The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/auschwitz/press/death-toll-estimate-reduced


Archive/File: pub/camps/auschwitz/press/death-toll-estimate-reduced
Last-Modified: 1996/01/01
Source: The Washington Times, Tuesday, July 17, 1990

Poland reduced Auschwitz death toll estimate to 1 million

By Krysztof Leski and Ohad Gozani
London Daily Telegraph

LONDON - Poland has cut its estimate of the number of people
killed by the Nazis in the Auschwitz death camp from 4 million
to just over 1 million.

The vast majority of the dead are now accepted to have been
Jews, despite claims by the former Polish communist government
that as many Poles perished in Hitler's largest concentration
camp.

The revised Polish figures support claims by Israeli
researchers that Poland's former communist government
exaggerated the number of victims by inflating the estimate of
non-Jews who died.

The new study could rekindle the controversy over the scale of
Hitler's "Final Solution."

Shevach Weiss, a death camp survivor and Labor Party member of
the Israeli Parliament, expressed disbelief at the revised
estimates, saying: "It sounds shocking and strange."

But other Israeli experts said evidence to support the lower
estimate has been mounting for some time.

Auschwitz, 30 miles southwest of Krakow, was established in
1940 as a camp for political prisoners. It was later expanded
with a huge extermination complex at Birkenau, which included
gas chambers and ovens.

Franciszek Piper, director of the historical committee of the
Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, said yesterday that, according to
recent research, at least 1.3 million people were deported to
the camp, of whom about 223,000 survived.

The 1.1 million victims included 960,000 Jews, between 70,000
and 75,000 Poles, nearly all of the 23,000 gypsies sent to the
camp and 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war. Mr. Piper stressed
that the figures are minimum estimates but said the total
number of dead was unlikely to exceed 1.5 million.

Shmeul Krakowsky, head of research at Israel's Yad Vashem
memorial for Jewish victims of the Holocaust, said the new
Polish figures were correct.

"The 4 million figure was let slip by Capt. Rudolf Hoess, the
death camp's Nazi commander. Some have bought it, but it was
exaggerated."

Mr. Krakowsky accused Poland's former communist government of
perpetuating the false figure in an attempt to minimize the
Holocaust and support claims that Auschwitz was not
exclusively a Jewish death camp. He said that at most 300,000
non-Jews perished there.

The latest Polish research is based on studies of prisoners'
personal numbers, transport documents and data about Jewish
ghettos.

Plaques commemorating the deaths of 4 million victims were
removed from the Auschwitz museum earlier this month. But the
Polish authorities said accurate estimates of the number
killed could only be made by studying German documents seized
by the Soviet Union. But Moscow has refused to return the
archives.

According to Mr. Krakowsky, 5,860,000 Jews perished in the
Holocaust, mostly in Auschwitz and five other Polish death
camps. There were extermination camps in other occupied
countries, including Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

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