Belzec

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Thorwald
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Belzec

Post by Thorwald » 13 Mar 2002 19:30

This thread is made for all information concerning the extermination camp Belzec, Poland.

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Post by Thorwald » 13 Mar 2002 19:31

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Post by Thorwald » 13 Mar 2002 19:34

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Belzec 1998

Post by Thorwald » 13 Mar 2002 19:42

In 1998 scientists from Poland and United Kingdom visited Belzec to make an archaelogical investigation.

_____________________________________________________________

I have recently returned from Belzec where I was part of an archaelogical
team led by Professor Mieczslaw Gora of the Torun University, Warsaw. We
carried out an extensive survey of the camp area drilling over 1700
bore-holes and examining soil samples to a depth of 6m. 33 mass graves
were found of various dimensions, the largest measuring 70m x 20m x 6m
deep. In the south east part of the camp five mass graves were
found, the largest measuring 36m x 18m x 6m deep. Two of the graves
contained unburnt, naked human corpses below a layer of water at 3-4m
below ground.
At varying depths was found burnt human ash, burnt wood, crushed pieces of
bone etc. At the extrermity of drilling in grave marked No,1, there were
several c.m. of burnt human fat. Three graves contained a mixture of ash,
carbonised wood and crushed bone. Near to the East boundary fence
a grave measuring 5m x 5m x 2m deep was located, spent and live rounds
of German and Russian ammunition was found. This may have been the
site of the `lazerat` (bogus Red Cross location) where the old, and
sick were taken for execution. With metal detectors and
excavations over 600 items of property were found and logged.

Four building structures were were exposed. Three of the sites were
excavated to a depth of 3m, and revealed burnt structures, possibly
the location of the death brigade barracks. These building sites
contained concrete cellars. A number of human bones, skulls etc were
found in one
of these sites and probably the remains of of several people shot on site
and dumped. A fourth building was exposed near the West corner of
the camp which may have been the camp generator building. We found
no traces of the gassing barracks.
The ramp and stopping place for the transports was located.
(The team: Prof. A. Kola, Prof M. Gora, R.Kazmierczak, W. Azulta, Z.
Wieczorkowski, M. Tregenza and 12 local workers from Belzec village).

I have 9 x 90min. film cassettes of the whole operation over the
period 28.4. - 4.6.98. (in need of some professional editing?)

We are due to re-commence work at Belzec this October and extend our
investigation outside the present camp wire.

Robin O`Neil
Hebrew and Jewish Department,
University College London (currently engaged PhD research Jews of
Galicia/Rabka SD School/transports to Belzec).



_____________________________________________________________

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/aktion.reinhard/belzec/ftp.py?camps/aktion.reinhard/belzec//archaelogical-dig-description

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Post by Roberto » 13 Mar 2002 20:34

The number of people killed at Belzec was long estimated at around 600,000. Thanks to a newly discovered document, the Höfle memorandum intercepted by the British decoding service at Bletchley Park, we now know the exact number:

==============
13/15. OLQ de OMQ 1005
83 234 250
State Secret!
To the Senior Commander of the Security Police ,
for the attention of SS Obersturmbannfuhrer HEIM, CRACOW.
Subject: fortnightly report Einsatz REINHART.
Reference: radio telegram therefrom.
recorded arrivals until December 31, 42,
L 12,761,
B 0,
S 515,
T 10 335 <,>
together 23 611
sum total. December 31, 42,
L 24 733,
B 434 508,
S 101 370,
T 71 355, read: 713 555]
together 1 274 166
SS and Police Leader Lublin, HOFLE, Sturmbannfuhrer
========================


According to this document, deportations to Belzec ended in 1942 and 434,508 people were transported to Belzec until the end of that year.

Only seven people are known to have survived the camp, and one of them was killed in 1946 by Polish anti-Semites in Lublin. Two of the survivors, Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman, testified about their experiences at Belzec. Reder even published a report in Cracow in 1946. (Michael Tregenza, Belzec – Das vergessene Lager der Holocaust, in : Jahrbuch Fritz Bauer Institut, 2000[/I]). Extracts from Reder’s report can be found in the expert opinion submitted by Prof. Browning at the Irving-Lipstadt trial:

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/documents/Browning3.htm

Much of what is known about the killing process at that camp results not from these survivors’ testimonials, however, but from depositions of former members of the camp’s staff before West German courts at the trials against Karl Streibel et al before the Hamburg County Court (LG Hamburg 147 Ks 1/72) and against Josef Kaspar Oberhauser before the Munich County Court. (LG München I 110 Ks 3/64). Summaries of both trials can be found on the website of the University of Amsterdam:

http://www.jur.uva.nl/junsv/brd/Tatortfr.htm

under “KL Belzec”. The summary of the trial against Oberhauser is also available in English under the following link:

http://www.jur.uva.nl/junsv/brd/brdengf ... eng585.htm

Of the three [I]Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, Belzec is the one regarding which the most thorough site investigation was done. What follows are extracts from the report on the archaeological investigation performed in 1997/98 by a team headed by Andrzej Kola, director of the Underwater Archeological Department at the University of Torun, and Mieczyslaw Gora, senior curator of the Museum of Archeology and Ethnology in Lodz, and a comment thereon by British historian Michael Tregenza, who was part of the team:

"II. LOCATION/INVESTIGATION OF MASS GRAVES October 1997
"Grave No. 1. Located only 5 m. S of BM 2007. At 3.90 m. below ground level a layer of dark grey (burnt) sand was found in which were mixed pieces of carbonized wood and fragments of human bones - among them an incisor tooth. This was the first indication of the [Page 14] "presence of a mass grave. Beneath this deep layer lay a several centimetres thick layer of foul-smelling water under which were found unburnt corpses compressed by the weight of soil to a layer only 20 cm thick. The drill core brought to the surface putrid pieces of human remains, including pieces of skull with skin and tufts of hair still attached, and unidentifiable lumps of greyish, fatty human tissue. The bottom of the grave was lined with a layer of evil smelling black (i.e. burnt) human fat, resembling black soap. As no evidence of fabric was brought to the surface, it may be assumed that the corpses are naked. The state of preservation of the corpses is due to the fact that they lay virtually hermetically sealed between the layer of water above, the layer of solidified fat below, underneath which the natural, dry and compressed sand through which no air could penetrate, resulted in their partial mummification. The dimensions of Grave No. 1 were determined as 40 m. x 11 m. and over 5 m. deep.

"Grave No. 2. A small grave 70 m. E of BM 2007 and close to the S fence, contained at the depth of only 30 cm. a layer of pieces of carbonized wood beneath which at depth 1.50 m. there was a layer of unburnt human corpses. Dimensions of the grave: l5 m. x 5 m. x 2 m. deep.

"Grave No. 3. This was the first mass grave the location of which was positively identified from a Luftwaffe aerial photograph taken in 1944, in which it appears as a T-shaped white patch and seems to be the biggest grave in the camp.[1] The presence of graves in this part of the camp was also discernible at ground level by soil subsidence and different vegetation on the areas of subsidence. Upon investigation, however, it was found that the T-shape consisted of three separate graves (labelled 3, 5 and 6 on Fig. 4) with Grave No. 3 forming the stem of the 'T'. It measured 20 m. x 15 m. and is at least 5 m. deep.[2] After drilling through a 4.90 m. deep layer of dark grey sand mixed with pieces of carbonized wood and fragments of burnt human bones, a foul odour was released. The drill core brought to the surface pieces of skulls with skin and tufts of hair still attached, lumps of greyish human fat, and fragments of unburnt human bones. The bottom layer consisted of putrid, waxy human fat.

"Grave No. 4. Located immediately adjacent to the N side of BM 2007, measures 20 m. x 8 m. and is 5 m. deep. At depth 1.20 m., burnt pieces of human bones were found. Beneath this, a layer of water signalled the presence of corpses at the next level. From below the water layer the drill core brought to the surface pieces of unburnt human bones, including pieces of skulls with skin and hair still adhering and lumps of foul smelling greasy fat, indicating the presence of unburnt corpses

"Grave No. 5. Formed the left-hand bar of the T-shaped arrangement of graves 3, 5 and 6 (see Fig. 4), in which were found pieces of burnt human bones in a layer 2.60 m. - 3.80 m. deep. Near the W end of the grave the bones were so densely packed together that the drill could not penetrate further. Dimensions: 35 m. x 15 m. and at least 5 m. deep.

