Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwitz

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GeorgElser
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Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwitz

Postby GeorgElser » 13 Aug 2010 19:18

Hey there!

I was sucked into a Holocaust-debate and did the best I could... But some questions came up and I can't seem to find the easy answers. Since I have been using this site as a general referrence for some time now I decided to open an account and see if the excellent contributors that I know of would help me out....

quesions:

1) Concerning the Zimmermann-Mattogno debate:

Is anyone of you aware of any reply to Mattogno about his "Risposta" to Zimmerman?

http://vho.org/GB/c/CM/Risposta-new-eng.html

I remember one poster here (sergei something) ripped apart Mattogno's handling of Prüfer's Smersh statements. But in fact that was the only debunker-reply I ever encountered to the garbage Mattogno posted there.

2) What about the claims about fuel usage that Mattogno makes in that Risposta? Is that the usual mumbo-jumbo of deniers? How can I refute this? It seems Mattogno is more or less the only on the net claiming knowledge of the exact deliveries of fuel to Auschwitz... So how would I go about debunking that?

3) Is there testimony of SS or Capos about the handling of the crematoria-ovens? Or are there maybe even Nazi-documents about that (I wouldn't expect a manual but something that discusses how many corpses per muffle etc.)??

4) Is there an up-to-denier arguments discussion of the crematoria-ovens from a "traditional historians" perspective.

5) All in all, does anyone have the impression that Mattogno bites into the overall argumentation of Zimmerman's "body disposal @ Auschwitz?"

I'm not quote sure what to make of it. Mattogno is a demagogue, no arguing there, and a very pubescent writer at that - constant ad-homs, etc. But he does seem to have caught Zimmerman on some aspects.

I'm still trying to make full sense of the risposta - some of it is clearly idiotic and I could already refute it. But would someone be willing to walk me through the rest? (Either that or there's like thousands of hours of browsing in front of me because I just can't cope with the notion that what Mattogno is the last word on the debate.

Thank you very much. And NO; I am totally not a denier. These are all honest questions.

little grey rabbit
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby little grey rabbit » 14 Aug 2010 07:45

3) Is there testimony of SS or Capos about the handling of the crematoria-ovens? Or are there maybe even Nazi-documents about that (I wouldn't expect a manual but something that discusses how many corpses per muffle etc.)??


The only SS testimony of anyone who admitted to working in the crematorium is Otto Moll which I know of. Were there others?
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.revi ... 883cc2b4b2
Should you need a footnote you probably use this interrogation to say 2 to 3 bodies per muffle.

siwiec
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby siwiec » 14 Aug 2010 10:44

little grey rabbit wrote:The only SS testimony of anyone who admitted to working in the crematorium is Otto Moll which I know of. Were there others?


Erich Mussfeldt/Muhsfeldt, said three bodies (adults) per muffle:

L'SS-Oberscharführer Mussfeldt, che fu capo dei crematori di Birkenau nel maggio 1944, dichiarò:

«In questi crematori si caricavano 3 cadaveri di adulti in ogni storta [muffola]. I cadaveri dei bambini vi entravano in aggiunta. La cremazione di un tale carico durava circa mezz'ora»

http://olo-dogma.myblog.it/archive/2010 ... z-di1.html

David Thompson
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby David Thompson » 27 Nov 2010 06:03

A post from murx containing unsourced factual claims was deleted by this moderator pursuant to previous personal sourcing warnings at:

viewtopic.php?p=1514191#p1514191
viewtopic.php?p=1522752#p1522752
viewtopic.php?p=1522883#p1522883

JamesL
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby JamesL » 28 Nov 2010 05:12

Perhaps one should check with the people who actually operated the ovens.

“My job was with another prisoner. We were to pick up the bodies and lay them on a stretcher. I had to load the bodies straight into the furnace with a pitchfork.
Each furnace had three doors. Four bodies could be put in through each door—sixty bodies in fifteen minutes, and after fifteen minutes you had to stir the whole thing with the pitchfork. The fire blazed and after another fifteen minutes nothing remained of the victims except ashes. Then the work started over.”
Sonderkommando Ya’akov Gabai

Source: We Wept Without Tears – Testimonies of the Jewish Sonderkommando at Auschwitz by Gideon Greif, Yale University Press.
http://www.abolitionist.com/reprogrammi ... ilupus.pdf

Other websites dealing with Sonderkommandos indicate that up to 8 emaciated bodies could be placed in a single muffle.

uberjude
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby uberjude » 28 Nov 2010 21:00

And just to second what James posted, it should be kept in mind that conditions of those cremated could vary widely--there were Jews brought to Auschwitz from Polish ghettos, and Jews brought in relatively good health from countries like Italy where they weren't subject to such harsh conditions and were probably in reasonably good shape. And, of course, many were children, which also needs to be considered when trying to estimate how many could be placed in an oven at once.

JamesL
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby JamesL » 28 Nov 2010 22:13

More from the Sonderkommandos.

