Sunday, December 24, 2006

It’s raining empty claims …

... in episode # 15 of the One Third of the Holocaust video (YouTube version), as denierbud (hereinafter "Bud") shows his viewers all those problems he maintains would have rendered open-air incineration of corpses at the Aktion Reinhard(t) (AR) extermination camps unfeasible.

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The first problem he mentions is rain. Bud wonders why rain is never mentioned as a problem with the outdoor cremation process, even though incinerations started at times when he believes it rained a lot (in the autumn of 1942 at Belzec and Sobibor, in March 1943 at Treblinka) and there’s no evidence to the grids having been protected against the rain by some sort of roof, which he claims would have been a stupid thing to leave out, so that the rain would have put out the cremation fires.

Let’s examine these claims.

The claim that it must have rained a lot in the area of the AR camps in the autumn of 1942 and in March 1943 is based on two indications:

a) Pechersky’s tunnel, mentioned on page 311 of Yitzhak Arad’s book Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps and addressed in my article about clip # 16, was flooded by heavy rainfalls that fell on the camp on 8 and 9 October 1943.

b) A sequence from Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, showing Lanzmann and an interpreter dialoging with a local witness at Treblinka, shows it was raining on the day on which this sequence was filmed.

So it must have rained a lot in the autumn of 1942 at Belzec and Sobibor and in March 1943 at Treblinka, right? I’d say two rainy days in October 1943 and one in the 1970s at the time of Lanzmann’s Treblinka sequence are manifestly insufficient evidence to frequent rainfalls in the autumn of 1943 or in the season and year in which the Lanzmann sequence was filmed, let alone to frequent rainfalls in the autumn of 1942 or in March 1943. This is all the more true considering certain characteristics of the climate in Poland, which are described on this site (emphases in the following quotes are mine):

Poland has a moderate climate with both maritime and continental elements. This is due to humid Atlantic air which collides over its territory with dry air from the Eurasian interior. As a result, the weather tends to be capricious and the seasons may look quite different in consecutive years. This is particularly true for winters, which are either wet, of the oceanic type, or - less often - sunny, of the continental type. Generally, in north and west Poland the climate is predominantly maritime, with gentle, humid winters and cool, rainy summers, while the eastern part of the country has distinctly continental climate with harsh winters and hotter, drier summers.
[…]
Generally, Poland receives all kinds of air masses typical of the northern hemisphere. This results in a variable climate and considerable problems with weather forecasting. Poland's climate is also characterized by substantial weather changes in consecutive years, caused by disturbances in the pattern of main air masses coming to the country. Summer may be hot and dry a few times in a row and then it becomes cool and wet. This phenomenon tends to happen in several-year cycles.
[…]


As we can see, the weather in Poland during a given season is so variable that no conclusion can be drawn from what the weather was like in one season of one year to what the weather was like in the same season of another year. The weather in the early spring months seems to be especially unpredictable:

There are many proverbs about the unpredictable weather, especially in March and April.


One constant of the weather in Poland, however, seems to be a warm transition period between summer and autumn, which usually sets in around mid-September:

Sometimes the season is kind and allows the Poles to enjoy more sunshine. Almost every year, mid September sees the coming of Polish "Indian summer", which is a warm and sunny transition between summer and autumn. Leaves start to fall off the trees, but you can still feel the wafts of warmth.


It is quite possible that in 1942 there was such an "Indian summer" in Poland at the time when the body disposal method at Sobibor was changed from burial to incineration, in October of that year. An indication in this direction is the fact that in October 1942 there was a documented complaint about the stench of corpses emanating from Treblinka extermination camp. In his expert opinion submitted in the course of the Irving-Lipstadt lawsuit, Prof. Christopher Browing mentioned this incident as follows:

The fate of the Jews sent to Treblinka is also reflected in a report noted in the October 10, 1942, entry to the War Diary of the Oberquartiermeister of the military commander in Poland.

OK Ostrow reports that the Jews in Treblinka are not adequately buried and as a result an unbearable smell of cadavers pollutes the air.

