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Home News Polish experts lower nation’s WWII death toll

Polish experts lower nation’s WWII death toll

Published on August 30, 2009

Warsaw — At least 208,000 fewer Polish citizens died in World War II than the long-held toll of six million, a Polish organisation that probes the crimes of the past said last week.

The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) said its researchers now put the figure at between 5.62 million and 5.82 million rather than the estimated figure 6.028 million used in communist-era Poland.

The IPN’s figures include Polish Jews — who made up around half of the six million Jews from across Europe who perished in Nazi Germany’s Holocaust — as well as non-Jewish Poles and other ethnic groups.

According to the IPN, between 5.47 million and 5.67 million Polish citizens died at the hands of the Nazis. Some 150,000 perished under the Soviets.

Berlin and Moscow had signed a pact to carve up Poland in 1939, and imposed a reign of terror in their respective zones after invading that September.

Germany turned on its erstwhile ally in 1941, invading the Soviet Union. The Red Army imposed communist rule in Poland as it drove back the Nazis in 1944-1945.

The IPN said it had also reduced the number of Poles deported to Siberia by the Soviets after 1939 from one million to 320,000.

In addition, it lowered the number of civilians who died during the failed two-month Warsaw Uprising against the Germans in 1944 — mostly in massacres by Nazi troops — to 150,000 from the previous estimate of 200,000.

The IPN — created a decade after the fall of Poland’s communist regime in 1989 — was set up to research and prosecute crimes dating from both the war and the communist era.

In June, it launched a vast operation to create a name-by-name Internet list of Polish war victims.