Upon reading part one of this series, it is made clear that Holocaust fabulists insist that Jasenovac was an extermination camp with a death toll of more than just a few thousand. Today’s consensus is that about 100,000 were murdered there. In the following Wikipedia entry for Jasenovac, they list eight citations that supposedly bolster this claim:
“There has been much debate and controversy regarding the number of victims killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp complex during its more than three-and-a-half years of operation. Over the last few decades, a consensus has formed in support of estimates of the Ustaše regime having murdered somewhere near 100,000 people in Jasenovac between 1941 and 1945.“
I usually don’t share my path of discovery when looking up citations because it is quite tedious. However, today I am going to. I think it is an enlightening journey that reveals how unsubstantiated claims can be made to look scholarly.
The first citation Wikipedia uses is a page on the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum (USHMM) website. This USHMM entry on Jasenovac has no citations or sources.
Although the USHMM entry on Jasenovac lacks any scholarly virtue, it does have this interesting little admission:
“Determining the number of victims for Yugoslavia, for Croatia, and for Jasenovac is highly problematic, due to the destruction of many relevant documents, the long-term inaccessibility to independent scholars of those documents that survived, and the ideological agendas of postwar partisan scholarship and journalism, which has been and remains influenced by ethnic tension, religious prejudice, and ideological conflict. The estimates offered here are based on the work of several historians who have used census records as well as whatever documentation was available in German, Croat, and other archives in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.”
Lack of documentation is problematic when it comes to the Jasenovac death count according to USHMM. At the same time, however, USHMM assures us that the 6 million number is correct even though there is a similar lack of documentation to verify this alleged death count. In fact, if you question the 6 million number, Holocaust fabulists will accuse you of being a Holocaust denier. So it looks like USHMM is trying to have it both ways here.
The next citation comes from the book, Hitler’s New Disorder, by Stevan Pavlowitch. The following footnote relates to the statement Wikipedia cited. What this footnote is saying is that the author of the most serious study of the victims of WW2 in Yugoslavia put the Jasenovac death toll between 370,000–410,000. That was wrong and some other guy, Tomislav Dulic, gives a tentative estimate of 100,000. That statement lists a book called, Utopias of Nation, as its reference. We will talk about that book in a bit. Pavlowitch’s footnote also states that researchers at the Belgrade Museum of Victims of Genocide (BMVG) have a record of between 80,000 and 90,000 victims. Where the extra 10,000 to 20,000 comes from to make 100,000 eludes me. Perhaps there are just dead people waiting to be discovered.
Next is a book called Utopias of Nation, which I mentioned in citation number two. This book is not available online and I would have to buy for about $90. That’s not going to happen. Besides, Wikipedia didn’t even provide any page numbers to reference.
Citation number six is a book of essays that does not have a free preview of the page I need. To see it, I would have to pay $40 for access. Once again we have a source that has a hurdle in front of it barring access to the average curious reader.
Next we have an entry from The Holocaust: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection. The link Wikipedia provided conveniently goes to the page they reference. I felt quite inconvenienced when I discovered that this encyclopedia entry contains no citations, rather just a further reading list.
Finally, the last citation we have is… wait for it… a different encyclopedia with the exact same entry from the previous citation! Are you being serious right now, Wikipedia?
Let’s go back to the BMGV, who recorded between 80,000 and 90,000 deaths at Jasenovac. How does BMVG get their data? One method is gathering information through crowdsourcing, much like the Yad Vashem database.
I could not find a page dedicated to Jasenovac, so I decided to explore a section on the BMVG website under the heading of “List of ‘Victims of the War 1941 – 1945’ from 1964.” The section talks about a census conducted by the state prompted by “the need to create supporting evidence during the negotiations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Federal Republic of Germany regarding compensation for war victims.” Could such a census be legitimate considering that more deaths equals more money? That is for you to decide.
This admission from BMVG’s pages about the victims of war may cause you to be suspicious the legitimacy of the census:
“The first official numbers were announced in 1966: the census included a total of 1,107,172 victims of the war – 597,323 died and 509,849 survived.
The federal commission estimated that the census was incomplete, that it covered only 56–59 percent of the estimated number of victims (1,016,000 to 1,066,000, without ‘at least fifty thousand Quisling victims and about forty thousand Roma and Jews for whom there was no to give data’ ), but that the result of the census represents the maximum that could be achieved. The Federal Executive Council concluded that the census does not have the required level of quality, that is, it is far from the proclaimed 1,706,000 victims, so the use of the census was banned. The entire material was handed over to the Archives of Yugoslavia, where it is still kept.” (My emphasis added.)
So, a census that the state conducted to get money out of the German government was declared to be lacking in quality and was banned from being used. The reason it lacked quality was because the number of victims wasn’t big enough. Honestly, BMGV, you really shouldn’t tell people that.
BMGV did another census several decades later and with the help of BMVG they were able to up the numbers:
“The incompleteness of the data of the Victims of War census opened the question of its revision. In 1992, the State Archives of Serbia, on behalf of the then formally existing Museum of Genocide Victims, began collecting forms with data on victims of the Second World War, which they forwarded to the Federal Statistical Office in order to supplement the census. The audit, with interruptions, was carried out in the period from 1995 to 1998 at the Federal Bureau of Statistics, with the assistance of experts from the Genocide Victims Museum, so that the work of the audit was continued independently by the Genocide Victims Museum in the period between 2003 and 2008. In this way, the number of identified victims increased by more than 10%, while at the same time, the list was partially cleared of double or multiple registered persons.” (My emphasis added)
If you’re still not suspicious this might do it:
“This would bring the number of registered victims closer to the actual number of victims. In this way, we would repay all the victims and preserve their memory.”
And exactly how do you know the number of actual victims, if I may ask? How do you know the “proclaimed 1,706,000 victims” is accurate when you can’t even find that many missing/unaccounted for people? And, as I have demonstrated before, just because someone is missing doesn’t mean they were murdered. They might not have even died in the war. Considering that BMVG and the Federal Bureau of Statistics had motivation to up their numbers for monetary purposes, the data they present is tainted with doubt.
On a whim I decided to ask my new robot assistant, Sarah (Bing AI), “How do historians know how many people were murdered at Jasenovac?” To which she answered:
“Historians have used various methods to estimate the death toll at Jasenovac. One method is to use demographic data, statistics, and documents to estimate the number of people who were killed at the camp. For example, Croatian demographer Vladimir Zerjavic used this method to estimate that between 80,000 and 90,000 people were killed at Jasenovac 2. Another method is to use historical records and eyewitness accounts to establish the names of individual victims. The Jasenovac Memorial Museum in Croatia has used this method to establish the names of 83,145 victims who perished in the camp complex 5.”
Again we have census data which can’t tell us how someone died or even if they died in the war. We supposedly have historical records. What records do they have, I wonder. USHMM says there is a distinct lack of records, hence the whole problem of knowing the death count. Then we have eyewitness testimony, which is the most unreliable form of evidence—and not just for historical events, but even for court cases taking place today.
There is one thing that would solve the mystery of how many died at Jasenovac: forensic evidence. But if you’ll recall in part one, it was admitted that no such forensic evidence exists:
Perhaps if we knew the way in which all these people were murdered, we could better envision the number that were said to be killed. Continue to part three where I will examine claims about the killing methods.