Ostrow, it should be noted, was some 20 kilometers from Treblinka.


It must have been quite hot at Treblinka in October 1942 for the rotting corpses, not adequately buried despite the enormous mass graves dug for this purpose, to have issued an unbearable smell that apparently carried as far as Ostrow, 20 km away from the camp. If the weather at Sobibor was similar at the time – and there’s a good chance that it was, considering the relative proximity of the camps – then rain was not much of a concern at the time the body disposal procedure was changed to incineration at Sobibor.

Some rain there probably was in the autumn of 1942, which takes us to Bud’s claim that the absence of some kind of roof to protect the fire from the rain would have been a flagrant absurdity. One might argue thus if i) roofing the fires would have brought no disadvantages in addition to advantages and ii) it was necessary to incinerate bodies every day, even during rainy days, in order to get the job done.

Issue i) can be addressed by simply imagining what would have happened if there had been some kind of roof over the fires: instead of rising high up into the air, the smoke would have been deflected by the roof, escaped along the sides of the grid and probably spread throughout the extermination sector and maybe also other areas of the camp; huge as the grid fires were (see my article about clip # 23), this would have been a lot of smoke, presumably obstructing the vision of and causing breathing difficulties to the SS staff and Ukrainian guards. For some reason the burning of animal carcasses in the open, even in rainy Great Britain, is apparently not carried out under any sort of cover against precipitation. Not that it never rains while a major carcass-burning program, like during the UK’s foot-and-mouth disease epidemic of 2001, is under way, but this seems to have neither led to the implementation of covers against precipitation for the fires nor to have kept the respective program from being carried out. The problem with burning carcasses in the open in rainy weather is not that it cannot be done, but that

Combustion temperatures are low, especially in rainy weather, and this favours the formation of dioxins..

Combustion temperatures at the AR camps may have been higher than in British foot and mouth disease – pyres due to the factors mentioned in my article about clip # 23, the formation of dioxins would of course be no concern to the SS at the AR camps, and neither did they have to incinerate under all weather conditions, at least at Sobibor and Treblinka. At Sobibor, they incinerated a maximum of 250,000 dead bodies between October 1942 and the dismantling of the camp’s facilities, more than one year later. Even if incineration was carried only during a one year period and there was no incineration 20 % of that time due to rainy weather, meaning that on only 292 out of 365 days there were incineration operations, no more than 250,000 ÷ 292 = 856 bodies would have needed to be incinerated on an average incineration day. At Treblinka, as pointed out in my article about clip # 24, they probably took longer to burn ca. 750,000 bodies than the 156 days that Bud calculates with in clip # 24. But even if they accomplished this job within 156 days, and if 20 % of this time no incinerations were carried out because of rainy weather, an average daily performance of 6,000 bodies during the remaining 125 days would have been sufficient to do the job – the six grates mentioned on pages 175 f. of Arad’s book, even with each of these grates «processing» no more than 1,000 dead bodies per day (according to Arad it was possible to burn up to 12,000 corpses at a time on these grids, i.e. 2,000 per grid).

That leaves Belzec, where according to the testimony of Heinrich Gley, quoted on page 172 of Arad’s book, the burning of the corpses was carried out between November 1942 and March 1943, i.e. over a period of ca. 5 months of 150 days. The bodies to be burned were those of the 434,508 Jews delivered at Belzec until 31.12.1942, according to Höfle’s report to Heim of 11 January 1943, minus a handful of survivors. 434,500 dead bodies within 150 days means a daily average of 2,897 bodies per day, lower than the daily average that becomes apparent from Gley’s testimony.