"Grave No. 6. Forms the right-hand bar of the T-shaped arrangement of graves and measures 33 m. x 14 m. and is more than 5 m. deep. At depth 0.4 m. - 2.60 m. there is a layer of carbonized wood and fragments of burnt human bones. At the E end of the grave the ground is covered with grey sand containing a mixture of crushed pieces of burnt and unburnt pieces of human bones. A few silver birch trees stand between Graves 5 and 6. "Additional test soundings were made in the vicinity of the four symbolic tombs near the E fence in an area where the Luftwaffe aerial photograph also indicated the presence of mass "Footnotes "[1] Air Photo Library, National Archives, Washington DC, USA. Film Roll No.: GX 8095 33 SK, exposure 155, dated 15 May 1944. "[2] It was because several of the mass graves located and investigated in October 1997 were found to be deeper than 5 m. that the length of the drills in the 1998 investigation was increased from 5 m. to 6 m. [Page 15] "graves. The location of three graves was confirmed in the area of symbolic tombs 1, 3) and 4. Their dimensions and depths were not determined at this time." (Tregenza, pp. 13-15)

"VI. LOCATION/INVESTIGATION OF MASS GRAVES April - June 1998

"Grave No. 7. Initially located in October - 1997 in the vicinity of symbolic tomb No. 4. Dimensions determined as 30 m. x 14 m. The symbolic tomb lay just to the right (S) of the grave. Carbonized pieces of wood and fragments of burnt human bones mixed with dark grey ash were found to a depth of 5 m.

"Grave No. 8. Of similar dimensions to grave No. 7, but a 12 m. long arm of this grave projects 20 m. to the SW. Contains burnt pieces of human bones and fragments of carbonized wood.

"Grave No. 9. Located immediately behind symbolic tomb No. 1, next to the NE fence, measures 10 m. square and contains burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand. "Note: the surface soil around graves 7, 8 and 9 consists of a thin layer of grey sand containing a large quantity of crushed pieces of burnt human bones.

"Grave No. 10. One of the largest mass graves in the camp, lies 15 m. N of the monument/mausoleum and measures 25 m. x 20 m. At depth 4 m. a 80 cm thick layer of human fat was found below which lay unburnt human remains and pieces of unburnt large human bones. The drill core brought to the surface several lumps of foul smelling fatty tissue still in a state of decomposition, mixed with greasy lime.

"Grave No. 11. A smaller grave than any hither-to discovered (with the exception of grave No. 2), measures 11 m. x 9 m., located immediately adjacent to the NE corner of the monument/mausoleum. A few fragments of burnt human bones mixed with innumerable small pieces of carbonized wood were found at a depth of only 1.90 m.

"Grave No. 12. Located immediately to the N of grave No. 10 , is an L-shaped grave with the foot, measuring 20 m., lying to the W and the stem, 28 m. in length, pointing N. A small number of pieces of unburnt human bones were found at depth 3 m. mixed with grey sand and innumerable small fragments of carbonized wood. This layer extended to a depth of 4.40 m

"Grave No. 13. The smallest grave discovered in the camp, measuring only 5 m. x 5m. and 4.80 m. deep. Located next to the W fence, it contains a mixture of burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand.

"Grave No. 14. The largest grave in the camp, it extends beyond the N fence into the area of the adjacent sawmill. The section within the fence is an irregular zig-zag on the S side measuring 65 m. x 30 m. at its widest point E - W, and 8 m. at its narrowest. Contains burnt pieces of human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey, sandy soil to a depth of 3.10 m. Originally, grave No. 14 could have measured ca. 70 m. x 30 m. [Page 18]

"Grave No. 15. Another small grave, measuring 12 m. x 7 m. Situated adjacent to the S side of grave No. 14 it contains a mixture of pieces of burnt human bones, fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand.

"Grave No. 16. Also located adjacent to grave No. 14 and immediately E of grave No. 15. Measuring 20 m. x 8 m. it contains a mixture of burnt fragments of human bones and carbonized wood to a depth of 4.10 m.

"Grave No. 17. Situated next to and S of graves 12 and 16, measures 16m. x 8 m. and is 3.50 m. deep. Contains a mixture of pieces of burnt human bones, carbonized wood and grey sand.

"Grave No. 18. Lies next to the S edge of grave No. 15 and measures 15 m. x 10 m. and contains the same mixture of burnt pieces of human bones, carbonized wood and grey sand.

"Grave No. 19. Located within the area formed by graves 14, 15, 18 and 20, and close to the SW corner of grave 14. Measuring 14 m. x 8 m. it contains the mixture of grey sand, burnt pieces of human bones and carbonized wood to a depth of 3.50 m.

"Grave No. 20. In the form of a long trench at the W end of grave No. 14 and is the last one at the N end of the group of 18 graves along the N fence. In the same manner as its neighbour, grave No. 14, it also extends beyond the N fence into the area of the adjacent sawmill. The section within the fence measures 28 m. x 10 m. and reaches a depth of 5 m. At depth 4 m. there was found a dental bridge with four false teeth (2 amalgam and 2 white plastic). Originally, grave No. 20 could have measured 30-35 m. x 10 m.

"Grave No. 21. One of the smallest graves, measures only 7 m. sq. Situated in the forested S part of the memorial area, midway between graves 5 and 7, it is also unexpectedly shallow, being only 1.70 m. deep and contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand.

"Grave No. 22. Also situated in the forested S part of the memorial area, in the shape of an inverted 'L', close to the NE corner of grave No. 6. Measuring 27 m. on the long (E) side and 10 m. on the S side, it contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand to a depth of 3.60 m.

"Grave No. 23. Also one of the smaller graves, measuring 10 m. x 7 m., and located between graves 6 and 21. Contains burnt human remains to a depth of 4.20 m.

"Grave No. 24. A narrow trench near the N fence and next to the E corner of grave No. 14. Contains burnt human remains to a depth of 4.80 m.

"Grave No. 25. Located immediately to the E of graves 12 and 14, measures 14 m. x 8 m. and contains a mixture of burnt human remains, including corpses and skeletons, to a depth of 3 m. Below this level there is a 1 m. deep layer of waxy fat and greasy lime. A foul odour was released when the drill penetrated the layer of corpses and the drill core withdrew lumps of decaying fatty tissue and large pieces of bone.

"Grave No. 26. Another small grave, 9 m. x 9 m., and located immediately next to the E edge of grave No. 25. Contains a mixture of burnt human remains to a depth of 4.20 m. "Note: the soil above and around graves 25 and 26 is covered with a layer of innumerable small fragments of burnt human bones and small pieces of carbonized wood.

"Grave No. 27. One of the smaller graves, measures 10 m. x 4 m., and situated close to the N end of grave No. 25. Contains burnt and unburnt human remains. The top layer consists of burnt human bones and carbonized wood beneath which there is a layer of grey, waxy lime. The bottom of the grave contains not completely decomposed human remains mixed with putrid smelling greasy human fat. (Cf. graves 10 and 25). [Page 19]

"Grave No. 28. One of the smallest graves, measuring only 6 m. x 6 m. Located between grave 27 and the N fence, it also contains burnt human remains beneath which there is a layer of grey, greasy lime. The bottom of the grave, at depth 4.90 m, is lined with putrid smelling greasy human fat. (Cf. graves 10, 25 and 27).

"Grave No. 29. Measures 30 m. x 10 m. in the form of a big trench. Located just to the NE of grave 26, its E corner is immediately in front of symbolic tomb No. 1 and contains pieces of burnt human bones mixed with fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand. "Note: the ground between this grave and grave 26 to the NE is covered with a layer of innumerable fragments of burnt and crushed human bones mixed with grey sand. Graves 12, 15, 16, 19, 24-26 and 29 lie partly beneath the six grass-topped tiers bearing the urns intended for the 'Eternal Flames'

"Grave No. 30. Located in the N angle between graves 26 and 29, measures 10 m. x 4 m. Contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand to a depth of 3.80 m

"Grave No. 31. Similar in size to grave No. 30, measures 10 m. x 6 m. Situated next to the N fence between graves 28 and 29, this grave also contains a mixture of burnt pieces of human bones, fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand.

"Grave No. 32. Situated close to the N corner of the memorial site between graves 9 and 13. Measuring 15 m. x 5 m. it contains the mixture of pieces of burnt human bones and carbonized wood mixed with grey sand beneath which there is a layer of grey, greasy lime and a foul smelling layer of human fat containing decomposing human remains: the drill core brought to the surface pieces of skull with skin and tufts of hair still attached. At the bottom of the grave, at depth 4.10 m., lie a large number of unburnt human bones. (Cf. graves 10, 25, 27 and 28 ) . The path to the small gate near the N corner of the memorial area passes over the S end of the grave.