"The procedure was to put the first body with the feet towards the muffle, back down and face up. Then a second body was placed on top, again face up, but head towards the muffle. . . . We had to work fast, for the bodies put in first soon started to burn, and their arms and legs rose up. If we were slow, it was difficult to charge the second part of bodies . . . We burned the bodies of children with those of adults. First we put in two adults, then as many children as the muffle could contain. It was sometimes as many as five or six. We used this procedure so that the bodies of children would not be placed directly on the grid bars, which were relatively far apart. In this way we prevented the children from falling through into the ash bin. Women's bodies burned much better and more quickly than those of men. For this reason, when a charge was burning badly, we would introduce a woman's body to accelerate the combustion. Generally speaking, we burned four or five bodies at a time in one muffle, but sometimes we charged a greater number of bodies. It was possible to charge up to eight 'Muselmanns.' “ – Sonderkommando Henryk Tauber

Holocaust Denial On Trial, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
http://www.hdot.org/en/learning/myth-fa ... /body/1030

michael mills
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby michael mills » 29 Nov 2010 04:43

Modern cremators have adjustable control systems that monitor the furnace during cremation. These systems automatically monitor the interior to tell when the cremation process is complete, after which the furnace shuts down automatically. The time required for cremation thus varies from body to body, and in modern furnaces may be as fast as one hour per 45 kilograms (99 lb) of body weight.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation

If the above statement is correct, then the greater the mass of body weight introduced into a creamtion furnace, ie the greater the number of bodies, the longer it will take for the cremation process to be completed.

Thus, while statements that four or more bodies were introduced into each muffle in each load could well be true (depending on the actual interior capacity of the muffle), statements that such a mass of body weight could be entirely consumed in 30 minutes seem questionable.

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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby michael mills » 29 Nov 2010 06:02

Here is a rather quirky description of the process of a body being cremated:

http://www.cremate-me.net/process2.html

Note that the internal organs, in particular the brain and lungs, take a long time to be completely consumed because of their water content.

Note too this statement:

Those who are obese, cremate more slowly because although they contain more fat they also contain more water.



That directly contradicts claims in witness statements that fat bodies burnt better.

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Ironmachine
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby Ironmachine » 29 Nov 2010 08:26

I'm not sure at all about what they are trying to say with
Those who are obese, cremate more slowly because although they contain more fat they also contain more water.

Obviously the greater the mass the greater the time needed to be consumed entirely, but on the other hand obese people (obese people due to fat, not to liquid retention or similar problems) proportionally they contain less water because the content of water of fat is lesser than that of other human body components, IIRC about 10%.

siwiec
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby siwiec » 29 Nov 2010 10:18

There are also some German documents that mention several bodies were burnt simultaneously, here for example one letter from Topf&Söhne:

http://www.topfundsoehne.de/media_de/abb_047.html

uberjude
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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby uberjude » 29 Nov 2010 14:14

It should be noted that the "one hour per body" is an industry standard, not a scientific one, meaning that a modern crematorium, preparing an urn of ashes for a client, burns to a certain level. By contrast, in Auschwitz, they could throw half a dozen corpses in an oven for and have the bone fragments ground into bone meal afterward. According to Henryk Tauber, they could thus consume half a dozen bodies in about an hour and a half.

http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/body-disposal/

As for the website posted by Michael (and I understand he didn't cite it as an authority) it is worth keeping mind that it is hardly a scholarly or professional source. The Sonderkommando at Auschwitz were, quite frankly, the greatest authorities on cremation the world has ever seen. here's what Tauber had to say (from the above cited source):

As I have already said, there were five furnaces in Crematorium II, each with three muffles for cremating the corpses and heated by two coke-fired hearths. The fire flues of these hearths came out above the ash [collection] boxes of the two side muffles. Thus the flames went first round the two side muffles then heated the center one, from where the combustion gasses were led out below the furnace, between the two firing hearths. Thanks to this arrangement, the incineration process for the corpses in the side muffles differed from that of the center muffle. The corpses of ... wasted people with no fat burned rapidly in the side muffles and slowly in the center one. Conversely the corpses of people gassed on arrival, not being wasted, burned better in the center muffle. During the incineration of such corpses, we used the coke only to light the fire of the furnace initially, for fatty corpses burned of their own accord thanks to the combustion of the body fat.


And finally, of course, there is the letter from Karl Bischoff from June 28, 1943, specifying a capacity to cremate 4,756 corpses a day. What's interesting is that according to Carlo Mattogno in his denial screed on the crematoria, this calculates to 15 minutes per body in a three muffle oven. Let's assume his math is correct--the 15 minute figure is obviously too low...except that it's an average, not an actual time. But it corresponds precisely to what Tauber(who was obviously unaware of Bischoff's letter) said--six bodies in an hour and a half.

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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby michael mills » 30 Nov 2010 01:47

It should be noted that the "one hour per body" is an industry standard, not a scientific one, meaning that a modern crematorium, preparing an urn of ashes for a client, burns to a certain level. By contrast, in Auschwitz, they could throw half a dozen corpses in an oven for and have the bone fragments ground into bone meal afterward.


The above shows a misunderstanding of the technical details of the modern cremation process. I recommend reading the site I linked a bit more carefully.

