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
4.1 The Capacity of the Graves
4.2 Wood Requirements
4.3 Duration of the Cremations
4.4 The Soil removed from the Graves
Bevor we move on to the ashes, a few words about Mattogno’s objections regarding the soil removed from the graves, which are worded as follows (pages 87 f):
When a grave is being dug, the soil removed in the process, which was initially omewhat compressed, will normally dilate by 10 to 25% in volume.272 We have already seen that the burial of 600,000 corpses would have required mass graves having at least a total volume of 75,000 m3 and an area of 20,800 m2. The 75,000 m3 of extracted sand, undergoing a dilation of 10%, would have increased to some 82,500 m3. Where would such an enormous quantity of sand have been put? If it had been spread evenly throughout the camp in a layer 2 m thick, it would have covered an area of (82,500÷2=) 41.250 m2; in other words: equal to the total area of the camp minus the mass graves!273 Dry sand has a specific gravity of 1.4; therefore, the 82,500 m3 of sand mentioned above would correspond to (82,500×1.4=) 115,500 tons, or the equivalent of more than 4,600 freight cars or more than 24,000 truckloads. If the mass graves were covered by a layer of sand 30 cm thick, this would have consumed (20,800×0.3=) about 6,200 m3, but then where would the remaining (82,500–6,200 =) 76.300 m3 have gone? This enormous quantity of sand could neither have been piled up in the camp274 nor transported out of the camp, therefore it was never actually extracted, and thus the respective mass graves were never dug.
First of all, we are not talking about hypothetical 75,000 cubic meters here, but about 21,310 cubic meters, the total volume of the mass graves estimated by Kola. Taking into account the possibility that the graves originally had a higher volume (see section 4.1 of this commentary), I have no problem with assuming 30,000 cubic meters of grave volume and a corresponding volume of soil taken out of the mass grave, which with the maximum dilation assumed by Mattogno would give us 37,500 cubic meters, from which according to the total area of the graves established by Kola and the thickth assumed by Mattogno roughly 6,000 x 0.3 = 1,800 cubic meters would have to be deducted for the layers covering the graves, leaving 35,700 cubic meters of soil. Where would they have stored that? Somewhere inside or near the camp (why the sand could not have been transported out of the camp, as he claims, Mattogno does not explain), and if there had been no space to pile up the sand in a layer 2 meters thick (i.e. covering 35,700 ÷ 2 = 17,850 square meters, less than one third of the camp area), they could have piled it up in a layer 4 meters thick, covering 8,925 square meters or less than one-sixth of the camp area (most piles of soil at construction sites I have seen lately are at least 4 meters high). How? With trucks, of couse; if the soil taken out of the mass graves weighed 35,700 * 1,4 = 49,980 tons, one needed roughly 10,000 truckloads à 5 tons for that. Truckloads and not trucks, for there are certainly construction projects in which such or higher amounts of soil are moved, but I know of no construction company that could make available 10,000 trucks for a single construction site. This is not necessary either, for a truck usually doesn’t make only one trip but can go back and forth many times during a day, depending on how close or how far the disposal site is. With 10 daily trips to a nearby storage place 1,000 trucks could manage this load in a single day, 100 trucks in 10 days and 10 trucks in 100 days. Even Mattogno’s "enormous quantity of sand" could have been removed within 100 days, which was much less than the gassing operations at Belzec lasted, with no more than 24 trucks! So what we apparently have here is a charlatan’s rather transparent attempt to, by presenting huge and at first sight impressive numbers, throw sand into the eyes of readers gullible and/or imbued with "Revisionist" faith.
At any time during the camp’s operation, a part of the sand taken out of the mass graves could have been piled up around the graves while another part had already been taken away. This is why Mattogno’s comment («Thus the statement of the witness Karl Alfred Schluch regarding a mass burial of this size cannot be true», see Mattogno’s footnote # 274 on page 88) on the description of a mass grave by former SS-man Karl Alfred Schluch (see quote in section 4.1), on account of Schluch’s having mentioned that "the earth taken out had been piled up at the edge", is a rather lame attempt to get rid of inconvenient evidence.
