1. Nature and Purpose of Kola’s Archaeological Investigation
2. Location and Form of the Mass Graves
3. Corpses Found
4. Volume of the Mass Graves, Human and Wood Ashes
As the people who disappeared from the face of the earth in Belzec extermination camp were more or less all – i.e. except for "many thousands" (O’Neill) "at least 15,000" (Tregenza) or "at most several hundred" (Mattogno) – incinerated, according to the pertinent eyewitness testimonies and defendants’ depositions, a "Revisionist" doesn’t go far by mouthing off about the number of still unburned corpses, which even according to Tregenza’s estimate is relatively small. It must therefore be established, so Mattogno tells his readers on page 82 of his book, "whether the volumes of the mass graves identified by Kola and the amount of ash from human beings and wood the graves contain are in keeping with the mass cremation of hundreds of thousands of corpses, or, more exactly, 600,000 corpses".
4.1 The Capacity of the Graves
Thus Mattogno on page 85 of his book addresses the volume of the mass graves, which of course can by no means have been large enough to take in hundreds of thousands of corpses:
On the basis of experimental data, the maximum capacity of a mass grave can be set at 8 corpses per cubic meter, assuming that one third of them are children.260 Hence, the alleged 600,000 corpses at Belzec would have required a total volume of (600,000÷8=) 75,000 cubic meters. The average depth of the graves identified by Professor Kola is 3.90 meters. Assuming a layer of earth 0.3 m thick to cover the graves, the available depth would be 3.60 meters.261 It follows that the burial of 600,000 corpses would have required an effective area of (75,000÷3.6 =) approx. 20,800 square meters. On the other hand, the surface area of the graves identified by Kola is 5,919 square meters and their volume 21,310 cubic meters, theoretically sufficient to inter (21,310×8=) 170,480 corpses – but then where would the other (600,000 – 170,480 =) 429,520 corpses have been put?
First of all, why does Mattogno calculate with 600,000 corpses?
This may be a long and widely accepted estimate, and it is also true that Robin O’Neill assumed an even higher number. However, in my opinion, only in regard to the 434,508 Jews mentioned in the report sent by SS-Sturmbannführer Höfle in Lublin on 11 January 1943 to Obersturmbannführer Heim in Krakow, there is an absolute certainty that they were delivered at Belzec. The number of corpses I will hereafter consider thus corresponds to the number mentioned in Höfle’s report.
Second, why is it that "the maximum capacity of a mass grave can be set at 8 corpses per cubic meter, assuming that one third of them are children", as Mattogno claims?
Mattogno’s own source reference (footnote 260 on page 85) is not very helpful in answering this question, for it refers to pp. 137 f. of the book Treblinka Extermination Camp or Transit Camp by Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf, on page 137 of which one reads the following:
On the basis of his investigations of the mass graves of Hamburg (Anglo-American terror-bombardment of July 1943), Katyn (Soviet mass murder of Polish officers, 1940) and Bergen-Belsen (mass dying from typhus in spring 1945), John Ball came to the conclusion that one could assume a maximum of six bodies per cubic meter in a mass grave.390 This number seems quite high if one keeps in mind that in Treblinka I, the work camp, the Soviets found 105
bodies in a grave with an effective volume of 75 m3 – therefore 1.4 bodies per cubic meter, and that the medical expert Piotrowski, in his first calculation of the content of the mass graves, set a figure of six bodies per 2 cubic meters, thus 3 bodies per cubic meter, half the density proposed by Ball.391 However, in order to take into account the hypothetical existence of children as comprising one-third of the victims, we assume a density of a maximum of 8 bodies per cubic meter.