The "urn of ashes for a client" prepared by a modern crematorium according to industry standards actually contains pulverised bone fragments. In other words, the cremation process in a modern crematorium is essentially the same as in the body-disposal process at Auschwitz; the flesh of the corpse is vaporised and goes up the chimney, leaving bone fragments that are then ground into bone meal and disposed of in various ways (eg dumped into the Sola River, or scattered in the crematorium gardens).

The main difference between the modern cremation process adhering to legal standards and body disposal at Auschwitz is that in the former case the bone fragments remaining from the cremation of one body are required to be totally removed before another body can be introduced into the furnace, whereas in the latter case the second body could be introduced as soon as the first one had been mostly consumed, since there was no concern about mixing the cremains from different corpses. Thus, the cremation of a batch of bodies could proceed at a faster rate at Auschwitz than in a modern crematorium.

But the time for reduction of a body in a modern crematorium is not "one hour per body", as incorrectly stated by Uberjude, but a unit of time per unit of body mass, stated to be as fast as one hour per 45 kilos of body weight. Thus, if a body weighing 90 kilos is being cremated in a modern crematorium, the duration of the cremation process until all the soft parts have vaporised and only bone fragments are left could be a minimum of two hours, but might well be longer.

The issue here is not whether an attempt was made at Auschwitz to shorten the duration of the process of cremating a large number of bodies by loading several into one muffle at the same time; witness testimony and documentary evidence suggests that that attempt was indeed made. Furthermore, the damage sustained by the crematory ovens supports the statements that several bodies were introduced into a muffle at the same time, since the greater the body mass introduced into the furnace, the higher the temperature that will be reached inside the furnace one all the water content of the body mass has been vaporised and the carbon content ignites, creating the risk of damage to the furnace lining (another reason why in modern commercial crematoria only only body is normally burned at a time).

The issue is whether the practice of introducing several bodies into a muffle in a single load actually did reduce the cremation time per load to the incredibly short times claimed by eyewitnesses. The scientific reality of the cremation process, ie the unit of time required to reduce a given unit of body mass, suggest that it did not, and all that was achieved was substantial damage to the cremation ovens which required their being put out of action until repairs were effected.

A more effective way of reducing the overall cremation time for a given batch of bodies was to introduce only one body at a time into each muffle, but to introduce the second body when the first one was substantially but not entirely consumed, a method that would not result in an excessively high temperature inside the furnace and would reduce the risk of damage. No doubt this was the methodoly that was adopted after the experiment with loading seceral bodies at one time had ended in disaster.

The question remains as to why the eyewitnesses claimed that the method of loading several bodies in one cremation cycle had resulted in a drastic shortening of the duration of that cycle. One possible answer is that they were trying to support the Soviet claim that a huge number of bodies had been disposed of in the crematoria during the period of their operation. The main witntess, Tauber, certainly included in his postwar testimony the statement that four million persons had been gassed and burned in the crematoria. The only way in which that number of bodies could have disposed of in the crematoria during the documented period of their operation, taking into account the normal downtime for maintenance etc, would be if the duration of each cremation cycle had been much shorter than normal, indeed shorter than physically possible.

So the bottom line is:

Loading of several bodies at the same time into a single muffle? - Yes, at least until the cremation furnaces were badly damaged by excessively high temperatures and needed to be taken offline for repairs.

Reduction of the cremation cycle to 30 minutes? - No, at least not if the claim is that up to six bodies were cremated in that time. However, the claimed cremation cycle of 30 minutes might actually refer to bodies being introduced singly at intervals of 30 minutes, with each body being loaded before the previous one had been totally consumed; that would be a physical possibility.

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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby David Thompson » 30 Nov 2010 02:53

Michael -- You wrote:
The question remains as to why the eyewitnesses claimed that the method of loading several bodies in one cremation cycle had resulted in a drastic shortening of the duration of that cycle. One possible answer is that they were trying to support the Soviet claim that a huge number of bodies had been disposed of in the crematoria during the period of their operation.

and
Reduction of the cremation cycle to 30 minutes? - No, at least not if the claim is that up to six bodies were cremated in that time. However, the claimed cremation cycle of 30 minutes might actually refer to bodies being introduced singly at intervals of 30 minutes, with each body being loaded before the previous one had been totally consumed; that would be a physical possibility.

This argument assumes that the WWII cremation was comparable to modern, legal standards rather than merely some kind of expedient to get rid of most of the corpses. As for the numbers of dead at KL Birkenau, we don't have to deal with the 4 million Soviet figure, since modern estimates of the dead are considerably lower.

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Re: Technical details of cremation and fuel usage @ Auschwit

Postby uberjude » 30 Nov 2010 03:33

I admit, Michael, that I rather lost interest in reading the link you posted when I got to the discussion about what happens to breast tissue during a cremation. Not the sort of thing to draw my attentions, prurient or otherwise.

We don't need to conjecture about anything. We have the Bischoff letter that provides figures of what could be done, and we have the testimony of Sonderkommando and camp personnel about what actually was done, which, thanks to Mattogno's calculations, corresponds pretty nicely with what Bischoff estimated.


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