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The Auschwitz Gambit: The Four Million Variant

      Previous to 1992, anyone who publicly doubted the 4.1
      million"gassing" deaths at Auschwitz was labeled an anti-Semite,
      neo-nazi skinhead (at the very least).  Quietly, because of
      revisionist findings, the official figure was lowered to 1.1
      million.  No mention of that missing 3 million.  (Foner)

   On May 12th, 1945, a few months after the liberation of Auschwitz,
   a Soviet State Commission reported that not less than four million
   people were murdered there (Reitlinger, 499).  This number was
   displayed at the Auschwitz State Museum until 1991, when it was
   lowered to 1.1 million (Cattani, 19).  The total death toll for the
   Holocaust, however, stayed at about six million.  Mainstream
   historians, it seemed, were caught in a bind.  Had three million
   fewer people died in the Holocaust?  And if so, why hadn't
   historians reevaluated their own figures?

   Holocaust deniers soon capitalized on this apparent contradiction,
   both in _The Spotlight_ (see above) and in the ad sent to many
   college newspapers by Bradley Smith's "Committee For Open Debate on
   the Holocaust" (4):

      The Auschwitz State Museum has recently revised its
      half-century-old claim that 4 million humans were murdered
      there.  The Museum now says maybe it was 1 million.  But what
      proof does the Museum provide to document the 1 million figure?
      None!  The communist propagandists who manage the museum have
      put on display piles of hair, boots and eyeglasses, etc.  While
      such displays are effective propaganda devices, they are
      worthless as historical documentation for "gassings" or a
      program of "extermination."

      Meanwhile, Revisionists want to know where those 3 million souls
      have been the last 45 years.  Were they part of the fabled Six

   And again in a _Spotlight_ article about Holocaust 'revisionist'
   David Cole's trip to Auschwitz: (Foner)

      Like most Americans, since his youth Cole had been instructed in
      the "irrefutable fact" that homicidal gassings had taken place
      at Auschwitz.  The number of those so executed - also declared
      irrefutable - was 4.1 million.

      Then came the Leuchter Report in 1988.  This was followed by a
      "re-evaluation" of the total deaths at Auschwitz (down to 1.1
      million).  As a budding historian - and a Jew - Cole was

   And in the Holocaust denial magazine _The Journal of Historical
   Review_ (Luftl):

      In the view of those who believe--or cause others to believe--in
      the [Holocaust], mass gassings, especially of Jews, were carried
      out in the concentration camps of the Third Reich.  Above all in
      Auschwitz (hence the term "Auschwitz Myth"), four million Jews
      were gassed.  [The Nuremberg Tribunal "established" that four
      million PEOPLE (Jews and non-Jews) had been KILLED (by all
      means) at Auschwitz.] Currently, though, unimpeachable sources
      are seeking to reduce this [sic] figure to 1.5 million.  On
      mathematical grounds alone, the "symbolic figure of Six Million"
      should be reduced by 3.5 million.  Of course, such a reduction
      does not lessen the [gravity of the] crime in any way, because
      even one victim is one too many.

   Holocaust deniers would have people believe that the Auschwitz
   State Museum's death toll of four million was a widely accepted
   idea, and that any revisions in this number should also lower the
   total dead from the Holocaust.  Deniers often claim that this
   revision is largely due to the efforts of 'revisionist scholars',
   and then use this as evidence that the stories of mass murder at
   Auschwitz are a hoax.  

   Deniers also claim that anyone who dared to question the four
   million figure was "labeled an Anti-Semite, neo-nazi skinhead (at
   the very least)".  By accusing their opponents of slander, deniers
   can simultaneously tarnish the reputations of real historians, and
   also invoke a "conspiracy" that suppresses "the truth".  Conspiracy
   theorizing is another common denier approach, and they use it to
   explain why their "startling facts" have been ignored for so long.
   Deniers almost always overstate the "Four Million Variant", as they
   would like to portray Holocaust historians as a repressive, Jewish
   dominated cadre that rigidly enforces the "dogma" of four million
   dead at Auschwitz.  

   As is often the case, our "revisionist scholars" have things more
   than a little askew.  "The Four Million Variant" is the fallacious
   notion that a change in the Auschwitz Museum's figure pokes a major
   hole in mainstream Holocaust history.  Taking each aspect of the
   "Four Million Variant" individually shows just how wrongheaded
   this notion is: 

      "The four million figure at Auschwitz was a widely held notion."

