Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"The Germans wouldn’t have done it that way"

One of the recurring themes in "Revisionist" wisecracking is the contention that "the Germans" wouldn’t have adopted the killing and body disposal methods that evidence shows them to have adopted for killing and removing the bodies of about 2.5 million people murdered at the Nazi extermination camps during World War II.

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This contention is a potentially relevant one where based on the alleged physical, technical or logistical impossibility of a certain reported method. Try though they might, however, "Revisionists" haven’t managed to demonstrate that the mass killing and body disposal at Nazi extermination camps, in the manner and on the scale reconstructed by historians and criminal investigators based on evidence, would have been physically, technically or logistically impossible.

Of less potential relevance is the argument that a certain killing or body disposal method had certain practical shortcomings and "the Germans" would have necessarily eliminated such shortcomings or chosen a "better" method. Hindsight is always 20/20, but all too often in human history things have been done less efficiently than they could have been done, or even in a grossly inefficient manner, without this being an indication against the accuracy of evidence showing that they were done. Man is simply everything other than perfect, even if belonging to the German "master race" whose capabilities many "Revisionists" have such a high idea of. So this kind of arguments don’t mean much even where the killing or body disposal method in question had certain shortcomings indeed and a "better" method could have been applied.

Even less potentially relevant, and all the more revealing of the cloud-cuckoo-land of "Revisionist" ill-reasoning, is the contention that the oh-so-technically-advanced Germans would have "designed" the killing or body disposal process in a technically advanced manner rather than applying a comparatively primitive methodology that evidence shows to have been applied. The proponents of this kind of argument seem to be of the strange conviction that technically advanced methods and devices tend to be applied just because they exist and are available, regardless of whether they are a cost-efficient or even a suitable solution for the task at hand in a particular case. They apparently don’t realize that the oh-so-technically wise Germans they look up to could also be practical enough to do without technology and mechanization where simpler methods achieved the same or better results at lower cost and/or in less time.

True to this "Revisionist" tradition, denierbud has tried all three lines of argumentation in his One Third of the Holocaust video, almost all clips of which have been debunked on this blog.

In clip # 10, denierbud essentially uses the second and third lines of argumentation described above, as he contends that certain reported killing or body disposal methods wouldn’t have been adopted or even tried by "the Germans" because they were unpractical, uncouth or unsophisticated. These contentions shall be addressed hereafter.

1. Height of gas chambers.

On pages 73 and 74 of Yitzhak Arad’s book Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (hereinafter "Arad"), the author quotes from a description of the Belzec gas chambers by Rudolf Reder, one of the handful of survivors of that camp. Reder’s description includes the mention that "The corridor and the gas chambers were lower than ordinary rooms, no higher than two meters". Denierbud has a problem with the height: he claims that if the gas chambers were only 2 meters high, everything inside the chamber would be in reach of the victims, who could have blocked the pipes through which the exhaust entered their room with their hands or, as "it is often claimed that they were given towels", by stuffing towels into the openings.

Denierbud is obviously referring to the showerhead openings attached to the pipes along the gas chamber roof (see this CAD model, based on eyewitness descriptions of the gas chambers at Treblinka), which he figures could have been reached and blocked by the people inside the chamber because of the low height of the sealing.

Was this really a disadvantage, not compensated by the advantages of a low roof as concerns reduction of the oxygen available to the victims and the time required to fill the chamber with exhaust? Only if the people were on average tall enough to reach the openings and had enough presence of mind to a) realize that poisonous gas was coming out of the openings and b) react by trying to block them in some way.

The former is hardly a realistic expectation as the people gassed at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka were mostly women, children and elderly people, and even the comparatively few younger adult males would rarely if ever have been tall enough to easily reach the sealing or the pipe openings fixed to the sealing.

The latter expectation is even less realistic: exhausted, frightened and confused people, naked and packed together like sardines into a chamber in which it was hard to breathe even before the exhaust was introduced, would hardly react in a rational and cold-blooded manner when faced with the introduction of a poisonous gas into the room. They would panic, completely loose their heads and be incapable of a rational thought or reaction. Any individuals tall and cool-headed enough to try blocking the openings would furthermore have had a problem finding those openings because, as mentioned by Dr. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel regarding Belzec, the lights were turned off prior to gassing.

So the probability that the victims might block openings through which the exhaust was introduced into the chamber was so reduced as to be negligible. Denierbud’s problem was no problem for the SS at the camps of Aktion Reinhard(t).