4.5 The Ash
Now to the ash that was found, regarding which Mattogno writes the following (pages 86 f):
The incineration of a corpse in a crematorium oven yields about 5% of ash having a specific gravity of 0.5.267 For a cremation in the open air the quantity of ash goes up considerably. The wood burnt produces about 8% of ash with a specific gravity of 0.34.266 Therefore, the alleged 600,000 victims would have left behind (600,000×45×0.05=) 1,350,000 kg or 1,350 tons of ash, with a volume of (1,350÷0.5=) 2,700 cubic meters, whereas the wood ash would have amounted to (96,000×0.08=) 7,680 tons, corresponding to about 22,600 cubic meters. Altogether then, some (1,350+7,680=) 9,030 tons or (2,700+22,600=) 25,300 cubic meters of ash would have resulted from the enormous incinerations.
However, the total volume of the graves identified by Kola is 21,310 cubic meters. Thus, even if all of the graves had been full to the brim with ash unmixed with sand, there would have been (25,300–21,310=) about 4,000 cubic meters of pure ash left over, enough to fill some 290 trucks or 60 railroad freight cars.
But the graphs of the analyses of the 137 drill cores presented by Kola show that the ash in the graves is normally intermingled with sand, that in more than half of the samples the layer of ash and sand is extremely thin,268 and that at times the ash is close to being completely absent.269 Furthermore, out of the 236 samples, 99 are irrelevant, and among the 137 relevant ones more than half show only a very thin layer of sand and ash, whereas among the remainder the percentage of sand is not less than 50%, and the thickness of the sand/ash layer varies greatly. Finally – and Kola does not state this explicitly – besides the sand, the human remains are intermingled also with animal remains:270 “These diggings produced also a large amount of human bones, which were partly intermingled with remains of animal origin.” From all this it becomes obvious that the amount of ash actually located in the graves is absolutely incompatible with the cremation of 600,000 corpses.
Let’s assume that the data used by Mattogno regarding the weight and volume of human and wooden ash are correct. The corpses of the ca. 434,000 reported by Höfle would then, assuming an average body weight of 35 kg and an ash residue of 5 %, have left behind no more than 5 % of 15,190,000 kg = 759,500 kg or 759.5 tons of ashes. Of course it is not correct to calculate with the average weight of 35 kg at the time of killing instead of the decomposed corpses’ average weight of 25 kg established above, but let’s do Mattogno the favor of this maximum calculation, if only to take into account his claim that in case of open air incineration the 5 % residue is a minimum value. Applying Mattogno’s calculation method, these 759.5 tons of ashes would have had a volume of (759.5 ÷ 0,5 =) 1.519 cubic meters of ash, filling a mere 7 % of the grave volume of 21,310 cubic meters (if we make the calculation with the 600,000 corpses that Mattogno calculates with, we arrive at 21,000,000 kg of corpse mass and 1,050 tons = 2,100 cubic meters of ash, i.e. the volume of grave pit # 10, as mentioned in part 3 of this commentary). As concerns the amount of wood, the maximum requirement established in section 4.2 (i.e. without taking into consideration the explained combustion factors of the corpses’ dryness and the flammable substances created by the decomposition process) is 25 x 434,000 = 10,850,000 kg = 10,850 tons for the burning of 434,000 decomposed corpses (assuming a wood to corpse – ratio of 1:1), or twice that amount (assuming a wood to corpse – ratio of 2:1). Here also we can do Mattogno the favor, in calculating the amount of wood ash, of incorrectly calculating with the average weight of the corpses before decomposition rather than that of the decomposed corpses, i.e. with 35 x 434,000 = 15,190,000 kg or 15,190 tons of wood assuming 1 kg of wood per kg of corpse mass. With the ash residual weight of 8 % of the original weight, assumed by Mattogno, we would thus have ca. 1,215 tons of wood ash, which with the specific gravity of ca. 0.34 assumed by Mattogno would correspond to ca. 3,574 cubic meters – less than 17 % of the grave volume of 21,310 cubic meters. Assuming 2 kg of wood per kg of corpse mass, the volume would be twice as high, i.e. 7,148 cubic meters – still less than 34 % of the total grave volume. Therefore – and this, as pointed out, is a maximum calculation knowingly based on exaggerated assumptions regarding the weight of the corpses to be incinerated – the victims’ ash and the wood ash together would have taken up 1,519 + 3,574 = 5,093 or 1,519 + 7,148 = 8,667 cubic meters of volume, i.e. less than 24 % or less than 41 % of the grave volume of 21,310 cubic meters.
