The Blind Spots in History # 2: Hidden Holocaust Numbers

“The Holocaust(…) was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, throughout German-occupied territory.”
That’s the definition Wikipedia gives. A few sentences later on, this is said: “Some scholars argue that the mass murder of the Romani and people with disabilities should be included in the definition, and some use the common noun “holocaust” to describe other Nazi mass murders, including those of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, and homosexuals.”

During this post, I’ll use the term ‘Holocaust’ seeing it as the whole extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, gays, etc. Mostly (at least over here) the term is used in that way. People seem to define this often as the extermination of Jews ‘and gypsies, gays and so on’. But right here, we’re touching on the raw. It is most certainly true that many Jews were killed (the numbers are terrifying). But only a small amount of people seem to know all the numbers and all the facts.

You may have heard of the Polish citizens who put crosses in Auschwitz (I think it was over there). The world was somewhat shocked – they were putting crosses on a place where millions of Jews had died! Did no one wonder why they did so? There are reasons behind everything. These crosses were put there because the Polish people want the world to acknowledge the truth, the whole truth, and not just the truth we get to hear in history class.

This is the truth.
Six million Jews died.
Six million Polish citizens died.
Three million Polish Jews died. That’s nearly all of the Jews living in Poland at that point.
But there were also three million not-jewish Polish citizens who died. Which means that this isn’t just a jewish tragedy. But who knows about this numbers? I never heard of this before I went to university and had a class on Polish history. It’s like the world has buried this part. At some point people must have closed their eyes to this, so they only saw the jewish side of this story.

It was a tragedy as well for the Jews, of course. That’s pretty obvious. But after all, we shouldn’t keep our eyes closed because we pity them. Finkelstein, a Jew, wrote a book criticizing the exploitation of the Holocaust. He says it’s pretty impossible to say anything bad about the jewish faith or the Jews, because of what happened to them. But let us not forget that the entire Holocaust situation is too often used for jewish concerns. Who dares to say the Jews have no right to be in Israel? No one. I’m not saying they don’t have the right to live there, but they’re building a wall over there.

They’re building a wall and claiming the land.

We know what walls are. They don’t mean peace or fairness. Call me old-fashioned, but I think this is a bad thing. And the Holocaust should not be used as an excuse to do whatever you want. Do not exploit tragedies this way.

But above all I want to tell you that many not-jewish Polish citizens died as well during the Holocaust, and they are too often forgotten. The Polish people aren’t anti-Semitic because they’ve been putting crosses at the extermination camps. They just want to show the truth. They want the world to know the right numbers.

So spread the word.

I’ve got these numbers from my history class. If I’m mistaken somewhere, I sincerely apologise. Our professor knows a lot of Polish history and has done a lot of research over there. He knows what he is talking about, so any mistake is mine. The information on Finkelstein’s book comes from his as well, and from Wikipedia. I haven’t read it myself. I’m no expert at the Jewish concerns and Israel. But they are for sure building a wall.

You like Polish history? Michael Cargill is writing a story on the Warsaw Ghetto – an equally interesting and tragic part in Poland’s history. Plus: he has published paperback books! Just sayin’.

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19 Comments

  1. It’s fascinating how tangled the world becomes once you start learning about just one, small part of history.

    The events of WWII were a continuation of WWI, which itself has its roots in things that happened nearly 50 years earlier. So, here in 2013, we are still dealing with the fallout of what went on in the middle of the 19th century.

    The whole Israel situation is about as screwed up as it’s possible to get.

    Thanks for the mention as well. I’m actually coming towards the end of my book, but it’ll be a while before it’s ready for release…

    Reading about the Holocaust is as bizarre as it is harrowing and depressing.

    Reply
    • Yes, absolutely. Suddenly many things become clear – why certain countries can’t stand each other for example.
      The present is always a result of the past (obviously) and it defines who we are. We have nothing to do with it anymore, and still the world is ruled by beliefs, ideas and stereotypes from ages ago.

      I’m really looking forward to your story!

