Boiling fat

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Sergey Romanov
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Boiling fat

Post by Sergey Romanov » 08 Dec 2004 06:49

There are several testimonies to the effect that in Auschwitz during the cremation of the bodies in pits the boiling fat was flowing out of them and it was collecting in two specially situated pans nearby and then used as fuel.

Denier Mattogno thinks that it is impossible.

http://www.vho.org/tr/2004/1/Mattogno64-72.html

I think that it might be the case that the fat did not immediately ignite and had some time to flow away from the fire, though I'm not sure.

What do you think? Are there any similar testimonies about other places, not Auschwitz?

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Post by P-51 Baby » 08 Dec 2004 08:05

Well, in Art Spiegelman's "Maus", his father described how melted fat from the cremation pits were collected and reused again "so everyone could burn better" (p 232). This was in Auschwitz again. Not 100% sure about other death camps, but Treblinka also utilized giant cremation pits to incinerate the victim's bodies too, so it is more than possible that collection of fat was used there. According to Richar Glazar's testimony in his book "Trap with a Green Fence", the cremation process was done using the grid system that is mentioned in your link.

I've just skimmed through the link you've posted and, although those pictures are animal meat, it's rather disturbing having that guy recreate the cremation kilms for his essay.

Greetz
-Melany

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Phil V
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Post by Phil V » 08 Dec 2004 08:16

After reading the article link I only really have one comment.

What was the authors' point?

P

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Post by steveray » 08 Dec 2004 08:17

Howdy Guys;
I do not know about anybody else but I have seen a couple of burned bodies and there is a pool, puddle , a dark circle that forms around the body on the ground around the body. I would assume that it probably is the fat that did not burn. But I am not an expert on anything this is just a comment on what I have seen.
Steve

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Post by xcalibur » 10 Dec 2004 02:39

Ughh: Okay, this topic about open-air cremation comes up from time to time, Sergey.. I haven't read M's backyard experiment synopsis thoroughly so far, although I have seen the pictures of his set up. I'll try to read it in the next couple of days and post something here.

I tend to agree that M's conclusion is, at least partially, incorrect.

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 10 Dec 2004 04:05

Thanks, Xcalibur.

Meanwhile, here are some of the testimonies:

Zakhar Trubakov, Babij Jar:
The process of burning itself continued for 36 hours. All that time we, the living corpses, were preparing the new pyramid of the dead corpses. And from the first "brazier", as inmates themselves called the hellish structure, all that time the human fat flowed in black streams. It was accumulating in a special pit, which was dug up near the furnace...


Filip Mueller, Auschwitz:
Together with his assistant, Eckhardt, he climbed down into the pit and marked out a 25 centimetres by 30 centimetres wide strip, running lengthways down the middle from end to end. By digging a channel which sloped slightly to either side from the centre point, it would be possible to catch the fat exhuding from the coprses as they were burning in the pit, in two collecting pans at either end of the channel.

A group of prisoners had to climb down into the pit. Provided with spades,shovels, hammers, trowels, brick, cement and spirit levels it was intended that they should make a drain channel for human fat, The whole concept seemed quite inconceivable: a drain channel to catch human fat which in turn was to be used as fuel in order to obliterate as fast as possible all traces of these murderous deeds Outraged and depressed we saw the tragedy in all its horrendous scale coming ever closer.
[...]
When the work was finally finished, Moll again ordered a couple of buckets
of water to be brought, seized the first one impatiently and again flung the water into the drainage channel. Then he stayed motionless for a few seconds, bending forward, and watched intently as it splashed down the channel. The process was repeated a couple of ties, until the last bucket of water had been poured in the opposite direction along the channel. Now Moll ran irritably to the collecting pan at the frint end of the pit and noticed with satisfaction that this time the water had away completely and collected in the pan,. Then he went calmly to the other collecting pan on the opposite side and there too he convinced himself of the success of his experiment. Now he relaxed. His face showed satisfaction and round his lips hovered something like a fleeting smile. He was obviously relieved, and convinced that he had taken a big step forward on the road towards a
solution of his task.

[...]

As it begun to grow light, the fire was lit in two of the pits in which about 2,500 dead bodies lay piled one on top of the other. Two hours later all that could be discerned in the white-hot flames were countless charred and scorched shapes, their blackish phoshorescent hue a sign that they were in an advanced stage of cremation. At this point the fire had to be kept going from outside because the pyre which at first protruded about a half metre above the edge of the pit had, in the meantime, gone below this level. While in the crematorium ovens, once the corpses were thoroughly alight, it was possible to maintain a lasting red heat with the help of fans, in the pits the fire would burn only as long as air could circulate freely in between the bodies. As the heap of bodies settles, no air was able to get in from the outside. This meant that we stokers had constantly to pour oil or wood alcohol on the burning corpses, in addition to the human fat, large quantities of which had collected and was boiling in the two collecting pans on either side of the pit. The sizzling fat was scooped out with buckets on a long curved rod and poured all over the pit causing flames to leap up amid much crackling and hissing., Dense smoke and flames rose incessantly. The air reeked of oil, fat, benzole and burnt flesh.

