Democide: Nazi Genocide...
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Hitler told Himmler that it was not enough for the Jews simply to die; they must die in agony. What was the best way to prolong their agony? Himmler turned the problem over to his advisers, who concluded that a slow, agonizing death could be brought about by placing Jewish prisoners in freight cars in which the floors were coated with...quicklime...which produced excruciating burns. The advisers estimated that it would take four days for the prisoners to die, and for that whole time the freight cars could be left standing on some forgotten siding.... Finally it was decided that the freight cars should be used in addition to the extermination camps.
----Robert Payne, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler
Figure 1.1 presents the range in this democide--genocide and mass murder--and the most probable figure; table 1.1 subdivides the democide in various ways, sorts them, and compares this democide to the war-dead for
Germany and other European nations. The table first lists the various major genocides carried out by the Nazis and the numbers likely murdered: 16,315,000 victims overall. Then is shown the 11,283,000 people the Nazis killed through institutional practices, such as forced "euthanasia," forced labor, and the processing of prisoners of war; or in Nazi institutions, particularly prisoner of war and concentration or death camps. Much of this institutionalized killing was pursuant to one Nazi democide program or another, and the totals therefore overlap with those for genocide. Finally, the table lists those occupied nations that suffered democide. Clearly the Soviet Union and then Poland endured the most.
Shown at the bottom of the table is the number of civilians and military killed in the war, presumably exclusive of democide.
When we think of Nazi killing, genocide immediately comes to mind, particularly that of "6,000,00 Jews." But they also murdered for reasons other than race or religion. For one, the Nazis slew those who opposed or hindered them, whether actually or potentially. This was why Hitler assassinated hundreds of top Nazi SA's (Sturmabteilung)
If one includes the 5,200,000 German civilian and military war-dead, the average German's likelihood of dying from the regime was slightly better than one out of eleven--extremely low odds for a life.
As high as this human cost of the Nazis was for the Germans, it was higher for the countries they invaded and occupied, particularly in the East. Not only did the Nazis eliminate actual critics and opponents as a matter of course, but they also prevented any serious potential opposition by simply exterminating the top leadership, intellectuals, and professionals. Besides Jews, the Germans murdered near 2,400,000 Poles, 3,000,000 Ukrainians, 1,593,000 Russians, and 1,400,000 Byelorussians, many of these among the best and the brightest men and women. The Nazis killed in cold blood nearly one out of every six Polish or Soviet citizens, including Jews, under their rule.
Moreover, the Nazis murdered as an administrative device. They used terror and mass reprisals to maintain their control, prevent sabotage, and safeguard their soldiers. For the partisans or underground to kill a German soldier could mean that the Nazis would round up and execute all the men in a nearby village, burn the village to the ground, and send all the women and children off to concentration camps. In retaliation for sabotage, they would shoot dozens and even hundreds of hostages.
In some occupied areas in which the Nazis had to contend with well organized and active guerrilla units, they applied a simple rule: they would massacre one hundred nearby civilians for every German soldier killed; fifty for every one wounded. Often this was a minimum that might be doubled or tripled. They thus killed vast numbers of innocent peasants and townsfolk, possibly as many as 8,000 in Kraguyevats,
But many other regimes have also killed opponents and critics, or used reprisals to maintain power. What distinguished the Nazis above virtually all others was their staggering genocide: people were machine gunned in batches, shot in the head at the edge of trenches, burned alive while crowded into churches, gassed in vans or fake shower rooms, starved or frozen to death, worked to death in camps, or beaten or tortured to death simply because of their race, religion, handicap, or sexual preference.
Most Nazis were absolute racists, especially among the top echelon; they believed utterly in the superiority of the "Aryan" race. They had no doubt that they were the pinnacle of racial evolution, that eugenically they were the best. So science proved, as many German and non-German scientists told them. And therefore they could not allow inferior groups to pollute their racial strain. Inferior races were like diseased appendixes that had to be surgically removed for the health of the body. Therefore they must exterminate the Jew and Gypsy. So also must they liquidate the homosexual and handicapped. So eventually they must also eliminate the Slavs, after exploiting their slave labor. Slavs were not only biologically inferior, but also inhabited territory that Germany needed for the superior race to expand and grow.
But then the Nazi program ran into the problem of numbers. Exterminating millions of Jews would be hard enough. But the Slavs numbered in the tens of millions. Therefore they envisioned a two-part approach: reduce their number through execution, starvation, and disease. And then after the war that the Nazis would of course win, deport the remaining 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 Slavs to Siberia.
These genocides cost the lives of probably 16,315,000 people. Most likely the Nazis wiped out 5,291,000 Jews, 258,000 Gypsies, 10,547,000 Slavs, and 220,000 homosexuals. They also "euthanized" 173,500 handicapped Germans. Then in repression, terrorism, reprisals, and other cold-blooded killings done to impose and maintain their rule throughout Europe, the Nazis murdered more millions including French, Dutch, Serbs, Slovenes, Czechs, and others. In total, they likely annihilated 20,946,000 human beings.
Annually, as shown in table 1.2, the Nazis killed six to seven people out of every hundred in occupied Europe. The odds of a European dying under Nazi occupation were about one in fifteen.
Moreover, even though the Nazis hardly matched the democide of the Soviets and Communist Chinese as shown in table 1.3 , they proportionally killed more. Figure 1.2 illustrates this. The annual odds of being killed by the Nazis during their occupation were almost two-and-a-half times that of Soviet citizens being slain by their government since1917; over nine times that for Chinese living in Communist China after 1949. In competition for who can murder proportionally the most human beings, the Japanese militarists come closest. The annual odds of being killed by the Japanese during their occupation of China, Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Indochina, and elsewhere in Asia was one in 101. Given the years and population available to this gang of megamurderers, the Nazis have been the most lethal murderers; and Japanese militarists next deadliest.
* From Chapter 1 in R.J. Rummel, Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder, 1993. For full reference this book, the list of its contents, and the text of its preface, click book.
1. Feig (1990, p. 174).
2. According to the source, the civilian component of World War II deaths given in table 1.1 resulted "directly from the war . . . and war-borne epidemics" (Wright, 1965, p. 1543).
3. Rummel (1990, Chapter 7).
4. This was a private, quasi-military organization of storm troopers that Hitler began to organize as his private army in 1921, long before he came to power.
5. Seton-Watson (1961, pp. 120-21).
6. Browning (1990, p. 70).
7. Martin (1978, p. 48).
8. Quoted in ibid., p. 47.
9. Ibid., pp. 47-48.
10. Ibid., p. 70.
11. Ibid., p. 78.
12. Macksey (1975, p. 158).
13. I am trying to express these odds in the most understandable way. Technically, since the probability of a European dying from Nazi occupation is .065 and that of surviving is .935, then the odds of dying are 65 to 935, or 1 to 14.38; the odds of surviving are 14.38 to 1. The 1 in 15 shown in the table is simply determined from the finding that 6.5 people died out of every 100, or 1 in 15.38.
14. As reported in a study by the national Centers for Disease Control, 427 Americans out of every 100,000 died from these nine diseases in 1986 (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 28 November 1990, p. 1).