In episode 23 of the One Third of the Holocaust video, also viewable on You Tube, denierbud (hereinafter "Bud") undertakes to simulate the incineration of corpses at the Aktion Reinhard(t) (AR) camps in microcosm.
He places a thin domestic barbecue grill on concrete pillars 39 cm high, puts a 12 ½ pound leg of lamb on top of the grill and ignites 45 pounds of chopped wood below the lamb, after having sprayed a bit of what he claims is gasoline onto the leg from a water bottle. The first experiment takes place on a beach in the daytime, and it fails because a strong wind blows the flames aside and thus not much heat reaches the leg of lamb, which ignites only a little at the bottom. As the wood burns down, the distance between fire and incineration object becomes bigger; Bud claims that this is why the Hindus lay the bodies of their dead directly on the pyres with nothing in between, so that the body sags as the pyre does. In the evening, the wind gone, Bud repeats the experiment, bringing along 90 pounds of wood for this purpose. This time it works, but only, so Bud tells his viewers, because he tends the fire, regularly adding chunks of wood to keep the flames close to the limb. After about two hours, the incineration is completed. Bud points out that at Treblinka there was no one in charge of tending the fire, the way he did. They also had wind like he had in the daytime experiment, he believes. So, he reckons, the incineration of the murdered victims at the AR camps could not have worked as described by witnesses, and the Germans would never have implemented an incineration system so inefficient. Bud further tells his viewers that on maps of Treblinka – he shows one, obviously taken from Yitzhak Arad’s Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps – no facilities are shown for storing the enormous amounts of wood he claims would have been required for incinerating the corpses.
Several features of Bud’s experiment do not coincide with the conditions under which bodies were burned at the AR camps.
This is how the incineration process at Treblinka is described on pages 173 ff of Arad’s above-mentions book about the AR camps (emphases are mine):
The last camp where the cremation of the corpses was instituted was Treblinka. During Himmler’s visit to the camp at the end of February/beginning of March 1943, he was surprised to find that in Treblinka the corpses of over 700,000 Jews who had been killed there had not yet been cremated. The very fact that the cremation began immediately after his visit makes it more than possible that Himmler, who was very sensitive about the erasure of the crimes committed by Nazi Germany, personally ordered the cremating of the corpses there. A cremation site was erected for this purpose in the extermination area of the camp.
Some of the Jewish prisoners who were employed in the cremation operations in the camp escaped during the uprising in Treblinka and survived the war. Therefore, there is more information and evidence on the cremation process and installations in Treblinka than in the other death camps. The cremating structure consisted of a roaster made from five or six railroad rails laid on top of three rows of concrete pillars each 70 cm high. The facility was 30 meters wide. The bodies were removed from the pits by an excavator. Stangl, the camp commander, relates:
«It must have been at the beginning of 1943. That’s when excavators were brought in. Using these excavators, the corpses were removed from the huge ditches which had been used until then [for burial]. The old corpses were burned on the roasters, along with the new bodies [of new arrivals to the camp]. During the transition to the new system, Wirth came to Treblinka. As I recall, Wirth spoke of a Standartenführer who had experience in burning corpses. Wirth told me that according to the Standartenführer’s experience, corpses could be burned on a roaster, and it would work marvelously. I know that in the beginning [in Treblinka] they used rails from the trolley to build the cremation grill. But it turned out that these rails were too weak and bent in the heat. They were replaced with real railroad rails.»
The Standartenführer mentioned by Wirth in his conversation with Stangl was Paul Blobel, commander of Commando 1005. To introduce the cremation of corpses in Treblinka, experts were sent from the other Operation Reinhard camps. SS
Oberscharführer Heinrich Matthes, the commander of the “extermination area”, testified:
«At that time SS Oberscharführer or Hauptscharführer [Herbert] Floss, who, as I assume, was previously in another extermination camp, arrived. He was in charge of the arrangements for cremating the corpses. The cremation took place in such a way that railway lines and concrete blocks were placed together. The corpses were piled on these rails. Brushwood was put under the rails. The wood was doused with petrol. In that way not only the newly accumulated corpses were cremated, but also those taken out from the graves.»
Between 2,000 and 2,500 bodies – sometimes up to 3,000 – would be piled on the roaster. When all was ready, dry wood and branches, which had been laid under the roaster, were ignited. The entire construction, with the bodies, was quickly engulfed in fire. The railings would glow from the heat, and the flames would reach a height of up to 10 meters.
At first an inflammable liquid was poured onto the bodies to help them burn, but later this was considered unnecessary; the SS men in charge of the cremation became convinced that the corpses burned well enough without extra fuel.
Yechiel Reichman, a member of the “burning group”, writes:
«The SS “expert” on body burning ordered us to put women, particularly fat women, on the first layer of the grill, face down. The second layer could consist of whatever was brought – men, women, or children – and so on, layer on top of layer … Then the “expert” ordered us to lay dry branches under the grill and to light them. Within a few minutes the fire would take so it was difficult to approach the crematorium from as far as 50 meters away … The work was extremely difficult. The stench was awful. Liquid excretions from the corpses squirted all over the prisoner-workers. The SS man operating the excavator often dumped the corpses directly onto the prisoners working nearly, wounding them seriously …»
The bodies of victims brought to Treblinka in transports arriving after the body-burning began were taken directly from the gas chambers to the roasters and were not buried in the ditches. These bodies did not burn as well as those removed from the ditches and had to be sprayed with fuel before they would burn.
The body-burning went on day and night. The corpses were transferred and arranged on the roasters during the day; at nightfall they were lit, and they burned throughout the night. When the fire went out, there were only skeletons or scattered bones on the roasters, and piles of ash underneath.
Also of interest, because it contains further information about the size of the grill, is the following excerpt (my translation) from the judgment at the first Düsseldorf Treblinka trial, which is transcribed here:
After the most diverse burning attempts had been made for this purpose, a large burning facility was constructed. It consisted of concrete bases about 70 cm high, on which 5 to 6 railway rails about 25 to 30 meters long lay in small intervals.
A description of the Sobibor device is given in the following excerpt from the judgment of the Hagen district court at the trial against Karl Frenzel et al, 11 Ks 1/64, quoted on page 188 of Kogon/Langbein/Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (my translation):
The already decomposed corpses were dragged out of the pits with an excavator and burned on huge roasters in an already dug, but still empty pit. The roasters consisted of old railway rails, which were lain over concrete foundations.
The Sobibor roasters, according to the evidence on which the Hagen court based its findings of fact, were inside a pit.
Regarding Treblinka, there is evidence that a pit was also present, though the grid was not inside but above the pit. In his interrogation by Soviet counterintelligence on 20 February 1945, one of the former Ukrainian guards of Treblinka extermination camp, Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko, described the structure as follows:
An incinerator from the burning of bodies was situated about 10 meters beyond the large gas chamber building. It had the shape of a cement pit about one meter deep and 20 meters long. A series of furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails extended along the entire length of one of the walls of the pit. The bodies were laid on the rails, caught fire from the flames burning in the furnaces and burned. About 1000 bodies were burned simultaneously. The burning process lasted up to five hours.
