Auschwitz Death Books

The Auschwitz Death Books (German: Sterbebü­cher) are death registers prepared under the responsibility of the Political Department of the Auschwitz Camp (comprising the Main Camp, Birkenau, and all the subcamps). These books contained the death certificates of the inmates who had been admitted and registered at the camp, and who subsequently died for whatever reasons, executions included. When a maximum of 1,500 of these single-sheet certificates had been issued, they were bound as hard-cover volumes. Three copies of each death certificate existed. One remained in the camp, while two others were sent to superior departments.

Religious affiliations of victims listed in the Death Books of Auschwitz
Catholic 46.8%
Protestant 3.4%
Greek Catholic 1.6%
Greek Orthodox 3.6%
Christian Total 55.4%
Jewish 42.8%
Ages of deceased registered Auschwitz inmates as documented in the Death Books (without fragments)
Age Group No. %
>90 2 0.0
80-90 73 0.1
70-80 482 0.7
60-70 2,083 3.0
50-60 8,040 11.7
40-50 15,512 22.5
30-40 18,430 26.7
20-30 14,830 21.5
10-20 6,715 9.7
00-10 2,584 3.7
68,751 99.6

When the Auschwitz Camp was evacuated in mid-January 1945, these Death Books were taken to the Gross-Rosen Camp, where they were abandoned when the Germans retreated from that town. Soviet authorities found them there eventually. From a series of communications between Soviet agencies, we know that they found 80 volumes, which were sent to Moscow with all the other archival material captured. When the Soviet Union/Russia released the German wartime documents it still had in its archives during the early 1990s, only 46 of the original 80 volumes were left, covering the time from mid-1941 to the end of 1943 with some gaps. Considering the rampant corruption in post-collapse Russia, the remaining volumes might have been sold on the black market. One more volume was recovered elsewhere. The rest have not been recovered to this day.

The total number of deceased inmates registered in the available Death Books plus fragments of other volumes that were found elsewhere is 68,864. If all 80 volumes were filled, and all contained 1,500 or only slightly less death certificates, then this would indicate a total death toll among registered Auschwitz inmates of some 120,000 inmates. However, a thorough study of other documents that also registered deceased inmates shows that not all inmates who died at Auschwitz were registered in the Death Books. Adding those documented in other registries, the total death toll actually tallies to some 135,500 deceased inmates.

Some data of the available death certificates contained in the Death Books was published in 1995 in a German study. Analyzing these data yields some interesting insights. For example, if we go strictly by the preserved death certificates, then more Christians (mostly Poles) died at Auschwitz than Jews (see the first table).

Furthermore, these volumes contain a considerable amount of very young and very old people, among them babies, even infants born in Auschwitz, and geriatrics 80 years and older. If we follow the orthodox narrative, such individuals should never have been admitted to the camp, but should have been slated for immediate gassing upon arrival (or birth). But that is evidently not what happened. The second table shows the relative representation of various age groups among registered Auschwitz inmates who died in that camp and found themselves duly documented as such.

Monthly deaths at Auschwitz, Jewish vs. others.
Monthly deaths at Auschwitz, Jewish vs. others.

The Death Books of Auschwitz also confirm that the death rate among inmates was catastrophically high in the summer and fall of 1942, and then again in early 1943, which coincides with the richly documented typhus epidemic during those times. All in all, there is no other German wartime camp that suffered from such a catastrophic inmate mortality. It was truly a “death camp” in terms of inmates dying like flies as a result of poor hygienic and sanitary conditions during long stretches of the camp’s existence.

(For more details, see the entries on the Auschwitz Main Camp, Birkenau, healthcare, and France; see also Staatliches Museum 1995; Mattogno 2023, Part 2, pp. 163-170, 211; Kollerstrom 2023, pp. 87-90; Rudolf 2023, pp. 41-48, 242-245.)

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