How many victims, how many survivors? - Memory makes us free

How many victims, how many survivors?

There is not an official and definitive number of victims of Nazi persecution, as never finding a complete and exhaustive documentation that contains the exact number of deaths caused by the Shoah or by Second World War.

This is also because the Nazis were in a hurry to destroy evidence and documents that could have given the real dimension of their actions, fortunately without completely succeeding.

For the same reasons it is really hard to calculate the number of survivors, that is those who were deported, persecuted or discriminated between 1933 and 1945, by the Nazis or their allies, but also all refugees and those who had gone into hiding in an attempt to escape the massacre planned by the Nazis. The number of survivors varies from nation to nation because not all the national governments gave the Nazis the same support in identifying the Jews to be deported and organizing transport. Among the least affected states we remember: Albania, Bulgaria, Denmark and Finland (almost all Jews survived), but also Italy and France (about 80%).

The following numbers refer to the victims, they are the result of estimates and calculations based on different  types of data (censuses, German and Axis countries’ archives, post-war investigations), and are therefore susceptible to further additions as other documents are found.

Category Number of victims
Jews 6 million
Soviet civilians about 7 million (including 1.3 million Soviet
Jewish civilians, also included in the 6 million Jews)
Soviet prisoners of war about 3 million (including about 50.000 Jewish soldiers)
Polish civilians, non-Jews about 1.8 million (between 50.000 and
100.000 members of the Polish elite)
Serbian civilians (in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina) 312.000
Disabled people who lived in institutions up to 250.000
Romanies (Gypsies) up to 250.000
Jehovah’s Witnesses up to 1.900
Recidivist criminals and individuals defined as asocial at least 70.000
German political opponents and members of the Resistance in Axis countries indefinite number
Homosexuals Hundreds, perhaps thousands (including the nearly 70,000 criminal recidivist and asocial listed above)

If, instead, we limit our attention to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps, these are the – terrible – numbers that historians present to us:

The deportees to Auschwitz were approximately:

  • 1.100.000 Jews
  • About 140.000-150.000 Poles
  • 23.000 Romanies
  • 15.000 Soviet prisoners of war
  • 25.000 prisoners belonging to other ethnic groups

Of these, at least 1,100,000 people lost their lives in Auschwitz, 90% of them Jews.

numero di deportati ad Auschwitz
number of deportees to Auschwitz


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