Skip To Content
Fast Forward

A Quarter Of All Holocaust Victims Killed In Just 3 Months In 1942

(JTA) — Nearly 1.5 million Jews, or about a quarter of all those murdered during the Holocaust, were murdered in just three months in 1942, a new study found.

The expedited murder rate was part of Nazi Germany’s Operation Reinhard for annihilating the Jews of Poland, according to the study published this week by biomathematician Lewi Stone of Tel Aviv University and RMIT University.

During that time, there was “an intense, 100-day (about three months) surge” of killing in August, September and October of 1942, the scholars wrote in the study titled “Quantifying the Holocaust: Hyperintense kill rates during the Nazi genocide.” It was published Wednesday by Science Advances magazine.

In August and September, around half a million victims were killed each month. The majority of the murders were done in three large death camps in western Poland, either by gassing victims or shooting them.

An estimated 5.4 million to 5.8 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust during World War II, according to the study, though scholars have struggled to estimate exact numbers as officials attempted to destroy much of the documentation and evidence.

According to Yad Vashem, Israel’s main state museum for the genocide, at least 6 million people died in the Holocaust.

The new study used railway transportation records to identify more accurate numbers of those killed, the authors said. Stone attempted to identify not only how many victims were killed, but also at “the rate in which the genocide proceeded,” he wrote in the study.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.