"Grave No. 33. A small, shallow grave measuring only 5 m. x 5 m. and 2.80 m. deep. Located in the extreme NE corner of the memorial site, it contains tiny fragments of burnt human bones mixed with small pieces of carbonized wood and grey sand." (Tregenza, pp. 17-19)

"XI. CONCLUSIONS "*

The most significant and unexpected facts to emerge as a result of the 1997-98 investigations are the large number of mass graves discovered (33), and the large number of indications of camp structures of various sizes (65) scattered throughout the area of the former extermination camp, and the deep cellars beneath some of the buildings. Several of the camp structures correspond approximately in position with buildings shown on [Page 26] [text seems to be missing here] "the undressing and barbers' barracks, workshops, warehouse, and bunker for the electricity generator; in Camp II, barracks and kitchen for the Jewish 'death brigade').[1]

"* The two main phases of the camp's gassing operations may be identified by the arrangement of the mass graves and camp structures between the graves. Thus, the apparent proliferation of small wooden structures between the graves of the first phase may have been temporary barracks for the Jews of the 'death brigade' employed in digging the mass graves, and shelters for the guards. Three of the smallest wooden structures arranged at intervals around the W and S part of the grave field from the first period suggest watchtowers overlooking the grave digging work. The structures in the S half of the camp area doubtless date from the second period. (Fig 8 ) .

"* Graves 12 and 14-20, ranged along the N fence, correspond to witnesses' statements as [2] being the first to be utilized during the period February-May 1942. They undoubtedly contain the remains of the Jews from the Lublin ghetto, deported to Belzec camp between mid-March - mid-April 1942, and the remains of early transports from the Lvov ghetto and the transit ghettos at lzbica and Piaski. In these grave also lie the remains of German Jews deported from the Reich in April-May to lzbica and Piaski, and thence to Belzec.

"* Graves 10, 25, 27, 28, 32 and 33, which contain a layer of lime covering still decomposing human remains, date from the spring of 1942 when the local German civil authorities complained about the health hazard caused by decomposing corpses in open graves. Chloride of lime was spread over the six still open mass graves identified above in an effort to avoid epidemics breaking out.

"* Evidence of the subsequent failed attempt at cremating corpses in graves may be found in the small graves near the N fence, Nos. 27, 28 and 32, in which a layer of burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood. The bottom of each of these graves is lined with a layer of human fat.

"* With the exception of grave 14, the comparatively small size of the other graves clustered around it near the N corner of the camp is indicative of the smaller transports of this period which carried on average 1,500 victims each.[3]

"* Some of the smallest graves (e.g. Nos.: 13, 27, 28, 32 and 33) could be the execution pits in which the old, sick and infirm Jews were shot during the first phase, while graves 2, 21 and 23 could be the execution pits from the second phase. Such small graves correspond with descriptions given in testimony by former members of the SS- garrison at their trial in Munich 1963-64.[4]

"* At least a dozen graves still contain today unburnt, partially mummified or decomposing corpses. Exactly why the SS did not empty all the graves and destroy their contents is not known; they were in no hurry to leave the area as the entire SS-garrison was redistributed to other camps in the Lublin District for at least five months after the liquidation of Belzec. However, that all the corpses were not disinterred and destroyed may be due to the following:

"a) six of the graves not emptied date from the first phase and contain decomposing corpses under a layer of lime; the corpses would have been in such an appalling state of disintegration that even the SS were reluctant to attempt disinterrment;

"b) three of the graves not completely emptied date from the second phase and are among the largest in the camp (with the exception of grave 14); removal of their entire decomposing contents presented a daunting task.
"* Perhaps after five months of supervising day and night the gruesome work of exhuming and cremating the hundreds of thousands of rotting remains the SS had simply had enough, and against orders, abandoned the task.[5] The opened and partly emptied graves were refilled with the fragments of burnt human bones and pieces of carbonized wood from the bone mill, mixed with sand.

"* From the wealth of evidence uncovered by the 1997-98 investigations it is obvious that the camp SS did not by any means erase all traces of the extermination camp, as hitherto believed. The majority of the wooden barracks were burnt down and the carbonized wood broken up into fragments; solid structures were demolished and the bricks, stones and concrete or cement broken into pieces and buried. Solidly constructed cellars beneath certain buildings were used as refuse pits into which were thrown items of glass and metal which could not be completely destroyed by fire. The cellars were then simply filled in with soil. Other articles of glass and metal were buried among the remains of burnt down wooden barracks. At the Ramp, the wooden support posts and planks retaining the sandy soil of the two platforms -- the negative images of which were uncovered during the 1997 investigation -- were also removed and most likely burnt.

"* It has long been thought that only one railway siding existed at the Ramp and that it was later extended further into the camp to accommodate the longer transports of the second phase. However, the construction of such an extension would not have been possible due to the forested and uneven terrain at the SW end of the camp. Luftwaffe aerial photographs of Belzec taken in 1940 and 1944 clearly show that two parallel tracks existed on the camp area. Witnesses also mention the existence of two tracks during the second phase. [6] It is also apparent from the large amounts of engine oil and grease found on the trackbeds in 1997 that locomotives entered the camp and did not always remain outside the camp gate -- having shunted the wagons from behind -- as stated by many witnesses.

"* The number of watchtowers around the camp perimeter was probably larger than claimed by witnesses. The original number of three towers at the corners (with the exception of the NW corner by the main gate) and one in the camp itself, must have been increased during the reorganization/rebuilding of the camp in June-July 1942, prior to the increased extermination activity which began on 1 August, and the employment of 1,000 'work Jews' in the camp. Evidence of three small wooden structures at 55 m. intervals along the E fence indicate the probable position of such additional watchtowers.

"* In the autumn of 1942 there was increased partisan activity in the Belzec area which necessitated extra security precautions by the camp SS and Soviet guard unit. 7 One such measure was the construction of a concrete bunker at the SE corner of the camp, on the highest point of the terrain. It would also have been logical and effective to have had a watchtower above the bunker, affording a clear all-round view and field of fire over the entire camp area and its environs.

"* A comparison of Figs. 7 and 8 confirm that during its first phase Belzec was a temporary, experimental camp where the procedures and logistics of mass extermination by gas and the burial of corpses were tried and tested, initially on the Jews of the Lublin ghetto, before being applied at the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps. It can also be seen that the original camp structures and mass graves of the first phase were concentrated along the N fence, leaving the majority of the camp area empty and unused but ready for utilization and expansion at a later date. The primitive, experimental gassing barrack and undressing barracks were also temporary structures, replaced later by bigger and more solidly constructed buildings to accommodate the increased number of victims."(Tregenza, pp 26-28 )

Work Cited

Tregenza, Michael. Report on the Archeological Investigation at the Site of the Former NAZI Extermination Camp in Belzec, Poland, 1997-98. Lublin, 1998


Source of quotes:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/ftp ... enza_II.98

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/ftp ... enza_VI.98

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/ftp ... lusions.98

According to my calculations, the total volume of the 33 graves that becomes apparent from the above extracts is 32,349.20 cubic meters. Assuming 8 dead bodies per square meter, the graves thus could accommodate ca. 259,000 whole dead bodies. Certain features of some of the graves suggest that the SS, before it went over to burning the bodies, applied a procedure of “top down” – burning to stretch the capacity of the mass graves, covering the bodies with wood and tarpaper and then reducing their volume by fire to make room for further bodies.

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Scott Smith
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Belzec mass-graves

Post by Scott Smith » 14 Mar 2002 01:24

Medorjurgen wrote:Certain features of some of the graves suggest that the SS, before it went over to burning the bodies, applied a procedure of “top down” – burning to stretch the capacity of the mass graves, covering the bodies with wood and tarpaper and then reducing their volume by fire to make room for further bodies.


Adding fuel ash, particularly wood, also adds volume. Have you calculated for that? You are also assuming a homogenous mixture for the area covered. The Belzec "dig" hardly establishes more than the presence of some mass-graves. 8O 8O

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Belzec mass-graves

Post by michael mills » 14 Mar 2002 08:26

Medorjurgen wrote

[The number of people killed at Belzec was long estimated at around 600,000. Thanks to a newly discovered document, the Höfle memorandum intercepted by the British decoding service at Bletchley Park, we now know the exact number: ]

Interesting. So the total was not 600,000 but a lower figure, 434,508. But at the Belzec trial (Oberhauser and others), some of the former camp-staff testified that the total number of bodies exhumed and burnet came to 600,000. Not only was that figure greatly in excess of the number now documented, but also failed to take into account that a very large number of the bodies was not exhumed and burnt, according to the results of the archeological investigation Medorjurgen quotes.

So why would the former camp-staff on trial testify to a greatly inflated figure? To please the court by concurring what was then received wisdom, perhaps?

Medorjurgen seems to rely a lot on Michael Tregenza. In 1977, Tregenza published an article on Belzec in the Wiener Library Bulletin that contained all sorts of weird and wonderful things. One of the claims made by Tregenza in the article was that the then official body-count was an underestimate, and that the true figure was over one million!

