Disinfo: 40% of Holocaust victims were Soviets


40% of the (6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust) were citizens of the former Soviet Union.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about WWII and the Holocaust.

Of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, historians say about 1 million were Soviet. This narrative appeared to be adding an additional 1.5 million Jewish victims from eastern European areas occupied by the Soviets under their pact with the Nazis.

Arkadi Zeltser, a Yad Vashem historian, said the accuracy of the statement depended on rival “definitions” of when the war began. Yad Vashem, along with all other reputable institutions, considers the war to have been sparked on September 1, 1939, with the invasion of Poland. The Soviets generally consider their “Great Patriotic War” to have started two years later when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

Historical background

By the early part of 1939, the German dictator Adolf Hitler had become determined to invade and occupy Poland.

Secret negotiations led on August 23-24 to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Moscow. In a secret protocol of this pact, the Germans and the Soviets agreed that Poland should be divided between them, with the western third of the country going to Germany and the eastern two-thirds being taken over by the USSR.

On September 1 1939, Hitler attacked Poland, Soviet troops entered the territory on September 17 of the same year.

Following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, the country was divided between those two occupiers. Nazi concentration camps, aimed at exterminating the Jews, were built on the Polish territory at the time when it was occupied by Nazi Germany.


  • Reported in: Issue183
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/01/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: USSR, Russia, Germany
  • Keywords: Holocaust, USSR, WWII, Nazi/Fascist


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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