To illustrate this point, we have put together a six-part study of the methods used by the denier Walter Sanning in his The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry. In this first part, we discuss the claim made by Sanning (p.33) that the number of Jews in Poland at the end of September 1939 was 2,633,000, a reduction of nearly 500,000 from the 1931 census figure of 3,113,933. A study of his sources and arguments reveals a number of deliberate omissions, distortions, and perverse interpretations of data.
Firstly, to justify his choice of sources, Sanning (p.44) makes a false claim about Nazi population data by asserting that “their figures were not based on a census, not even on estimates". This is a blatant lie because, as Sanning must have known, every Jewish ghetto in Poland was forced to conduct a census. This had been mandated by Heydrich on September 21st, 1939:
(3) The Jewish councils are to take an improvised census of the Jews in their local areas - broken down if possible by sex (age groups): a) up to 16 years of age, b) from 16 to 20 years of age, and c) over, as well as by principal occupation groups - and are to report the results in the shortest possible time.Sanning contradicts his own lie when he discusses Nazi demographic figures for Soviet cities (p.74). Suddenly, we discover that:
…the German authorities began to initiate detailed counts of the remaining population. Obviously, the German occupiers had to obtain some information on the available stock of the working population.Sanning’s Soviet chapter thus, with rank hypocrisy, leans on Nazi demographics that he ignores in his Polish chapter. This flagrant dishonesty is damning because it reveals his true motives: evasion and obfuscation of the true historical record.
Secondly, Sanning claims that Jewish natural population growth (births over
deaths) between 1931 and 1939 was only 0.2% per annum. This figure is refuted by a Polish government survey, published originally in 1936, with which any demographer of Poland should be familiar: "The Accuracy of the Registration of Births and Deaths" (Statistics, Series C. Pt. 41). A team of demographers examined rabbinical records dating back to 1927 and found that the number of births among the Jewish population in Poland was at least 50% larger than that given in the official birth tables. Joseph Marcus’s The Social and Political History of the Jews in Poland, 1919-1939 (1983, p.173) discusses these data in depth and concludes that the natural growth rate was 1.32% per annum for 1931-1935 and 1.29% per annum for 1936-1938. Sanning (p.26-27) claims that, in 1931, there were 52,305 births and 40,000 deaths, but the Polish data indicate a birth rate of 2.7% (84,076) and a death rate of 1.38% (42,972). Sanning is therefore understating Jewish natural growth by 30,000 per year.
Thirdly, Sanning prints a graph (p.28) showing that, as of 1931, the percentage of Jews to non-Jews was falling in proportion with age, i.e. there were proportionally far more old Jews than young ones in the overall population. He claims that this proves that the Jewish birth rate was far lower than for non-Jews. However, Sanning fails to mention the obvious explanation of these data, namely that, as he himself notes (p.30), 294,139 Jews emigrated between the 1921 and 1931 censuses, and most of these were young families with children.
Fourthly, Sanning claims that 100,000 Jews left Poland annually from 1933. As Roberto Muehlencamp has demonstrated, Sanning obtained this figure from an article by Hermann Graml that was based on the flawed assumption that his source document referred to emigration from Poland when it actually referred to emigration from the whole of Eastern Europe, including the USSR, not just Poland. Sanning makes no attempt to check Graml’s source.
The bumbling “demographer” makes a similar error when discussing Polish Jewish emigration to the USA. Sanning (p.31) makes the fatuous claim that:
Of the 4.3 million Jews in the geographic area encompassed by Poland, the Baltic Countries, Rumania and Czechoslovakia before the war, approximately two thirds lived in Poland. Therefore, the largest contingent of Jewish immigrants in North America between 1933 and 1943 must have come from that country.The sheer absurdity of this position can be shown by examining any American Jewish Yearbook from this period. For example, the Yearbook for 1937-38 (p.765, Table XVII) lists all Jewish immigrants into the USA by country of last residence. The total from all countries for the year up to June 30th, 1936 is 6,252. The number of these emanating from Poland is just 528.
Sanning displays further ignorance about the United States when he deals specifically with that country in Chapter Seven, pp. 160-166. Sanning cites an article from the American Jewish Yearbook (1976, Vol 77, p.268) which he claims shows that the Jewish population of the USA rose from 4,228,029 in 1927 to 4,770,000 in 1937. Sanning argues that the rise between these figures cannot be explained by natural increase but can only be due to illegal immigration. Had Sanning consulted the original source of the 1937 figures (1940-41 Yearbook, p.215-256), he would have discovered two facts that debunked that assumption. Firstly, the author, H.S. Binfield of the US Census Bureau, explicitly states that the growth was not due to immigration. Secondly, the data were collected from a Census of Religious Bodies, i.e. the figures were self-reported by the Jews. It is therefore absurd to claim that these Jews entered the USA illegally, as their census returns would thus have been self-incriminating. A clandestine population would not reveal its whereabouts to a government survey.
Sanning's lack of basic knowledge is further exposed when he discusses the possibility of Jewish emigration from Poland to France. He assumes (p.31) that Jews arriving in France must have emigrated either from Germany or from “countries to the east and south east of Germany”. He then narrows this area down to one country: Poland! Anyone with even the scantest knowledge of French Jewish history would have known that France had an empire in North Africa, which contained many Jews, and these were allowed to enter France freely. France also had a strong reputation, prior to 1939, for Jewish immigration from Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia, due to her historical role as a recipient of Jewish refugees fleeing from the Ottoman Empire, a role that continued after the Ottoman period into the 1930’s.
In addition to this ignorance, Sanning’s thesis contains glaring inconsistencies. His claim that there was high illegal emigration from Poland in the 1918-1939 period contradicts his earlier claim that natural Jewish population growth was very low. If high illegal emigration occurred during the 1920’s, there would have needed to be an extraordinarily high surplus of births over deaths between 1921 and 1931 to replace the departed population, otherwise the Jewish population would have plummeted between the 1921 and 1931 censuses, instead of actually increasing.
However, merely to accuse Sanning of ignorance and hypocrisy is to overlook glaring examples of flagrant dishonesty. We saw above that Sanning lied about Nazi population data and discussed Polish births and deaths data without making any mention of the 1936 government study that forms the cornerstone of all Polish academic demography of the period. This dishonesty appears again in his discussion of the USA when Sanning quotes the claim of US Assistant Secretary of State, Breckenridge Long, made in 1943, that the US had admitted 580,000 refugees in the previous ten years. Sanning neglects to mention a fact that he must have known: shortly after Long’s testimony, Congressman Emanuel Celler demonstrated that Long’s claim was deceitful because the 580,000 figure was concocted from the maximum quota limit of immigrants (not just refugees), not the number of refugees that were granted visas.
Once again therefore, we find that Sanning is has written a deceitful and fraudulent piece of work.