390 John Ball, in: Germar Rudolf (ed.), op. cit. (note 81), p. 270.
391 See Chapter III. In the two other mass graves, the number of bodies per cubic meter was even lower.
A reference to a "conclusion" reached by John Ball on the basis of his "investigations of the mass graves of Hamburg (Anglo-American terror-bombardment of July 1943), Katyn (Soviet mass murder of Polish officers, 1940) and Bergen-Belsen (mass dying from typhus in spring 1945)" (as will be explained in section 4.7 of the present commentary, the number of bodies buried per cubic meter in other mass graves at other places, using other methods and with other purposes in mind, is of no relevance whatsoever to how the available grave volume was used at Belzec or at another of the camps of Aktion Reinhard(t), and no explanation of how Mattogno arrived at his "maximum" of 8 bodies per cubic meter – that’s not what I would call useful information. The proportion of children in the transports to Belzec, assumed by Mattogno, seems questionable in the light of at least two eyewitness testimonies from which it becomes apparent that the majority of the Jews transported to Belzec were children, which seems rather plausible considering that, according to a contemporary German source quoted by Mattogno later in his book, Belzec was a place to were the unemployable Jews were sent. The unemployable ones were mainly those who were either too young or too old to be employed in hard physical labor. The first of these testimonies is that of Kurt Gerstein, mentioned by Charles Provan :
[…]I had first read about Kurt Gerstein several years ago, and was soon confronted with his "700-800 people in 25 m2" statement. In the revisionist literature I was reading, it was pointed out that this is equivalent to 28-32 people per square meter. Since a meter is roughly the same as a yard, I could easily visualize this, and I knew that 28 people in a square yard was totally impossible. I immediately came to the conclusion that Gerstein was a lunatic, and was of not much value as an "eyewitness to the Holocaust".
One day in December of 1990, I was reading The 'Confessions' of Kurt Gerstein, by Henri Roques. (I had bought a copy as soon as it was
released, and had read over it several times since then.) While I was reading one of the six manuscripts of Gerstein contained in the above book, a phrase of Gerstein caught my attention: "more than half are children" (present in Manuscripts T5 and T6)][my emphasis – RM]23[…]
The other testimony is that of a Wehrmacht non-commissioned officer by the name of Wilhelm Cornides, who in his diary recorded an encounter with a train bound for Belzec on 31 August 1942. From a translation of Cornides’ diary entry:
"At ten minutes past noon I saw a transport train run into the station. On the roof and running boards sat guards with rifles. One could see from a distance that the cars were jammed full of people. I turned and walked along the whole train: it consisted of 35 cattle cars and one passenger car.
In each of the cars there were at least 60 Jews (in the case of the enlisted men’s or prisoner transports these wagons would hold 40 men; however, the benches had been removed and one could see that those who were locked in here had to stand pressed together). Some of the doors were opened a crack, the windows criss-crossed with barbed wire. Among the locked-in people there were a few men and most of those were old; everything else was women, girls and children. Many children crowded at the windows and the narrow door openings. The youngest were surely not more than two years old.[my emphasis – RM]
As soon as the train halted, the Jews attempted to pass out bottles in order to get water. The train, however, was surrounded by SS guards, so that no one could come near. At that moment a train arrived from the direction of Jaroslaw; the travellers streamed toward the exit without bothering about the transport. A few Jews who were busy loading a car for the armed forces waved their caps to the locked-in people.
I talked to a policeman on duty at the railway station. Upon my question as to where the Jews actually came from, he answered:
"Those are probably the last ones from Lwow. That has been going on now for three weeks uninterruptedly. In Jaroslaw they only let eight remain, no one knows why."
I asked: "How far are they going?" Then he said: "To Belzec." "And then?"
"Poison." I asked: "Gas?" He shrugged his shoulders. Then he said only:
"At the beginning they always shot them, I believe."
Based on Gerstein’s statement about the proportion of children in transports to Belzec, Charles Provan made an experiment, through which he proved that it was possible to stuff 703 people, more than half of them being children, into an area of of 5 x 5 meters:
STATISTICS AND CALCULATIONS OF THE GAS CHAMBER CAPACITY EXPERIMENT BOX BASE AREA: 21" X 21"
HEIGHT: 60 1/2"
DATA ON THE PEOPLE INVOLVED:
Total Weight of eight people: 266 kgs
Average Weight: 33.25 kgs
Gerstein's Estimate: "average weight at the most 35 kg."