Bud makes the classic «we are supposed to believe» - fuss about the notion that «the Germans» would choose «an outdoor cremation fire in weather like this», i.e. with snow falling. This imbecile fuss calls for the following question: what alternatives were there, that could be quickly implemented when it was decided to clear out the mass graves and burn the bodies (the SS leadership wanted to get the operation over with quickly, as pointed out in my article about clip # 16)? An indoor cremation fire, setting up the grid in some sort of barn which would be quickly filled with smoke hindering any control of the incineration’s progress and requiring some airing time when the burning was finished, assuming that neither the barn itself caught fire nor the fire died down for lack of air circulation? Bud must be joking, and I doubt he can show a single example of such solution having been implemented anywhere for mass-incinerating carcasses, regardless of weather conditions. Or a crematorium, which would have taken months to design, build and commission, like the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau? No, my dear Bud, «the Germans» were not «stupid», they simply had no alternative to doing it the way they did it in order to destroy the bodies in the Belzec mass graves within a short time. And then, their choice was not exactly a bad one if applied correctly, as explained in my article about clip # 23.

Would snow hamper the incineration process? No more so than rainy weather, and here we see carcasses being incinerated in winter during the UK’s 2001 foot and mouth – disease crisis, of course without any kind of roof covering the pyre. In this report about FMD carcass disposal it is stated, under "Air Pollution Monitoring" on page 10, that

Pyres should not be lit under certain unusually still weather conditions that can, but rarely, occur in Autumn and Winter.


This is a clear indication that winter weather is not held to preclude the burning of carcasses on open-air pyres.

Taking advantage of Gley’s statement that corpse incinerations at Belzec started at a time «when snow was already falling», Bud tries to convey the impression that snow was falling all the time while corpses were being unearthed and incinerated at Belzec. Of course this was not what Gley meant to say; he obviously wanted to convey that he recalled the incineration having started at a time when there was already snow, i.e. at the end of autumn/beginning of winter. Nor is constant snowfall during winter customary in Poland, as the above-mentioned site on Poland’s climate tells us:

The average annual number of days with snowfall is 30-40 in the country's western and central part, and over 50 days in the north-east.


If the winter of 1942/43 followed this average – and there’s no indication that it did not – it was snowing at most during one third of the period in which the exhumation and incineration of the corpses at Belzec was carried out.

What about the ground in which the bodies were buried? Bud also sees a problem here, and to support his claim he shows another sequence from Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah in which Lanzmann asks a local interlocutor if it’s very cold in the area in winter. The response is: «It depends» followed by «It can get to minus 15, minus 20». So the weather, according to Lanzmann’s interlocutor, can but need not reach such low temperatures in this area. And if it does, that will probably happen in January, which is the coldest month in Poland, not in November when the unearthing and incineration of the corpses started. It would of course have been logical to do the work of opening the mass graves at the beginning of the operation, when the ground was not yet frozen solid, and as the graves were full of dead bodies and covered only with a thin layer of soil – see the description by Kurt Gerstein quoted in section 4.1 of my article Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research – not much excavation would have been required to open the graves and get at the bodies. So here we also have a false dilemma created by our friend Bud.

In sum, we can conclude that the «inherent contradiction» in Gley’s testimony that Bud claims exists in Bud’s fantasy alone. What has also again been shown is the sloppiness of Bud’s research and the weakness of the conclusions he all too eagerly jumps to.

Before we move on to what Bud tells his viewers about wind and the art of fire-making, a few words about a problem at the AR camps that Bud considers to have been none, the breakdowns of the gassing engines. However rarely Bud thinks that such breakdowns happen "even" with the engines of civilian automobiles (he obviously has never driven on Portuguese roads, otherwise he might change his mind about this), the fact is that engines recovered from booty tanks or trucks were not necessarily in the best conditions, that there was also no interest in keeping them finely tuned because the dirtier the exhaust they produced, the sooner the people in the gas chambers would be killed, and that engine breakdowns did occur at the AR camps – they are mentioned, for instance, in the judgment at the 1st Düsseldorf Treblinka trial – and were a serious problem when they occurred because they hampered the smooth running of a killing machinery that had to «process» thousands of deportees per day in each camp. How frequently such breakdowns occurred during the whole of the AR camps' operation period we don't know; the context of Arad's mention of «frequent engine breakdowns» on page 100 of his book, which Bud refers to, is the initial phase of the period during which these camps were in operation.