Tregenza also originally used the results of the archeological investigation to support his claim of a much larger body count. If 600,000 bodies had been exhumed and burnt, and huge numbers of additional unexhumed bodies had now been found, then he must have been right.

Now the document quoted constantly by Medorjurgen shows that Tregenza's claim was more than double the real number. However, there is no hint of these anomalies on the part of tregenza in the material quoted by Medorjurgen. Perhaps that is a result of his total reliance on Nizkor as a source, rather than taking the trouble to look up what Tregenza originally wrote.


Medorjurgen wrote further:

[Only seven people are known to have survived the camp, and one of them was killed in 1946 by Polish anti-Semites in Lublin. Two of the survivors, Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman, testified about their experiences at Belzec.]

Some errors in the above, perhaps due to his reliance on Nizkor. In fact, Reder and Hirszman were the only two persons known by name who claim to have been former prisoners at Belzec. Hirszman was the one killed. The statement that the killers were "Polish anti-Semites" reflects medorjurgen's well-known prejudice. In fact, Hirszman was a member of the Polish Communist secret police, and his killers were members of the anti-Communist Home Army that was being persecuted by the new Communist Government.

At the time Hirszman was being killed, he was in the middle of giving an account of his claimed experiences in Belzec to a Government investigatory commission. But no matter! The next day his widow went back to the commission and continued giving evidence; she claimed that he had told her the whole story before his assassination, and thus she was able to give evidence in his place!

Reder's claim to have been a prisoner at Belzec is also dubious. His account of how he escaped when his SS escort fell asleep during a shopping expedition to Lviv strikes me as rather quaint.[/quote]

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Thorwald
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Belzec Survivors

Post by Thorwald » 14 Mar 2002 11:43

The anti-Semitism which existed for generations in the Polish society developed to its extreme form with the aid of German anti Jewish propaganda. After the war, the hostility against Jews remained strong. Jews in Krakow and Rzeszow were accused with ritual murders of Christian children for religious purposes. A hospital for Jewish orphans was attacked in the city of Radom. On February the 5th 1946 four Jews were killed in Parczew. On March 19 in Lublin, Chaim Hirszman, one of the only two survivors of Belzec, was testifying about the occurrence in this death camp. He was supposed to continue his testimony on the next day. But on his way home he was murdered by anti-Semitic Poles.
On April 21 1946, five Jewish survivors of death camps were stopped on the highway to Nowy Targ and were murdered by members of the "Armia Krajowa" Polish underground group. On April 24 a public funeral was conducted in Krakow where 5000 Jews came to pay tribute to the victims. The mourners were faced with boisterous laughter of local Poles from windows and balconies along the funeral path. "Where all these Jews came from" they called "we did not know that so many of them are still alive". Seven more Jews were murdered at the same spot a week later. These incidents repeated themselves in every Polish town and city.

The worst act of violence against Jews took place in the town of Kielce. On July 1st 1946, a Polish boy disappeared from his home (he went to his friend's home in a nearby village). Two days later he returned and reported being abducted by Jews who planned to kill him. On July 4 a crowd of Poles attacked the Jewish community building of Kielce. Most of the Jews in that building were shot, stoned to death or killed with axes. Other Jews were killed in their homes on the same day. The toll of the pogrom in Kielce was 42 Jews with children and teenagers among them. Following the pogrom of Kielce more than half of the Holocaust Jewish survivors fled Poland.

The situation in Bochnia after the war resembled the situation in all the other Polish towns and cities. Most of the very few survivors who managed to hide in the woods near Bochnia were killed by local Poles. The Armia Krajowa was hunting for Jews from the beginning of 1944 and continued to murder Jews after the war ended. For their own protection the surviving Jews were transferred from the Bochnia region to the city of Krakow at the end of January 1945 (TST4-15,1). Jews who survived the holocaust returned to Bochnia to see their homes occupied by Poles. The people who took over Jewish homes showed no intentions of giving them back to their rightful owners. I know of a relative of mine (Moses Kant) who was offered a ridiculous sum of money for our grandparents' house. He refused to take the money and later on had to flee from Bochnia since his life was threatened. About thirty people from Bochnia survived the war and sixty more Jews from Bochnia survived this period in the Soviet Union. Most of them immigrated to the USA, Belgium and Israel. The Jewish community of Bochnia was never reestablished. Surprisingly enough the Jewish cemetery in Bochnia was preserved in good condition. In the city of Krakow on the other hand, there was only one tombstone that remained intact from the whole two huge local Jewish cemeteries of Krakow-Padgursz.


_____________________________________________________________

March 19, 1946: Chaim Hirszman, one of only two survivors of the Belzec death camp, is murdered by Polish antisemites in Lublin, Poland, after a day of testimony about the horrors he had witnessed.


_____________________________________________________________

My estimates of those killed in Belzec is 800,000, but we will never know the exact numbers. For sure, in my opinion Belzec was perhaps the worst of all camps (including Auschwitz). The general notion that Auschwitz had the central role in the killings, is in my view, only true with regard to Western perceptions, and would be even less significant were it not for the Hungarian transports of 1944. Auschwitz has become the symbol of utter inhumanity in historical terms. That role would be more accurately assigned to the `Reinhard` camps, particularly Belzec.

Belzec was the laboratory for murder which was carried out in the main by civilians and German police officers drafted into the euthanasia program (T4) who were then dressed up in SS uniforms. They were not SS as we know the term. They were bogus SS-Scharfuhrers given the rank and uniform by default.

ESCAPES FROM BELZEC

Very few Jews escaped from Belzec. Only two lived to tell the tale in court (Rudolf Reder and Chaim Herszman). After the war Reder went to live in Canada but came back to Germany to give evidence in the Belzec trial. Out of the nine SS, only one (Oberhauser), was convicted of crimes committed at Belzec (in Lanzmann`s film `Shoah`, Lanzmann interviews Oberhauser in a Munich beer hall.

Reder is the author of the best account and the most important of what happened in Belzec. His book, "Belzec," was published 1946 in Krakow (in Polish).

Those others that managed to escape were very often caught shortly after and immediately shot. If they were more fortunate and managed to return to their communities, they were either caught-up in the next round- up and found themselves back in Belzec, or befell some other action.

The first recorded escape from inside the camp was by a young lad, about 17 years old, who came into Belzec on a road transport from Lubycza Krolewska in February, 1942. He was one of a group of Jews rounded-up to work in the final construction of the camp. After his escape, the boy met the village blacksmith and related his story:

One Jew from this group told me that he had been employed for a few days in the camp cutting down trees. A few days later, these Jews were taken into a barrack while the boy hid himself and later escaped. While he was in hiding he heard how the Jews locked inside the barrack had cried out for several seconds. I heard that this Jew who escaped was later re-captured by the Germans and shot.

The second recorded escape from Belzec, as it happened, was from one of the first transports that arrived from the town of Zolkiew in March, 1942: two women, Mina Astman and Malka Talenfeld, had taken advantage of the inexperience and confusion in the early transports and secreted themselves in a ditch and waited. During the night they crept through the perimeter wire and made their way back home to Zolkiew where they reported what they had seen.

Another escape that didn't quite succeed was by a Jew fromPiaski who arrived in March, 1942, and was part of the Sondokommando in the gas chamber area. This Jew, no doubt horrified at the scene around him, suddenly broke away and forced himself through the surrounding barbed-wire fencing and ran off. He was quickly hunted down, brought back to the camp and shot.

On the 11 April, 1942, in Zamosc, the Welsztein family, including their 18 year-old daughter and 13 year-old son were transported to Belzec. 2 days later, on 13 April, 1942, the boy returned to Zamosc where he told the Judenrat what he had seen:

The journey in the terribly overcrowded wagons to Belzec - 44 km. from Zamosc - lasted the whole night. On Sunday morning they arrived. After unloading they were arranged in 4 rows - men and women separated -whereupon some sort of SS officer gave a speech that they were to be resettled in the east and because of this they had to take a bath and be disinfected. It was necessary for them to undress and then they were requested to hand over their valuables before being taken to the barracks. At this moment, the boy had the idea of hiding in the communal latrines, where he sat in the pit until evening. He then fled from the camp and hid with a local peasant who helped him and showed him the way to Zamosc. During the few hours he was hiding in the camp he saw how the doors in another barrack opened onto a ramp and SS-men as well as 50-60 young Jews who had probably been chosen earlier, took away naked corpses on dumper trucks.

Another escape was from the latrine in Belzec by a dentist from Krakow in June, 1942. Bachner was part of a large transport from Krakow of several thousand Jews. At the assembly point, Bachner hid in the latrine waste pit. Up to his eyes in human waste and flies, he remained there for two days before escaping from the camp. After two weeks he returned to the Krakow ghetto where he told the Judenrat of what he had seen. There is no record of what happened to Bachner after his return, but one of the indictments against Amon Goeth (Commandant of Plaszow) was the shooting of the family Bachner in Plaszow in 1943.