A comparison between Leleko’s description and the one contained in the above-mentioned Düsseldorf judgment suggests that the "furnaces" mentioned by Leleko were subdivisions of the pit by concrete blocks placed at certain intervals across the pit, which gave this witness the impression that each part of the pit between its ends and a concrete block or in between concrete blocks, in which fire was burning, was a "furnace". Both the description in the Düsseldorf judgment and Arad’s description suggest that the concrete blocks stood 70 cm above ground, which can be matched with Leleko’s description by assuming that these were either blocks 1.70 meters high placed inside the pit and protruding from the pit for 70 cm, or blocks 70 cm high placed on the rims of the pit, the distance between the bottom of the rails and the bottom of the pit being, in any case, 1.70 meters.
We will now look at the following four aspects in which Bud’s experiments differ from the above-quoted data about corpse incinerations at Treblinka and Sobibor:
1. Size and configuration of the roaster
2. Fuel used for incineration
3. Object to be incinerated
1. Size and configuration of the roaster: At Treblinka, according to the descriptions quoted above, each roaster consisted of railroad rails laid on top of concrete blocks placed inside or on the lateral rims of a pit 1 meter deep, there being a distance of 70 cm between the bottom of the rails and the top of the pit and a distance of 1.70 meters between the bottom of the rails and the bottom of the pit. The facility was 20 meters long according to Leleko, 25 to 30 meters long according to the witness or witnesses on whose testimony the Düsseldorf court based its findings of fact in this respect. I’ll take the mean of the three values, which is 25 meters. How wide the structure was depends on the number of rails making up the grid, their width and the space in between the rails. The measurements of various types of flat bottom rails are given in this table; most of these rails are 125 mm = 12.5 cm wide at the base. If the rails were placed on the concrete blocks according to base width, which seems to be the likeliest configuration, and if the intervals between them were no more than 50 cm, the width of the structure was 2 meters, 2.625 meters or 3.25 meters, depending on whether the grill consisted of four, five or six rails (the differences between Leleko’s number and those of the witness or witnesses on whose testimony the data in the Düsseldorf judgment are based may be due to the fact that the several structures of this kind in operation at Treblinka had different sizes). I’ll use the middle of these three values, 2.625 meters. The average area of one roaster at Treblinka would thus be 65.625 square meters, and the volume of space underneath the same about 112 cubic meters. The size of the facility at Sobibor is not known, but according to the Hagen court it was a large pit with a roaster inside it, also consisting of railroad rails. About the Belzec structure not much is known except that it was probably similar to that used at Treblinka.
To simulate these huge structures, Bud simply placed a thin domestic barbecue grill over two concrete pillars 39 centimeters high and about (my estimate, as Bud doesn’t provide the data) 1 meter away from each other. How, by what calculations and considerations, did he make sure that a) these structures could be adequately modeled on a reduced scale and b) his arrangement was an adequate scale model of the simulated structures? The length, width and height of the structure, in absolute terms or in relation to the mass to be incinerated, may have an influence on the amount of air circulation, which in turn influences the duration and intensity of the combustion process. The same may be of true of the relation between the structure’s measurements, the number of bars that the grill consists of and the distance between these bars. It may also make a difference whether you use railroad rails, the flat surface of which, once they have been sufficiently heated from underneath, will probably give off a lot of heat, or the thin bars of a domestic grill, which may accumulate and give off heat to a much lesser extent. There’s no indication that Bud took any of these factors into consideration, except for his unsubstantiated claim that the lower height of his grid (in relation to the above-ground height of the Treblinka structure, not considering the pit mentioned by Leleko) is compensated by a relatively much higher amount of corpse/carcass matter burned on the Treblinka grids. Yet he claims to have demonstrated that burning corpses or carcasses on grills over open fires is a conceptually inefficient method, as opposed to placing the corpse directly onto the burning wood pyre as practiced in Hindu funerals.
Actually, the latter is a comparatively inefficient and fuel-intensive incineration method, whereas the former can be a highly efficient method of disposing of animal carcasses or human corpses if it is done correctly, the adequate size and configuration of the structure being one factor of a proper arrangement. The source behind this statement is an incineration expert of the early 20th Century, a German engineer by the name of Wilhelm Heepke. This expert’s considerations are quoted at some length in Carlo Mattogno’s otherwise unremarkable article Combustion Experiments with Flesh and Animal Fat, which may be the subject of closer examination in the future (the fallacies of one of Mattogno’s experiments described in this article have been exposed on the Axis History Forum by the poster "Pangea" in his post of 13 Dec 2004 20:35). Engineer Heepke, however, is not responsible for who refers to his writings and conclusions, and what Mattogno has quoted from these is interesting indeed.
The first of Mattogno’s quotes from Heepke’s writings refers to a procedure somewhat similar to a Hindu funeral pyre, the burning of a carcass on a pyre of firewood inside a pit:
The simplest procedure is to dig a pit 2.5 m long and 1.5 m wide and deep in the vicinity of the carcass and to fill it almost completely with firewood logs about 1 m long. In order to achieve a good draft, the wood must be stacked lengthwise and crosswise in alternate layers; it must first be soaked in petroleum to ensure good and rapid burning. The easiest way to do this is by means of a narrow pail or bucket filled with petroleum, with both ends of each log being dipped into the liquid. It is also recommended to line the sidewalls of the pit with such logs placed vertically and close together.
The carcass will be placed on the pyre with its opened abdomen downwards. A narrow channel of the width of a spade leading upwards at an angle from the bottom of the pit at each short side will allow the pyre to be lit easily; once the fire is lit, the openings of the channels must be closed by means of earth. The fire should develop rapidly, heat loss to the sides is minimal, thus, the heat will be concentrated on the carcass; the latter will progressively sink down into the pit and be completely consumed. During the first hours of the process, it is necessary to add more wood, even though the fat flowing down [from the carcass, transl.] will itself act as fuel for the fire.
This procedure, however, is relatively fuel-intensive; according to Heepke:
For the burning of a large carcass of some 250 - 300 kg in weight, using the procedure described above, over a duration of 5 - 6 hours, the fuel requirements will be approx. 2.5 cubic meters of good firewood and 35 liters of petroleum.
Calculations using wood heating values from this site show that the 2.5 cubic meters of wood mentioned by Heepke would correspond to at least (taking the lower weight per cord in each case) 613.21 kg of dry Jeffery pine wood, 888.52 of dry birch wood or 1,178.23 kg of dry oak wood for 250 to 300 kg of carcass. The respective wood weight to carcass weight ratios would be the following:
Jeffery pine: 2.04:1 (for 300 kg) or 2.45:1 (for 250 kg)
Birch: 2.96:1 (for 300 kg) or 3.55:1 (for 250 kg)
Oak: 3.93:1 (for 300 kg) or 4.71:1 (for 250 kg)
The average of the above ratios is a ratio of about 3.28 to 1.
