Israel TV has followed the BBC, the curator of the [Auschwitz] museum, Kazimierz Smolen, and now also Netanel Lorch (The Jerusalem Post, September 3) in falling into the trap of claiming that four million people died in Auschwitz. Indeed, that is the figure engraved in stone in Auschwitz itself, and our Israeli pundits accept it without bothering to check.
There were never four million victims in Auschwitz. According to a painstakingly researched paper by the doyen of French Jewish Holocaust historians, Georges Wellers (“Essai de Determination du nombre de Morts au Camp d’Auschwitz,” Le Monde Juif, Fall 1983), which is now accepted as a basis for understanding the horror statistics of Auschwitz, the total number of people who died there, both by gassing in the extermination camp at Birkenau and by starvation, torture, execution or disease in the concentration camp and its outlying satellite camps, was in the neighbourhood of 1.6 million.
The partial execution of the order, however, meant that the three main Auschwitz camps and their satellites received large transports of Jews, most of whom were not gassed on arrival; and from 1943, Auschwitz became a predominantly Jewish camp. Many of the 200,000 Poles brought to Auschwitz died not there but in other camps — but, of course, a majority survived.
Source: Yehuda Bauer, The Jerusalem Post