Pre-Existing Social Ties among Auschwitz Prisoners Support Holocaust Survival

12 July, 2023

A research article by Matěj Bělín, Tomáš Jelínek and Štěpán Jurajda (CERGE-EI) published in the July 11, 2023 issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) links the chance of survival of Jewish prisoners in the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau to previously formed personal ties.

To provide evidence free of survival bias on the importance of social ties for surviving the Holocaust, the authors of the article titled "Pre-Existing social ties among Auschwitz Prisoners support Holocaust survival" studied individual histories of 30 000 Jewish prisoners who entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on transports from the Theresienstadt ghetto. They asked whether the availability of potential friends among fellow prisoners on a transport influenced the chances of surviving the Holocaust.

Relying on multiple proxies of preexisting social networks and varying social-linkage composition of transports, the researchers uncovered a significant survival advantage to entering Auschwitz with a larger group of potential friends.

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