The Graphic detail section on the Holocaust (January 25th) illustrated the great job archivists and others have done in identifying the victims and preserving the documentation. For most west European countries nearly all the victims have been identified; it is in some of the other Nazi-occupied territories that many casualties are still unknown. Post-war lists of those who were identified have been linked, for example, to Nazi-registration records. This has enabled memorial sites, such as the Dutch Digital Jewish Monument, to commemorate murdered Jews in context, such as their last location, household and occupation.

Around 73% of the Jewish population in the Netherlands did not survive the Nazi persecution. Slightly over half of that 73% died in Auschwitz and about a third perished in Sobibor, a lesser-known camp. But who survived and who did not varied significantly across the Netherlands; there is a huge variation in death rates in different locations.

Those differences in local death rates raise interesting questions about who was most at risk of persecution and why that was the case. But answering those questions requires analysing the retrieved data with advanced quantitative techniques. Yet within Holocaust literature, studies that use statistical methods are still unusual. We might be able soon to learn each victim’s name, but lag in our understanding of the Holocaust.
Original languageEnglish
TypeLetter to editor
Media of outputtext
PublisherThe Economist
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2020


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