2. Exhaust introduction and air outlet

Denierbud tells his viewers that "If you have a pipe that pumps exhaust into a hermetically sealed room, you also need a pipe to let the air that's already in the room escape". Why this is so he doesn't explain, but a contemporary Nazi document about the use of homicidal gas vans shows that the need or advantage of an air outlet from a room used for homicidal gassing was also realized by the Nazis. This document, a letter sent by Willy Just to Walter Rauff on June 5, 1942, describes in great detail the technical issues of special vans used in the gassing murders of tens of thousands of people, following the information that "Since December 1941, ninety-seven thousand have been processed, using three vans, without any defects showing up in the vehicles". The document mentions several adjustments that "would be useful" according to "previous experience", the first of which is the following:

In order to facilitate the rapid distribution of CO, as well as to avoid a buildup of pressure, two slots, ten by one centimeters, will be bored at the top of the rear wall. The excess pressure would be controlled by an easily adjustable hinged metal valve on the outside of the vents.


The slots here mentioned were obviously air outlets, and their function was to facilitate the rapid distribution of the carbon monoxide gas introduced from the exhaust of the vehicle and to avoid a buildup of pressure in the cargo area, which was stuffed with people to be gassed at a concentration of – as the document also reveals – 9 to 10 per square meters. The probable reason for wanting to avoid a buildup of excess pressure in the van's cargo area was that excess pressure could have the effect of blocking the gas van's exhaust pipe and causing the gas van's engine to die off or be damaged, or at least to lose power and burn much more fuel, like when a vehicle’s exhaust pipe is blocked by an object or substance not easily blown out by the exhaust:

Yes, it will blow the bottle out. However, if the exhaust is blocked by something more substantial, like the tail pipe being sandblasted shut by hours of travel on a gravel road (it happened to us) then the catalytic converter and/or other sections of the exhaust will probably balloon, your vehicle will get noisier, you will lose power - hills will get more difficult, and you will burn far more gas.


Nevertheless, the apparent absence of such slots before the date on which the aforementioned letter was written did not impede the well-documented killing of tens of thousands of people in gas vans at Chelmno extermination camp, which the letter refers to when mentioning that ninety-seven thousand [people] had been "processed" (see the translated excerpt from the Bonn District Court’s judgment of 30 March 1963 at the trial against Heinrich B. et al in my post of 8-Apr-2007 18:12 on the RODOH forum). It may have been the reason, however, for the gas vans' large fuel consumption, mentioned by German historian Peter Witte:

For the extermination camp Chelmno and the gas vans there the same applies: unquestionably petrol motors. Walter Burmeister, gas van driver at Chelmno, mentioned mid-heavy Renault lorries with an Otto-Motor. Camp chief Walter Piller described the killing process with “gasses which were produced by petrol motors”. Polish mechanics, who were personally ordered to repair a gas van, precisely described exactly the huge petrol motor and its consumption: “The motor of this car uses 75 litres of petrol per 100 km, that is, twice the consumption of normal motors.”


Let’s assume that denierbud didn't find a mention of a "second pipe" to let out the air in either Arad’s or Hilberg’s work (even though there is at least one mention of apertures in the gas chambers, which would have served as an air outlet, by an eyewitness, Shimon Goldberg, quoted on page 153 of Arad’s book). If neither Arad nor Hilberg wrote much about this detail or didn't mention it at all, this only means that they were more interested in the overall reconstruction of the events that were the subject of their research than in specific technical details of the gas chambers, as becomes their being historians. This doesn’t change the fact that an air outlet in the homicidal gas chambers of the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps is mentioned not only by eyewitness Jankel Wiernik (who is quoted by denierbud in this sense), but also by other eyewitnesses or in drawings based on eyewitness testimonies. The following are mentioned by the authors of the aforementioned CAD Reconstruction of the Treblinka gas chambers:

Gas chambers - openings in gas chambers ceilings / hermetic caps.
a) “... the Germans poured chlorine through a window above the chamber.” (Rosenberg, Demjanjuk, Teicholz, p.130)
b) “The outlet on the roof had a hermetic cap.” (Wiernik, Donat, p.157)
c) Explanation of the legend in Jurowski's plan: Nr ?: Window (= opening) through which gas was drawn off to the roof. (Jurowski plan)
d) “The 'windows' on the ceiling measured approximately 0.5 m x 0.5 m according to the plan, and were supplied with grates." (Jurowski plan)
e) An exhaust / chimney type of construction is visible on the Kurt Franz photo.
f) Checking the window in the ceiling / roof. (Rosenberg drawing)


The outlet of air through openings in the gas chambers may explain why some eyewitnesses believed that the victims were killed by extracting the air from the chamber. This method was considered a possibility in an early report (April 1942) by the Polish underground about Belzec, quoted in Arad, page 350. The report states that "It is unknown by which means the Jews are liquidated in the camp. There are three assumptions: (1) electricity; (2) gas; (3) by pumping out the air". On pages 67 f. of their book about Treblinka, "Revisionist" gurus Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf enjoy themselves regarding the "hopeless confusion" among eyewitnesses who mentioned the pumping out of air from the chambers, alone or in combination with the introduction of exhaust gas. They probably wouldn’t be too happy about denierbud having unintentionally provided what may be a plausible explanation for these eyewitness descriptions.