We move on to the wind issue. Bud claims that an outdoor fire is inefficient because you lose «most» of the heat to the outside air, especially when there is wind. If so, would this also be a major impediment in case of fires that, as shown in my article about clip # 23, were rather huge and burned wholly or largely inside a pit, and would the heat loss to the outside air not be compensated by better air circulation supporting the incineration in such huge fires? As explained in my aforementioned article, one of the key factors for economically burning a huge mass of animal or human matter on a grid, according to German engineer Heepke’s recommendations and the accounts of the incinerations on the Dresden Altmarkt quoted in that article, seems to be the generation of a huge, blazing, hot flame that will evaporate the moisture inside the matter to be burned 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 matter’s own combustion properties and the heat of the grid. Wind feeding more oxygen to the flames may thus be more helpful than impeditive to the development of a large fire. To be sure, engineer Heepke states that when the grid is lying on the rims of a burning pit having the recommended depth of 1.5 meters, rather than inside that pit, «a great deal of the heat will be lost» to wind. However, the quantitative differences between the former and the latter method are mainly in terms of duration, not so much in terms of fuel efficiency, and the fires in the experiments of Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé, referred to by Heepke, were also not nearly as large as the incineration grids of Treblinka, where the differences in duration and fuel-efficiency between the «older, not economically satisfactory method» that seems to have been widely practiced in Heepke’s time and the «better arrangement» he recommended might have been smaller, due to the aforementioned effect of more oxygen supply on a huge fire’s intensity.

Bud bemoans the absence of wind protection, which Heepke recommends for pits in marshy land that can be dug only half as deep as the 1.5 meters he considers adequate:

The screen thus took over the function of the missing depth of 0.75 meters; any heat losses can be countered effectively enough by surrounding [the screen] with a layer of earth. These trials, listed in section C, lines VII, VIII, and IX in Table II [see document 3] led to very satisfactory results, nearly equal to those of method B.


What if the windscreen had been missing in these experiments? Heepke:

For comparison, Table II also lists, in section D, lines X and XI, two trials where the carcass was placed directly on the fuel in pits 0.50 - 0.75 meters deep and burnt without any grid or windscreen.


According to Heepke’s Table 2, the "C" experiments, in which a grid and a windscreen were used, resulted in an average fuel consumption of 0.52 kg per kg of carcass and an average duration of 0.68 minutes per kg of carcass, whereas in the "D" experiments, in which no windscreen and also no grid was used, the average fuel consumption per kg of carcass was 0.71 and the average duration was 0.91 minutes. The difference in fuel consumption between both sets of experiments is almost the same in relative terms as the difference in time. By comparison, Heepke’s Table 1 shows that there was a huge difference in time between the "A" series of experiments, with the grid lying on the rim of the pit, and the "B" series with the grid inside the pit: an average of 1.79 minutes per kg of carcass in the former vs. 0.75 minutes per kg of carcass in the latter. The difference in fuel consumption was not big, however: 0.55 kg of fuel per kg of carcass in the "A" experiments, 0.50 in the "B" series. What made the "B" experiments the more successful ones was probably their combining the advantages of good air circulation, which burning on a grid provides, with the advantages of heat retention and wind protection inside a pit – the best of two worlds, so to say. The experiments of the "D" series, like those of the "A" series, lacked the latter advantage and therefore lasted longer, the higher fuel consumption in the "D" experiments in relation to the "A" series probably being due to the absence of a grid improving air circulation. Notably, however, the average duration of the "D" experiments was somewhat shorter than that of the "A" experiments, which can be explained by the fact that, in the former, the pit must have been longer and wider than in the latter to make up for the lack in depth (the amounts of fuel and carcass in all experiments are similar despite the depth of the pits in the experiments of the "C" and "D" series being half or a third of the depth in the "A" and "B" experiments, which suggests that the pit volume was similar in all experiments; this in turn can only have been achieved, in the "C" and "D" experiments, by increasing the area of the pit). The greater width and lesser depth of the pit may have allowed more oxygen to get to the fire in the "D" experiments, thus making up somewhat for the absence of a grid in what concerns air circulation and maybe also for the absence of the windscreen in what concerns heat loss. These factors may also explain why the "D" experiments were much more efficient, in terms of fuel consumption and time, than the "simplest procedure" described by Heepke as quoted in section 2.1 of Mattogno’s article Combustion Experiments with Flesh and Animal Fat. The chief problem with this "simplest" procedure, in which the carcass was burned directly on the fuel in or above a pit 2.5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide and deep, is likely to have been the lack of adequate air circulation, which had to be made up by a lot more fuel. The fuel-intensiveness of burning on a pyre inside a pit without using a grid is corroborated by these Field Notes for Responders Euthanasia and Disposal (E & D), where it is stated that burning carcasses inside a pit, while having the advantage of helping prevent the fire from spreading to other areas, requires more fuel than open-air incinerations:

