How many died?
Sir: So far only The Spectator (Diary, 7 October) and the Evening Standard have had the integrity to print what Tass, the Soviet News Agency, reported on 21 September: that the Auschwitz Death Books, just discovered in Moscow archives, reveal that 74,000 people died in that camp. (The Evening Standard pulled this report out of its later editions, who knows under what pressure?)
As your columnist points out, I commented to the newspapers, 'It is certainly good news that the death roll at Auschwitz was nothing like as bad as has been feared.' The figure of 74,000 is, of course, bad enough: nearly twice as many as died in the July 1943 RAF attack on Hamburg.
Some critics have reasoned that perhaps not all the Auschwitz victims were formally registered. Working last week in the archives of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York however, I came across, and photocopied, the order from the overall head of the SS concentration camp system directing that detailed records of Jewish deaths were to be kept. Since Professor Arno Mayer of Princeton, himself a Jew, has now concluded in a book that most deaths in Auschwitz were from what he called 'natural causes', the murder figures may well be even lower than 74,000.
Further notes: See the spurious use that makes of the above letter by omitting one crucial word when quoting it in his expert report at 3.4.(a)11!