   This is clearly false.  In a quick survey of nineteen historical
   references (see appendix, section 4.2a) only two listed the total
   Auschwitz dead at four million (Kogon, Der SS Staat, 157; Friedman,
   14).  One of these, Friedman's "This Was Oswiecim: The Story of a
   Murder Camp," was published in 1946, well before more reliable
   estimates were available.  Most list figures from 1 to 2.5 million,
   and they arrived at these figures in a variety of methods .  Some
   quoted Kommandant Ho"ss's testimony (2.5 million) and others
   attempted to piece together how many people were arrived at
   Auschwitz minus any survivors, while still others used available
   pre and post war census data.  In fact, to find many sources that
   do list four million dead, one has to find books published behind
   the iron curtain (see appendix).

   Other authors derided the Tribunal's four million figure as an
   absurd example of Soviet propaganda.  (Reitlinger, 500; Sweibocka,
   287-288).  For example, Gerald Reitlinger's _The Final Solution_
   discussed the source of the State Museum's figure and why he found
   it ludicrous:

      ...The Red Army did not arrive [at Auschwitz] till January 26th.
      They found 2,819 invalids in the three camps, whom they spared
      no pains to nurse back to health.  In due course a Soviet State
      Commission arrived and on May 12th the world was presented with
      its findings.

      'However, using rectified coefficients for the part time
      employment of the crematorium ovens and for the periods when
      they stood empty, the technical expert.commission has
      ascertained that during the time that the Auschwitz camp
      existed, the German butchers [sic] exterminated in this camp not
      less than four million citizens of the U.S.S.R., Poland, France,
      Jugoslavia [sic], Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Holland,
      Belgium, and other countries.'

      The world has grown mistrustful of 'rectified coefficients' and
      the figure of four million has become ridiculous.
      Unfortunately, Russian arithmetic has blurred the stark and
      inescapable fact that 800,000 to 900,000 human beings perished
      in Auschwitz, its gas chambers and its camps.  There are
      probably too many incalculable factors to make a closer estimate
      of the number of Auschwitz victims possible...(Ibid., 499)

   Reitlinger's book was published in 1968, well before the deniers
   claim the figure fell into disfavor, and twenty years before
   'revisionist scholars' began challenging the figure.  

   Another issue is the denier notion that anyone who dared to stray
   from the "Four Million" was labeled an anti-Semite and then hounded
   into submission by some mainstream historians, the media, or Jews.
   This soon becomes a laughable idea once one sees the wide-ranging
   estimates in the mainstream literature.  If no one dared question
   the Soviet Commission's "four million", one must wonder why
   Reitlinger would be so bold as to call it 'ridiculous', and also
   why so few historians believed that figure.

   More recently there have been attempts to accurately the number
   dead at Auschwitz.  Franciszek Piper of the Auschwitz State Museum
   published a study called "The Number of Victims" in _Anatomy of the
   Auschwitz Death Camp_.  The study outlines his investigation into
   the total Auschwitz death toll, and how he reached his estimate of
   1.1 million, effectively debunking the old Soviet figure.  (see

      "The four million figure was changed due to 'revisionist'

   This is clearly fallacious, as the revised figure is actually more
   in tune with the estimates of credible historians than the Soviet
   Commission's count.  If anything, it was the easing of cold war
   tensions that allowed reexamination of the four million total
   rather than the research of 'revisionist historians.' 

   In fact, it was a study begun in 1980 by Franciszek Piper, head of
   the Historical Department at the Auschwitz State Museum that
   finally displaced the Museum's four million figure (Catani, 14).
   Piper collected all available documentation on how many deportees
   arrived at Auschwitz, and subtracted from this all known transfers,
   releases, and escapees to arrive at his estimation.  Here are his

   Deportees to Auschwitz:          1,300,000
   Transfers:                        -212,820
   Released prisoners:                 -1,500
   Escapees:                             -500
   Liberated Prisoners:                -8,000
   Total Dead:                      1,077,180

   Or about 1.1 million dead, which is not that different from
   Hilberg's estimate of one million dead at Auschwitz (Hilberg, 572).
   Piper concluded that this figure is a minimum estimate, as this
   does not account for victims not listed in the records,
   particularly those who were killed immediately upon arrival.  After
   the study's completion in 1986, Piper's findings were confirmed by
   a panel of historians appointed by Poland's Ministry of Culture
   (Catani, 14).  Shortly thereafter, the official death toll at the
   State Museum was lowered to 1.1 million.  