Taking the higher weights per cord for the above-mentioned types given on the same site, the amounts required to burn 250 to 300 kg of carcass would, respectively, be 788.41 kg of dry Jeffery pine wood, 1,141.94 kg of dry birch wood and 1,514.25 kg of dry oak wood. The respective wood weight to carcass weight ratios would be the following:
Jeffery pine: 2.63:1 (for 300 kg) or 3.15:1 (for 250 kg)
Birch: 3.81:1 (for 300 kg) or 4.57:1 (for 250 kg)
Oak: 5.05:1 (for 300 kg) or 6.06:1 (for 250 kg)
The average of the above ratios is a ratio of about 4.21 to 1.
A more fuel-efficient method, according to Heepke, is the combustion of carcasses on iron grids. Heepke describes two variants of this method, one in which the grid rests on the long side of the pit containing the fuel that helps the burning and one in which the grid is inside the pit, resting on a section of the pit deeper and more narrow than the rest, which contains the fuel. For the latter arrangement, which he recommends as the better, Heepke provides a sketch and the following exact specifications regarding the configuration of the structure and the procedure to be adopted:
Fig. 2 shows a better arrangement [see document 1]. The pit is 1.5 m deep, but only 1.0 m wide in its lower part; thus, at a level of 0.75 m, there will be shoulders 0.5 m wide on either side, on which iron beams can be secured. Before placing the carcass on the grid, the bottom of the pit will be covered with a thick layer of straw and highly flammable material and the remainder, up to the level of the rails, filled with the main fuel being used. For an easier inspection of the animal, the free space between the rails will be covered with planks a suitable thickness. Any organs removed, being difficult to ignite, will be placed on the edge of the pit, to be pushed into the pit once combustion has progressed sufficiently. After the autopsy, the planks will simply be pulled away from under the carcass and left in the pit as extra fuel. The animal will then be turned over in such a way that the open abdomen will face downwards, and the straw at the bottom of the pit will be ignited.
Either of the variants using iron grid burns more quickly and economically than the "simplest procedure" described before, according to experiments conducted using both methods. Heepke:
Using both methods for burning on grids, the official veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne made a series of experiments, the main results of which are shown in Table I [see document 2]. The table tells us that the second method (trials IV, V, and VI), in which the grid is placed inside the pit, is to be preferred over the first, as the duration is reduced by a factor of 1.5 and the fuel consumption is lower. We also note a reduction in time for the digging of the pit as well as a certain independence from the wind. In this latter respect, we must assume that trials I - III were undertaken at a time of particularly little wind, otherwise the results obtained would have been even worse.
As can be seen in Heepke’s Table I, the "worse" trials I – III differ from the "better" trials IV, V and VI especially in what concerns the duration of the process, not so much as concerns the fuel requirements. The average fuel weight to carcass weight ratio in trials I to III is 0.55; in trials IV to VI it is 0.50. This relatively low fuel consumption, much lower than that of the "simplest procedure" of placing the carcasses directly on the pyre without using a grid, poises a problem for Mattogno, which he tries to solve with the following explanation:
It can be seen from the experiments described by Heepke that the ratio of fuel to flesh is always less than one; in other words, the combustion of one kilogram of flesh requires less than one kilogram of fuel - more precisely, between 0.39 and 0.80 kilograms of wood. We have to state, though, that the aim of the experiments was only to render hygienically harmless the carcasses of animals that had died from infectious diseases; for this, a more or less complete carbonization was all that was required. That the result was not an incineration, i.e., a complete reduction of the carcass to ash, can be deduced from the fact that Heepke published a table reflecting the practical results of animal incinerators built by the H. Kori company of Berlin (see document 4). The results show that the largest type of equipment of this kind, oven 4b, was able to incinerate 900 kg of flesh in 12 1/2 hours using 300 kg of hard coal. This fuel has a heating value 2.5 times that of ordinary wood; hence, such an oven would have required as much or even more wood than a burning pit - which is obviously impossible.
Mattogno’s claim that the grid burning trials described by Heepke resulted only in a "more or less complete carbonization" rather than a complete reduction of the carcass to ash is somewhat less than convincing for several reasons. One is that Heepke obviously doesn’t mention such restriction, and as he compares the methods involving a grid to the "simplest procedure", that of burning the carcass on a pyre leading to the carcass’s being "completely consumed", it stands to reason that this must also have been the result of the methods he described as alternatives to this "simplest procedure". Another reason is that open-air pits may have a better draft than the animal incinerators operating at the time of Heepke’s studies, which may have accounted for similar or lower fuel consumption in the former, even though Mattogno considers this "obviously impossible". Yet another reason is that the open-air burning experiments described by Heepke made use not only of wood, but also of highly flammable substances like straw, tar and resin, the calorific contributions of which must be added to that of the wood for a proper comparison. In trials I to III of Table I they also used brown coal, the heating value of which, according to the same table, is about one-third higher than that of wood. Finally, the procedure of removing the animals’ organs and adding them to the fire only once combustion had progressed sufficiently, which apparently was also a factor of fuel efficiency in the trials of Heepke’s recommended grid-burning method, was probably not applied in the operation of the Kori animal incinerators mentioned by Heepke. It thus seems arguable that the result of Heepke’s grid burning experiments was the same as that of the "simplest procedure" of pyre burning or that of the burning in a contemporary animal incinerator, i.e. a complete combustion of the carcass. In this context it might be worth pointing out that present-day guidelines for disposing of carcasses of diseased animals obviously require complete incineration, and not mere carbonization, as a necessary means to eliminate pathogens. Thus this Regulatory Guidance for Disposal and Decontamination states on page 5 that
The use of accelerants such as diesel fuel, or auxiliary fuels such as wood and straw is required to achieve the combustion temperatures necessary for the complete destruction of animal carcasses.
According to the January 2005 TAHC Report, fixed whole carcass incineration, in which «whole carcasses or carcass portions can be completely burned and reduced to ash», leads to effective inactivation of pathogens (page 7), whereas pyre burning is considered problematic because it «has no verification of pathogen inactivation» and carries a possibility of «particulate transmission from incomplete combustion» (page 8). These sources obviously would not consider mere carbonization as sufficient to «render hygienically harmless the carcasses of animals that had died from infectious diseases», and Mattogno has not produced a contemporary source showing that animal health requirements were less stringent in Germany in the early 20th Century.
The procedure adopted at Sobibor, according to the above-quoted excerpt from the Hagen court’s judgment, was very similar to the grid burning procedure that Heepke considered the most efficient, that with the grid inside the pit. The procedure adopted at Treblinka, on the other hand, was more like trials I to III in Heepke’s Table I, except that there was a space between the bottom of the grid and the top of the pit, corresponding to the above-ground height of the concrete blocks. The reason for this is not clear, but it is possible that the creator of this structure wanted more air assisting the incineration than was provided by the grid structure anyway. More air means less fuel, according to these guidelines:
Carcasses can be incinerated (burned) in different ways including: Open-air: burning carcasses in open fields on flammable heaps (pyres).Pits: the confined space of a pits helps prevent the fire from spreading to other areas. Because the carcasses are not exposed to as much air (open-air burning), extra fuel or air must be added to the pits to help the fire stay lit..