Three other escapes which have already been discussed were of course, Rudolf Reder, who escaped by stealth when he was taken to Lvov to collect building materials, and Chaim Hirszman, one of the last prisoners in Belzec, who with over 300 other work-Jews were taken to Sobibor where they were shot on arrival. Hirszman broke out of the transport wagon and survived the war. On 19 March 1946, the day after Hirszman had given evidence to the Jewish Historical Commission in Lublin he was shot down by anti-semites believed to be the AKW (Armia Krakowa).

In October, 1942, the Rabbi of Blazowa, Israel Spira, was transported from Janowska to Belzec and was fortunate to be selected for the clothing work kommando. After a few days he attached himself to the escort that was taking a train load of clothing back to the Janowska camp. In Janowska, Rabbi Spira (much like Reder ) detached himself from the escort and mingled with the other Jews. When he loitered near a coffee stall he was recognised by other Jews who protected him. Rabbi Spira survived Janowska and subsequent deportations to Belzec. His wife, Pearl, was murdered in Belzec 18 October, 1942.

The only other known escape was again by stealth: the 4 year-old child of Sara Ritterbrand who was spirited away in a bread basket by her uncle (Sarah's brother living in Belzec as an aryan) from the camp. Hewas later caught and shot in the presence of Sarah. The child survived in the care of local Ukrainians until after the war. Sarah survived and returned to Belzec after the war and was re-united with her daughter , The child grew up, married, and now lives in Israel with children of her own.


_____________________________________________________________

The gray suit Chaim Hirszman wore fit him poorly. It hung from his thin arms as loosely as the skin that sagged about his jaw. His face was worn; the skin white and brittle. It showed signs of redness—irritation from the first close shave he had had in years. His expression as he spoke was flat.

“His name was Johannes. I’m sorry, I can not remember his family name. I cannot even recall what letter it began with. I think he was from around here, actually. Yes, yes, I’m sure he was Polish but I don’t remember his last name.”

“That’s alright, Mr. Hirszman,” one of the four men sitting at a table before him answered. All four wore spectacles and made occasional notes on documents lying before them while he spoke. A portly woman with a stenography machine sat just to his left, recording everything. The rest of the chairs in the old school room were empty. “Please, continue.”

“You understand, there was no point during this ordeal where you saw a man break under the strain. We were all broken, from the first moments. Each man lost his soul as soon as he gave thanks for being led to the line that meant life even as he watched others being led straight to their deaths. So it was not as if Johannes ‘broke.’ We were already broken. What he did seems insane, but perhaps he meant it to be suicidal. Maybe he had given up hope—or whatever it was—and just decided to let it end,” he paused as he reviewed the matter in his mind. “No, I suppose that’s not very realistic. There were better ways to die. He could have run to the fences. One could probably have just walked up to one of the SS and asked to be shot. Perhaps Johannes was just that hungry that he could think of nothing else. Maybe it’s possible he just forgot where he was. I don’t know.

“I remember the guard’s name, which is what I imagine you want most. He was Lt. Bruckner. He had a dog that he cared deeply for, though it was the mangiest German shepherd I had ever seen. We speculated at times that it must not have been purebred. Of course, not even his superiors would have suggested this to Bruckner; he was so fond of that animal. Bruckner was eating an apple. One of the Kapos came up to him and started discussing something. Did I mention the dog was well-trained? Yes, I must admit that animal had tremendous discipline. So the Kapo came up to Lt. Bruckner and asked him something. Bruckner sliced off a last piece of the apple and dropped the core to the ground for his dog. As I said he was now distracted by the Kapo and so he did not notice that the apple core had rolled just out of the animal’s reach. The dog, being so well mannered, did not move for it until his master gave him permission.

“This is when our work detail was returning from digging graves outside of the camp. I was standing just beside Johannes when he spotted the apple core. He just did it. In my memory I see it as a natural motion, like someone picking up a coin off the street. Something one would do in the outside world...but the camps weren’t like that. What was amazing was that Bruckner, even the Kapo, didn’t seem to notice Johannes walking up right beside him. Johannes probably could have pulled the man’s gun he was so close. But he didn’t want the gun, all he wanted was the apple core. He stooped over and actually laid his hand on it. I was so in shock that I stopped walking with the rest of the group and watched him. He actually touched it.

“Then the dog let out a little whimper, because it saw someone was helping himself to its snack. That was all it took for Bruckner to turn around. He gave a look of revulsion to Johannes and let go of the dog’s leash. The dog didn’t just go for the apple, though. Bruckner also gave the dog its ‘attack’ command and it jumped at Johannes’s throat and bit at his face. Bruckner and the Kapo started laughing heartily. I was fairly stupid. I had been standing there the whole time watching. Bruckner noticed me. As soon as I saw his eyes light on me I tried to turn, but I was too late. He had drawn out his baton before I could blink and had landed a blow right against my face while ordering me back in line. I fell and the pain was incredible, but I didn’t dare stay down. I got to my feet at once and headed after my work group.

“I didn’t have the courage to look back at Johannes. He wasn’t screaming. The dog might already have bitten his throat out. It was still snarling at him, though.” Hirszman rubbed his jaw. “I think that blow Bruckner gave me must have broken my jaw. It still aches to this day. It hurt me terribly for months after that. I could hardly talk. But then, one didn’t need to speak much to dig pits. I never went to the infirmary of course. In my block, we were all terrified of the infirmary. We were sure they killed every Jew who went in there. It wasn’t that harsh, though. I think maybe…” He paused to think. “Maybe one in three who went there came back. The ones who survived were those with the most insignificant of complaints. Anything serious,” he said with a bob of his head. “And we did not see them again.”

“Poor Johannes…I remember he said once he was the father of six—all boys. All sons, can you imagine? He once joked with me that it was good he had only sons, because he would never have known what to do with girls…then he realized that all his sons had been killed and was quiet. I wish I could remember his name.”

There was a pause as Hirszman rubbed his aching jaw.

“Thank you, Mr. Hirszman,” one of the four men said.

“No,” the weathered man cried out suddenly. “No, no, I have much more to tell.” His blank tired face was suddenly animated, as if from fear. “I have much more to say.”

One of the men rose from the table and walked forward to him with a kindly smile.

“Yes, yes,” he said. “We know.”

“We only meant that it is quite late, Mr. Hirszman,” another offered.

“But I have so much more to tell!”

“Yes, Mr. Hirszman. But you should rest as well, sir. This board of enquiry will meet again tomorrow to continue your testimony.”

“We want to hear it all,” the man standing before him—Hirszman thought he must be from England—said in stilted German. “But you should rest.”

He nodded.

The stenographer packed her equipment in a black case. Hirszman rose slowly and retrieved his coat from a hook by the door.

“Tomorrow, then?” he said back to them.

“Yes, sir. Whenever you are ready. We will be here at eight.”

“I will be here at eight,” he answered.

“Good night, Mr. Hirszman,” the English man said, adding, “and thank you.”

He nodded one more time to them before going out into the hallway. Involuntarily, he found himself walking in a march down the empty hallway of the school building. The spring air was pleasant as he stepped outside. He struggled out of his overcoat. He found it difficult to leave his new coat behind, always remembering the past winter in the camps, when he would have cut off an arm to have one. Two Russian soldiers were smoking together at the base of the steps leading to the street. One nodded as he passed them. He heard them erupt in laughter behind him as one of them finished an amusing story.

It was strange to be alone. The curfew had passed and the streets were empty. It was an unaccustomed feeling. In the camp he had slept with almost a hundred other men. He marched with dozens to the work sites. There were few moments alone. But since the end, he had been forced to face solitude. Ever since the SS had liquidated the camp and he had survived by chance, by God’s inscrutable blessing.

“Only to bear witness,” he said to himself, walking on toward the building where he had been given a room just ahead of him.

“Jew!”

Hirszman spun around. Three young men had approached behind him unheard. For a flash in the shaky light of the street lamp, he thought they were Russian soldiers. Then his mind reeled as he thought—for an instant—they were SS. Then he shook his head, seeing they were only boys. Three boys.

“Jew!” the tallest repeated.

Hirszman looked from face to face, seeing something familiar in their grimaces.

“Think you can just buy your way into our neighborhood, Jew?”

“But—“

“Think you can just buy a room and take over our streets, eh?”

“But I have no money. I have no money.”

They laughed.

“I only have a room because—“

“Think you can just come back and live among us?”

He was silent with fear.

“Think you can come back and all is forgotten?”

“Think we’d forgive did you?”

“You forgive?” Hirszman said in disbelief.

They had encircled him. They started pushing at him.

“Who are you?” he gasped.

“Just because the Germans are gone, don’t think we don’t remember.”

“Oh yes, we remember.”