Number of Persons able to fit into a 5 meter by 5 meter room, based upon the above ratio of eight persons per 21" by 21" space:
21" by 21" = 441 sq. in.
8 people per 441 sq. in. = 1 person per 55.125 sq. in.
5 meters by 5 meters = 5 x 5 x 39.37" x 39.37" = 38,750 sq. in.
38,750 divided by 55.125 = 703 people
Therefore 703 people, over half children, can fit into an area of 25 m2.
The number was probably higher in the Belzec gas chambers considering that the Jews killed there were emaciated due to the lack of food in the ghettoes in eastern Poland in 1942 and of relatively small stature, as Provan pointed out:
All of the seven people in my experiment were healthy and well nourished. The Jews of eastern Poland (and specifically, Lvov/Lemberg, which is where the Jews of Gerstein's account are said to have come from) were, in August of 1942, ill-fed and even starving.24
In addition to the above, according to ethnological studies done by Dr. Otto Von Verschuer, the Jews of Poland were about three inches shorter than the average German.25 This comparative smallness is confirmed by other authorities, notably John R. Baker and Lothrop Stoddard.26 Since Jews are smaller, this would probably reduce their cubic volume by approximately 5%, when compared to non-Jews of European descent, the ethnic background of all the people in my experiment.
While the people in my final experiment were clothed, the people described in Gerstein's account were stark naked. Another point to consider is this: all of the people in the 21" X 21" box were not compressed or pushed together, while the people described by Gerstein were whipped and physically pushed into the chamber. Though it is possible that hysteria could actually disrupt "smooth fitting" of people into a 25 square meter room, yet in my opinion, brute force would overcompensate for this.
Keeping in mind all of the above, as well as the fact that Gerstein's lower ratio of 28 people/m2 was reached in the final experiment conducted by myself and my friends, we may conclude that the number of persons, the dimensions of the chambers, and even the weight estimates of Kurt Gerstein are well within the realm of the possible, and are believable. Seven hundred and fifty starving Jews, over half of them children, could fit into a 5 meter by 5 meter room, 1.9 meters tall.
However, I will use Provan’s experimentally proven figure of 703 for my ensuing calculations.
If 703 living persons could fit into a space of 5 x 5 x 1.9 = 47.5 cubic meters, this meant a density of ca. 15 persons per cubic meter in the Belzec gas chambers. What applies to living people certainly applies to corpses, so it can be assumed that 15 corpses out of a transport to Belzec made up in more than half by children could be made to fit into one cubic meter of burial space in the Belzec mass graves. Assuming such composition for all transports to Belzec, and without taking into consideration the emaciation and size factors mentioned by Provan, the 21,310 cubic meters of burial space estimated by Kola could have taken in 319,650 corpses – if they had been thrown in there all at once.
