The Holocaust, a state-sponsored genocide that systematically killed six million Jews, was one of the worst tragedies that happened in the 20th century and a new study reveals that a Nazi infrastructure facilitated the murder of 1.47 million in just three months. A mathematical biologist endeavored to assimilate and quantify some of the highest rates of systematic killings in human history during the Holocaust.
The analysis done by Lewi Stone from Israel’s Tel Aviv University and RMIT University in Australia studied the logistics of executing such degree of murder and how it was even possible. It all began with Operation Reinhard—the Nazi mission to exterminate all Jews in German-occupied Poland, which at that time signified the introduction of murder camps.
This German National Railway, popularly known as Deutsche Reichsbahn, enlisted 900,000 workers and almost half a million civil servants. The train systems even had new technology provided by Dehomag, an IBM subsidiary of Germany, where it adopted the punch card technology built for taking census. This technology made the system even more efficient. Operation Reinhard began in March 1942, and Jews were taken and moved like livestock to the concentration and extermination camps by the Reichsbahn in trains disguised as goods wagons and cattle wagons. This Nazi infrastructure enabled the assembly line concept that made mass murder possible. According to a Holocaust scholar, the Reichsbahn was willing to ship any cargo in return for payment. Reichsbahn was strategic as it led to different death camps.
There were different extermination centers including Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka II. Stone’s research stated that there was an acceleration of mass murder when Hitler was not satisfied with the rapidness of the killings. He ordered all action to speed it up in the next 105 days, from mid-August to mid-November, murders of Jews reached approximately 1.47 million. Stone likens the enormity of the numbers to a similar 20th-century abomination—the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In Operation Reinhard though, the Nazis killed at 83% higher rate than the Hutu militias. Reinhard’s victims also consisted of local poles, Soviet prisoners of war, and Roma. It is considered one the most ruthless yet efficient extermination system in human history. Reinhard shut down right after the rebellion of Sobibor that partially destroyed the camp.