One detail worth noting in this context is that the result of corpse incineration at Treblinka may have been less than complete reduction to ash in a great many cases, judging by the findings of Polish investigation commissions quoted after Mattogno & Graf in my article Polish investigations of the Treblinka killing site were a complete failure … (emphases are mine):
The largest of the craters produced by explosions (numerous fragments attest to the fact that these explosions were set off by bombs), which is at maximum 6 meters deep and has a diameter of about 25 meters – its walls give recognizable evidence of the presence of a large quantity of ashes as well as human remains – was further excavated in order to discover the depth of the pit in this part of the camp. Numerous human remains were found by these excavations, partially still in a state of decomposition.  The soil consists of ashes interspersed with sand, is of a dark gray color and granulous in form. During the excavations, the soil gave off an intense odor of burning and decay. At a depth of 7.5 meters the bottom was reached, which consisted of layers of unmixed sand. At this point the digging was stopped here.
In the northwestern section of the area, the surface is covered for about 2 hectares by a mixture of ashes and sand. In this mixture, one finds countless human bones, often still covered with tissue remains, which are in a condition of decomposition. During the inspection, which I made with the assistance of an expert in forensic medicine, it was determined that the ashes are without any doubt of human origin (remains of cremated human bones). The examination of human skulls could discover no trace of« wounding. At a distance of some 100 m, there is now an unpleasant odor of burning and decay.
The same is suggested by the following passage of Leleko’s deposition on 21.02.1945 (emphasis is mine):
The parts of the body that had burned but had preserved their natural shape were put into a special mortar and pounded into flour. This was done in order to hide the traces of the crimes committed. Later on the ashes were buried in deep pits.
At any rate, we can conclude that burning corpses or carcasses on an iron grid structure is by no means the conceptually inefficient method as which Bud presents it. On the contrary, it was a widely used method for disposing of carcasses in engineer Heepke’s time, and with a proper arrangement and procedure it was also an efficient, fuel-saving method.
2. Fuel used for incineration: Bud placed chunks of chopped wood under his grill, there being no indication that he drenched it with gasoline. According to the evidence referred to in the above quotes, what they placed under the roaster’s grid was wholly or chiefly brush wood, and this was doused with petrol. According to the same evidence, the bodies of the victims incinerated right after the gassing, as opposed to the corpses of decomposed victims, wouldn’t burn unless they were sprayed with fuel. Bud allegedly does the same, at least during his daytime experiment at the windy beach: he sprinkles a little of what he states to be gasoline out of a water bottle onto the leg of lamb, he tells his viewers. However, I can’t help pointing out that what comes out of that water bottle looks more like water than like gasoline, and I also would expect a huge flame to shoot up from the leg of lamb as the flames reach the gasoline supposedly poured upon it. Yet none of this is visible in any of the film sequences. Could it be that Bud was cheating, that what he poured onto the leg of lamb was actually just water, thus making the incineration more difficult instead of enhancing it? The amount of whatever liquid he used is also notably small; a source we will look at later on suggests that this incineration method required a lot of petrol to be poured on the bodies, so it would be reasonable to assume that, also at the AR camps, the "fresh" bodies were soaked in the liquid. Regarding Bud’s nighttime experiment, there is no mention of
Bud having sprayed "gasoline" onto the leg of lamb, and again there is also no mention of the wood underneath the grid having been doused with gasoline.
Bud lets his chopped-wood logs placidly burn under the grill and waits for the flames and heat from these burning logs to consume his leg of lamb; he claims that, in his nighttime experiment, the leg of lamb, which has obviously ignited already, would stop burning were it not for the fire underneath. This seems somewhat dubious if you look at the flames emerging from the burning meat, and this viewer also had the impression that, in the nighttime experiment, most of the flames were not even needed to burn the leg of lamb, but burned idly into the night. Would this have been the way in which official veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne conducted their cattle burning experiments with the grid burning methods described by engineer Heepke, in which they managed to incinerate their objects with an average of 0.55 to 0.50 kg of fuel per kg of carcass? I don’t think so. The efficiency of burning a carcass on an iron grid seems to depend on causing a huge, blazing, hot flame from below to evaporate the moisture inside the carcass and ignite the same as quickly as possible, after which the burning will be dependent to a lesser degree on the flames coming up from the external fuel and rely mainly on air circulation, the carcass’s own combustion properties and the heat of the iron grid. Accordingly Heepke is very specific in recommending the use of «a thick layer of straw and highly flammable material» at the bottom of the pit for the method he considers most adequate, the apparent intention behind this being to obtain a rapidly developing, strongly burning fire. The SS at Treblinka proceeded more or less in this manner: they didn’t have straw but they must have had plenty of dry brushwood, from constant renewals of the camp fences’ camouflage cover plus what they kept cutting in the nearby woods, and they doused it in petrol to provide for what eyewitnesses described as a blazing, almost explosive flame, quickly engulfing the bodies and igniting them. In order to further help and speed up the ignition of those corpses that were difficult to burn, the ones of people incinerated right after gassing, they furthermore poured liquid fuel onto the corpses, a method that Heepke doesn’t mention. Whether they also used larger firewood in addition to the brushwood is unclear; some witnesses apparently mention it whereas others (e.g. Matthes and Reichmann, see above quote) do not. What neither the SS at Treblinka nor the veterinary doctors applying the methods described by Heepke did, however, was to make a nice, tended camp fire underneath the grids and wait for the corpses to be consumed thereby. Both the SS at Treblinka and veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne rather strove to quickly reach a point at which the corpses or carcasses themselves would ignite and after which the corpses or carcasses would more or less sustain their own combustion. Note that in regard to the grid burning experiments, unlike in his description of the "simplest procedure" of burning the carcass directly on a pyre, Heepke doesn’t mention the addition of any fuel to the initial amount once the burning process is under way.
Further corroboration of the functionality of the grid burning method applied at the AR camps comes from one occasion in which the same method was applied, albeit with smaller grids and on a comparatively reduced scale, for body disposal in the aftermath of a bombing attack. Of the victims of the bombing of Dresden by the British and American air forces on 13/14 February 1945, a total of 6,865 were burned on one of the city’s squares, the Altmarkt, on roasters made of steel girders. Unlike is the case with the incineration grids of the AR camps, of which no photographic evidence is known, there are several photographs of these Dresden grids. This very graphic picture from the German Historical Museum shows mangled bodies of victims of the Dresden bombing heaped upon a grid prior to incineration. This also very graphic picture gives an idea of the configuration and size of the grid. This picture from an article featured on David Irving’s website shows an incineration grid while burning, with what looks like heaps of ashes and bone fragments from a previous incineration in front of it.
The standard defense of "Revisionists" when confronted with evidence that what they claim couldn’t have worked at Treblinka obviously did work at Dresden is the allegation, sometimes supported by photographs showing mangled, burned bodies of victims piled up prior to incineration or at the beginning of the incineration process, that the corpses at Dresden were only partially incinerated prior to burial for the purpose of eliminating disease carriers – an argument similar to that advanced by Mattogno to cope with the apparent fuel-efficiency of Heepke’s grid burning methods, see above. However, such claims are belied by a publication that should be well known at least to those in the "Revisionist" scene who like to bemoan the "Dresden Holocaust", David Irving’s Apocalypse 1945. The Destruction of Dresden. On pages 231 f. of that book we read the following (emphases are mine):
The whole of the city centre around the Altmarkt had already been cordoned off. relatives who stumbled across the still-impassable streets of the inner city were waved away by police and Party officials. Wagon loads of corpses were now being driven to the frontiers of this cordoned area by SHD and forced labourers, and there handed over to army drivers and officers. The wagons were driven on to the centre of the Altmarkt, and there their terrible loads were tipped onto the cobbled paving.
