Priest: Holocaust's Toll Likely Higher Than Thought

Catholic makes it his life's work to investigate killing sites in eastern Europe
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2009 5:30 AM CDT
French priest Patrick Desbois, front, and members of his team walk to what used to be a well where many Jews were thrown dead or still alive, in Bogdanivka, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
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(Newser) – A Catholic priest probing the slaughter of Jews in Eastern Europe believes the Holocaust's true death toll may be far higher than the 5 to 6 million historians have settled on, the Times of London reports. Father Patrick Desbois has spent the last five years methodically investigating mass graves in the former Soviet Union, where the Nazis rounded up and shot Jews as they advanced.

Desbois, who calls the slaughter "the Holocaust by bullets,” considers his work a holy mission. His team excavates pits where the Nazis dumped their victims and tries to gauge the death toll by counting the German bullets. "Surely at the end of it all the numbers will be larger,” he said, “but we are still inspecting sites in Belarus and there is the vastness of Russia ahead of us.”