As the human and wood ashes together thus made up only the above-mentioned parts of the volume of the mass graves at most, if would of course not be surprising if more than half of the "relevant" samples showed "only a very thin layer of sand and ash" and in the remainder the percentage of sand was "not less than 50%", as Mattogno claims, and if in some samples no ash at all had been detected. Nevertheless one must wonder how Mattogno is supposed to have come to these conclusions. Apart from the fact that – apparently caught in "Revisionist" conspiracy thinking – he swiftly and just as unreasonably dismisses the soil samples not schematically represented by Kola as "irrelevant", although the schematic representation of a part of the samples has an exemplificative character according to Kola and the description of the graves partially quoted in part 3 suggests that the samples not schematically represented were everything other than irrelevant, it seems rather difficult to me to determine, on hand of the schematic representations shown in part 3, how high the ash content detected in each of the samples shown was. The mixing of the ashes with sand or alternation of layers of ashes and sand also allows for no conclusions favorable to Mattogno, insofar as it points to a procedure which, based on eyewitness testimonies, was described as follows by Yitzak Arad (hereinafter quoted after Kogon et al, as above page 190) in regard to Treblinka extermination camp:
Die Lagerführer standen vor dem Problem, wie sie Berge von Asche und Knochenstücken beseitigen sollten. Versuche, die Asche mit Staub und Sand zu vermischen, um sie so zu verstecken, schlugen fehl. Schließlich beschloß man, die Asche und die Knochenstücke in die leeren Gruben zurückzuschütten und sie mit einer dichten Schicht Sand und Abfall zu bedecken. In verschiedenen Schichten streute man die Asche, im Wechsel mit Lagen von Sand, in die Gruben. Die oberste Schicht bestand aus 2 m dicker Erde.
The camp commanders stood before the problem how they were to remove the mountains of ashes and bone fragments. Attempts to mix the ash with dust and sand in order to hide it were a failure. Finally it was decided to throw the ash and the bone fragments back into the empty pits and cover them with a thick layer of sand and waste. In several layers the ash, alternating with layers of sand, was poured into the pits. The upper layer consisted of earth 2 meters thick.
However, the graves were not found by Kola in their original composition of layers of ashes and sand, and the amount of ashes found should also have hardly corresponded to the original amount. This was due to a factor addressed by Kola and also (albeit in another context) by Mattogno, the extensively conducted robbery digs by treasure seekers after the war. On page 20 of his book Kola writes the following, assuming another explanation for the alternating layers of ash and sand than the one resulting from Arad’s above-quoted account:
The excavations proved many layers of body ashes mixed with sand in turn, which indicated that the pits were used in many stages, each time covered with a new sand layer. One can suppose that the ashes filled the pits completely, and only a very thin layer of surface soil was used as a cover. Therefore during the camp closing in 1943 year and levelling works taken up at that time, as well as robbery digs around the camp area directly after the war, the most part of body ashes was placed over the surface, and even now the presence of burnt bodies' traces is quite clear in the surface structures, particularly in the western and northern part of the camp. In those very parts the zone of graves was located.
The emphasis is mine. The above raises the question why Mattogno did not address this factor, which considerably diminishes the significance of his claims about the amount of ashes found.
What follows are the excerpts from Kola’s descriptions of the mass graves (except for graves nos. 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 20, 25, 27, 28, and 32, the descriptions of which were quoted in part 3), in which the shapes of the graves and the ashes or corpse layers found therein are described:
Grave # 2
[…]Crematory grave with the volume of about 170 m3.