Scores of police officials were at work here, making last efforts to identify the people, and sworn to secrecy about what was happening. The Steel girders had been winched out of the ruins of the Renner department store on the Altmarkt and these had been laid across crudely collected piles of sandstone blocks. A gigantic grill over twenty-feet long was being erected. Under the steel girders and bars were poked bundles of wood and straw. On top of the grill were heaped the corpses, four or five hundred at a time, with more straw between each layer. The soldiers trampled up and down on top of this rotting heap, straightening the victims, trying to make room for more, and carefully building the stack. Many of the dead children sandwiched into these terrible pyres were still wearing the colourful carnival clothes that they had donned so eagerly two weeks before.
Finally gallons of gasoline, sorely needed though it was throughout the whole Reich, were poured over the stacks of victims. A senior officer cleared the Altmarkt square of all unnecessary by-standers, and set a match to the heap. Once again thick black smoke coiled up from the centre of the Dresden Altmarkt—as it had two weeks before, and as it had indeed in 1349: history records how almost six hundred years earlier the Margrave of Meissen, Frederick II, had had his enemies burned at the stake here in the Altmarkt; they were the Jews, accused of introducing the Plague. By a cruel coincidence the burning had also fallen on Shrove Tuesday carnival day.
In the late hours of the evening the grill was re-erected over a different part of the square. Nazi Party officials saw to it that the ashes and charred bones were collected and taken to the cemeteries to be buried too.
In spite of their attempts to keep secret the fate of the victims who had been swallowed up by the ruined emptiness of the inner city, the story did leak out. Some citizens, probably risking their lives, made their way to the Altmarkt to check on the rumours. One man, Walter Hahn, a veteran photographer who had spent his life capturing this ‘Florence of the Elbe’ and the surrounding countryside on film, obtained an official pass signed by the gauleiter on February 25, and took a score of photographs of the infernal scene in black and white and colour—photographs which helped belay the allegations that the ‘mass funeral pyres’ were a product of Dr Goebbels’ propaganda.12
It took several small horse drawn carts and ten large trucks with trailers to carry the ashes to the Heidefriedhof cemetery. Here the ashes of several thousand of the victims who had thus been publicly cremated were buried in a pit twenty-five feet long and sixteen feet wide. In Colonel Thierig’s report signed in mid March is this paragraph confirming the numbers cremated by that date:
Because of the rapid decomposition of the bodies and the exceptional difficulties encountered in recovering them as well as the lack of suitable transport to convey them to the cemeteries, the approval of the Gauleiter [Martin Mutschmann] and the city authority was obtained to cremate altogether 6,865 bodies on the Altmarkt. The ashes of the victims were transported to a cemetery. Ownerless air-raid and travel-baggage and valuables were also salvaged by the local civil defence director.13
It was not in fact the first time that the suggestion had been mooted to cremate air raid victims in public squares to speed the salvage operations. The report of the police president of Hamburg on the firestorm there also described how ‘to prevent epidemics and for reasons of morale it was decided to burn the bodies at the site where they had been found or in the fire-storm area. But after due deliberation it was determined that there was no risk of an epidemic so burial was resumed in common graves.’14
The result of this incineration process was clearly ashes, according to Irving, not just carbonized corpses. Assuming that each of these 6,865 dead bodies weighed 50 kg on average, all corpses burned on the Altmarkt weighed 343,250 kg or 343.25 tons. The minimum weight of the ash, according to Carlo Mattogno’s calculations quoted in section 4.5 of my article Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research, would have been 5 % hereof or ca. 17.2 tons, corresponding to twice that many (34.4) cubic meters of ash. Ten trucks is too much for that even if they are only 3-ton trucks, so either Irving or his source exaggerated, or more trucks than absolutely necessary were used, or the bodies were burned into more coarse ashes than in Mattogno’s meat burning experiment underlying his 5 % figure. The measurements of the pit described by Irving were 25 x 16 feet or roughly 8 x 5 meters = 40 square meters. If the pit was as deep as a normal grave, i.e. ca. 2 meters, then the ashes would fill up less or more than half of that pit, depending on how thorough the incineration was, the remainder of the pit’s contents being soil.
Now, if we look at Irving’s description of the grid and the procedure, we see that it is about the same as the description of the grids at Treblinka, except that the latter were bigger and had a pit underneath. Just like at Treblinka, solid flammables were placed under the grid for igniting the bodies (except that there is no mention of the wood and straw being doused with gasoline at Dresden). Just like at Treblinka (at least in what concerns the "fresh" bodies burned right after gassing, as opposed to the decomposed corpses taken out of the mass graves), liquid fuel was poured over the bodies to make them burn. Irving’s description suggests huge amounts of gasoline, and there’s no reason to assume that they didn’t use a lot of gasoline, even more because the grids were bigger, at Treblinka as well.
I am aware that David Irving is a problematic source, the fallacies of his research and use of evidence, also in what concerns the Dresden bombing, having been exposed in the course of his lawsuit against Deborah Lipstadt. I have therefore checked Irving’s description of the incinerations on the Altmarkt against other sources, with a focus on whether the corpses were actually burned to ashes there. I found no sources contradicting Irving’s claims, but two German sources completely independent of Irving confirming that the result of the incineration was ashes and that these ashes were buried on the Heidefriedhof cemetery. One is a brief description of this cemetery, which includes the following information (my translation):
1945 burial of thousands of victims of the bombing attack, including burial of the ashes of the dead burned on the Altmarkt.
The other is a dissertation by Peter Fibich for obtaining the degree of Dr.-Engineer, about the landscaping-architectural arrangement of memorials and memorial cemeteries for those persecuted by National Socialism, which is available online here. On page 99 of this dissertation, which dedicates several pages to the Dresden Heidefriedhof cemetery, there is the following information (my translation and emphasis):
In 1943/44 the burial of tens of thousands of civilian war victims is also prepared in Dresden, the city so far largely spared by bombing attacks. Starting at the ceremony square, eight mass grave fields are reserved on an area of 7,900 m². Ash remains of non-identifiable victims are to be buried in a special grave at the end of the axial area. The planning also shows a new quality insofar as the bombing victims are not to be buried individually at their relatives’ request, as had been done so far – for instance after the air attack on 7.10.1944. This planning, which refutes the myth of the completely surprising destruction of Dresden, proves to be necessary to a shattering extent. Dresden is largely destroyed by an area bombardment in the night of 13 to 14 February 1945. The dead, about the number of which there are differing data to this day,287 are generally buried without coffins in the foreseen mass graves. Due to the threat of epidemics, another 6868 dead are burned on a pyre on the Altmarkt, and the ashes – also as foreseen – are buried at the end of the axis.