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.


As becomes apparent from the "B" series of incineration experiments referred to by Heepke, this increase in fuel supply can be avoided by burning the carcass on a grid inside the pit, resting on a section of the pit that contains the fuel and is deeper and narrower than the rest. This arrangement, as mentioned in my article about clip # 23, is similar to what was apparently applied at Sobibor. The Treblinka arrangement, on the other hand, was like that of the "A" series of the experiments mentioned by Heepke, 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, which probably had the purpose of further enhancing air circulation. Another difference is that the area of the Treblinka grids was much bigger than that of the pits in the experiments mentioned by Heepke. Whereas the pit in the "B" series of experiments, the layout of which is shown here, was only 2 meters wide and had an area of about 5 square meters, the Treblinka pits, according to the calculations in my aforementioned article, had an area of about 66 square meters, more than 13 times higher. So this grid may have considerably benefited from the effects that, as explained above, seem to have considerably reduced the duration in Heepke’s "D" experiments in relation to that of the "A" experiments and also kept the fuel consumption in the "D" experiments much lower than that of the "simplest procedure" described by Heepke. The depth of the pit underneath the grid that was stated by the witness Leleko is higher than in Heepke’s "C" and "D" experiments though lower than in the "A" and "B" experiments, and the space to be filled with fuel (the depth of the pit, 1 meter, plus the height of the concrete blocks, 0.7 meters, see my aforementioned article), is slightly higher than the depth of Heepke’s pits, with the area of pit and grid being bigger in relation to either than in any of the experiments mentioned by Heepke: while the area to fuel depth – ratio seems to have been 5 to 1.5 (ca. 3.33 to 1) in the "A" and "B" experiments and may have been as high as 10 to 0.75 (ca. 13.33 to 1) or 15 to 0.5 (30:1) in the "C" and "D" experiments, it was about 66 to 1.7 (38.82 to 1) at the Treblinka grids, or even 66:1 if only the depth of the pit and not the space above the pit is taken into consideration. If, as suggested by the above comparison between Heepke’s "A" and "D" experiments, a larger area vs. depth relation can partially make up for the absence of a grid and a windscreen, and if the better air circulation of the Treblinka structures due to the presence of a grid, the space between the grid and the top of the pit and the sheer size of the structure is taken into consideration, the negative effect of a windscreen being absent at the Treblinka grids can arguably be assumed to have been negligible.

It should be noted, in this context, that Bud is not a very keen observer, for he backs up his rambling that «The fire sits out in the open» with a picture from Peter Laponder’s model. This model, in which the reconstruction of the grids, as I was told by Mr. Laponder, was largely based on Leleko’s testimony, clearly shows pits underneath the grids, see here and here. A close-up from the model, kindly made available to me by Mr. Laponder, shows these pits even more clearly.

