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Nazi Genocide
and Mass Murder

By R.J. Rummel

New Brunswick, N.J.:
Transaction Publishers, 1992

Truth always strange--stranger than fiction
----Byron. Don Juan XIV.ci


Figures and Tables Preface Acknowledgments

1. 20,946,000 Victims : Nazi Germany 1933 to 1945
2. The Holocaust
3. The Slavs
4. Genocide, Genocide, Genocide
5. "Euthanasia," Politicide, and Mass Murder
6. Concentration and Death Camps
7. Slave Labor
8. Lethal Professionalism
9. Why?

Appendix: Estimates, Calculations, and Sources



Table 1.1 . Nazi Democide
Table 1.2 . Nazi Democide Rates
Table 1.3 . Comparison of Nazi Democide to That of Other Regimes
Table A . Estimates, Calculations, and Sources


Figure 1.1 . Nazi Democide Range
Figure 1.2 . Nazi Democide Compared to That of Others.


This book is part of a comprehensive effort begun in 1986 to determine how much genocide and mass murder--what I call democide--have occurred in this century and why.

From 1984 to 1985, I did a preliminary and very limited assessment of democide, arriving at a total of 119,394,000 people killed by government (now seen as underestimating the toll by possibly as much as half again).1 In 1988 I received a grant from the United States Institute of Peace to do a more detailed work on democide and to further test the theory that democracies were the least violent of all political systems. I had found this true for international and domestic war;2 and in the preliminary study I found this true as well for democide. The proposed study also would thoroughly test this theory against comparative democide statistics. If the theory continues to hold true, then the conclusion would be inescapable that democracy is not only a method of governance stressing individual freedom and rights, but also an effective method of nonviolence and conflict resolution. That is, within the limitations of any predictions based on the past, democracy would be a path to a warless and least violent world.

The idea was to collect statistics and contextual material on democide and write them up as chapters for a projected monograph, one country or case of democide at a time. Once I completed the case studies I would aggregate their statistics, analyze them, and draw conclusions. The research started with what I call the megamurderers, those political regimes that have killed at least 1,000,000 of their own people in cold blood. The first of these was the Armenian genocide by the Turkish government during World War I. After I completed research on this, the statistics and description of the genocide were easy to contain in one chapter.3

However, when I finished research on the next case, the Soviet Union since 1917, the essential estimates, calculations, and contextual material were just too much to include in one chapter. The Soviets had committed an incredible democide of 61,911,000 citizens and foreigners, and for the reader to understand this I had to put it all into a book, Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1917. The same thing was true of the material I collected on the Chinese warlord, nationalist and communist democide of 53,879,000 people--another book, China's Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900..

When I turned to Nazi Germany I was sure that since Nazi genocide and mass murder was so well known and researched I would easily be able to confine the essential material on this democide to a chapter. It didn't work out that way, as this book attests. The appendix and its table of estimates, calculations, and sources alone turned out to be longer by far than any appendix tables included in the books on Soviet or Chinese democide. Also, making sufficient sense of the different kinds of genocide and other forms of democide for the interested reader still demanded more space than that available in a chapter, even though the many popular historical, descriptive, and fictional accounts of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust made much background unnecessary. So, again, another book.

There is another reason for putting this material into a book. Regardless of all the work done on the Nazi period in Germany, the histories, the studies of Nazi aggression and occupation policies and terror during World War II, and the Holocaust, I know of no systematic accounting of the total number that the Nazis killed in cold blood.4 There are many studies, of course, that try to determine the toll among Jews, and there are some that do the same for Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals, or concentration camp prisoners. But these have yet to be totalled together, to include, for example, hostages shot, reprisal murders, forced labor dead, or those starved to death in intentional famines. The closest to this is Bohdan Wytwycky's The Other Holocaust: Many Circles of Hell.5 He pulls together mortality statistics on the number of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, and Soviet prisoners to arrive at a figure of 15,450,000 to 16,300,000 lost.6 This figure alone is already huge, even though it omits other groups killed, including French, Dutch, Greeks, Serbs, and even Germans themselves.7 Were Wytwycky's study extended to include all the circles of Hell, we would find that probably 20,946,000 people were murdered by the Nazis.

Chapter 1 provides an executive summary of this killing. In the following three chapters I briefly sketch the well-known and documented Jewish Holocaust, treat more fully the less heard-of genocide of the Slavs, and outline the least known genocides of the Gypsies and homosexuals. In Chapter 5 I cover the Nazi's "euthanasia" program, killing of critics or opponents (politicide), and mass murder and reprisals in occupied countries. These substantive chapters describe the who of Nazi democide. The next two chapters look at two Nazi institutions through which much of this killing was carried out: the concentration and death camp system and the massive slave labor program. The two concluding chapters try to help in understanding all this murder, particularly the how and why. Finally I present all the estimates, calculations, and sources in an appendix. The methods and perspective on the statistics are the same here as my previous books on democide, as described in their methodological appendices. Since I presented that in both books, I saw no need to repeat them here. I should, however, similarly qualify the Nazi totals.

