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Soviet Mouthpiece Journal in Late 1944: Only Some 3 Million Jews Exterminated

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By Thomas Kues

In November 1944, the ”Holocaust” was practically over. Himmer had supposed ordered the gassings stopped, the alleged ”gas chambers” of Auschwitz-Birkenau had ceased operating, Majdanek had been liberated and figured prominently in Soviet atrocity propaganda, the area containing the few remains of the Treblinka ”extermination camp” been occupied by the Red Army. By this point in time at least 95% of the mythical 6 million Shoah victims had (supposedly) already perished.

In this context it is interesting to take a look at what a Soviet mouthpiece published in the West, the American Communist monthly Soviet Russia Today (previously published under the title New World Review) had to say about the number of Jewish losses in its issue from November 1944. This publication regularly featured writings of Ilya Ehrenburg and Vassili Grossman as well as commentaries on the progress of the war from Soviet generals. Under the heading ”Rehabilitation of the Jews in the USSR” Theodore Bayer writes (p. 28):

”Almost four-fifths of the Jewish population of the USSR lived in the war area. Almost three million of the Soviet Jews lived in the Ukraine and Byelo-Russia which were occupied by the Germans and another million in the Baltic countries, Bessarabia and the Crimea and other parts of the RSFSR reached by the Germans.[…]
Realizing the special danger facing the Jews under the German yoke, Soviet authorities put the task of evacuating them second only to the evacuation of women and children. Thus, with super-human effort, the Red Army men and officers and civil authorities managed to evacuate about fifty per cent of Russian Jews as well as Jews who fled from Poland into Russian territory. Counting the Jews remaining in the liberated Soviet regions including Bessarabia, Bukovina and the Baltic countries, the present Soviet Jewish population may be estimated at between three and one-half to four million people.

Before the war the total Jewish population of the world was estimated to be about 15,500,000 people. About two-thirds were in Europe and the Asiatic part of Russia. The other one-third was mainly in the United States, with the rest scattered in Canada and Latin America and about 400,000 in Palestine. Subtracting the tragic figure of over 3,000,000 Jews exterminated by the Nazis, this would leave about 3,000,000 Jews in Europe outside of those in the USSR, England and the two or three neutral countries. The Soviet Union in liberating Romania and Hungary from the Nazi invaders is setting free areas with large Jewish populations.
Some estimates place the number of Jews surviving at a much lesser figure. However, according to the above calculations, the Jewish population of the world will amount to a little over 12,000,000 people – a loss of about 3,500,000 including deaths in the armed services, partisan armies and the underground of the United Nations.[?] According to these figures, a third of world Jewry will be citizens of the USSR.” (emphasis added)

Only a month after the above quoted article was published, the Soviet-Jewish chief atrocity propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg stated in the Soviet foreign-language press that the Jewish victim figure amounted to 6 million,[1] and the previous calculations referred to by Soviet Russia Today – which must have been recent ones, since Bessarabia was taken by the Red Army in late August 1944 and the Baltic offensive began on Steptember 14 – were thrown down the memory hole.

The figure of nearly 5 million Jews living in the USSR at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, whereof approximately in 4 million in the territories later occupied by the Germans, is partially backed up by the American Jewish Year Book. In volume 43 (1941-1942) we read on p. 663:

”On the date of the invasion, June 22, 1941, half the Jewish population on the continent of Europe, estimated at well over 9,000,000, resided in Russia and Russian occupied areas, while the other half lived in Germany and in countries and territories occupied or dominated by her. Figures for Russia published in October, 1940 showed a total Jewish population of 4,600,000 divided as follows:

Old Russia… 3,000,000
Polish Areas… 1,000,000
Lithuania (excluding Vilna)… 200,000
Latvia… 100,000
Bessarabia… 200,000
Northern Bukowina… 100,000

These figures are given in round numbers and we must, therefore, assume them to be rough approximations. A more likely figure would be 4,700,000, which would account for the Jews in Vilna and Estonia as well as for the additional 20,000 Jews in Old Russia as enumerated in the census of January, 1939.”

It should be noted here that it is not made explicitly clear by Bayer whether the 4 million mention included the Jews in the eastern part of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939, but given that we are dealing with a Soviet mouthpiece, it seems likely that this part of Poland was regarded as part of the USSR. As for the number of Jews originally present in the parts of the USSR not reached by the Germans (no doubt included in the figure for ”Old Russia” presented by the AJYB, it is well known that they were far outnumbered by the Jews in the western parts. According to the 1926 census, the Jews in the Asian part of the RSFSR, the Transcaucasian Republic, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan totaled merely some 152,000, while there lived some 171,000 Jews in the eastern part of European Russia.[2] The 4 million figure therefore appears to be sound.

Bayer writes that the Soviet authorities managed to evacuate ”about fifty per cent” of the Jews in the western part of the Soviet Union. This would mean a total of some 2 million evacuees. As German historian A. Hillgruber writes,

”The estimates of the number of Jews in the Soviet Union in 1941 varies with a difference of over one million. This is foremost due to the unanswered (and now hardly answerable) question of how many Jews were able to escape before the Germans into the unoccupied territories of the Soviet Union. The estimates range between 2.655 million to 1.6 million.”[3]

Wilfried Heink has brought together a number of estimates made by Holocaust historians and Jewish authorities:

”Raul Hilberg 1.5 million, Yitzak Arad 1 to 1.1 million, Solomon Michoels (of the Jewish Antifascist Committee (JAC)) 2 million, Yisrael Gutmann and Michael Berenbaum estimate 1.5 million.”[4]

Military historian Joachim Hoffmann estimates that 600 000 of the Jews in the Soviet-occupied eastern part of Poland were evacuated, and that 450 000 of these disappeared in the Soviet Union (which may be taken to mean that most of these Jews either perished en route to Siberia or Central Asia or in Soviet camps).[5]

While the number of evacuees stated by Soviet Russia Today is very high and might have been exaggerated in order to put the Soviet regime in the best light possible, it is more or less within the same magnitude as the figures espoused by the prominent Holocaust historians Hilberg, Gutmann and Berenbaum. All this of course indicates that the calculations referred to were not conjured out of nothing by Soviet propagandists, but based on actual statistics. The origin of the estimates presented by Theodore Bayer, however, remains an enigma. Undoubtedly they were relayed to the journal from some official Soviet source, like the bulk of its contents, but from where exactly? Were the same calculations presented in more detail elsewhere? Clearly more research is needed on this issue.

[1] J. Hoffmann, Stalin’s Vernichtungskrieg 1941-1945, Verlag für Wehrwissenschaften, Munich 1995, pp. 160-161, 303.

[2] American Jewish Year Book, vol. 40 (1938-1939), p. 546, 548.
[3] A. Hillgruber, “Der Ostkrieg und die Judenvernichtung”, in: Gerd R. Ueberschär, Wolfram Wette, Unternehmen Barbarossa, Schöningh, Paderborn 1984, p. 228, note 6.
[4] W. Heink, ”Well, where are they then?”,
[5] J. Hoffmann, Stalin’s Vernichtungskrieg 1941-1945, op.cit., p. 139.

Written by Thomas Kues in: Demographics,Genocide,Holocaust | Tags: