Six million murdered… What’s in a number?

HitlerIf you read my posts “The Delusion of Normal” or “The Small Side of the Numbers,” you know that I am one who looks at numbers and likes to make charts. Why? Probably because I am constantly taken back by how meaningless numbers begin to become as they grow bigger and bigger.

The other night I was watching Defiance with Tweni, and afterwards we got to talking about the atrocious reality that more than six million jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II.

I’ve heard that number so many times over the course of my life, but never have I actually comprehended it. I’m betting most of us can’t comprehend it. So I thought I’d try and figure out what a number that big actually means.

First, to gain just a little perspective, I think every person reading this should do an exercise. Out loud, count to 100 as fast as you can.

It took a lot longer than you probably expected, didn’t it.

Now, count to 100 as fast as you can again, only this time, put a real or imagined face onto every number, eyes closed, and lifeless.

This graph represents how many murders you just counted.


And this is what that same chart looks like when placed next to the total number of Jews killed by Hitler.


It disappeared altogether.