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    Einsatzgruppen: Number of Jews Killed

    How do we know that at least 1,150,000 Jews were murdered by the Einsatzgruppen and their associates?

    Holocaust deniers claim:

    The number of Jews murdered by the Einsatzgruppen is much lower than the 1,000,000 estimated victims. The Holocaust deniers claim that the “numbers . . . are impossibly large” and there isn’t the “slightest statistic basis” for the claim that the Einsatzgruppen “had wantonly extermination a million Jews . . .”

    The facts are:

    The crimes of the Einsatzgruppen are the best documented of the Holocaust. In addition to survivor, bystander and perpetrator eyewitness evidence, physical evidence in the form of graves and bodies, and photographs we have a nearly complete series of the Einsatzgruppen reports (of 195 reports only one is missing). At the time of the Einsatzgruppen trials, the numbers of Jews murdered was placed at a minimum of 1,000,000. Modern research has shown that it is closer to 1,150,000.  

    Jürgen Graf, a Swiss Holocaust denier, maintains that: “The claimed numbers of victims of the Einsatzgruppen are impossibly large” and due to the “catastrophic lack of documentation” it is “an impossible task to give the number of Soviet Jews killed by the Germans even approximately.”[1] Richard Harwood, an English Holocaust denier, makes the sweeping assertion that “there had never been the slightest statistical basis” for the claim that the Einsatzgruppen “had wantonly exterminated a million Jews during their operations . . .”[2]

    The facts about the crimes of the Einsatzgruppen.

    Harwood’s claim to the contrary, the crimes of the Einsatzgruppen are the best documented of the Holocaust. In addition to survivor, bystander and perpetrator eyewitness evidence, physical evidence in the form of graves and bodies, and photographs we have a nearly complete series of the OSRs (Einsatzgruppen reports from the field which were compiled into a summary report in Berlin). Of the 195 reports, only one is missing.

    Page 6 of Jager Report. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0716-0005-007 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.
    Page 6 of Jager Report. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0716-0005-007 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

    The total number of persons killed by the Einsatzgruppen.

    Benjamin Ferencz, the Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen trial, added up the number in the 194 Einsatzgruppen reports. Some of the reports were not clear as to the numbers of Jews murdered, for instance, they simply stated that a town or area was “free of Jews.” Ferencz added up all the actual numbers and used the number ‘1’ for any description of murder which gave no actual number. He found that the numbers totaled over 1,000,000 Jewish men, women and children.[3] Given the way Ferencz had to count vague entries, is clear that the number is higher than the stark statistics in the reports.

    A more recent and comprehensive study of the numbers reported in the OSRs confirms and increases Ferencz’s back of the envelope calculations. The figures below were compiled in combination with the Jäger and Stahlecker reports, which were submitted outside the OSR reporting process. Duplications and typographical errors have been removed.   Meticulous calculations reveal the following as of December 1942:

     

    Einsatzgruppe A:                                                       363,337

    Einsatzgruppe B:                                                        134,000

    Einsatzgruppe C:                                                       118,341

    Einsatzgruppe D:                                                       91,728

    Higher SS and Police Leaders and staff:               445,325

     

    The total number of Jews murdered is at least 1,152,731 across the four Einsatzgruppen units and the Higher SS and Police Leaders and their staff.[4] It is important to remember that these numbers refer to all the victims, not just the Jews, although the vast majority of them were Jewish men, women and children.

    The above number does not reflect the figures for the majority of the murders committed by local collaborator units under the control of the Einsatzgruppen, civil administrations, or the Romanian and Hungarian armies. Further, the figures do not include about 1,000,000 Jews who were worked to death or died of disease, cold or starvation in the ghettos or camps. Most responsible Holocaust scholars think that up to about 2,500,000 Jews may have been murdered in the East by the Germans by one method or another.

    Conclusion

    The Einsatzgruppen’s and Higher SS and Police Leader’s own figures shows that they murdered at least 1,152,731 people, the vast majority of which were Jewish men, women and children.

    At the Einsatzgruppen trial in Hamburg, when the defense attorneys claimed the numbers were simply too incredible to be true, the court summed it up well: “To say that these figures are incredible is an entirely credible and sane observation. This whole case is incredible. This is the case where the incredible has become the norm.[5]

    NOTES

    [1] Jürgen Graf, The Giant With Feet of Clay: Raul Hilberg and his Standard Work on the “Holocaust,” p. 40 at http://vho.org/GB/Books/Giant/Chapter5.pdf.

    [2] Richard Harwood, Did Six Million Really Die? Trust at Last—Exposed (Part 4 of 9), (“Action Group Executions Distorted”) at http://www.zundelsite.org/harwood/didsix00.html#4.

    [3] Force by Law Not Law By Force: The World’s Largest Murder Trial (Documentary from Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, 2001.)

    [4] For a scholarly and complete study of the number of Jews murdered see Ronald Headland, Messages of Murder: A Study of the Reports of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the Security Service, 1941-1943 (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1992), pp. 92-100.

    [5] Ronald Headland, Messages of Murder: A Study of the Reports of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the Security Service, 1941-1943, p. 174.