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.”