“We haven’t forgotten you.”

One of them tore his jacket from his arms and threw it to the pavement. As he tried to break away from them and retrieve it, the boy gripped him by his shirt. “We’re going to keep Hitler’s promise, eh?” He felt a fist land in the small of his back. He spun around but more blows landed from all sides. Soon he had crumpled and they began kicking him.

“Help!” he cried out, suddenly realizing that it was a public street and someone might hear him. Someone might come.

“Shut up, you dog!”

Another kick against his ribs.

“Help!”

A boot heel crashed into his head.

He coughed up foamy blood.

The kicks grew more furious, cracking bone with each impact.

“Dirty Jew!” they hissed together.

“You there!” a woman’s voice called out. “What are you doing! You’re not supposed to be out here!”

The boys looked up. They saw not only a matronly figure emerging from the doorway of the boarding house, but also the shape of a Russian military vehicle on the crest of a nearby hill. The three figures darted off into the night with clacking footfalls on the pavement.

“Oh Mr. Hirszman, is that you?” the woman asked as she knelt beside the beaten figure stretched out on the walk. The Russian transport came to halt. One of the soldiers jumped down.

“What-has-happened-here?” he inquired in awkward Polish.

“Three men…they beat him and ran off that way,” she cried out, pointing in the direction of the boys’ retreat. “Please, he needs help.”

The soldier pointed up the street and gave some command in Russian, to which four other soldiers started running up the street with rifles in hand. He then yelled something to the driver of the truck, who immediately picked up the truck’s radio and called for assistance.

The Russian knelt beside the woman, who cradled Hirszman’s crushed skull in her hands.

“Hold on, Mr. Hirszman,” she said while patting back his bloodied hair. “Help is coming.”

A rib had pierced his lung and blood was pouring in, making each breath a tremendous, painful labor.

“Hold on, Mr. Hirszman,” she consoled.

The last sign of life was when he wretched and sent a spray of blood into the air.

The woman looked to the Russian, who bowed his head and reached out to force Hirszman’s eyes closed


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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 14 Mar 2002 12:09

++Certain features of some of the graves suggest that the SS, before it went over to burning the bodies, applied a procedure of “top down” – burning to stretch the capacity of the mass graves, covering the bodies with wood and tarpaper and then reducing their volume by fire to make room for further bodies.++

<<Adding fuel ash, particularly wood, also adds volume. Have you calculated for that?>>

On the basis of what data could I have made such calculations? The volume of burned bodies, wood and tarpaper would at any rate be much smaller than the volume of unburned bodies, thus allowing for further bodies to be placed on top of them. The presence of unburned human remains and pieces of unburned large human bones underneath thick layers of human fat (see e.g. Grave no. 10) is an indication that this happened and that the fat from the bodies in the top layers burned “top down” covered those in the lowest layer. When the graves were later emptied and the bodies were burned, it was the bodies in this lower layer that remained behind, as the findings of the archaeological team show. Ironically enough, the person who unwillingly led me to this observation was a “Revisionist” – Mr. Ralph Marquardt aka “Cat Scan”, in the course of a Codoh discussion on the thread

http://www.codoh.org/cgi-bin/dcforum/dc ... o_sense=on

See especially posts nos. 23 and 26 on that thread. In the latter I wrote the following:

1. A closer look at the online excerpts from the report on the archaeological investigations at Belzec in 1997/98 leads me to revise my assumption that the presence of human fat on the bottom of some graves indicates “bottom up” burnings. Grave no. 10 is described as follows:

"Grave No. 10. One of the largest mass graves in the camp, lies 15 m. N of the monument/mausoleum and measures 25 m. x 20 m. At depth 4 m. a 80 cm thick layer of human fat was found below which lay unburnt human remains and pieces of unburnt large human bones. The drill core brought to the surface several lumps of foul smelling fatty tissue still in a state of decomposition, mixed with greasy lime.”

Source of quote:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/ftp ... enza_VI.98

The presence of human remains underneath the layer of human fat actually indicates that burning in this grave was done in the way suggested, i.e. “top down”, thus not reaching the lower layers of corpses which remained unburned and covered by the fat flowing out of the corpses burnt above them.

The question now is, why and when was this method used? Was this the way in which the large-scale burning of bodies dug out from the mass graves, described before German courts by former members of the SS staff such as Heinrich Gley, was carried out?

Hardly so. Evidence points to the following possibilities:

i) It was an initial attempt at erasing the physical traces of the crimes, which was reckoned to be ineffective and thus replaced by the more efficient method of burning the bodies upon grids made of railroad tracks laid on concrete blocks, using brushwood drenched with fuel placed underneath the grid.

ii) The “top down” burning occurred before it was decided to erase the traces of all the corpses, and its purpose was to “downsize” the contents of the mass graves in order to make room for further bodies.

Alternative i) is suggested by Tregenza in his analysis of the report:

"* Evidence of the subsequent failed attempt at cremating corpses in graves may be found in the small graves near the N fence, Nos. 27, 28 and 32, in which a layer of burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood. The bottom of each of these graves is lined with a layer of human fat.”

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/camps/ftp ... lusions.98

I have found no eyewitness depositions indicating such a “failed attempt” at Belzec in the few sources at my disposal, which of course doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no such depositions. Evidence to a trial-and-error approach at Treblinka, on the other hand, is provided by the testimonial of Ya'akov Wiernik at the Eichmann trial:

“Q. The burning of the bodies — was it always in the manner in which you described it, or was it perhaps in crematoria, inside buildings?

A. Until the end of 1942, they did not burn those who had been gassed, but they would bury them in enormous pits. The bodies were placed inside. Only at the beginning of 1943 did they make various experiments of how to burn them, and they did not succeed. The a certain Scharführer arrived, an SS man, and he brought this model for the grids, and he always used to stand near the fire and shout: "Tadellos, tadellos!" (perfect, perfect!).

Q. And were they burned only in this way?

A. Yes. This is the way they burned them.”


Source of quote:
http://www.ukar.org/eichma02.shtml

It seems plausible that similar unsuccessful experiments, followed by the successful adoption of the grids method, were carried out at Belzec.
As to alternative ii), we have the deposition of Dr. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, who described his visit to Belzec on 18./19. August 1942 at a trial in Munich in 1961. His deposition, transcribed on pages 173 and 174 of Kogon/Langbein/Rückerl, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, contains the following statement:

“Nachdem in den Kammern Stille eingetreten war, wurden die an der Außenwand der Gebäudes angebrachten Türen geöffnet. Durch diese wurden die Leichen von jüdischen Häftlingen herausgeschafft und in große Gruben geworfen. In diesen Gruben wurden die Leichen verbrannt.”

If Pfannenstiel got the time of his visit to Belzec right, this means that the bodies were being burned in the pits into which they were thrown in August of 1942. While this is borne out by the above described physical evidence, which suggests a “top down” burning using wood and tar paper in the pits, it is apparently not related to the overall burning of the corpses described by Heinrich Gley, former member of the SS staff of Belzec, at the already mentioned trial in Munich. A translation of Gley’s deposition is provided in Prof. Browning’s expert opinion at the Irving-Lipstadt trial:

“As I remember the gassing was stopped at the end of 1942, when there was snow already on the ground. Then the general exhumation and cremation of the corpses began; it might have lasted from November 1942 until March 1943. The cremation was carried out day and night without a break, and indeed at first at one and then later at two fire sites. It was possible to cremate some 2 corpses at one fire site within 24 hours. About 4 weeks after the beginning of the cremation operation the second fire site was constructed. On average, therefore, some 300,000 corpses were cremated at the first site over 5 months, at the second site some 240,000 over 4 months. Naturally this is a matter of estimates based on averages. To figure the total number of corpses at 500,000 could be correct.”

While Gley’s estimate on the number of corpses has been recently revealed by the Höfle memo to be a bit too high, his description of the general exhumation and cremation of the corpses is interesting in that it dates the commencement of this procedure to November 1942. This suggests that the burning in the pits in August 1942, described by Pfannenstiel, was not related to the general exhumation and cremation of the corpses but to an attempt to “downsize” the contents of the pits by burning the bodies as far as possible, in order to make room for further bodies. It would be interesting to have a look at the files of the West German Belzec trials in the court archives to see if there is further eyewitness evidence supporting this assumption, which is in line with the physical evidence, as explained. I shall try to do that during my next stay in Germany.

