrated 1939-41 317 44% 206 33% 2,197,000 44%
  Survived the war 168 23%    
  Died of natural causes 88 12%
  Fate unspecified   310 49% 2,158,000 43%
  Arrested or detained    
  Subsequently released 17 2%
  In custody or POW 13 2%
  Survived the camps 24 3% 24 4% 144,500 3%
  Total survivors 54 7% 24 4% 144,500 3%
  Total Survivors & etc. 627 87% 540 86% 4,499,500 89%
Dead or missing      
  Executed 18 2%
  Died in custody or POW 5 1%
  Died in camp (known) 15 2% 5 1% 33,500 1%
  Missing, all causes 57 8% 84 13% 511,000 10%
  Total Dead or Missing 95 13% 89 14% 544,500 11%
  Total in this Sample 722 100% 629 100% 5,044,000 100%

By placing all three sets side-by-side on the balance sheet, the conclusion almost pops off the page. According to Nordling's first set of figures, 12 percent of the unmolested Jews died natural deaths. Sanning does not have figures for this category, but when you look at the total Jews missing or dead in Sanning's figures, you see that it comes to 11 percent of the total sample. In other words, even if you assume that all missing Jews actually died in the custody of the Nazis, when added to the known Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis, the total percentage is less than the natural death rate found in Nordling's original sample.

As Nordling points out, because of the difference in make-up (wealth, profession, societal position, etc.) between his sample (so-called "establishment" Jews) and those in Sanning's (general Jewish population), this one percent difference does not mean that Jews were better off in the concentration camps than they were as free men and women.

However, it does show that there are no large numbers of inexplicably missing Jews. Even if some of the figures are off by a few percent, there is not enough margin of error to support the charge that large numbers of Jews were exterminated en masse by the Nazis (and certainly nowhere near the 6,000,000 figure commonly thrown about).

In the wake of Sanning's book, it is unlikely that we will see many more books on this topic. It only remains for its conclusions to be made available clearly and unmistakably to the average revisionist and exterminationist alike.


  1. Butz, Arthur. The Hoax Of The Twentieth Century. Costa Mesa, CA: Institute for Historical Review; 1980; ISBN: 0-911038-23-X. Note: Copyright 1976.
  2. Desjardins, Dan. Critique of John S. Conway's Review of Walter Sanning's 'Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry,' from 'The International History Review,' August, 1985. The Journal of Historical Review. Fall 1986; vol. 7 (no. 3): pg 375. ISSN: 0195-6752.
  3. Hankins, Frank. How Many Jews Were Eliminated by the Nazis? The Journal of Historical Review. Spring 1983; vol. 4 (no. 1): pg 61. ISSN: 0195-6752. Note: A preliminary survey of the question.
  4. Nordling, Carl. How Many Jews Died in the German Concentration Camps? The Journal of Historical Review. Fall 1991; vol. 11 (no. 3): pg 335. ISSN: 0195-6752.
  5. Nordling, Carl. The Jewish Establishment under Nazi Threat and Domination 1938-1945. The Journal of Historical Review. Summer 1990; vol. 10 (no. 2): pg 195. ISSN: 0195-6752.
  6. Rassinier, Paul. Debunking The Genocide Myth. Los Angeles, CA: Noontide Press; 1978; ISBN: 0-911038-24-8. Note: Translated from the French by Adam Robbins.
  7. Rassinier, Paul. The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses. Costa Mesa, CA: Institute for Historical Review; 1978.
  8. Rubenstein, W. D.; Sanning, Walter; Butz, Arthur. 'The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry': An Exchange. The Journal of Historical Review. Fall 1984; vol. 5 (no. 3): pg 367. ISSN: 0195-6752.
  9. Sanning, Walter. The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry. Costa Mesa, CA: Institute for Historical Review; 1990; ISBN: 0-939484-11-0. Note: Copyright 1983. Foreword by Arthur R. Butz.