Of course this was not the case. The mass murder at Belzec took place in the period between the first transport on 17 March 1943 and November 1942, when according to the deposition of SS-Scharführer Heinrich Gley on 7 January 1963, quoted by Mattogno, the general exhumation and incineration of the corpses began. The corpses from each transport were placed into the graves and often covered with a layer of quicklime, which reduced the bodies to a horrible, disintegrating mess. In addition to the effect of the quicklime there was that of natural decomposition, which will be addressed in more detail further on. These effects can be assumed to have caused the corpses in a mass grave’s "older" layers to have considerably lost volume by the time "newer" layers of corpses were placed on top of them. In Belzec and the other camps of "Aktion Reinhard(t)", Sobibor and Treblinka, the corpses were not simply thrown into the mass graves but carefully arranged in layer upon layer to make the most of the available burial space, as was for instance stated in regard to Treblinka by the Düsseldorf County Court in its judgment at the first Treblinka trial (Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgment of 3.9.1965, reference 8 I Ks 2/64):
[…]Zur Aufnahme der aus den Gaskammern kommenden Leichen der getöteten Juden dienten riesige Gruben, in denen die Leichname reihenweise abgelegt und jeweils mit einer dünnen Sand- oder Chlorkalkschicht abgedeckt wurden.[…]
[…]For taking in the corpses of the dead Jews coming from the gas chambers there were gigantic pits, in which the corpses were placed in rows and in each case covered with a thin layer of sand or quicklime.[…]
There is evidence suggesting that the mass graves at Belzec were filled to or even beyond the rim, the upper layer being covered with further layers of bodies or with sand after the corpses had sufficiently matted down due to decomposition. In his report dated 4 May 1945, a translation of which is available here, Kurt Gerstein wrote the following:
The naked corpses were carried on wooden stretchers to pits only a few metres away, measuring 100 x 20 x 12 metres. After a few days the corpses welled up and a short time later they collapsed, so that one could throw a new layer of bodies upon them. Then ten centimetres of sand were spread over the pit, so that a few heads and arms still rose from it here and there.
Despite the obviously exaggerated statement about the depth of the pits, Gerstein’s description is interesting in its reference to a procedure, that of filling the graves to the rim and then adding further bodies when the collapse due to decomposition of those already inside the grave freed some space at the top, which was probably at the root of the following ghastly phenomenon observed at Belzec described by the later commander of Treblinka, Franz Stangl:
Wirth war nicht in seinem Büro, sie sagten, er sei oben im Lager … Ich fragte, was denn los sei. Der Mann, mit dem ich redete, sagte, daß eine der Gruben überflutet sei. Sie hatten zu viele Leichen hineingeworfen, und die Verwesung war zu schnell fortgeschritten, so daß die sich unten ansammelnde Flüssigkeit die Körper nach oben gedrückt hatte, bis an die Oberfläche und darüber, und die Leichen waren den Berg heruntergerollt. Ich sah einige von ihnen. – O Gott, es war entsetzlich …
Source of quote: Kogon, Langbein, Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, page 169.
Wirth was not in his office, they said that he was up in the camp. The man I talked to said that one of the pits had overflown. They had thrown too many bodies inside, and the decomposition had gone too fast, so that the liquid gathering below had pushed the bodies up, to the surface and above, and the corpses had rolled down the hill. I saw some of them. – Oh God, it was awful …
Besides those described above, another procedure that may at least occasionally have been applied at Belzec in order to stretch the capacity of the mass graves is that of partially burning the corpses in the graves to make room for further corpses. This procedure is suggested by the following statements, quoted in English translation by Mattogno himself on page 61 of his book, from depositions made on 9 November 1959 and 25 April 1960 by Prof. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, who according to these and earlier depositions had visited Belzec on 18/19 August 1942 in the company of the Kurt Gerstein:
Through these [doors] Jewish detainees took out the corpses and threw them into large pits. The corpses were burned in these pits. […] From my point of view, the incineration of the corpses at the time was still quite imperfect.
From the inspection site the corpses were taken directly to deep mass graves that had been dug in the vicinity of the extermination installation. When the pits were rather full, the corpses were doused with gasoline – it may have been some other flammable liquid – and were then lit. I could only determine that the corpses burned just partly. Then another layer of earth was thrown over the corpses and then fresh corpses were placed into the same pit.
Emphases in the above quotes are mine.
