Friday, January 04, 2019
Nearly 1.5 million Jews — more than a quarter of all those killed during the entirety of World War II — were murdered by Nazis in just three months, a new study in the Science Advances found.
The rate of genocide was 10 times higher than previous estimates suggested, biomathematician Lewi Stone of Tel Aviv University and RMIT University reported in the study.
Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Holocaust, killed around 1.7 million Jews from 1942 to 1943. During that time, there was "an intense, 100-day (about three months) surge" of killing in August, September and October of 1942.
In August and September, around half a million victims were killed each month.
The majority of the murders were done in three large death camps in western Poland, either by gassing victims or shooting them.
An estimated 5.4 million to 5.8 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust during World War II, according to the study, though scholars have struggled to estimate exact numbers as officials attempted to destroy much of the documentation and evidence.
The new study used railway transportation records to identify more accurate numbers of those killed. Stone attempted to identify not only how many victims were killed, but also at "the rate in which the genocide proceeded," he wrote in the study.
However historian Christian Gerlach of the University of Bern, Switzerland suggested that the numbers in Stone's study were too high, according to BuzzFeed News.
Gerlach told the outlet that an Operation Reinhard officials sent a telegram that implied around 1.32 million people were killed in the campaign. The purpose of Operation Reinhard to exterminate every Jewish person in the Nazi-occupied Poland.
In Stone's study, he concluded that the rapid decline in killings from November and December 1942 "simply reflects that there were very few Jewish victims left alive to murder by this stage."
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