January 22, 2021

what the figures of the Nazi genocide show

what the figures of the Nazi genocide show

The Holocaust is one of the best-documented genocides in history, but we have of very few data that speak of figures, even if they are events of capital importance.

It's more, this episode of the story it is often explained in such large numbers that it is very difficult to assimilate. A number as large as the infamous six million murders overshadow the meaning of the key operations that shaped the genocide, turning a devastating mass event into a vague characterization.

In the digital age in which we live, mathematics, data science and visualization tools that we enjoy can help to make sense of this type of event for generations to come. When examining a set of disordered and erroneous data of the time about the deportations of people, I began to discover the true magnitude of the killing. You can check in the study that I made and that was published on January 2.

Operation Reinhard

My research focuses on a period of 1942 in which the one known as Operation Reinhard, during which the Nazis transported around 1.7 million victims (including entire Jewish communities) through the European rail network to Treblinka, Bełżec and Sobibor. Almost all the people transferred to the extermination camps were killed in gas chambers, usually only a few hours after their arrival. Because the Nazis destroyed virtually all the records of the massacre, it is important to try to find out what really happened.

During the elaboration of the study I noticed the "crime rate", that is, the murders carried out every day.

This index reveals a sudden massacre after the order to "accelerate actions", issued on July 23, 1942 by Hitler, as assured by an SS officer. Approximately 1.5 million Jews were killed in just 100 days, both in the gas chamber and in shootings outside the extermination camps. In August, September and October around 500,000 murders were perpetrated every month, that is, about 15,000 deaths per day.

The killing ended shortly after, since there were hardly any Jews left in the area.

The full extent of this genocidal massacre seems not to be documented in history. The information available to us before the study was mostly reconstructed indirectly based on partial conjectures and on an annual time scale, instead of daily or monthly, which caused this three-month annihilation to be overlooked. of duration.

My analysis is based on the train records carefully collected and gathered in a book written by the historian of the Holocaust Yitzhak Arad, published in 1987. Arad documents approximately 500 transfers originating in some 400 Jewish communities in Poland, classified by days according to location, the number of victims of each transfer and the extermination camps to which they ended up.

My research required a detailed classification of the different documents, as well as the inclusion of data that had survived over time. In addition, I created a video in which I expose a spatio-temporal map in which I situate the 400 Jewish communities in the Polish territory and indicated the chronological sequence of the deportations to extermination camps throughout the year 1942.

While Operation Reinhard is considered the largest Holocaust extermination campaign, the dizzying pace at which the Nazis operated to eliminate the Jewish people has been underestimated. The majority of the world population does not know that this unprecedented massacre took place in just three months, and only thanks to the data collected by Arad we now have a more approximate knowledge of what actually happened.

This short space of time indicates the incredible coordination of a state machinery that responded to the avidity of the Führer to eradicate a whole people. The train records show how entire areas were emptied of Jewish communities one by one in an organized manner, and how the numbers of murders were growing until there was virtually no one else left to be eliminated. The graph below highlights the pace and frenzy with which hundreds of thousands of people were massively executed throughout 1942.

The real measure of genocide

Despite more than 70 years of research on the Holocaust, this seems the first attempt to graphically plot additional genocide data chronologically and spatially. My data-based approach portrays Operation Reinhard from a different perspective than what can be found in historical report volumes.

Often, experts in genocides compare the data of recent exterminations with those of the Nazi Holocaust, considering the latter the point of reference to establish the seriousness of a genocide. So things, many scientists argue that the genocide of Rwanda it was "the greatest" of the twentieth century: in the African country, they argue, the rate of mass murders was three to five times greater than in the Holocaust.

However, my study shows that while in Rwanda the crimes produced 8,000 victims a day for a period of 100 days, the Holocaust doubled these figures in the same period of time during Operation Reinhard.

These data suggest that the Holocaust murder rate has been underestimated by a ratio of six to 10 times. In my opinion, such comparisons have limited utility and degrade the historical significance of the extermination of the Jewish people.

The Holocaust is the most enlightening example of how the efficient machinery of a government turned against the people in an irrational way. It crossed all the limits of cruelty and was erected as an effective system. This is the key lesson of the Holocaust that I believe we should not forget.

The Conversation

This article was originally published in The Conversation. read the original.


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