Fibich’s dissertation confirms the existence of a mass grave at the Heidefriedhof cemetery, mentioned by Irving, in which the remains of the victims burned on the Altmarkt were buried. Like the previously quoted description of this cemetery, it also matches Irving’s description of these remains as having been ashes.
Further corroboration of Irving’s description comes from British historian Frederick Taylor, who addresses the Altmarkt incinerations on pages 350 f. and 447 of his 2004 book Dresden: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1945. Emphases in the following quotes from Taylor’s book are mine.
[pages 351 f.]
After the idea of burying them instead in the city parks was abandoned for public health reasons, a drastic but effective solution was found. Instead of carting and trucking corpses out of the cemetery, the dead from the streets and cellars of the Altstadt were transported to the great expanse of the Altmarkt, where flower markets had once been a famous feature, and less than five years earlier bands had played and vast crowds had cheered Dresden’s Fourth Infantry Regiment as it returned from the war against the French, apparently victorious. A more terrible contrast than the scenes that commenced on February 21 could not be imagined.
The great water tank built in the previous winter in the Altmarkt to supply the fire service had itself filled with the drowned and boiled bodies of those who had mistakenly sought refuge there. Once those were cleared, and rubble swept, the square was sealed off. Then began the work. Corpses were shipped in and laid out ready for registration and, if possible, identification. Searching for ways of keeping them off the ground – and allowing a draft under the planned funeral pyres – workers found a solution in the wreck of a nearby department store, where massive window shutters had survived the bombing. They carried them from the ruins and set them down on the ground, making, as a contemporary grimly expressed it, "huge grill racks."
Large amounts of gasoline were trucked into the sealed city center. Teams poured petrol over the bodies as they lay piled on the shutters. Then the dead were burned at the rate of one pyre per day, with around five hundred corpses per pyre. The task was efficiently done. To reduce that number of human remains to fine ash without access to a purpose-built crematorium is a technically problematic process. It was carried out under the supervision of outside SS experts. They were said to be former staff from the notorious extermination camp at Treblinka.
Between February 21 and March 5, when the last pyre was lit, 6,865 bodies were burned on the Altmarkt. Afterward, when the fire cooled down, it was estimated that between eight and ten cubic meters of ash covered the cobbled surface of the medieval square. The SS in charge of the burning had intended to transport the ashes out to the Heath Cemetery in boxes and sacks and bury them containers and all, but municipal parsimony triumphed. In the end the ashes were simply emptied out of their containers and into the prepared pits, thus enabling the valuable sacks and boxes to be reused.
Earlier writers, including Irving, had perforce accepted figures provided by Herr Zeppenfeld, the head gardener of the Heidefriedhof, the huge cemetery on the heath outside the city limits. There, by general agreement, the vast majority of the dead from the air raid were buried in mass graves. Zeppenfeld, who had commanded one of the eight teams charged with the recovery and burial of the bodies, was quoted by Seydewitz in his 1955 book as saying that they had counted all the bodies buried there, plus the ashes of the "nine thousand" incinerated on the Altmarkt between the third week of February and the second week of March 1945 (though, as we know, this number was almost certainly too high if we accept the total of 6,865 corpses noted in the genuine version of TB47). The total had come to 28,746.[…]
In 1993, however, four years after the collapse of communism, documents from the municipal cemetery office were found in the Dresden City Archive. These provided, for the first time, a detailed official breakdown of how many bodies had been buried by the Dresden authorities after the raid, and where. The burials had been undertaken with great thoroughness (like almost everything else associated with the aftermath of the Dresden raid) and totals reported regularly to the city authorities. The total buried in the Heidefriedhof between February and the end of April 1945 turned out to have been 17,295, including the ashes of the incinerated victims from the Altmarkt.
Taylor’s description differs from those of Irving and Fibich in that it mentions several pits (and not just one) into which the ashes of the incinerated bodies were dumped. It also mentions an estimate of an amount of ashes that is significantly lower than that suggested by Irving’s description and my calculations based on Mattogno’s experimental data – this may be related to the fact that who made the estimate did not see the ashes of all incinerations on the Altmarkt, as a part thereof had already been taken to the cemetery. On the other hand, Taylor's description confirms the method described by Irving, the use of high amounts of gasoline for the incineration, the secrecy surrounding the operation and the attempts made to identify the victims prior to incineration; the latter two factors may have been one reason, besides the lack of material required to build more and bigger grids and the time it took to get bodies dug out from under he ruins to the place of burning, why the incinerations on the Altmarkt were carried out at a rate of only 500 per day. Taylor’s description of how the remains left over after incineration were packed into boxes or sacks and from there dumped into pits leaves no room for doubt that these remains were ashes – Taylor even describes them as "fine" ashes and points out the efficiency of the incineration process. His account also highlights the importance of «allowing a draft under the mass funeral pyres», which was the reason for implementing the grid structure. Last but not least, Taylor mentions the probable presence of SS-experts from Treblinka extermination camp, which seems plausible considering the similarity between the incineration procedure adopted on a much larger scale at Treblinka and that applied at Dresden. It stands to reason that people with experience in building such structures and incinerating bodies on them would be called in to handle the Dresden emergency, and who better for this purpose than former SS-staff of Treblinka? The presence of such experts, incidentally, was also mentioned by German historian Wolfgang Scheffler in a roundtable discussion published in the 1979 book Im Kreuzfeuer: Der Fernsehfilm Holocaust, edited by Peter Märthesheimer and Ivo Frenzel, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag Franfurt am Main. On page 271 of that book, Scheffler mentions that the incinerations on the Altmarkt were partially carried out by Ukrainian auxiliaries who, as members of the Streibel battalion from Trawniki, had previously carried out similar tasks in extermination camps.
According to both Irving and Taylor, the bodies were reduced to ashes using a method very similar to that applied at the AR camps, which involved a grid structure and the use of high amounts of liquid fuel; Irving additionally mentions wood and straw underneath the grid and straw in between the bodies, while Taylor highlights the importance of the draft provided for by the grid structure. All sources consulted confirm the efficient incineration of almost 7,000 dead bodies on the Dresden Altmarkt in the sequence of the air attack on 13/14 February 1945. This, in turn, further supports the conclusion that corpses or carcasses can be efficiently burned on an open-air grid structure, and that an adequate amount of highly flammable material, namely solids like straw or brushwood and liquid fuel like gasoline, is an essential factor for effectively burning corpses or carcasses on a grid.
3. Object to be incinerated: Bud incinerated a single leg of lamb in his nighttime experiment, probably using at least as much of his huge camp fire to warm himself and to lighten up the night as he did to incinerate meat and bone on his grill. He used up to 90 pounds of wood to incinerate 12 ½ pounds of lamb (the 45 pounds used for the daytime experiment don’t count, as the flames barely touched the incineration object) – a rather inefficient fuel weight to carcass weight - ratio of 7.2 to 1.
Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne managed an average ratio of 0.55 to 1 in their "A" grid burning trials shown in Heepke’s Table I. In order to compare their results with Bud’s one must take into account that they also used brown coal, which they stated to have about 1 1/3 times the heating value of wood; taking this factor into account would raise the fuel-to-carcass ratio from 0.46 to 0.54 in trial I and from 0.39 to 0.46 in trial II, while in trial III it would remain at 0.8 as only wood was used there; the differences in heating value between the wood and the liquid fuels assisting the incineration in all three trials (tar in trials I and III, resin in trial II) were not taken into account and would raise the ratio if they had been. Yet even in these comparatively inefficient experiments, Lothes and Profé used at least 7 times less fuel in relation to carcass weight than Bud in his camp fire grill experiment. In the more efficient trials of category "B", trials IV, V and VI, using only wood and – in trials V and VI – a low amount of tar, Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé managed ratios of, respectively 0.40, 0.56 and 0.55, the average being 0.50 or about 14 times less the wood used in Bud’s nighttime experiment.
So clearly the differences between Bud’s campfire and the experiments conducted by Lothes and Profé have an influence on the fuel efficiency.
Some of these differences have been discussed under items 1 and 2 above; another difference probably lies in the fact that Lothes and Profé incinerated whole carcasses, with the distribution between bones, fatty tissues and muscles characteristic of the respective species, rather than a relatively fat-poor part of one carcass, as Bud did.
However, there’s one thing that Bud’s nighttime camp fire and the experiments of Lother and Profé have in common, and it is that in both cases only one unit of dead meat was incinerated on each occasion. The fact that most of the fire in Bud’s nighttime experiment seems to idly burn away into the night without having an influence on the burning of the carcass suggests that he would have achieved a more favorable wood-to-carcass ratio if he had used the same amount of fire to burn several parts of a lamb, especially if he had put parts containing a huge amount of fatty tissues together with parts containing less of such tissues. There is also evidence that burning numerous carcasses together, thus allowing their fatty tissues to contribute to each other’s incineration, would lead to greater fuel economy, in terms of the fuel weight to carcass weight – ratio, than the burning of one single carcass. According to Heepke’s data and my above calculations, average wood to carcass – ratios for burning one carcass on a pyre of wood in a pit, based on three different species of wood, are between 3 and 4 to 1. On the other hand, the IAEA’s data on requirements for the open-air burning of 250 carcasses, mentioned and assessed in section 4.2 of my above-mentioned article, suggest the equivalent of a wood-to-carcass ratio of 1.9 to 1, without there being an indication that the incineration method applied is substantially different from the "simplest procedure" described by Heepke. Other data mentioned in the same article, which refer to air curtain incineration, also contemplate mass incinerations of carcasses, not individual incinerations. These data suggest a wood-to-carcass – ratio between 1:1 and 2:1 for that particular incineration method, described as "fuel intensive" in one of the sources I referred to, the already mentioned January 2005 TAHC Report. Mattogno’s own combustion experiments with small quantities of meat and bone invariably had higher wood-to-carcass – ratios. The effect of higher quantities of carcass mass on the fuel-to-carcass ratio is also visible in the data from animal incinerators shown in Heepke’s Table 3:
Type of oven_Max. Load (kg)_Coal consumption (kg)_Kg of fuel per kg of carcass
If, as these data suggest, the incineration of numerous carcasses requires less fuel per kg of carcass than the incineration of just one carcass, it stands to reason that the rates achieved by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé could also be improved upon when incinerating not one, but several hundred carcasses. It would also not be surprising, under this assumption, if mass incineration of corpses at the AR camps achieved better fuel consumption rates than the grid burning experiments conducted by these two veterinarians.
The Treblinka incineration grids, as we have seen, had probably an area ca. 66 square meters on average. The space underneath the grid available for placing brushwood and other wood, considering both the depth of the pit and the above-ground height of the concrete blocks, was about 112 cubic meters, which corresponds to ca. 30.9 cords of wood. If there were a thousand decomposed bodies on the grid, weighing 25 kg on average (calculations see here), if they were incinerated in a single run, and if the wood used was pinewood, the kind that grew in the Treblinka area and may also have been felled in lumber-working labor camps supplying Treblinka, the wood-to-corpse ratio, taking the data for dry Jeffery pine given on this site, would have been 1.41:1 at maximum (i.e. assuming the higher value of the weight range given for this type of wood). With 1,000 non-decomposed corpses on the grid (average weight 35 kg, according to my calculations) it would have been 1.01:1 at most. With 2,000 corpses it would have been 0.71:1 or 0.50:1, depending on whether the corpses were decomposed or non-decomposed ones. The former rate would be better than the one achieved in trial III of Heepke’s Table I, while the latter would be close to the average result achieved by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé in their trials identified as IV, V and VI in Heepke's table. With 3,000 decomposed corpses, the ratio would be 0.47:1, better (considering the heating value conversions for non-wood flammables I made above) than the result achieved in trial I according to Heepke’s table, and almost as good as the result of trial II. The incineration of 3,000 non-decomposed corpses, finally, would mean a ratio of 0.34:1, i.e. an improvement over the most fuel-economic result achieved by Lothes and Profé, that of trial IV. To be sure, this was mass incineration, the corpses (at least the non-decomposed ones) were arranged in a particular manner (corpses with a large fat content at the bottom layer on the grid), the non-decomposed corpses were probably bathed in gasoline in order to help them burn (like at Dresden after the attack on 13/14 February 1945, see above), and the decomposed corpses, as explained here, burned rather easily due to their dehydration and/or the flammable substances generated during the decomposition process. These wood-saving factors were not attributable to the arrangement of the incineration structure, so that it cannot be said that its inventor, SS Oberscharführer or Hauptscharführer [Herbert] Floss, managed to outperform Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé. Besides, 3,000 non-decomposed corpses on a grid seems unlikely, even assuming that the average deportee to Treblinka occupied only ca. 47.5 ÷ 703 = 0.07 cubic meters, as in Provan’s experiment; the height of the pile of corpses would have to be 3,000 * 0.07 ÷ 66 = 3.18 meters. If the pile of corpses was about 2 meters high, as described by eyewitnesses, the most that could fit on a grid with an area of 66 square meters would be 66 * 2 ÷ 0.07 = 1,886 non-decomposed corpses. The number of decomposed corpses that could be placed on such a grid would be considerably higher if they were already in the advanced stages of decomposition at which, as explained here, the corpse generally dehydrates completely.
Notwithstanding these restrictions, however, it seems fair to conclude that the combination of several factors – a grid arrangement providing for considerable air circulation, the use of adequate amounts of highly flammable accelerants, a large mass of organic matter incinerated at the same time, and the combustion properties of that matter, especially the decomposed, largely dehydrated corpses – made it possible to incinerate hundreds of thousands of corpses at each of the AR camps using relatively modest amounts of wood. It is not improbable that the burning of the corpses at Treblinka made do with ca. 30.9 cords or 35.3 tons of pine wood per grid incineration, which, even assuming 750 grid incinerations with an average of just 1,000 corpses each, would mean no more than 26,475 tons of wood for the whole process – plus, of course, an enormous amount of precious gasoline. Assuming ca. 700,000 decomposed corpses weighing 25 kg on average and 50,000 non-decomposed corpses weighing 35 kg on average, the overall wood weight to corpse weight - ratio would be 26,475,000 kg ÷ 19,250,000 kg = 1.38:1, approaching the lower range of the calculations in section 4.2 of my article Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research.
