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Number of "survivor accounts" in late 1950s


Reply-To: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust <H-HOLOCAUST@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
Sender: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust <H-HOLOCAUST@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

Sun, 10 May 1998

Author: Alan Jacobs

Idea, A Journal of Social Issues

HENRY Greenspan wrote:

In his essay, "I Was Not There," included in Berel Lang's collection, Writing and the Holocaust (1988), Raul Hilberg states:

"Sometime during the second half of the late 1950s, the historian and bibliographer Philip Friedman, a survivor himself, told me that survivors' accounts were getting out of hand, that they were too numerous to list. At last count there were 18,000. That was thirty years ago."

I am assuming Friedman/Hilberg are referring to "accounts" of all types -- published, unpublished, all forms and formats, etc. Still, it strikes me as an extraordinary number. Can anyone offer data that supports or challenges the numerical claim? (I realize that Hilberg's phrase, "getting out of hand," lends itself to editorial comment, but, personally, I'm just asking about the number.)

Hank Greenspan U-Michigan

AT one time there were 5,000 survivors of Auschwitz alone in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The staff at the Auschwitz Museum, reports 70,000 survived Auschwitz/Birkenau/Monowitz. There were many, many transports sent west in the fall and early winter of 1944, to Dora, Dachau, Belsen etc... These journeys were even more terrible than the ones that had brought people to Auschwitz in the first place; no food, water, inmates extremely weak from months, and sometimes even years, of camp existence. Let's say another 200,000 -- 300,000 from other camps survived... This is still a small number if one thinks of the 11,000,000 people murdered in the camps.

I think another way to find out how many survivors there are/were in the States alone is to contact the people who run the Gathering of Survivors every year.

Alan Jacobs

Author: Allen Glicksman

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998

If one is asking how many survived, rather than the number of accounts, then an international count was done a year ago for the legal action against the Swiss. I did the estimate for the US and calculated that there are between 140,000-160,000 survivors living here. There are about 350,000 in Israel. I don't remember the other numbers, but can look the table up.

Allen Glicksman


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Related item: The usual figure given for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust right after World War II hovers around 250,000, points out Norman Finkelstein, of which 50,000 were camp survivors. So how can there be four times as many survivors fifty years later?'

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