Interested as he is, according to his possibly incorrect reasoning that wind would hamper rather than help fires as huge as those at Treblinka, in making the wind at Treblinka as strong as possible, Bud shows the following statement from a prisoner of the Treblinka 1 labor camp, quoted on page 177 of Arad’s book:

The spring winds brought with them the smell of burning bodies from the Treblinka extermination camp. We breathed in the stench of smoldering corpses … We heard the clatter of the excavators for days and nights on end … At night we gazed at skies red from the flames. Sometimes you could also see tongues of flame rising into the night …


and argues that the winds were so strong that they blew the «smoke» 3 kilometers away, which he claims would have called for a windscreen protecting the grids. The problem with this argument is that the witness nowhere mentions smoke having been blown over from the Treblinka extermination camp. What he mentions is that the wind carried over the stench of the burning corpses. For this the wind need not have been very strong, and according to our site about Poland’s climate winds in Poland do not tend to be strong indeed:

The winds in Poland are typically weak to moderate, their speed ranging from 2 to 10 m/s.


Did Bud simply misunderstand the witness’s statement, or did he deliberately misinterpret it to support his argument?

Bud’s dubious wisdom about wind and fire is followed by a lecture about fire-making. Apparently appealing to the anti-urban resentments of rural rednecks, he claims that «The storytellers didn’t know how to build an outdoor fire». Arad cites a Polish investigation commission’s concluding report about Belzec, according to which «The corpses were laid in layers, alternated with a layer of wood», and Bud comments that «Anyone who’s ever built an outdoor fire knows that wouldn’t work». No explanation is given, and one wonders what outdoor firing experience could have led Bud to draw this conclusion. Has he ever built a pyre like that, alternating corpses or carcasses with wood, especially one of the sizes that the Belzec pyres presumably had?

Inefficient or not, this method was applied by the Nazis on other occasions, as becomes apparent, for instance, from pictures of Klooga concentration camp in Estonia after its liberation by the Red Army in 1944. Some of these very graphic pictures, taken from the archives of the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum, can be found on this RODOH thread. This photograph, for instance, is captioned as showing «A pyre on which the corpses of Klooga camp inmates had been burned». And here we see «A Soviet investigating committee beside a pyre stacked with the bodies of victims in the Klooga camp», which the camp staff had not longer had the time to incinerate. The alternate layers of wood and bodies can be clearly seen on this picture and also on this one, which shows «A Soviet investigative commission inspecting the Klooga camp, gathered beside a pyre on which the corpses of inmates had been prepared for burning», furthermore in this picture showing «Inmates' corpses stacked on pyres in the Klooga camp». Information about the Klooga concentration camp, along with further pictures of yet unburned or partially burned corpses, can be found by running a search for «Klooga» on the USHMM site. Incineration at this camp seems to have been inefficient indeed, but as they obviously lacked the grid structure applied at the AR camps, this and not the unsuitability of the alternate wood-corpses arrangement may have been the reason why some of the corpses were only partially burned, a lack of time and of liquid fuel presumably being factors of influence as well. Some of the pictures of Maly Trostinets concentration camp in Belorussia that can be found by running a search for «Maly Trostinets» on the same site suggest that the same incineration procedure was applied at that camp, also with limited success, during the German retreat from Belorussia in mid-1944.

Was this procedure also applied at Belzec, as stated by the Polish investigation commission, albeit with greater success due to the use of a grid structure and presumably also because more time and liquid fuel was available to help the burning, apart from the important factor of the bodies having been in a more or less advanced state of decomposition? I consider this improbable for the following reasons:

i) Such procedure is not mentioned for the «sister camps» of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka;

ii) Alternating the bodies with wood on the grid would have taken up more space and therefore possibly not allowed for the burning rate that becomes apparent from Heinrich Gley’s deposition in conjunction with the documentary evidence (see above);

iii) There are no direct eyewitnesses to this procedure having been applied at Belzec, for all I know.

It is therefore possible that the Polish investigation commission surmised the application of this burning procedure, based on speculations of surrounding villagers and on what the Soviets had found at other Nazi killing sites, like the above-mentioned Klooga and Maly Trostinets camps. Another possibility is that the wood placed between the bodies was not logs of timber but small amounts of highly flammable tree branches like those used for kindling underneath the grid, which would have served as an accelerant like the straw that, according to the excerpt from David Irving’s Apocalypse 1945. The Destruction of Dresden quoted in my article about clip # 23, was placed between each layer of bodies on the grid set up on the Dresden Altmarkt after the bombing attack of 13/14 February 1945. If so, it is possible that this was done at Sobibor and Treblinka as well.

