Ron Unz writes:
The demographic argument with regard to Europe’s Jewish population is obviously an important one, as I mentioned in my article. Basically, before the war, there were millions of Jews living in Poland and other parts of Eastern Europe, and after the war they’d mostly vanished, so where did they go, except into the hereafter?
That’s exactly why I emphasized Sanning’s very interesting 1983 book on exactly that point, which seems to have provided the first attempt at a more sophisticated demographic analysis. I found it reasonably persuasive, and others should take a look and decide for themselves. It was banned from Amazon, but may be easily found here:
As I recall, he provided quite a lot of evidence of massive deportations deep into the Soviet territory, of both Polish Jews and Soviet ones, sometimes voluntary but often not. In the latter case, the deportees were apparently sometimes handled in very crude fashion, with cattle-cars dumping people into difficult terrain, not all that much different from what I’d always read had been the fate of the Kulaks, Tatars, and other deported groups, who supposedly suffered massive losses. So mortality was probably reasonably high.
Another crucial factor is that when Sanning examines the Soviet census data, he finds evidence that many of the Jews were re-registered as Russians. Interestingly enough, the population estimates of Soviet Jews by mainstream Jewish groups were often very much higher than the official numbers appearing in the Soviet census.
Also, it’s obvious that very large numbers of Soviet Jews would have died in the war along with other Soviet soldiers and civilians, probably at least in the many hundreds of thousands.
The first postwar Soviet census was in 1959, well before the soft anti-Semitism of the late Brezhnev era. Why would Jews suddenly start describing themselves as Russians there and then?
According to the most comprehensive quantitative assessment of Soviet WW2 losses by Krivosheev, there were 142,500 Jewish military deaths, or 4.7% of their population. Admittedly, they would likely have been overrepresented in the guesstimated 500,000 opolchenie losses in 1941, as well as in the partisan struggle, so perhaps the real number was more like the Russians’ 6% –> 180,000. Let’s round it up to 0.2 million for ease of counting.
As Unz says, there would have been the standard losses in the occupation (around 20% of the population in the occupied areas of Belorussia and Western Russia – hardly a vindication of Nazi Germany). It seems hard to believe that evacuated Jews had death rates similar to the worst Soviet ethnic deportations, but ok, let’s assume that was 20% again. IIRC, 2 million of the 27 million Soviet estimated WW2 deaths accrued to dearth/overwork in the rear, or around 1% of its population; this would be a rounding error. Let’s conservatively assume there were 2 million Jews (out of 3 million total) that were either in the occupied zone or evacuated, and apply the 20% death toll to them; that would be 0.4 million deaths. There was also the blockade of Leningrad, and Leningrad had a lot of Jews. Let’s say 0.1 million of the ~1,000,000 deaths there accrued to Jews.
That’s 0.7 million “normal” expected deaths (by the ghastly standards of a German occupation), or 20-25% of the population, which is similar to what Belorussia and Western Russia actually underwent.
Under these “normal” conditions, we might have expected 3.0 million – 0.7 million excess deaths = 2.3 million Jews in the USSR c.1946 (assuming otherwise that natural increase is zero).
Now applying the Finnish population increase to Soviet Jews (17% between 1946 and 1959), there should again have been 2.9 million by that period. Applying the Russian population increase to Soviet Jews of 20% for that same period, there should have been 3.0 million Jews.
Now in all fairness, by that point, Soviet Jews would have been well ahead of Russians in the fertility transition, and ahead of Finns too. In 1939, the “Childness Ratio” (ratio of 0-9 year old children to 20-49 year old women) was 0.824 for Jews, 1.191 for Russians and 1.070 for the USSR (see above), versus 0.786 for Finns (my calcs based on mortality.org data). However, by 1959, that had collapsed to just 0.337 for Jews, versus 0.876 for Russians – and 0.982 for Finns. Consequently, we can posit that the Soviet Jewish “should have” increased by way less than the Russian or Finnish population. I don’t exclude that by that period there was basically zero natural growth; the Jews had reached a CR of 0.795 as early as 1926 (whereas in 1897, they CR was actually higher than those of Russians). Comparing the CR with fertility trends in the RSFSR/Russian Federation, a *very approximate* relation is that a CR of 0.8 =~ TFR of 2, while CR of 0.3 =~ TFR of 1. If you spend 20 years at a TFR of 2 children per woman (say during 1920-1940), then go down to a TFR of 1 children per woman (say during 1946-1959), then it’s quite plausible that you’ll see only a very minor (<10%) or even no natural population increase.
Quite an interesting coincidence. 3.0 million Soviet Jews in 1939. 2.3 million Soviet Jews in 1959. Jewish Holocaust in the USSR “merely” Belorussian-style in scale?
Well, not really. You’d still have to account for the USSR acquiring masses of Jews (or what should have been masses of Jews) in the Baltics, Bessarabia, and most of all, the core territories of the Pale of Settlement:
That’s 250,000 in the Baltics, perhaps another 250,000 in Bessarabia (Kishinev and Cernauti alone had 115,000 between them), and anywhere from 1-2 million in the areas vacated as Poland was physically shifted westwards. Jews who if they had remained in Soviet territories would have been picked up in consequent censuses (such as 1959) whereas they hadn’t been in 1939; or, if they’d stayed in Poland/Romania, would have been picked up in their national censuses. But most of them weren’t. Indeed, this general picture – a stable Soviet Jewish population, despite the addition of what should have been at least a million Jews as the USSR’s borders expanded west, and their failure to show up in the needed numbers anywhere else – seems to support the basic story of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.
Actually, if there’s one interesting conclusion it’s that the USSR did a stellar job in preserving its Jewish population, keeping losses amongst “core” Soviet Jews down to “merely” Belorussian levels (or the Serbs’ level in WW1). Not that many Jews are thankful for it.