[...]

The corpses in the pit looked as if they had been chained together. Tongues of a thousand tiny blue-red flames were licking at them. The fire grew fiercer and flames leapt higher and heigher. Under the ever-increasing heat a few of the dead began to stir, writhing as though with some unbearable pain,arms and legs straining in slow motion, and even their bodies straightening up a little, hesitant and with difficulty, almost as if with their last strength they were trying to rebel against their doom. Eventually the fire became so fierce that the corpses were enveloped by flames. Blisters which had formed on their skin burst one by one. Almost every corpse was covered with black scorch marks and glistening as if it had been greased. The searing heat had burst open their bellies: there was the violent hissing and sputtering of frying in great heat. Boiling fat flowed into the pans on either side of the pit. Fanned by the wind, the flames, dark-red before, now took on a fiery white hue: the corpses were burning so fiercely that they were consumed by their own heat. The process of incineraton took five to six hours. What was left barely filled a third of the pit. The shiny whitish-grey surface was strewn with countless skulls.


Henryk Tauber, Auschwitz:
Another time, the SS chased a prisoner who was not working fast enough into a pit near the crematorium that was full of boiling human fat. At that time, the corpses were incinerated in open air pits, from which the fat flowed into a separate reservoir, dug in the ground. This fat was poured over the corpses to accelerate their combustion. This poor devil was pulled out of the fat still alive and then shot. To satisfy the formalities, his body was carried to the block where the death certificates were issued. The next day, the corpse was brought back to the crematorium, where it was incinerated in a pit.


Charles Bendel, Auschwitz:
The work was not going on quickly enough, so behind the crematorium they dug three large trenches 12 metres long and 6 metres wide. After a bit it was found that the results achieved even in these three big trenches were not quick enough, so in the middle of these big trenches they built two canals through which the human fat or grease should seep so that work could be continued in a quicker way. The capacity of these trenches was almost fantastic. Crematorium No. 4 was able to burn 1000 people during the day, but this system of trenches was able to deal with the same number in one hour.


Rudolf Hoess, Auschwitz:
The work to keep the fire in the ditches going, the pouring of the collected fat on the heap, the poking in the mounds of corpses to provide air.

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 10 Dec 2004 06:04

After being placed on her legs, she is obliged to pass her hands gently through the flame and collect some of the liquid fat which issues from the corpse, with which she is permitted to wet her face and body!

http://www.nanations.com/burialcustoms/cremation.htm

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Post by Pangea » 13 Dec 2004 20:35

I’m not sure what the question is, but I do know a bit about combustion and I have read the Mattogno report so I guess I’ll just dive in with a few observations about the fat burning portion of the Mattogno report.

It seems you are most interested in the disparity between the Auschwitz eyewitness accounts of “liquefied, non-burning fat” and Mattogno’s little backyard experiment that indicates fat exposed to a wood fire will burst into a vigorously burning flame immediately.

Some comments on Mattogno’s little burning fat experiment.

1) He used lard. Lard is a purified, clarified, processed pork fat. Many impurities have been removed giving it reliable cooking and taste characteristics. It most certainly is animal fat, but it is NOT the same as body fat. I wonder why he just didn’t use animal fat in its raw unadulterated form!!!!! I consider it rather sloppy work that he altered the experimental conditions to stray from raw body fat to a manufactured kitchen product.

2) Generally speaking lard usually has somewhat lower water content than body fat. Lower moisture content (and the above mentioned impurity removal) would aid rapid ignition. I can’t comment with authority on his selection of this particular lard because Mattogno didn’t provide comment on its origin, brand name, or any of its physical/chemical characteristics. Again, why not just use some raw unadulterated beef or pork fat??? It is readily available.

3) Mattogno made a grievous error by placing the lard in a rather large aluminum pan. Wood has a heat conductivity of 0.04 Joules/second * meter * degrees Celcius (J/s*m*C). Body fat has a thermal conductivity (k) of 0.20 J/s*m*C. Aluminum has a thermal conductivity (k) of 240 J/s*m*C. This is an absolutely astounding difference. Aluminum is about 6,000 times (6,000x) as efficient heat conductor than wood and 1,200 times (1200x) as efficient conductor of heat as body fat. Again rather sloppy work. Mattogno has inserted a terrific heat conductor into the experiment in direct contact with the combustion target. I do NOT recall from the eyewitness accounts the mention of aluminum in the incineration pits in direct contact with the bodies. The eyewitnesses talk about pits full of wood and bodies both of which are rather lousy conductors of heat. Again he has allowed his sloppy experiment to stray away from the eyewitness testimony.