      "Since the Auschwitz State Museum lowered its death toll to one
      million, the total number of Holocaust victims should be reduced
      by about three million.

   Again, this is false.  Few (if any) historians ever believed the
   Museum's four million figure, having arrived at their own estimates
   independently.  The museum's inflated figures were never part of
   the estimated five to six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, so
   there is no need to revise this figure.


   Holocaust deniers often misstate a historical fact to confuse and
   confound an otherwise naive reader, and the "Four Million Variant"
   is no exception.  Each piece of this denier puzzle is flawed, from
   the contention that the number killed at Auschwitz was protected as
   an "irrefutable fact" to the existence of some cabal that slanders
   all those who question this figure.  

   Deniers often use the "Four Million Variant" as a stepping stone to
   leap from an apparent contradiction to the idea that the Holocaust
   was a hoax, again perpetrated by a conspiracy.  They hope to
   discredit historians by making them seem inconsistent.  If they
   can't keep their numbers straight, their reasoning goes, how can we
   say that their evidence for the Holocaust is credible?  One must
   wonder which historians they speak of, as most have been remarkably
   consistent in their estimates of a million or so dead (See Hilberg,
   572; Dawidowicz, 191; Sweibocka, 287-288).  

   In short, all of the denier's blustering about the "Four Million
   Variant" is a specious attempt to envelope the reader into their
   web of deceit, and it can be discarded after the most rudimentary
   examination of published histories.


Historical sources and the Auschwitz death toll estimates

   Appendix A:  Auschwitz Death Tolls in Western Sources

   "Auschwitz" _The World Book Ency clopedia_.  Chicago: World Book,
   1980.  (2.5 million)

   Bauer, Yehuda.  _A History of the Holocaust_.  New York: F.  Watts.
   1982.  p 215.  (1.5 to 3.5 million.)

   Yeduha Bauer.  "Danger of Distortion, Poles and Jews alike are
   supplying those who deny the Holocaust with the best possible
   arguments" _Jerusalem Post_., 30 Sep 1989 (1.6 million)

   Bauer, Yehuda.  "Foreword", in Mu"ller', Filip.  _Eyewitness
   Auschwitz_.  New York: Stein and Day, 1979, xi.  (said exact figure
   unkown, but estimated 3.5 million.)

   Billig, Joseph.  _Les camps de concentration dans l'economie du
   Reich hitlerien_.  Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1973.
   pp 101-102. (2 million)

   Dawidowicz, Lucy.  _The War Against the Jews_.  New York: Bantam
   Books, 1979, p 191. (1.1 million)

   _Encyclopedia Judaica_, Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1974.  p
   855. (1 to 2.5 million)

   Friedman, Filip.  _This Was Oswiecim: The Story of a Murder Camp_.
   Translated from the Yiddish original by Joseph Leftwich.  London:
   The United Jewish Relief Appeal, 1946, 14. (from four to five

   Gilbert, Martin.  _Atlas of the Holocaust_.  New York: Pergamon
   Press, 1988.  (Total Polish dead at 3 million.)

   Hilberg, Raul.  _The Destruction of the European Jews_.  Chicago:
   Quadrangle Books, 1961, 572. (1 million)

   Ho"ss, Rudolf.  _Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant of
   Auschwitz_.  ed.  by Steven J.  Palusky, transl.  by Andrew
   Pollinger.  Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1992, p 391 (1,130,000

   Kamenetksy, Ihor.  _Secret Nazi Plans for Eastern Europe_.  New
   Haven: College and University Press, 1961.  p174 (About 2.5 milion)

   Kogon, Eugene. _Der SS Staat_.  Berlin,  1974, 157.  (3.5 to 4.5

   Lane, Arthur Bliss.  _I Saw Poland Betrayed:  An American 
   Ambassador Reports to the American People_.  Indianapolis:  The 
   Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948: "They [the Nazis] had no compunction 
   in massacring over three million Polish Jews in the asphyxiation 
   chambers of Oswiecim and Majdanek." (Lane, 39) (Lane was US 
   Ambassador to Poland from 1944-1947, until resigning over the 
   betrayal of Poland and appeasement of the Soviet Union.)

