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April 11, 2010

an estimated 56,000 prisoners died at Buchewald…

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 2:57 pm

I read numerous news stories today about the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.   All of these news articles mentioned that “an estimated 56,000 prisoners” were killed at Buchenwald.  Why an estimate?  Were no records of the exact number of deaths found?

After the liberation of the Buchenwald camp by the 6th Armored Division of the US Third Army, the American military released the figure of 34,375 deaths, based on the camp records.  Why don’t the news articles give this exact number of deaths, instead of an estimate that is much higher? Does the estimate include deaths in the sub-camps of Buchenwald? The news articles don’t say.

The names of prisoners who died at Buchenwald have been put online; there are around 38,000 names which took 10 years to find in around 500 documents.  That’s a long way from the estimate of 56,000 deaths.

At the Mauthausen Memorial Site, the Museum gives an estimate of 105,000 deaths in the whole Mauthausen system, including the sub-camps, but no exact number of deaths in the main camp.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal,  a set of seven death books with the title “Totenbuch – Mauthausen” on the cover of each one, was introduced by an American prosecutor as Document Number 493-PS, Exhibit Number USA-251. These death books had been confiscated from the Mauthausen main camp by the American liberators. The death books covered the period from January 1939 to April 1945, according to the American prosecutor  who said that the total deaths were 35,318. The death books at Mauthausen did not include the deaths in the sub-camps.

There were 31,951 deaths at the main Dachau camp during the 12 years that the camp was in existence, according to a report made by the International Tracing Service at Arolson, Germany in 1977. The Tracing Service is part of the International Red Cross. This report was based on death records that were turned over to the Red Cross by the American military.  Now the Memorial Site at Dachau is giving estimates of around 41,000 prisoner deaths.

Why do we have to have estimates when the exact numbers, based on the camp records, are available?

Note that the records from Buchenwald, Dachau and Mauthausen show that the number of deaths was about the same — between 31,000 and 35,000.  The estimates have a greater range.

The Sachsenhausen camp was liberated by the Soviet Union; the records were confiscated and never released.  When I visited the Sachsenhausen camp, the number of deaths, given at the Museum, was an estimated 100,000.  The actual number is probably between 30,000 and 35,000.

The Holocaust was bad enough; why do people have to exaggerate?


  1. This is seriously flawed. The number of entries of prisoners is not the real number of total prisoners.

    The nazis gassed women and children immediately, and did not give them numbers, and their names were not recorded.

    Comment by paulosilv — April 15, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

    • That does not apply to Buchenwald which was a camp for men. Only a few women were sent to Buchenwald in the last days of the war. Besides that, it is now generally accepted that Buchenwald did not have a gas chamber.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 15, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

  2. The Holocaust was bad enough; why do people have to exaggerate?

    That should be obvious. You write about it all the time, but if you should actually say it, you might be ID’d and targeted as a (gasp) “holocaust denier.”

    We all have to be very careful because the holocaust exaggeraters are not a forgiving bunch … and they love violence and gore.

    Comment by sceptic — April 11, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    • There is at least one camp where the numbers are dwindling. The original estimate, by the Soviet Union, was that 1.5 million prisoners had died at Majdanek. Now the figure given by the Majdanek Museum is 78,000, including 59,000 Jews. The numbers from Auschwitz-Birkenau have also decreased, from 4 million dead down to 1.1 million. The records from Auschwitz-Birkenau, that the Russians finally released after the fall of the Soviet union, are incomplete. I don’t want to mention the number of deaths in the records because it is so unbelievably low.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 12, 2010 @ 8:09 am

      • I’ll mention it. The number of prisoner deaths from all causes recorded in the Auschwitz death books, for all threee camps (Auschwitz, Birkenau, Monowitz)is 69,000.

        This is for the years July 29, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1943 … 2.5 years. The earlier death books and those for 1944 are missing, so the Red Cross has estimated that 135,000 died during the entire existence of the Auschwitz camps under German control.

        Because these records were revealed, the exaggeraters came up with the story that none of the ‘gassing deaths’ were recorded by the sneaky SS. But there is no evidence of this, it’s just speculation to explain the absence of death records.

        Contrary to public perception, both the Germans and the Russians (the Nazis and the Soviet communists) kept very careful and accurate records, even when they were incriminating to themselves. They just made them top-secret.

        The Soviets were able to keep theirs hidden after the war, but the Nazi records were confiscated by all the victorious powers (whoever got there first!) and were gone over scrupulously, as one can imagine. Whatever could be used as evidence of Nazi crimes was made the most of.

        So there you are. From 4 million claimed by the NKVD in ’45 … to 1.1 million determined by the Polish historians in 1990 or so … to the real figure, whatever it is.

        Comment by sceptic — April 12, 2010 @ 11:44 am

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