This above point may not seem significant to those of you without scientific background, but let me give examples of its import. Do NOT do this experiment at home. Just consider it. Heat your oven to 400 F. Bake an angel food cake until done. Remove the angel food cake from the oven. Place you hand on the cake. It is certainly very warm but it doesn’t burn you. Now place your hand of the metal cake pan (DON”T actually do this). The metal cake pan will give you a whopper of a burn very quickly, but the cake didn’t. The cake is a lousy conductor of heat so you don’t get burnt, but the metal pan is a great conductor of heat and has a high capacity of heat so a great deal of heat gets delivered to your hand very quickly. Ouch….a rather nasty burn.

Another example. Do you have a Weber charcoal grill. Have you noticed the handle on the metal coal basin and the metal lid are wooden. My barbeque tools are also made of metal. But they have wooden handles. Even when the cooking coals are red hot I can maneuver my grill around the patio by grabbing the wooden handle. I wouldn’t want to grab the metal basin though. Same with the metal lid. It is NOT advised to grab the metal lid, but no problem in grabbing the wooden handle and lifting the lid for a peak to see if the burgers are done.

Now how does the insertion of the large aluminum pan into the experiment make a difference???? With the large pan a great quantity of heat from the fire is very rapidly conducted to the small amount of lard. As this heat warms the lard the aluminum pan cools just a little (after all, the heat is moving from the aluminum pan to the lard). But because the aluminum pan is such a terrific heat conductor it immediately captures more heat from the fire and in turn immediately delivers it to the melting lard. This is the express lane to ignition of the target matter.

4) However, Mattogno’s most grievous error is his fireplace design. He again allows his experimental conditions to stray a significant distance from the eyewitness accounts. The eyewitness accounts plainly and clearly describe the corpse burning pits as just exactly that. Holes in the ground. The geometry is obvious. There are 6 sides to a hole in the ground. Top, bottom, left, right, front, and back. A pit in the ground has ONLY ONE open side. The top. That’s it. Only one open side …. The top. Period. Why in God’s name did he construct an experiment with TWO OPEN SIDES. Look at his pictures. The top is open and THE FRONT IS WIDE OPEN ALSO.

Of what difference is this???? Air, my good man, air. A fire needs three conditions to exist. A combustible fuel, sufficient heat, and oxygen.

The eyewitness accounts clearly state the pits were jam packed with timber, brush, tinder, wood, and bodies (even piled above ground level). Being a pit the system was closed to air from 5 of the 6 directions (left, right, front, back, and bottom). The top was the only avenue for air to enter the pyre. And that avenue was filled with hot air which we all know rises. Therefore the pit fires were quite probably starved for oxygen. Five sides were blocked and the sixth had smoke, combustion gases, and hot air rising away from the pyre making it difficult for fresh oxygen to enter the system.

However, Mattogno’s system allows for AT LEAST double the amount air to enter the system. The rather large front side of his "oven" is wide open. In fact he has created a fireplace with a fresh air draft to feed air to the system and this would probably deliver far more than a simple doubling of the available air. Sloppy again. This doesn’t even come close to matching the eyewitness accounts.

So in summary, Mattogno is combusting a manufactured product (lard) when he could have used raw fat. He didn’t properly characterize his starting product so we can’t tell if it simulates corpse burning or not. He inserted a terrific heat conductor into the burning system which will greatly speed heat delivery to the target. He enhanced burning by AT LEAST doubling the flow of air to the target. Mattogno, in his little experiment, has strayed a pretty good distance from the eyewitness testimony.

Either this is a really sloppy “science” experiment dressed up real pretty so that it looks like science or this is a down right deceitful set of conditions carefully selected so as to enhance the results he desires it to produce.

So much for my comments on Mattogno’s experiment. I’ll follow up later with a discussion of pit burning at Auschwitz if there is any interest.

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Post by David Thompson » 13 Dec 2004 20:45

Pangea -- Welcome to the forum, and thank you for a thoughtful and very interesting post.

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Post by xcalibur » 13 Dec 2004 20:46

Very nicely done. Pray continue. :)

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 13 Dec 2004 22:05

Pangea, big thanks! :D
Yes, we're very interested in your further thoughts on the topic.

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Post by Ezri » 14 Dec 2004 06:56

Sergey Romanov wrote:Pangea, big thanks! :D
Yes, we're very interested in your further thoughts on the topic.


I second that. I also want to add to the topic, unfortunatly after trolling through a book for the last hour I'm frustrated to find I can't for the life of me find what I'm after grrrrr.
Ill keep trolling and hopefully get back to you soon! :?

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