New Research Indicates the Holocaust Was Even Worse Than We Thought


The new research is completely changing our understanding of the Holocaust.

A recent report released by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the research for which started 13 years ago, indicates that instead of the expected 7,000 ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe during Hitler’s reign there were actually about 42,500. The New York Times reports that what the researchers have uncovered so far “has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.” The director of the institute said in an interview, “The numbers are so much higher than we originally thought. We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghetto was, but the numbers are unbelievable.” In fact, the outcome of the research was so unexpected that when it was previewed at an academic forum in late January, fellow Holocaust scholars weren’t sure “they had heard it correctly.” According to the Times,

The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.

The existence of many individual camps and ghettos was previously known only on a fragmented, region-by-region basis. But the researchers, using data from some 400 contributors, have been documenting the entire scale for the first time, studying where they were located, how they were run, and what their purpose was.

The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.

In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.

The projects lead researcher Dr. Geoffrey Megargee said this new infprmation has changed the way Holocaust scholars understand the evolution of the camps and ghettos. He estimates that between 15 and 20 million people were imprisoned or died while these camps and ghettos were active.  A co-researcher, Dr. Martin Dean said, “You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps. They were everywhere.” He also said that the findings “left no doubt” that many of the German citizens who claimed ignorance after the war of the existence of the camps and ghettos “must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.”

Photo: AP/File

About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. I think part of the discrepancy is the battle between making the Holocaust a Jewish tragedy or recognizing the full impact. It’s strange to hear people downplay the murder of (by some estimates) 1,000,000 gypsies because it detracts from the “Jewishness” of the tragedy.

    • Well said John. The Nazis killed approximately 3.5 million Russian POWs as well. It isn’t a zero sum game – recognising the suffering of other groups does not detract from the suffering the “main” group went through.

    • I’m a bit puzzled by this construction “people downplay . . .detracts from the “Jewishness” of the tragedy” . . .

      Many cultures have had episodes where leadership targeted key groups. I believe that China for instance has targeted key leadership opponents as a group, or intellectuals as a way of destroying opposition and assimilating. Not being an historian, I am pretty weak on examples.

      My understanding is that this was one of the clearest examples of the designation of an entire minority genetic stock for complete elimination. This was based on a prejudice that long pre-dated Nazism, tracing its roots back to at least the 1880s, with roots that were even older. It is the tracing of this prejudice, and its eventual flowering under Hitler that is being studied. Not because of their behaviour ( opponents of the state), nor their sexual orientation (homosexuals), nor their lifestyle (Romany – no I am not denying the genetic-racial component here, but gypsies that were not apparent because of their lifestyle were not identified based on their ancestry – literally tracing their birth records to indict them).
      My impressions is that when the philosophers studying this holocaust are primarily focused on that aspect. I do not believe they are suggesting that other persecuted peoples were not a tragedy, but that the genesis behind the ‘need’ for a final solution, the meticulous execution, and some of the rationalizations and narrative are, in this setting, worth studying.

      In a way, the word holocaust means a different thing to jewish scholars (Shoah), than it is commonly used. It is not a question of downplaying other aspects of Nazi inflicted tragedies, but to distinguish a particular effect of racism.
      There are clearly many other instances of this dynamic – Rwanda comes to mind. The level of german record-keeping was very high, and this permits incredibly detailed tracing of this holocaust, that is less available in others. If one would like to enunciate principles and codes that might guard against repetitions, this is a unique history to analyze.

      But I am not an historian, and scholarly opinions vary widely.

  2. As I see it,” says DR. YEHUDAH Bauer, MAJOR HOLOCAUST HISTORIAN, “Holocaust survivors are only those people who were physically persecuted by the Nazis or their cohorts. This means people who lived in ghettos and concentration camps or compulsory labor frameworks, who hid or who joined the partisan ranks. I don’t mean to denigrate the suffering of people who suffered from race laws and anti-Semitic decree, or those who fled with nothing in their possession, but these are not Holocaust survivors.”I AGREE AND REJECT ANY OTHER DEFINTION. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    The Holocaust can no longer be about the brutality, the murder of 6 million, the murder of 1.5 million children, all the horrors that go along with it,”It needs to be about what these brave souls went through, what we can learn from it. We need to charter that into education about love, about caring. If we take from it only the horrors and the murders, that will destroy the relevance of the Holocaust.

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      With this new information the number is believed to be closer to 15 million, possibly even 20…a majority of those were Jews but also Nazi political opponents, “homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs.”

  3. Perhaps just perhaps these researchers adjusted the definition of a ‘slave labour camp’ etc.

  4. How were so many missed for so long?

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      This is the first time all of the “fragmented” information that was only know on a region-by-region basis has all been compiled in one place.

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