In Chapter III of his book, on pages 52 ff, Mattogno goes a long way trying to discredit Prof. Pfannenstiel as a witness to the mass murder at Belzec. His considerations are the usual "Revisionist" mixture of presumably selective quotations from some of Pfannenstiel’s depositions, capitalizing on imprecisions or contradictions about certain details, like the size of the gassing engine, between Pfannenstiel’s accounts and those of Gerstein or between various accounts given by Prof. Pfannenstiel, and express or implicit speculations about supposed conspiratorial organizations inducing the witness into providing false accounts. This is absolute nonsense, of course. While it may well be that both Gerstein and Pfannenstiel were at Belzec more often and/or for other reasons than either of them was prepared to admit, that Pfannenstiel and/or Gerstein confounded various gassings they were witness to, that they indulged in speculations about certain details of the events witnessed that they weren’t quite sure about and that especially Pfannenstiel tried to play down the extent and/or the horror of the events he witnessed, the only reason why either of these witnesses and especially Pfannenstiel should have wholly invented mass murder actions he didn’t witness, as Mattogno surmises, would be that they felt pressured by conspiratorial entities hell-bent on putting together a false record of what had happened at Belzec during World War II. These sinister entities, according to Mattogno’s speculations, would have included or enlisted the support of the criminal justice authorities of the German Federal Republic. The utter absurdity and baselessness of such "Revisionist" conjectures, which go back to older "Revisionist" gurus like Butz and Stäglich, is succinctly expressed by John Zimmerman in chapter 6 of his book Holocaust Denial (page 111):
Although Baer never faced trial, his statement generally follows what was said at Frankfurt. Yes, there were gas chambers. No, I did not have anything to do with them. Most of the twenty defendants followed this strategy. Not one stated that there were no gas chambers. Most of the defendants tried to blame others for what happened at Auschwitz. Moreover, none of the many witnesses denied the existence of gas chambers.113
This was a sore spot for Staglich who claimed that the defendants did not have any choice because they were attempting to secure legal advantages for themselves. They admitted to these things "in an attempt to placate the court and the prosecution." The judges neglected their legal duty to ascertain the truth. Defense attorneys succeeded in having their clients falsely confess to crimes. Staglich believed that what was taking place was a "show trial."114
Like Arthur Butz before him, Staglich did not present any evidence to substantiate these allegations. Butz had made the argument about defendants making false admissions in the immediate post-war trials in the late 1940s to secure advantage. One would think that since many of these defendants received harsh sentences, the defendants on trial in the 1960s would have seen the futility of such a strategy. Moreover, if the defendants really did not know anything about gas chambers, they could have denied personal knowledge while not rejecting the overall existence of such installations. Yet, this did not happen; probably because there were too many witnesses, including other defendants, who placed them at the scenes of the crime.
Emphases in the above quote are mine.
For all his valiant attempts to discredit Pfannenstiel as a witness using "Revisionist" arguments that are as well-known as they are miserable, Mattogno fails to provide a faith-conform explanation for the above-mentioned statements he quotes on page 61 of his book, the second of which (from 25 Aprl 1960) goes further than the first one (from 9 November 1959) in that it expressly mentions the reason why corpses were burned in the mass graves, from top down using a flammable liquid, when "the pits were rather full": in order to make room for more bodies in the grave. Why should Pfannenstiel have invented this detail, which, as Mattogno’s conspiratorial phantoms lead him to point out, "was in contradiction both with his own statements, with the Gerstein report, and with official historiography (G. Reitlinger)"? Mattogno had better not quoted this "observation" of Pfannenstiel’s, which belies his speculations about the compliant nature of Pfannenstiel’s accounts and thus damages Mattogno’s own stance. Apart from being incompatible with Mattogno’s conspiracy theories, Pfannenstiel’s description of how the capacity of the mass graves was stretched by top-down burning is corroborated by the already mentioned notes of Wehrmacht noncom Wilhelm Cornides. In his entry of 31 August 1942, Cornides recorded his encounter with Belzec extermination camp as follows:
6.20 pm. We passed camp Belzec. Before then, we travelled for some time through a tall pine forest. When the woman called, "Now it comes!" one could see a high hedge of fir trees. A strong sweetish odour could be made out distinctly. "But they are stinking already", says the woman. "Oh nonsense, it is only the gas", the railway policeman said laughing.
