© AFP PHOTO/FILES/YAD VASHEM ARCHIVES - Nazis select Jewish prisoners on the platform of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. The photo dates from May 27, 1944.

A new study shows that almost a quarter of the estimated six million Holocaust victims were killed in barely three months. From August to October 1942, 1.47 million European Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps. This corresponds to an almost unthinkable 15,000 people per day.

The figures come from a new study led by Lewi Stone, a mathematician at the University of Tel Aviv and the RMIT University in Australia. He used detailed reports from the Holocaust trains for that reason at strict times. Stone told American newspaper Newsweek that he was “completely shocked” by the numbers.

“They show that the Nazis envisaged the complete destruction of the Jewish population from occupied Poland in the shortest possible time,” says Stone. “Because the massacre took place in such a short period of time, the Jewish people did not stand a chance and the formation of organized resistance was extremely difficult.”

Even worse than genocide in Rwanda

Stone also discovered that the murder rate during the entire Holocaust was ten times higher than initially calculated in earlier studies. Even more shocking: almost 25 percent of all victims were murdered between August and October 1942. The researcher compared the figure with genocide in Rwanda, where an estimated 800,000 people were murdered in 1994 in three months, and determined the murder rate during those three months of the Holocaust was 83 percent higher.

A total of 480 transports took place from 393 different Polish cities, destined for extermination camps such as Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Those three camps were used for mass destruction, and so the majority of the Jewish victims were killed there. “With a few exceptions, the victims who were transported to the extermination camps were killed very quickly on arrival in the gas chambers. The system that was perfected by the Nazis got the characteristics of an assembly line,” says Stone to Newsweek.

Stone estimates that the Nazi murder campaign could have continued if more potential victims had lived in the German-occupied Poland. “The number of murders dropped in November 1942, because there was no one left to kill,” Stone said.

15,000 murders per day: August-October 1942 was deadliest during Holocaust 1
©Wikimedia Liberated prisoners in Auschwitz, January 1945.

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