A comprehensive new study released by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows that as many as 42,500 ghettos and concentration camps were operated by Nazi Germany throughout Europe from 1933 to 1945.
Even seasoned Holocaust scholars were surprised by the results of the 13-year study.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the German Historical Institute, said after learning of the new data, the New York Times reported.
“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”
The data from the report indicates that there were more than “30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, ‘Germanizing’ prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers,” according to the New York Times.
Researchers said they only initially expected to find around 7,000 sites, but the number kept rising.
The revelation of additional camps may also help Holocaust victims in their legal claims against European insurance companies such as Allianz.
In 2006, as part of a settlement by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, Allianz and other insurance companies paid out more than $306 million to 48,000 claimants. But Holocaust survivors and their supporters claim that Allianz still owes them nearly $2 billion.
“How many claims have been rejected because the victims were in a camp that we didn’t even know about?” asked Sam Dubbin, a Florida lawyer who represents a group of survivors seeking to bring claims against European insurance companies, according to the New York Times.