Grave # 5
[…] The grave had a shape of irregular, lengthened rectangle with the size of 32,00 x 10,00 m, reaching the depth of over 4,50 m. It was of a homogenous contents. Studying the structure of it crematory layers and levelling ones were registered, which suggests multiple filling the grave with burnt relicts (compare particularly the sites No 1096 and 1097). The layer with the biggest thickness and intensity of crematory contents appeared in the lowest part of the pit and was about 1,00 m thick; above 50 cm thick layer of soil, 4 following layers of crematory remains appeared, separated from each other with 20-30 cm layers of sand. […]
Grave # 6
[…] It has a shape of a lengthened rectangle with the size of 30,00 x 10,00 m and the depth of 4,00 m. The ashes were scattered around the grave, reaching the depth of 1,00 m, according to the drill studies. It is homogenous crematory contents. […]
Grave # 7
[…] The traces of soil mixed with crematory remains were stated close to the pit. The pit was in shape close to a high trapezoid with the base sizes 13,00 and 14,00 m and the height of about 27 m. of the pit was over 4,50 m. The grave is homogenous with crematory remains. All the drills confirmed considerably crematory ashes and sand. The lowest layer (not drilled till the very bottom) with the thickness of over 1,50 m contained the most intensive traces of body ashes. […]
Grave # 8
[…]The general size of the bottom view in the shape of a lengthened rectangle amounts about 28,00 x 10,00 m. The analysis of the depth of particular drills indicates that originally 2 neighbouring graves existed, joined together in one in later times. The depth of the original graves was of about 4,00 m, and their bottom parts with thickness of about 2,00 m consisted of dense crematory remains. The fillings were covered with 20-30 cm layer of sand, coming probably from the soil part separating the graves. The ditch created that way, with the depth of 2,00 m was filled with body ashes, charcoal and brick rubble.[…]
Grave # 9
[…] Irregular shape of the grave reached the size of 8,00 x 10,00 m. The depth exceeds 3,80 m. The contents are crematory remains and charcoal. […]
Grave # 11
[…] Rather a small layer of crematory remains appears; at the depth of about 50 cm remains of musty wood were stated. The estimated volume ofthe grave amounts about 80 m3.
Grave # 12
[…] The irregular trapezoid's edges are as follows; 6,00, 16,00, 11,00, 5,00 and 18,00 m. The depth reaches below 4,00 m. The grave contains only crematory remains in some layers. In separating layers charcoal and brick rubble was stated. […]
Grave # 14
The vast grave basin of an irregular shape located in the western part of the fenced camp area (it goes to the west, beyond the present area) in ha IX, XIV and XV. […]variety in depth one can suppose that originally there were several neighbouring pits, destroyed during placing next crematory layers over them. The drills fillings contained numerous impurities (pieces of vessel glass, plastic). The crematory remains appear in the grave directly under the soil surface. […]
Grave # 15
[…] It was in a shape of a rectangle, with the size of about 13,50 x 6,50 m and reached the depth of about 4,50 m. The grave contains only crematory remains with their highest concentration in the bottom part. […]
Grave # 16
[…] It had a shape of a rectangle with the size of 18,50 x 9,50 m and the depth of about 4,00 m.[…] The grave contained crematory ashes in layers with sand. The shallow drills made close to the grave confirmed presence of burnt bones. The same structure of the grave contents was stated in the close to the surface layers as well. […]
Grave # 17
[…] The grave had a shape of a rectangle with the size of 17,00 x 7,50 m, reaching the depth up to about 4,00 m. The contents is made of crematory ashes. Burnt bones are also placed in layers with sand. […]
Grave # 18
[…] In bottom view the grave was in a shape of a rectangle with the size of 16,00 x 9,00 m, with the depth of about 4,00 m. The grave contains only crematory ashes and charcoal. […]
Grave # 19
[…] In bottom view the ditch had a shape of a square with sides of about 12,00 m. The depth is not more than 4,00 m. The grave contains crematory ashes with high density of human bones and charcoal. […]
Grave # 21
[…] The contents of the grave consists of crematory ashes, which were reported at the depth of 70 cm. […]
Grave # 22
[…]In the bottom view the grave has a shape close to a flattened triangle with the base of about 9,00 m and the height of 15,00 m. […]The grave contains crematory ashes and sand. The ashes appear here not earlier than from depth of 60-70 cm.
