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Holocaust Saw 1.5 Million Jews Murdered in ‘Hyperintense’ Killing Spree Over 100 Days

The Nazis killed more than a quarter of the Jewish people murdered during the entirety of World War II in a “hyperintense” period lasting 100 days, a study has revealed.

During Operation Reinhard, between 1942 and 1943, the Nazis murdered 1.7 million Jews in the “largest single murder campaign of the Holocaust,” according to Lewi Stone, the author of the study published in the journal Science Advances. The majority of the victims were killed in gas chambers at the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka death camps, as Nazis attempted to wipe out the Jews of occupied Poland.

Related: Autism doctor Hans Asperger ‘linked to Nazi murder of disabled children

Of this total, around 1.47 million Jews were killed in a 100-day period spanning August, September and October 1942. That amounts to around a quarter of all Jews killed during World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, Stone found.

“Apart from very few exceptions, victims who were transported to the death camps were rapidly murdered upon arrival in the gas chambers, thus giving the system perfected by the Nazis all the characteristics of an automated assembly line,” Stone, professor of mathematical biology in the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and the math department at RMIT University, Australia, told Newsweek.

The findings lay bare the “singularly violent character” of Operation Reinhard, the author wrote in his paper, and puts the rate of deaths during the Holocaust at 10 times higher than previously predicted in past studies. The findings also indicate the rate of murders during Operation Reinhard were 83 percent higher than that of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which is widely regarded as the "most intense genocide of the 20th century," Stone told Newsweek.

“A mistake like this effectively rewrites the history of the Holocaust in a way that diminishes its historical standing and the scale of human death it encompasses,” Stone said. However, he stressed, “In my opinion, this tells us more about the need to quantify conflicts and wars with more effort, rather than the need to compare genocides.”

Stone arrived at his conclusion by assessing documents including railway records. He told Newsweek he was “completely shocked" by the data. “I almost jumped out of my skin.”

The numbers show “the Nazis’ focused genocide with the goal of obliterating the entire Jewish people of occupied Poland in as short as time possible, mostly within three months," Stone told Newsweek

“That the massacre occurred in such a short timeframe, and under complete deception, ensured the Jewish people did not have a chance and made the formation of organized resistance extremely difficult."

Past studies have focused on counting the number of victims of the Holocaust. Such calculations, while useful, leave researchers “with a single aggregate number that is bewilderingly large and difficult for the human mind to relate to,” Stone wrote in his paper.

Here, Stone wanted to uncover the speed at which killings were carried out in order to provide an insight into the Nazi’s genocidal plans as a whole.

A number of obstacles stand in the way of researching deaths during the Holocaust, Stone explained to Newsweek. Firstly, the Nazis purposefully destroyed incriminating documents detailing the slaughters of Operation Reinhard. On top of that, the three death camps used were operating at different rates and different times.

He acknowledged, as with all studies, his work has its limitations, the most obvious being “the availability of accurate data.”

Stone argued that understanding the mechanics of genocides and mass killings remain important considering six such massacres have unfolded in the past quarter century, in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Burundi, Syria, and Myanmar.

The paper follows the publication of a separate piece of research last year that showed the role that the doctor who identified Asperger’s syndrome played in the Nazi's euthanasia program.

A study of state archives published in the journal Molecular Autism revealed Hans Asperger "publicly legitimized race hygiene policies including forced sterilizations and, on several occasions, actively cooperated with the child ‘euthanasia’ program."

  holocaust getty White roses lie on a memorial inaugurated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims of the Holocaust in Tel Aviv, on January 10, 2014. The Nazis killed more than a quarter of the Jewish people murdered during the entirety of World War II in a “hyperintense” period lasting 100 days, a study has revealed. Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

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