Meanwhile - we had gone on about 200 metres - the sweetish odour was transformed into a strong smell of something burning. "That is from the crematory", says the policeman. A short distance further on the fence stopped. In front of it, one could see a guard house with an SS post. A double track led into the camp. One track branched off from the main line, the other ran over a turntable from the camp to a row of sheds some 250 metres away. A freight car happened to stand on the table. Several Jews were busy turning the disc. SS guards, rifle under the arm, stood by. One of the sheds was open; one could distinctly see that it was filled to the ceiling with bundles of clothes. As we went on, I looked back one more time. The fence was too high to see anything at all. The woman says that sometimes, while going by, one could see smoke rising from the camp, but I could notice nothing of the sort. My estimate is that the camp measures about 800 by 400 metres."
Emphases in the above quote are mine.
Cornides’ male interlocutor attributed the "strong smell of something burning" noticed by Cornides to what he called a "crematory", an improper designation of the incineration facilities of the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps (which were not crematoria in a strict sense of the term, but open-air facilities) that is also found in some eyewitness testimonies. Where could this "strong smell of something burning" have come from at that time, long before the general exhumation and incineration of the corpses at Belzec, other than the top-down burning process described by Pfannenstiel? The same goes for the smoke that Cornides’ other interlocutor claimed could be seen rising from the camp sometimes. This was in August 1942, long before the general exhumation and burning of the corpses started. The burning of the corpses was also mentioned by a policeman that Cornides talked to on 1 September 1942, as recorded in Cornides’ diary:
A policeman in the town-hall restaurant in Chelm on 1 September 1942 said:
"The policemen who guard the Jewish transports are not allowed inside the camp; only the SS and the Ukrainian Sonderdienst (a police formation comprising Ukrainian auxiliaries) do so. Thereby, they have created a good business. Recently a Ukrainian was here who had a great wad of notes, clocks, and gold – everything imaginable. They find all of this when they gather and ship the clothing."
In answer to the question, in which way were the Jews killed, the policeman answered:
"Someone tells them that they must be deloused. Then they undress and enter a room into which at first a heatwave is let in, and thereby they already have received one small dose of gas. It is enough to act as a local anaesthetic. The rest then follows. And then they are immediately burned."
Although neither of what Cornides recorded is direct eyewitness testimony of the top-down burning process described by Prof. Pfannenstiel, it is certainly a strong indication that Pfannenstiel’s description of this procedure was not just a figment of his imagination. Cornides’ diary entry of 31 August 1942 was first published in Germany in issue Nr. 7 of the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte in 1959, i.e. at about the same time at which Pfannenstiel made his above-mentioned depositions, but this alone is no indication let alone evidence that Pfannenstiel was in any way influenced by Cornides’ account or that he even knew about it, especially as Pfannenstiel goes into much greater detail than Cornides in his description of the early incineration process, which Cornides could only surmise from what he smelt and what he was told by others. Neither can the fact that Pfannenstiel didn’t mention these details in earlier interrogations be taken as an indication that Pfannenstiel knew and was influenced by Cornides’ account. In this respect, it should be pointed out that additions or changes of details in various depositions made by a witness are nothing uncommon in forensic practice, and that forensic psychology even considers such additions or changes to speak in favor rather than against the witness’s reliability regarding the core of its testimony. The following is from page 137 of the treatise Tatsachenfeststellung vor Gericht - Band I: Glaubwürdigkeits- und Beweislehre, a handbook for trial judges and attorneys written by two German jurists, Attorney-at-Law Professor Rolf Bender, retired Presiding Judge at the Court of Assizes, and Armin Nack, Judge at the German Federal Supreme Court:
Konstanz in dem von der Auskunftsperson als zentral erlebten Handlungskern, sowie gewisse Veränderungen einzelner Aussageteile (soweit nach den Erkenntnissen der Irrtumslehre erwartbar) sprechen für ein realitätsbegründetes Ereignis.