No one knows or can give the precise democide figure. Probably even that for the Jewish Holocaust is wrong. Experts who have painfully sifted through the Nazi archives, extensively interviewed survivors, and taken detailed depositions of witnesses have been unable to agree among themselves on the final total. In his thoroughly documented and comprehensive work, Raul Hilberg concluded that 5,100,000 Jews died;8 based on her detailed country-by-country analysis Lucy Dawidowicz arrived at a figure of 5,933,900 annihilated.9 Gerald Reitlinger calculated the toll at 4,204,400 to 4,575,400 Jews.10 Taking all such studies into account and making his own calculations for his Atlas of the Holocaust, Martin Gilbert arrived at a total of just over 5,750,000 deaths.11 In the latest such work, the appendix to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Israel Gutman and Robert Rozett estimated total losses at from 5,596,029 to 5,860,129.12

Just among these five thorough studies of the available evidence and statistics, the variation from the lowest to the highest figure is 41 percent. This is for a genocide carefully administered by a regime that was better than most about keeping records and statistics, whose surviving archives and secrets were completely available after the Nazi defeat, and about which there has been for nearly half a century many historians dedicated to uncovering the truth. If then the estimate of the Jewish Holocaust can vary so much, we should hardly expect to get the true figure on other genocides or mass murder; nor, of course, the overall democide.

The statistical problem is clear, if not easily resolvable. It is how to determine within some range of error the most likely Nazi democide, given different published estimates, different kinds of killing, different events, and different time periods. The approach has to be one of reasonable approximation. This involves successively narrowing the range of estimates to what a hypothetical, reasonable analyst would arrive at from the available information, and then defining within this range a prudent figure that somewhat reflects the central thrust of the statistics and historical events.

Thus, I present a low-high democide range, with a probable mid-range estimate, for all the calculated totals and most consolidations in appendix table A. The low of a range results from aggregating all the lows of the various estimates; the high comes from similarly accumulating the highs. Since it is exceedingly unlikely that all the lows or highs will be correct, this approach gives us a low-high bracketing of the most likely true democide figure.

As this is apparently a first effort to determine an overall democide total for the Nazi regime, I have tried to present in the appendix all the material a researcher might need to judge, replicate, or build on this study, including presenting, where needed, the reasoning involved in calculating the various totals. I hope that this will facilitate and encourage future research on this incredible democide.

The various chapters describing the genocides and mass murder are not meant to be historically comprehensive in detail or outline. Much literature is already available on these events. In these chapters I only intend to provide sufficient detail and coverage for the general reader to understand the how, what, and why of such a statistic as "10,547,000 Slavs murdered," and provide some examples of the killing that contributes to such totals.


* This is a pre-publisher edited version of the "Preface" in R.J. Rummel's Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

1. Rummel (1987, 1988).

2. Rummel (Understanding Conflict and War, "Libertarianism and International Violence", "Libertarianism, Violence Within States, and the Polarity Principle", "Libertarian Propositions on Violence Within and Between Nations: A Test Against Published Research Results").

3. I will include this in my Death By Government (1994), which will pull all this together and present the analysis.

4. From his own research on genocide, including that in the German literature, Professor Manfred Henningsen of the University of Hawaii has also found this true (personal communication). He checked at The Institut fr. Zeitgeschichte in Munich and could find no reference there, nor did the librarian know of any work on the overall number of people killed by the Nazis.

5. Wytwycky (1980).

6. Ibid., pp. 91-92.

7. For a regime so thoroughly studied, on which the horror of genocide has become so indelibly written, it is indeed remarkable that no work on its overall democide has been done. The reason for this scholarly hole is worthy of a study in itself. Perhaps this is a reflection of the postwar loss of memory in Germany and among Western elites over this democide and refusal to recognize the historical failure to stop it. On postwar Germany, see Henningsen (1988, 1989).

8. Hilberg (1961, p. 767).

9. Dawidowicz (1975, p. 403).

10. Reitlinger (1968, p. 546).

11. Gilbert (1982, p. 245).

12. Gutman and Rozett (1990, p. 1799).

For citations see the Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder REFERENCES


I am indebted to the United States Institute of Peace for a grant to my project on comparative genocide, of which this book is a part. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute of its officers.

I also wish to thank Manifred Henningsen for his thorough reading and helpful comments on the draft manuscript; and George Kent and Douglas Bond for their critiques of certain chapters. I owe many thanks to my wife Grace for her honesty, comfort, and thorough editing. I must add that I alone am responsible for what follows.

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