2. As to the dimensions of the mass graves found in the 1997/98 investigation and their presumable contents prior to the “general exhumation and cremation of the corpses” described by Gley, the online excerpts from the report on that investigation allow for the following calculations:

Grave No.; Length (m); Width (m); Area (m2); Depth (m); Volume (m3); Number of Bodies
1; 40.00; 11.00; 440.00; 5.00; 2,200.00; 17,600
2; 15.00; 5.00; 75.00; 2.00; 150.00; 1,200
3; 20.00; 15.00; 300.00; 5.00; 1,500.00; 12,000
4; 20.00; 8.00; 160.00; 5.00; 800.00;
6,400
5; 35.00; 15.00; 525.00; 5.00; 2,625.00; 21,000
6; 33.00; 14.00; 462.00; 5.00; 2,310.00; 18,480
7; 30.00; 14.00; 420.00; 5.00; 2,100.00; 16,800
8; 30.00; 14.00; 420.00; 5.00; 2,100.00; 16,800
9; 10.00; 10.00; 100.00; 2.00; 200.00;
1,600
10; 25.00; 20.00; 500.00; 5.00; 2,500.00; 20,000
11; 11.00; 9.00; 99.00; 2.00; 198.00;
1,584
12; 20.00; 28.00; 560.00; 4.00; 2,240.00; 17,920
13; 5.00; 5.00; 25.00; 5.00; 125.00;
1,000
14; 70.00; 30.00; 2,100.00; 3.00; 6,300.00 50,400
15; 12.00; 7.00; 84.00; 2.00; 168.00;
1,344
16; 20.00; 8.00; 160.00; 4.00; 640.00;
5,120
17; 16.00; 8.00; 128.00; 3.50; 448.00;
3,584
18; 15.00; 10.00; 150.00; 2.00; 300.00;
2,400
19; 14.00; 8.00; 112.00; 3.50; 392.00;
3,136
20 30.00; 10.00; 300.00; 5.00; 1,500.00; 12,000
21 7.00; 7.00; 49.00; 2.00; 98.00;
784
22 27.00; 10.00; 270.00; 3.50; 945.00;
7,560
23; 10.00; 7.00; 70.00; 4.20; 294.00; 2,352
24 ?; ?; 0,00; 4.80; ?;
?
25; 14.00; 8.00; 112.00; 3.00; 336.00;
2,688
26; 9.00; 9.00; 81.00; 4.20; 340.20;
2,722
27; 10.00; 4.00; 40.00; 2.00; 80.00;
640
28; 5.00; 5.00; 25.00; 5.00; 125.00;
1,000
29; 30.00; 10.00; 300.00; 2.00; 600.00;
4,800
30; 10.00; 4.00; 40.00; 4.00; 160.00;
1,280
31; 10.00; 5.00; 50.00; 4.00; 200.00;
1,600
32; 15.00; 5.00; 75.00; 4.00; 300.00;
2,400
33; 5.00; 5.00; 25.00; 3.00; 75.00;
600

TOTALS (without grave no. 24):

Area: 8,257.00 square meters

Volume: 32,349.20 cubic meters

Estimated number of corpses: 258,794

Where data as to the depth of the graves were not given, I assumed the lowest depth found in the other graves, i.e. ca. 2 meters. The data provided for grave no. 24, on the other hand, are too vague to allow for assumptions regarding its length and width:

"Grave No. 24. A narrow trench near the N fence and next to the E corner of grave No. 14. Contains burnt human remains to a depth of 4.80 m.”

which is why there are question marks in regard to these data and the volume of the grave in the above list.

In order to establish the number of dead bodies prior to burning, I multiplied the volume of the pits in cubic meters with an average established by the calculations already explained, i.e. 8 bodies per cubic meter.

The resulting total of 258,794 bodies is 175,714 bodies below the figure of 434,508 deportees to Belzec indicated in the Höfle memo. There are several possible explanations for the delta:

i) The 1997/98 archaeological investigation failed to discover all the burial facilities of the camp and there are mass graves that have still not been found.

ii) The capacity of the pits was stretched by the procedure of “top down” burning, as suggested by the physical evidence and by Pfannenstiel’s above quoted testimonial.

iii) The difference is to be found “somewhere else”.
Alternative iii) immediately raises the question: Where?
Considering that

- there is no evidence whatsoever that people taken to Belzec were taken anywhere else from there;

- the nature and purpose of the camp, and the fate of people transported there, become clearly apparent from the documentary evidence and from the depositions of former members of the SS staff at trials before West German courts;

- there is only a handful of deportees known to have survived Belzec
this alternative must be considered the least probable of the three. I consider alternative ii) to be the most likely possibility, but I wouldn’t rule out alternative i) either. I’ll try to contact people more familiar with the excavations for further information.


<<You are also assuming a homogenous mixture for the area covered.>>

What’s the poet trying to tell us? I’m just doing simple mathematics based on the data contained in the excerpts from the archaeological investigation and common sense considerations.

<<The Belzec "dig" hardly establishes more than the presence of some mass-graves.>>

33, to be exact, with a capacity to accommodate more than a quarter of a million dead bodies, a capacity that could and probably was stretched by “top down” – burning of the top layers of corpses. If Smith thinks that anything is wrong with my assumptions and calculations, he is invited to demonstrate it. Assertions of his like the one quoted above strongly smack of Faith. Blind Faith.


“Keep the Faith fellow revisionists. The Nazis and the SS were the good guys--but the anti-Nazis and the anti-revisionists dare not admit it for fear of losing their fabulous, ill gotten gains from the war.”

“Hoaxbuster” Friedrich Paul Berg on the Codoh discussion forum.
http://www.codoh.org/dcforum/DCForumID9/143.html#10

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 14 Mar 2002 12:14

Medorjurgen wrote

[The number of people killed at Belzec was long estimated at around 600,000. Thanks to a newly discovered document, the Höfle memorandum intercepted by the British decoding service at Bletchley Park, we now know the exact number: ]

Interesting. So the total was not 600,000 but a lower figure, 434,508. But at the Belzec trial (Oberhauser and others), some of the former camp-staff testified that the total number of bodies exhumed and burnet came to 600,000. Not only was that figure greatly in excess of the number now documented, but also failed to take into account that a very large number of the bodies was not exhumed and burnt, according to the results of the archeological investigation Medorjurgen quotes.

So why would the former camp-staff on trial testify to a greatly inflated figure? To please the court by concurring what was then received wisdom, perhaps?


The obvious explanation is that it is not easy for people to evaluate numbers through simple observation. Many witnesses actually make grievous mistakes upwards or downwards when it comes to numbers. That’s why perpetrators’ depositions and eyewitness testimonials in this respect should be taken with a grain of salt, to the extent that they are not confirmed by documentary evidence. A key piece of documentary evidence – the Höfle memorandum – shows that Oberhauser et al overestimated the number of victims. It must be assumed, on the other hand, that the Höfle memorandum only referred to Jews from the Polish General Government taken to Belzec and the other camps. To the extent that deportations from other countries or areas are documented, the delta between the statements of Oberhauser et al and the Höfle memorandum would thus diminish.

Medorjurgen seems to rely a lot on Michael Tregenza. In 1977, Tregenza published an article on Belzec in the Wiener Library Bulletin that contained all sorts of weird and wonderful things. One of the claims made by Tregenza in the article was that the then official body-count was an underestimate, and that the true figure was over one million!

Tregenza also originally used the results of the archeological investigation to support his claim of a much larger body count. If 600,000 bodies had been exhumed and burnt, and huge numbers of additional unexhumed bodies had now been found, then he must have been right.

Now the document quoted constantly by Medorjurgen shows that Tregenza's claim was more than double the real number. However, there is no hint of these anomalies on the part of tregenza in the material quoted by Medorjurgen. Perhaps that is a result of his total reliance on Nizkor as a source, rather than taking the trouble to look up what Tregenza originally wrote.


If Michael Mills had read my post with more attention, he would know that I read Tregenza’s article Belzec – Das vergessene Lager des Holocaust, published in Jahrbuch Fritz Bauer Institut 2000. In this article, Tregenza calculates the death toll of Belzec at 930,000, on the basis of estimates of the number of people taken there at certain periods and of eyewitness depositions on the number and capacity of the burning grids. Although overruled by the Höfle memorandum discovered thereafter, Tregenza’s considerations don’t seem wholly unreasonable at the time they were made. Even less so is his assessment of the archaeological report in the passages I quoted. The essential data are to be found in the excerpts from the report themselves, however, not in Tregenza’s assessment thereof.

Medorjurgen wrote further:

[Only seven people are known to have survived the camp, and one of them was killed in 1946 by Polish anti-Semites in Lublin. Two of the survivors, Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman, testified about their experiences at Belzec.]

Some errors in the above, perhaps due to his reliance on Nizkor. In fact, Reder and Hirszman were the only two persons known by name who claim to have been former prisoners at Belzec. Hirszman was the one killed. The statement that the killers were "Polish anti-Semites" reflects medorjurgen's well-known prejudice. In fact, Hirszman was a member of the Polish Communist secret police, and his killers were members of the anti-Communist Home Army that was being persecuted by the new Communist Government.