Erklärung: Aus der Irrtumslehre wissen Sie, daß niemand alle Informationen (die er im Gedächtnis gespeichert hat) zu jedem beliebigen Zeitpunkt vollständig abrufen kann. Deshalb ist es nur natürlich, daß in der Wiederholungsaussage zusätzliche Details auftauchen, die in der Erstaussage gefehlt haben, während andererseits einige Details aus der Erstaussage im Bericht der Zweitaussage fehlen und erst im Verhör auf Vorhalt wieder in Erinnerung gebracht werden können.
Nicht nur Erweiterungen einerseits und die eine oder andere Weglassung andererseits sind ein Realitätskriterium, sondern selbst ausgesprochende Korrekturen der Erstaussage können es sein […].
7. Constany Criterion
Constancy in the core of the action experienced as central by the informing person, as well as changes of single parts of the deposition( insofar as expectable according to the findings of the doctrine of error speak for an event grounded in reality.
Explanation: From the doctrine of error you know that nobody can at any given point in time completely recall all information that he has stored in his memory. Therefore it is only natural that in a repeated deposition additional details show up that were missing in the first deposition, while on the other hand some details from the first deposition are missing in the second deposition’s account and can only be brought back to memory through a reminder.
Not only extensions on the one hand and one or the other omission on the other are a reality criterion, but even major corrections of the first deposition may be […].
If, as is to be assumed according to the above-quoted testimonies, the capacity of the graves was stretched by the means mentioned in these descriptions, this means that calculating the number of bodies placed in the Belzec mass graves based on the geometrical space available only is no more than speculation, whereby speculation supported by the testified composition of transports to Belzec and the experiment made by Charles Provan is at any rate more realistic than Mattogno’s claim supposedly derived from "experimental data".
In this context it should still be taken into account that the depths of the mass graves established by Kola through his cautious drillings, avoiding as much as possible the contact with layers of corpses, need not have been the original depths of the mass graves. On page 40 of his book Kola writes:
The majority of graves situated here reached the depth between 4,00-5,00 m. One can suppose that those depths were regarded as the optimum ones; underground waters appeared at bigger depths.
The emphasis in the above quote is mine.
If 4 to 5 meters was the optimum depth, this makes it likely that the mass graves were as a rule dug to this depth. Yet the fact that grave # 10 was found to be 5.20 meters deep in places shows that the graves could also be deeper than five meters. This notion is also supported by the deposition of former SS-man Alfred Schluch in the course of the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office’s criminal investigation procedure StA München I, AZ: 22 Js 64-93/61 , quoted in Kogon et al, as above, page 168:
[…]Das Ausmaß einer Grube kann ich nur ungefähr angeben. Sie dürfte etwa 30 m lang und 20 m breit gewesen sein. Die Tiefe ist deswegen schlechter abzuschätzen, weil die Seitenwände abgeschrägt waren und andererseits das ausgehobene Erdreich am Rand aufgeworfen worden war. Ich meine aber, daß die Grube 5 bis 6 m tief gewesen sein kann. Alles in allem gerechnet, so hätte man in diese Grube ein Haus bequem hineinstellen können.
[…]The size of a pit I can only indicate approximately. It should have been about 30 meters long and 20 meters wide. The depth is difficult to estimate because the side walls were at an angle and on the other hand the earth taken out had been piled up at the edge. I think, however, that the pit may have been 5 to 6 meters deep. All in all one could have comfortably placed a house inside this pit.
Summarizing this sub-item it can thus be concluded that there are weighty reasons speaking against the assumption that the volume of the mass graves existing at Belzec was not sufficient to take in the corpses of the ca. 434,000 Jewish deportees mentioned in Höfle’s report to Heim of 11 January 1943.
4.2 Wood Requirements
4.3 Duration of the Cremations