   Piper, Franciszek.  "The Number of Victims" in _Anatomy of the
   Auschwitz Death Camp_.  Washington D.C and Bloomington: United
   States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University Press,
   1994.  Chapter Four.  (1.1 million)

   Polaikov, Leon.  _Harvest of Hate_ Syracuse: Syracuse University
   Press, 1956, 202.  (2.3 million)

   Reitlinger, Gerald.  _The Final Solution: The Attempt to
   Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945_.  South Brunswick: T.
   Yoseloff, 1968, 500.  (Between 800,000 and 900,000)

   Sweibocka, Teresa.  _Auschwitz: A History in Photographs_.
   Bloomington and Warsaw: Indiana University Press and Ksiazka I
   Wiedza, 1993, 287-288.  (1.1 to 1.5 million)

   Weiss, A.  "Categories of Camps, Their character and Role in the
   Execution of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question," in _The
   Nazi Concentration Camps_, Jerusalem: Yad Veshem, 1984, 132.  (1.2
   to 2.5 million.)

   Wellers, Georges.  "Essai de determination du nombre de morts au
   camp d'Auschwitz" _Le Monde Juif_, Oct-Dec 1 1983, 127-59, (1.6

   Appendix B: Studies from Poland, former East Germany, and former

   These generally cite the findings of the Soviet Commision (four
   million), the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland (2.8 to 4.0
   million) or the testimony of Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Ho"ss.

   "Brestrafung der Verbrecher von Auschwitz," in _Auschwitz:
   Geschichte und Wirklichkeit des Vernichtungslagers_.  Reinbek bei
   Hamburg: Rowolt, 1980, 211.  (2.5 to 4.0 million)

   Czech, D.  "Konzentrationslager Auschwitz: Abriss der Geschichte,"
   in _Auschwitz: Geschichte und Wirklichkeit des
   Konzentrationslagers_.  Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowolt, 1980, 42.
   (2.5 to 4 million)

   Dunin-Wasowicz, Krzysztof.  _Resistance in the Nazi concentration
   camps, 1933-1945_.  Warsaw: PWN-Polish Scientific Publishers, 1982,
   44.  (2.5 - 4 million)

   Madajczyk, Czeslaw.  _Polityka III Rzeszy w okupowanej Polsce;
   okupacja Polski, 1939-1945_.  Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawn Naukowe,
   1970, 293-94.  (2.8 to 4 million)

   _Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945: informator
   encyklopedyczny_.  Warsaw: Panst.  Wydaw.  Naukowe DSP, 1979, 369.
   (2.5 to 4 million.)

                               Work Cited

   Bezwinska, Jadwiga, Ph. D., and Danuta Czech M.A.  KL Auschwitz
   seen by the SS:  Hoess, Broad, Kremer.  Howard Fertig Inc.,
   New York, 1984.

   Cattani, Alfred.  "Auschwitz: Controversy Over the Numbers" _News
   Weekly_, 11 May 1991

   Dawidowicz, Lucy.  _The War Against the Jews_.  New York: Bantam
   Books, 1979

   Foner, Samuel P.  "Major Historical Fact Uncovered" SPOTLIGHT
   Vol.  XIX, Number 2, January 11, 1993) 

   Friedman, Filip.  _This Was Oswiecim: The Story of a Murder Camp_.
   Translated from the Yiddish original by Joseph Leftwich.  London:
   The United Jewish Relief Appeal, 1946

   Hilberg, Raul.  _The Destruction of the European Jews_.  Chicago:
   Quadrangle Books, 1961.

   Luftl, Walter.  "The Luftl Report: An Austrian Engineer's Report on
   the 'Gas Chambers' of Auschwitz and Mauthausen," _The Journal of
   Historical Review_, Vol.  12, Number 4 (Winter 1992-93)

   Piper, Franciszek.  "The Number of Victims" in _Anatomy of the
   Auschwitz Death Camp_.  Washington D.C and Bloomington: United
   States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University Press,

   Poliakov, Leon.  Harvest of Hate: The Nazi Program for the
   Destruction of the Jews of Europe.  Syracuse University Press.,

   Pressac, Jean-Claude.  Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas 
   Chambers.  Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989. 

   Reitlinger, Gerald.  __The Final Solution: The Attempt to
   Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945_.  South Brunswick: T.
   Yoseloff, 1968. 

   Smith, Bradley. "Campus Ad Campaign Goes Forward," Institute for
   Historical Review (IHR) Newsletter, April, 1992, No. 86

   --------------. Letter to Editor, Anarchy Magazine

   Sweibocka, Teresa.  _Auschwitz: A History in Photographs_.
   Bloomington and Warsaw: Indiana University Press and Ksiazka I
   Wiedza, 1993. 

   TWC: Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals -
   Washington, D.C. U.S Government Printing Office, 1949-1953

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