      Reply
  2. Addie

     /  June 11, 2013

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center gives the number of Jews killed as roughly 5.8 million (1 million of that number were children), and five million non Jews, including Resistance fighters, gays, the mentally ill, Gypsies, Jehovah’s Witness and a slew of others deemed unfit.

    An excellent book on the Warsaw Ghetto is Mila 18, by Leon Uris.

    Reply
    • But they don’t mention the great amount of Polish people? Isn’t that a shame somehow?
      I’ll see if I can find it, thanks for the tip!

      Reply
      • Addie

         /  June 11, 2013

        There was no breakdown, unfortunately. The shame is not only did this occur, but, it continues to happen…and now, as then, people turn their heads.

      • Very right. Turning our heads will cause future school children to learn about how people killed each other. And they will aks ‘why would you do that?’ and they will believe they won’t make these mistakes.

  3. I’ve heard the numbers Addie references as well.

    A difficult topic to tackle, and one that still gives rise to a lot of passion all these years later.
    Good on you for studying it, asking questions, and reading deeper than the common facts.

    Reply
    • As you say! All of these things happened so long ago, and yet we all still feel its effect today.
      I’m glad I get the chance to read deeper indeed!

      Reply
      • I get the same feeling reading Civil War history. A lot of WW2 Holocaust history is a little too painful for me.

      • Because of a personal matter or in general because it so cruel?

      • Personal. My antecedents lost a lot of relatives during it.
        And then there’s the shock that its happened again and again in history in different degrees since then.

      • That’s a sad thing to hear, Guapo. It must indeed be hard to read on the subject. Though like you say, it’s always hard because you know these things won’t stop happening…

  4. Addie

     /  June 11, 2013

    My aging it is still happening is not just in reference to the Holocaust–and I, too, am glad you are asking questions–but, to the genocide that is occurring in the world today, especially in Africa. I’ve heard far too many people, educated intelligent people, who wave off the Holocaust as a trumped up event to keep quiet. We also need to say something, to do something about the genocides that are in full swing. It can’t happen again, people said…yet, it still happens here and now.

    Reply
    • It will always happen somewhere I’m afraid…
      And I wish there was something great we could do about it, but in the end it’s up to the ‘bigger’ men to make the changes. Though we can do our bests – but stoppig this all? I don’t think we can.
      Which doesn’t mean we have to let it happen. Just like you say.

      Reply
  5. Here in the US there appears to be a lot of people who have turned their back on history in general. There are so many lessons to be learned and so much value in understanding them. Your post digs even deeper and I admire that and hope that some can retain some of the messages about history that should not be forgotten. It is ironic that long ago there was always someone in a community or tribe whose job it would be to pass on the history that came before, and now when we have access to more information than ever before in human history via the Internet, we have lost so much perspective.
    Keep the focus- this is precious and valuable. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Thank you for this comment.
      Perhaps we’ve got access to too much information, like you say. And still they’re things almost no one seems to know about. The only thing to do about it is spreading the word, as if we are the people passing iton in this tribe. I’ll do my best to clear out some more history so people won’t forget. And yet at the same time, I realize there’s still a whole lot of events I don’t know of…

      Reply
  6. Found your blog via Tim (Mooselicker) and just wanted to say great post here. I am sickened by the actions Israel takes in Gaza, and even worse how many of our tax dollars go toward fueling their Holy War, and the politics are unbearable. I do think that, in the absence of really accurate numbers, if there were roughly 6 million of one group persecuted, and roughly 6 million of a variety of other groups, there is some weight given to that one group, but it doesn’t excuse using history to justify future atrocities. I am definitely going to check out Finkelstein (the Wikipedia page notes that his most vocal critics are Jewish intellectuals, because obviously)

    Reply
    • Thank you.
      I agree on you – there’s still so many things happening that shouldn’t happen, and we should let them be because… well, who would have the guts to say they can’t?
      It’s important though to realize they’re building a wall, and we’ve had a wall like that too, and it took years and years to get that sorted out. Walls aren’t good.

      Reply
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