Bud takes issue with the description of the Treblinka roaster on page 174 of Arad’s book:

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.


He complains that this «isn’t much higher than a camp fire».

Apart from the fact that the space containing the fuel, as established in this article, also included the pit described by Leleko and was therefore 1 meter higher or deeper than becomes apparent from Arad’s description, what exactly is the relevance of the fire’s height supposed to be? The "camp fire" underneath the Treblinka grids covered an area of about 66 square meters, according to my calculations of the grid area. It was thus probably much bigger than any camp fire Bud has ever seen, so his comparison hobbles for this reason already. Also and just as important, the corpse incineration procedure relied on bodies being quickly ignited by a huge blazing flame of petrol-doused wood, which consisted largely or wholly of highly flammable dry tree branches. Bud’s complaint is based on his ignoring the latter factor and assuming that what burned the bodies was only the fire underneath, which is a fallacious assumption for the reasons I have explained.

As described on page 175 of Arad’s book, the corpses were arranged in layers on the grill to a height of two meters. Bud claims that «The bodies on top wouldn’t even get warm let alone be cremated», again without substantiating this claim, and ignoring the above-mentioned mechanics of this combustion procedure as well as the liquid fuel in which the «fresh» bodies were drenched and the contribution to combustion that was provided by dehydration and/or flammable substances created by the decomposition process in the case of the bodies taken from the graves, which made up the overwhelming majority of the bodies burned on the Treblinka grids. Also, if Bud’s considerations were accurate the burning of 6,865 corpses on the Dresden Altmarkt, employing what can be called the Treblinka procedure on a smaller scale, would have been at least as improbable as the incinerations on the Treblinka grids, for a look at the pictures of the Dresden grid shown in this article suggests that the space underneath the grid was rather smaller than «campfire» size.

Bud’s further complaints are the following:

«Arad never mentions adding more wood to the fire»

Neither does the evidence to the incinerations on the Dresden Altmarkt, and neither do engineer Heepke’s descriptions of the process of burning carcasses on grids, quoted by Mattogno. So there’s nothing wrong with this supposed omission.

«Nor does he mention anyone rotating the bodies on the lower layers with the upper layers»

Boy, our friend Bud has a fertile imagination. I wonder how he pictures this «rotating the bodies», which of course was not practiced at Dresden either, and obviously just as unnecessary there as it was at Treblinka.

«Yankel Wiernik wasn’t the only eyewitness to say that bodies burn on their own»

Well, the bodies didn’t burn on their own in the sense that Bud attributed to Wiernik’s description, as explained in my article about clip # 1.

Yechiel Reichman’s testimony on page 175 of Arad’s book is quoted by Bud. It reads as follows:

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 nearby, wounding them seriously …


«We see a lack of fire knowledge», Bud claims. Where that lack of fire knowledge is supposed to become manifest he doesn’t explain, except when he mockingly remarks «Yes, just lay some dry branches under the grill». Actually «some» dry branches would be 30.9 cords of branches and maybe also other wood, according to my calculations in this article, though the incinerations on the Dresden Altmarkt suggest that the wood requirements may have been much lower. And they were doused with petrol as described by SS-man Heinrich Matthes, also quoted in the same article. So were the bodies themselves except for the decomposed ones (i.e. the overwhelming majority), which didn’t require being drenched in liquid fuel for the reasons explained here. In clip # 25 Bud himself tells his viewers how well dry branches burn and that it therefore made sense to use them for kindling. Has he now forgotten this?

The arrangement of the bodies (such with higher fat content below, so they would contribute to the burning of those above), described by Reichmann, is read but not commented except as covered by the general «lack of fire knowledge» claim. Actually it made technical sense to see to it that the bodies in the lower layer would quickly ignite and thus contribute to the dehydration and subsequent ignition of the bodies above them, who in turn would provide all or much of the fuel for burning the next layer of bodies. It may be questionable whether the procedure described by Reichman could be adopted with decomposed bodies taken out of the mass graves, but these burned quite well for other reasons I have explained, and as the gassing of arriving victims went on while the bodies taken out of the mass graves were being incinerated, it was also possible to do «mixed» incinerations consisting of both recently killed and decomposed bodies.

