A common claim among holocaust denial is that if Jews were killed, the 6 million figure is grossly exaggerated. A specific claim is that

according to the World Almanac the world population of Jews increased (!) between 1933 and 1948 from 15,315,000 to 15,753,000. If the German government under Adolf Hitler had – as alleged – murdered six million Jews those losses should have been reflected in the Jewish population numbers quoted in the World Almanac.

I see a few ways to explain this:

  1. The source of these numbers is faulty.
  2. The individual numbers include or exclude certain parties, so therefore do not represent similar things.
  3. The numbers include converts, not just ethic Jews, and there was a massive conversion.
  4. There was a massive baby boom.
  5. Six million Jews killed is not the correct figure.

I've ordered these by likelihood, according to my opinion. If the source is faulty, what are the real world population numbers of Jews for these years? If the numbers are accurate, how is this reconciled with the six million killed figure?


1 Answer 1


According to the Nizkor Project, the numbers are real, but wrong, as they under-estimate the Jewish population before the Holocaust, and overestimate it after the Holocaust - not on purpose, but because no other numbers were available:

[...] all figures before 1949 were from 1938 estimates. Since the year of etimate is given at the top of the chart it is difficult to believe that the originator did not intentionally mean to decieve by negelecting this key piece of information.


The figures listed for total world Jewish population are as follows:
1941 15,748,091
1944 15,192,089
1947 15,688,259
1948 15,688,259
1949 11,266,600

[T]he World Almanac gives a revised 1939 population of 16,643,120 giving a difference of between 1938 and 1947 of 5,376,520.

This also matches the numbers from other sources.

Pew lists the Jewish population - based on numbers by Sergio DellaPergola - in Europe at 9.5 million in 1939, and 3.8 million in 1945 (while the wrong estimate of the World Almanac estimates the Jewish population in Europe at 9.3 million in 1948, which matches the Pew numbers for 1939 closely).

The Jewish Virtual Library gives worldwide numbers - also based on Sergio DellaPergola - of 16 million in 1939 and 11 million in 1945. The Washington Post created a graphic based on these numbers:

world Jewish population 1880 to 2014. The impact of the Holocaust is clearly visible as the number of Jews is 16.6 million in 1938 and a bit above 10 million a couple of years later.

The American Jewish Committee estimated the world Jewish population at 16 million in 1939 and 11 million in 1946.

  • 29
    "all figures before 1949 were from 1938 estimates" - wait, do I understand this correctly? The cited number for 1948 is from an extrapolation made 10 years earlier?? Apr 10, 2017 at 6:22
  • 10
    I'm not totally surprised; its very expensive to do censuses or count people, so a lot of things are done via extrapolation. I agree that 10 years sounds like a long time to extrapolate over, though Apr 10, 2017 at 7:20
  • 19
    @fyrepenguin Though I imagine trying to do a census for most of those 10 years would have been next to impossible.
    – TripeHound
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:32
  • 23
    I observe that the UK census is only carried out every 10 years. Figures for intermediate years are estimated. Apr 10, 2017 at 9:35
  • 9
    @fredsbend My understanding (maybe best left to history stack exchange) is that the extent to which the Jewish population was decimated wasn't fully understood until long after the war. And it would appear they didn't want to revise their estimates from the past apparently. I could be wrong about that though, and obviously sifting through what is true and what isn't about the holocaust can be difficult.
    – corsiKa
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:21

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