A December 8 2019 Facebook post purportedly contrasting the number of people in Auschwitz on December 7 1943 (56,082) with the number of children (not adults, 69,550) detained at border camps on the same date in 2019 circulated in copy-and-paste form into January 2020:
December 7, 1943 the reported number of prisoners at Auschwitz was 56,082.
December 7, 2019 the number of JUST CHILDREN, not counting adults, in Trump’s migrant concentration camps is 69,550.
Let that sink in.
A popular iteration of the claim quoted above was shared just one day after the date cited. No citations appeared alongside the Facebook version we saw, but other users either directly shared it or copied and pasted the text to their own status updates.
Initially, a number of comparisons that were not one-to-one were apparent. Auschwitz was one of several concentration camps in Nazi Germany in 1943; Dachau and Bergen-Belsen (where Anne Frank and her family died) were two other well-known camps. However, there were overall 20 “main concentration camps” in total, and hundreds more ghettos and forced labor camps.
As the text itself noted, the number cited for December 2019 (69,550) purportedly counted children or minors detained in immigration camps. Presumably, as many or more adults were detained across the camps, making a direct comparison between the two numbers difficult on at least two counts.
Nevertheless, the claim did include parameters such as location, date, and very specific numbers likely tied to a recent source of information. Those were checkable, forming a basis on which to rate the claim true, decontextualized, or not true.
That source may have been a similarly worded but differently formatted tweet published on December 8 2019 by the user @TrinityResists:
7 December 2019: The number of just children in US government custody over the past year to date is reported to be 69,550 — the largest number of migrant children held in detention camps in US history. https://t.co/yn4yx4eWLHGerman Refugees July 1945German Refugees July 1945
— Trinity (@TrinityResists) December 8, 2019
That tweet contained the claim that the “number of just children in US government custody over the past year to date is reported to be 69,550.” Additionally, the user retweeted a statement from the verified account @AuschwitzMuseum, citing a date of December 7 1943 and the figure provided in the subsequent posts — 56,082 prisoners at Auschwitz:
7 December 1943 | The number of male and female prisoners at the Auschwitz camp complex (main camps & subcamps) was 56,082. pic.twitter.com/jTNdFHZwOX
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 7, 2019
The date and figure for Auschwitz’s population were obtained from a highly credible source, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. That tweet specifically indicated that the “number of male and female prisoners at the Auschwitz camp complex (main camps & subcamps) was 56,082” on December 7 1943.
But the posts contained a second, similarly very specific and seemingly not rounded number of 69,550 child detainees in 2019 at border camps. Due to its specificity, it was easily traceable to a November 2019 Associated Press article headlined: “U.S. held record number of migrant children in custody in 2019.”
[In November 2019], new government data shows [a three-year-old] girl [separated from her parents at the border] is one of an unprecedented 69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year , enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium. That’s more children detained away from their parents than any other country, according to United Nations researchers. And it’s happening even though the U.S. government has acknowledged that being held in detention can be traumatic for children, putting them at risk of long-term physical and emotional damage.
The figure of 69,550 children or minors detained in the United States in border camps as of December 7 2019 was also obtained from the Associated Press, which in turn obtained it from the United States government. It was not invented or plucked from thin air, but rather gathered from mainstream reporting. As noted earlier, the comparisons were not entirely direct, as Auschwitz was one of several camps and the number of adults detained in the United States in 2019 was not reported.
Nevertheless, the claim was accurate as presented based on credible data. On December 7 1943, and estimated 56,082 people were imprisoned at Auschwitz, and as of December 7 2019, 69,550 children (not adults) had been detained in United States border camps in 2019.