At the time Hirszman was being killed, he was in the middle of giving an account of his claimed experiences in Belzec to a Government investigatory commission. But no matter! The next day his widow went back to the commission and continued giving evidence; she claimed that he had told her the whole story before his assassination, and thus she was able to give evidence in his place!

Reder's claim to have been a prisoner at Belzec is also dubious. His account of how he escaped when his SS escort fell asleep during a shopping expedition to Lviv strikes me as rather quaint.


The source of what I wrote about Reder, Hirszman and the other survivors is Tregenza’s above mentioned article, as Michael Mills would know if he had read my post with more attention. The information that one of the seven survivors was killed one year after the war by Polish anti-Semites is also contained in that article. Whether the one killed was Hirszman or another is not stated in the article, however. In his expert opinion submitted at the Irving-Lipstadt trial, Prof. Browning wrote the following:

“5.4.5.2 The situation regarding Belzec is much different. Perhaps as many as six prisoners escaped individually from Belzec, but only one, Rudolf Reder, has given extensive post-war testimony. In his very early testimony of December 1945, Reder recounted how he had been deported from Lwow to Belzec on August 17, 1942, in a train of 50 cars, each crammed with 100 Jews. He was only one of eight prisoners selected as skilled workers to join the Jewish labor force in the camp that day. Working in the camp as a mechanic, for several months he operated the excavator that dug graves behind the gas chamber. He could see the gas chambers even more closely when he delivered gasoline (Benzin) to the engine room at the end of the corridor that ran between the three gas chambers on each side. He gave the following description:

In these chambers the people were packed so tightly together, that even after death they were found in standing position. As soon as all chambers were crammed full, all the doors were tightly shut; ....then the motor was started. The work of the motor was watched over by the prisoner Moniek, a cabman from Cracow. The motor was always run exactly for 20 minutes, after which Moniek gave one of the machinists the signal to turn it off. After the motor had been turned off, on the order of Moniek the prisoners opened all the doors wide and pulled the dead in pairs out of the chambers with the help of straps placed around the hands of the corpses; the corpses were then pulled to the mass graves already dug out beforehand by machine. On the way between the ramp of the chamber and the grave, dentists pulled gold teeth from the corpses.

In November 1942 Reder escaped his captors and survived in hiding in Lwow until the arrival of the Red Army. He emigrated to Canada in 1953.”


Source of quote:

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/documents/Browning3.htm

The above reminds me of Michael Mills’ contention on a thread of the old forum that Reder had described the corpses in a way that was not compatible with his having seen them. When I asked him to produce the description he was referring to, Michael Mills fell silent. Perhaps he would like to provide it now? A quote of Reder’s allegedly absurd description of how he escaped would also be appreciated. The same goes for Mr. Mills’ contentions regarding the death of Chaim Hirszman and his widow’s having testified on behalf of the deceased.

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Re: Belzec mass-graves

Post by Charles Bunch » 14 Mar 2002 16:29

>>Medorjurgen wrote

>>The number of people killed at Belzec was long estimated at around 600,000. Thanks to a newly discovered document, the Höfle memorandum intercepted by the British decoding service at Bletchley Park, we now know the exact number:

>Interesting. So the total was not 600,000 but a lower figure, 434,508. But at the Belzec trial (Oberhauser and others), some of the former camp-staff testified that the total number of bodies exhumed and burnet came to 600,000.

Oh, I doubt that very much!

The 600,000 figure comes from the Main Commission of Enquiry in 1946-1947, 20 years prior to Oberhauser's testimony.

Perhaps Mr. Mills would post the testimony in which Oberhauser gives an independent total of the death toll.

>So why would the former camp-staff on trial testify to a greatly inflated figure? To please the court by concurring what was then received wisdom, perhaps?

We can address this once you've supported your claim.

]

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Post by Roberto » 14 Mar 2002 17:58

Charles,

Good point.

I don't consider it very likely either that the Munich County Court should have relied for the death toll on the statements of the defendant alone without corroboration by documentary evidence. At both Treblinka trials, for instance, the Düsseldorf County Court ordered assessments of the documentary evidence by court experts to establish the number of people
taken to that camp.

Cheers,

Roberto

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Post by michael mills » 14 Mar 2002 23:10

[The above reminds me of Michael Mills&#8217; contention on a thread of the old forum that Reder had described the corpses in a way that was not compatible with his having seen them. When I asked him to produce the description he was referring to, Michael Mills fell silent. Perhaps he would like to provide it now? A quote of Reder&#8217;s allegedly absurd description of how he escaped would also be appreciated. The same goes for Mr. Mills&#8217; contentions regarding the death of Chaim Hirszman and his widow&#8217;s having testified on behalf of the deceased.]

The text of Reder's testimony containing his description of the corpses ("no unnatural discoloration") and his account of his claimed escape can be found in the book "Die Ermordung der europaeischen Juden" by Peter Longerich and Dieter Pohl.

The details about Chaim Hirszman can be found in the book "Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past", by Martin Gilbert. While Gilbert was in Poland on his "Holocaust journey" he had Michael Tregenza as his guide, and appears to have accepted uncritically everything the latter dished up to him. He also appears not to have been given pause by the fact that Hirszman was a member of the secret police set up by the post-war Communist government in Poland.

I encourage Medorjurgen and Charles Bunch to read those books.

To describe Michael Tregenza as a "British historian" is something of an exaggeration. He is a British expatriate living in Poland who has been threatening for over ten years to write the definitive book about Christian Wirth, Belzec, and everything. So far he has produced a sensationalised article on Belzec published in 1977 in the Wiener Library Bulletin, and apparently a later article which may be an updated version of his previous one. He has also produced comments on the archeological investigation of Belzec on which he placed his own particular spin about the number of victims.[/quote][/list]

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Post by Charles Bunch » 15 Mar 2002 04:21

>The text of Reder's testimony containing his description of the corpses ("no unnatural discoloration") and his account of his claimed escape can be found in the book "Die Ermordung der europaeischen Juden" by Peter Longerich and Dieter Pohl.

>The details about Chaim Hirszman can be found in the book "Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past", by Martin Gilbert. While Gilbert was in Poland on his "Holocaust journey" he had Michael Tregenza as his guide, and appears to have accepted uncritically everything the latter dished up to him. He also appears not to have been given pause by the fact that Hirszman was a member of the secret police set up by the post-war Communist government in Poland.

>I encourage Medorjurgen and Charles Bunch to read those books.

Why, do I need something to keep me occupied for a considerable time while waiting for you to support your claim that Oberhouser testified to killing and burning 600,000? Or will this just prove to be another empty Mills claim?

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Post by Roberto » 15 Mar 2002 11:54

The text of Reder's testimony containing his description of the corpses ("no unnatural discoloration") and his account of his claimed escape can be found in the book "Die Ermordung der europaeischen Juden" by Peter Longerich and Dieter Pohl.

The details about Chaim Hirszman can be found in the book "Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past", by Martin Gilbert. While Gilbert was in Poland on his "Holocaust journey" he had Michael Tregenza as his guide, and appears to have accepted uncritically everything the latter dished up to him. He also appears not to have been given pause by the fact that Hirszman was a member of the secret police set up by the post-war Communist government in Poland.

I encourage Medorjurgen and Charles Bunch to read those books.


A lot can be read into “no unnatural discoloration”, especially when coming from someone who is not a physician. Dr. Pfannenstiel’s deposition before the Darmstadt Court on 6 June 1950 suggests that it took such an expert to take due notice of certain telling features on the bodies:

“I noticed nothing special about the corpses, except that some of them showed a bluish puffiness about the face. But this is not surprising since they had died of asphyxiation.”

Source of quote:

http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/p/ ... fannen.001

Anyway, Michael Mills does not seem to be too comfortable with the passages he is referring to, otherwise he would provide lengthy quotes thereof instead of sending his opponents to the library.

<<To describe Michael Tregenza as a "British historian" is something of an exaggeration. He is a British expatriate living in Poland who has been threatening for over ten years to write the definitive book about Christian Wirth, Belzec, and everything. So far he has produced a sensationalised article on Belzec published in 1977 in the Wiener Library Bulletin, and apparently a later article which may be an updated version of his previous one. He has also produced comments on the archeological investigation of Belzec on which he placed his own particular spin about the number of victims.>>

No such spin is contained in the passages I quoted. And as I already pointed out, the essential information of my quote is to be found in the excerpts from the archaeological report themselves, not in Tregenza’s assessment thereof. Nevertheless, Michael Mills keeps rambling about Tregenza. He obviously bears a particular grudge against the man, as he does against more prominent historians such as Peter Longerich. I wonder what’s behind Mr. Mills’ tirades. Is it the frustration of the would-like-to-be “dissident historian” at not being acknowledged by his peers?

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