4. Wind: What influence did wind have on the corpse incineration process at the AR camps? Bud’s failed daytime experiment was conducted on a rather windy beach, and the wind, blowing the flames away from the grill, was what caused this experiment to fail; the wood burned down idly with the flames barely touching the object to be incinerated. Did incineration at the AR camps face similar problems? While Bud claims, referring to a passage in Arad’s book (page 177) mentioning spring winds, that wind conditions at the AR camps were the same as in his experiment, I’m not sure if spring winds in a wooded area in Poland can be compared with the strong wind that was obviously blowing on a California beach on the day of Bud’s experiment. What is more, the incineration at Treblinka largely or mostly occurred at night, according to my above quote from Arad’s book; wind conditions are therefore more likely to have been like those that Bud encountered in his nighttime experiment. Wind would anyway not greatly affect the efficiency of the burning process at Sobibor if, as stated in the Hagen court’s judgment, the fire burned inside a pit, sheltered from the wind; this wind protection is a factor that, according to Heepke, was instrumental in making the "B" trials (IV to VI) shown in his Table I more successful than the "A" trials (I to III). The Treblinka structures, as already mentioned, were more similar to those in Heepke’s "A" trials, and there’s no evidence to some kind of wind protection being implemented at Treblinka. Does this mean that corpse incineration at Treblinka was less efficient than at Sobibor? Not necessarily, if one takes into account the better air circulation that may have resulted from the space between the grid and the top of the pit and the sheer size of these structures, which were much bigger than what Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne worked with in the experiments mentioned by Heepke. Wind, as is well known, will fan rather than hinder a huge fire, and a blazing flame engulfing an area of 66 square meters and reaching to a height of up to ten meters, which is how the fires of the Treblinka grids were described by eyewitnesses, would hardly be blown away from the object of incineration the way that Bud’s small camp fire was blown away from the leg of lamb by the beach wind.
So we can see that Bud’s camp fire experiments have not much in common with properly conducted open-air carcass incineration on an iron grid let alone with the mass incinerations of murdered human beings at the AR camps.
Now to Bud’s claim that maps of Treblinka show no facilities for storing the immensely exaggerated amount of wood he maintains would have been required to incinerate hundreds of thousands of corpses. Bud claims that maps of Treblinka in general do not show such facilities, yet he seems to have looked only at one single map, the one in Arad’s book about the AR camps. Whatever "minutiae of detail" that map may have, some of the camp’s features are obviously missing on it. For on this map, drawn by Esther Maria Roos based on information provided by Richard Glazar, you see a «Barracks with wood and construction materials, also the disinfectant tank» in the camp section called «Lager I» (Camp I), which has the number 28 on the map, as well as a «Holzplatz», a lumberyard, in a wooded area in the north-eastern corner of the camp. Glazar, who wrote his memoirs (later published in German under the title Die Falle mit dem grünen Zaun and translated into English as Trap with a Green Fence) shortly after the war, wrote in some detail about wood-cutting work in the camp, related to providing wood for the incineration grids and to the constant renewals of the camouflage foliage on various barbed wire fences around and inside the camp. The following excerpts are from the 1999 edition of Trap with a Green Fence by Northwestern University Press, Illinois:
To clear the woods around the perimeter of the camp – that’s our main task now. Felled trees are hauled into camp and chopped into firewood. As spring becomes summer without transports, the greatest concentration of activity in the first camp moves down to the grounds behind the Ukrainian barracks, to the lumberyard. Those of us from Barracks A work there, along with other commando units who had previously worked at the sorting site. Idyllic mounds of freshly sawn and split firewood grow up and shine out from among the towering pines that have not been felled. A path runs along one side of the lumberyard and leads up to the main gate of the second camp. Though it is some seventy meters away, the gate is clearly visible from our work site. Here we deliver what wood is needed in that part of the camp. No one from over there is allowed out to work by the SS. The main work in the second camp still consists of digging up and incinerating the bodies from old transports.
[pages 127 and following]
The camouflage unit is the only one of the old work squads that still has enough real work to do. There is so much exterior and interior fencing that there are always repairs to be made. And if there are no repairs, then the camouflage unit is well suited for the forestry work in the vicinity of the camp – for clearing and cutting. Several times a day, under the supervision of the guards and little Sydow, some part of the twenty-five man unit has to go out into the forest, climb into trees, harvest large branches, and carry them back into the camp, where they will be used for repairs. The other part of the unit straightens and firms up the posts, tightens the barbed wire, and weaves the new pine boughs into the fence until there are no longer any gaps in the dense green wall. We know how to carry our two or three straps in such a way that everyone immediately understands: We are the camouflage unit. In the forest we bundle the pine boughs we have harvested and strap them onto our backs.
This map of Treblinka extermination camp in August 1943, drawn by Peter Laponder, shows a timber store and yard (item 20 a) next to the Death Camp sector of Treblinka.
Wood-cutting work is also mentioned on page 110 of Arad’s book about the AR camps:
A special group known as the forest team, which numbered a few dozen prisoners, was set up to cut wood for heating and cooking in the camp. It was put to work in the forests near the camp. When the cremation of the corpses started, this team was enlarged, for it also had to supply the wood for the bonfires on which the corpses were burned.
In Treblinka, a second prisoners’ group worked outside the camp. It was called the camouflage team and numbered approximately twenty-five. Its task was to camouflage with branches the camp’s outer and inner fences, especially the fences around the extermination area and the "tube". This was intended to prevent outside observation of camp activities, as well as observation from within the camp of what transpired on the way to the gas chambers and in the extermination area. The team workers would cut branches in the forests near the camp and weave them into the barbed-wire fences. Since it was constantly necessary to replace dried-out branches with fresh ones, the camouflage work was continuous. These groups of prisoners left the camp confines under a strong guard of Germans and Ukrainians.
The size of the wood storage facilities is not necessarily shown correctly on maps of Treblinka based on eyewitness testimony, even on such that are drawn to scale. It is also not a given that the SS kept much wood on storage rather than having it cut on a regular basis according to requirements, except probably for the brushwood that must have kept piling up throughout the period of the camp’s operation from the constant renewal of the barbed wire fences’ camouflage cover. Neither was the wood cut in the forests around the camp necessarily the only that was used for burning the corpses on the roasters; additional wood from labor camps dedicated to wood-felling may have been brought in by rail or truck. However, the above sources about the camp’s woodcutting activities and wood storage facilities or areas are sufficient to show, once more, that Bud’s "research" has as little to do with proper research as his camp fire experiments have got in common with proper incineration of carcasses on iron grids or with the mass incinerations of corpses at Treblinka and the other AR camps.
Thanks to Sergey for his valuable criticism and input, namely in regard to the Dresden incinerations.
I would also like to thank my friend Dr. Eng. Carlos Silva from the Portuguese Instituto Superior Técnico for our conversations about the requirements of scientific modeling, which helped me to better understand the fallacies of the video maker’s approach.
Last but not least, I thank Peter Laponder for kindly making available information about his Treblinka model that was very valuable to the making of this article.