Bud tells us that «The logistical part of Reichman’s account is so bad that we know he’s not telling the truth». What kind of logic is that? As if an eyewitness undergoing a horrible experience would focus his attention on logistical matters! And then, Reichman’s account is by no means implausible from a logistical point of view, especially if read in conjunction with the deposition of Heinrich Matthes. Reichman’s mention of the «SS-expert» is also corroborated by both Wiernik and Heinrich Matthes, two eyewitnesses independent of each other and of Reichman. So, contrary to Bud’s illogical claim, Reichman is quite a credible witness, even though his statement about the fire being too hot to approach from as far as 50 meters may be an overestimate of this distance.

«Bodies don’t burn like wood logs on outdoor fires», Bud tells his viewers. Well, that’s not exactly what Reichman is saying as he mentions the wood underneath the grids, and his testimony has to be read in conjunction with that of Matthes and eventual other witnesses used by Arad, who mention the wood and the bodies (when «fresh») being sprayed with an inflammable liquid. The description of the procedure and the differences between decomposed and «fresh» bodies in Arad’s book is the following (emphases are mine):

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.
[…]
The bodies of victims brought to Treblinka in transports arriving after the body-burning began were taken directly from the gas chambers of 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.


Burning «on their own» under such conditions was exactly what the bodies of 6,865 bombing victims on the Dresden Altmarkt did. So another of Bud’s false claims goes down the drain.

In Bud’s bizarre reasoning, Yeichel Reichman is supposed to be also less credible because of the «psychological/emotional content» of his account. From page 216 of Arad’s book, Bud quotes a part of Reichman’s account where the witness «gets a little carried away with an emotional content, beseechingly asking, “Where is God …”», according to Bud. What we have here is another misrepresentation of an eyewitness’s statements, for there is no «beseeching» in this part of Reichman’s account; on the contrary, Reichman is taking issue with fellow inmates for their adherence to religious beliefs and practices, which he considers ridiculous or despicable under the circumstances. The passage of Arad’s book including this Reichman quote reads as follows:

Religious expressions and what might even be taken as justification of the mass killings also caused antagonistic reactions, protests and demands of "Where is God?" Yechiel Reichman writes:

I hear from the left side of the hut how the poor miserable people are standing there, praying the Afternoon and Evening services, and after the prayers, with tears in their eyes, they say Kaddish. The Kaddish wakes me … I was almost out of my mind, and I yelled at them: "To whom are you saying Kaddish? Do you still believe?! In what do you believe and whom are you thanking?! You are thanking the Master of the Universe, for His righteousness, Who took our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers – you are thanking Him?! No, no! It is not true that there is a God in Heaven. If there were a God, He wouldn’t be able to look at this great tragedy, at this great injustice, as they murder the unborn children innocent of any crime, as they murder people who wanted to live in honesty and benefit humanity, and you, the living witnesses to this great tragedy, you are still thanking?! Whom are you thanking?!"


How Reichman’s description of his understandably antagonistic reaction is supposed to affect the credibility of Reichman as a witness is beyond me, as it is how someone could witness occurrences like Reichman was witnessing without getting emotionally involved and calling fellow inmates fools because they continued to thank God. It’s about time Bud understood that the experience of Reichman and other eyewitnesses was not a normal nine-to-five job or a Sunday pick-nick. It was the mass murder of innocent human beings.


Many thanks to Sergey for his always pertinent constructive criticism, and to Peter Laponder for our conversations about the Treblinka grids and for the close-ups of his model he kindly made available to me.

1 comment:

Andrei said...

Commenting on Polish weather in general is not really helpful. I wonder if we could find out the specific weather conditions in 1942 and 1943 from local newspapers.