Grave # 23
[…] In the bottom view the pit had a shape of a rectangle with the size of 16,0 x 8,50 m, and depth exceeding 4,00 m.[…]The grave contains crematory ashes.[…]
Grave # 24
[…] It had a shape of a lengthened rectangle with the size of 20,00 x 5,50 m, with the depth of about 5,00 m. The grave contains irregular layers of crematory ashes and lime (it appeared at the depth of 2,60 m - the drill No 1561). The lowest layer of ashes with the thickness ca 60 cm was covered here with about 40 cm thick layer of sand. Above that regular surface of body ashes and sand are reported. […]
Grave # 26
[…]The grave has a shape of a rectangle with the size of 13,00 x 7,00 m and the depth of over 4,00 m.[…] It contains crematory ashes with clear layers of ashes, charcoal and sand.[…]
Grave # 29
[…] The grave of quite a large volume, lengthened, shaped of an irregular rectangle with the size of about 25,00 x 9,00 m and the maximum depth of about 4,50 m, located in the central part of ha IX, basing on 9 drills (No 1667, 1681, 1682, 1694-1697, 1702, 1703). […]The drills show varied stratigraphy of the grave, indicating the mixed filling of the volume of the ditch with crematory ashes structures. […]
Grave # 30
[…] The crematory remains are noted only from the depth of 2,70 m and they reached the ground bed (thickness of about 1,00 m). […]
Grave # 31
[…] The grave in bottom view had probably a shape of a rectangle with the size of 9,00 x 4,00 m, reaching the depth of 2,60 m. It is crematory ashes grave. The layers mixed with sandy soil appear from the depth of about 60 cm. […]
Grave # 33
[…]The grave contains mixed remains of crematory ashes and charcoal. […]
As one can see, the descriptions of the mass graves provide no more indications for establishing the amount of ash found or the thickth of the ash layers than the exemplificative schematic representations of a part of the drill samples. This means that Mattogno’s findings in this respect are obviously based on nothing but self-serving guesswork.
Last but not least here we have a somewhat funny issue, the animal remains that Kola, so Mattogno insinuates, was shy to mention. First of all, if Mattogno really looked as attentively at the schematically represented soil samples as he implies, he should hardly have missed sample 484/XV-30-55 from grave # 10 in Figure 13 on page 15 of Kola’s book, in which, a little above the drill’s blockade (obviously by a layer of human corpses) there is expressly mentioned the finding of canine tooth. This means that Kola had no problem with mentioning animal remains in the mass graves. Second and more important, Mr. Mattogno, who took the information about animal remains, allegedly omitted by Kola, from Tregenza’s above-mentioned article about Belzec (see footnote 270 on page 87), either didn’t read this article very attentively or is trying to mislead his readers. For the animal remains that Tregenza mentions in the Postscriptum to his article were found (together with a huge amount of human bones, according to Tregenza) not in the mass graves, but in excavations around the remains of the camp’s buildings! What is more, Kola himself (page 47) mentions that the earth mixture around Building "A" contained "also several dozens of human bones, partly burnt", and regarding building "E" he writes the following, on pages 58 f.:
A big number of animal bones was also observed in the layers inside the building. Most of them were excavated from the close to the surface layers (up to the depth of 70 cm) and they were probably placed there after the object had been pulled down.
Did Mattogno just read Kola’s book – the object of his assessment – and Tregenza’s article in a very sloppy manner? Or did he, in his attempt to accuse Kola of a dishonest omission, provide yet another example of his own dishonesty?
I’ll leave it to the readers of the present commentary to answer this question.
4.6 The "Actual" Surface Area of the Graves
4.7 Density of Corpses in the Graves