Digital Survivors

Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder

Scott Manning
August 7, 2007

Author: R. J. Rummel
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With countless books on World War II and Nazi Germany, it's tough for a book to set itself apart from the rest. R. J. Rummel's Democide' does just that.

With no other peer to speak of, this book documents in great detail the list of estimates for all killings of civilians performed by Nazi Germany. When the numbers are added up and a mid-estimate is determined, the full tally comes to 20,946,000.

This number includes deaths by the following:

  • murder of hostages
  • reprisal raids
  • forced labor
  • "euthanasia"
  • starvation
  • exposure
  • medical experiments
  • terror bombing
  • concentration and death camps
The most common estimates touted for World War II dead include the Holocaust and battle dead. This work is a focus of civilians killed by the Nazi government.

Rummel has a strict method for coming up with his estimates. First, he focuses on events. He then lists every number along with its source that he could find. Then he puts them side-by-side determining which of them are high, mid, and low. Duplicates and overlaps are analyzed and accounted for. And finally, he comes up with his official number.

I've just summed up a very meticulous process that includes loads of charts and tables, but the important aspect is that Rummel's work is transparent. There is no magic to how he comes up with his numbers which leaves a great starting place for others to continue his research.

The Holocaust, the Slavs, the homosexuals and more
An example of the value in this book can be seen in its analysis of the Holocaust. This act is one of the most documented and discussed events in history. Yet, the discrepancies vary by more than 1 million when you talk about how many Jews were killed. Some say 4-5 million (Elliot 1972, pp. 77-78). Others say closer to 6 million (Clodfelter 1992, p. 898).

Rummel has taken every estimate he could get his hands on from experts, analysts, and official sources. He has documented them to come up with a low, middle, and high estimate for the number of Jews killed. His method focuses on the mid-estimates and in this case - 5,291,000. He goes on to say that this is 54% of the 9,797,840 Jews living in the countries dominated by the Nazis (Rummel 1992, pp. 29-30).

The analysis doesn't stop there. The Slavs, homosexuals, the old and dying, and every other group targeted by the Nazis for extermination are detailed.

Country by Country
Another valuable aspect of the book is a country-by-country breakdown of how many people were killed by Nazi Germany. For example, 133,000 Jews, Gypsies, and others from Austria (Rummel 1992, p. 108) were killed. Then there's another 2,000 from Luxembourg (Rummel 1992, p. 122).

When viewing the list of 27 countries affected by Nazi Germany, it gives of a full perspective of this government's impact on the world.

In the appendix, Rummel offers a 34-page table with each estimate, source, and his comments on the validity of the number. No other book offers these numbers and statistics in one concise volume.

I highly recommend Democide: Nazi genocide and mass murder to anyone trying to get a better understanding of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Related Links
R. J. Rummel's Official Website
R. J. Rummel's Blog
Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder on Amazon

Clodfelter, Micheal (1992). Warfare and armed conflicts: a statistical reference to casualty and other figures, 1618-1991. Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland & Company.

Elliot, Gil (1972). Twentieth century book of the dead. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

Rummel, R. J. (1992). Democide: Nazi genocide and mass murder. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.