A case of possible violation of the exhaust inlet/air outlet principle that particularly amuses denierbud is the gassing experiment at the lunatic asylum in Mogilev by Dr. Widmann of the German Criminal Police and SS Brigadeführer Arthur Nebe, commander of the mobile killing unit known as Einsatzgruppe B, which is described as follows on page 10 of Arad’s book:

A few days later an experiment with poison gas was carried out by Nebe and Dr. Widmann in Mogilev. In the local lunatic asylum, a room with twenty to thirty of the insane was closed hermetically, and two pipes were driven into the wall. A car was parked outside, and one of the metal pipes that Dr. Widmann had brought connected the exhaust of the car to the pipe in the wall. The car engine was turned on and the carbon monoxide began seeping into the room. After eight minutes, the people in the room were still alive. A second car was connected to the other pipe in the wall. The two cars were operated simultaneously, and a few minutes later all those in the room were dead.


Denierbud argues that when connecting the second car's engine to the "other pipe in the wall", which he figures was the air outlet pipe, the killers would have blocked the air outlet and thus kept their experiment from working properly. What exactly would have gone wrong he does not explain, but the above-quoted excerpt from Just’s letter to Rauff of June 5, 1942 suggests that the gassing experiment would, for the reasons explained above, have been in risk of not succeeding or of damaging the engines, or at least used up a lot more fuel than would have been necessary with an air outlet.

Arad’s description of the experiment is based on the description by Dr. Widmann quoted on pages 81/82 of Kogon, Langbein, Rückerl u.a., Nationalsozialsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas. This is my translation of Dr. Widmann’s description, which he provided in the course of the West German criminal investigation StA Düsseldorf, AZ: 8 Js 7212/59; emphases are mine:

Then on the afternoon of that day Nebe had the window bricked up and two openings left for the gas inlet pipes … When we arrived, at first one of the hoses that were in my car was connected. It was connected to a passenger car … In the holes along the wall there were pieces of pipe on which one could comfortably fit the hoses. After 5 minutes Nebe came out and said that no effect could be seen. Also after 8 minutes he established no effect and asked what was to be done now. Nebe and I became convinced that the car was too weak. Thereupon Nebe had the second hose connected to a troop truck of the order police. After that it was only a few minutes before the people became unconscious. Both cars were then allowed to run for another ten minutes.


The above text suggests that Dr. Widmann assumed both openings to have been meant for the gas inlet pipes (Gaszuleitungen), though it is also possible that a misunderstanding on the part of the interrogator taking down Widmann's deposition was at play. However, it does not become apparent from Dr. Widmann’s description that the second hose was necessarily connected to a pipe in the second hole in the wall; as Dr. Widmann didn’t mention how many "pieces of pipe" there were, it is possible that at least the inlet opening had more than one pipe in it, and that both hoses were connected to pipes in that same opening. Arad's reading of Widmann's testimony, which assumes that the second car was connected to "the" other pipe in the wall (suggesting that there were only two pipes in total) would thus be incorrect.

On the other hand, there is a film about the Nuremberg Trials containing a gassing sequence that seems to correspond to Dr. Widmann’s description. Stills from this sequence show two hoses connected to two openings in the wall, with not other opening visible. According to the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at USHMM, which features this film, stills from the gassing sequence were used in evidence at the trial of Albert Widmann (Widmann was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison by the Stuttgart District Court on 15.09.1965. According to the trial summary available on the University of Amsterdam's Justiz und NS-Verbrechen site, the subject of the proceeding included the blowing up of a bunker near Minsk in which mentally disabled patients had been locked up, as well as gassing of mentally disabled patients in Mogilev):

05:38:38 CU pipes from a German police car bearing a license plate POL-28545 and a German police truck with license POL-51628 (as well as military unit markings: 7 circle-with-flag IX). Apparently metal piping is directed into the brick work of a small brick building, in an area that appears to be a bricked up window or door. Projected against the wall is what appears to be the shadow of a man in uniform. Five emaciated men pass on an open farm cart/wagon to a wooded location; a tall naked emaciated man and two emaciated children (different from those seen first) are led by a man and a woman in white lab coats to the building. Small red cross appears on man's white coat sleeve. The man and woman put blankets around the patients' shoulders as they are led toward the building (and over a child lying on the cart). A uniformed man - probably German - is visible in the background, along the fence, watching the scene. CU car and pipes connecting the car exhaust to the building. [Scene is consistent with descriptions of September 1941 experimental killings by Einsatzgruppe B of patients from a local asylum in the area of Mogilev, Belarus. Corresponding still images were used in evidence at the trial of Albert Widmann.]


The accuracy of the above-quoted information is put in question by the fact that the Nuremberg film is stated to have been made in 1947, i.e. two years before the discovery, in Nebe’s former Berlin apartment, of an amateur film showing a gas chamber operated by the exhausts of a car and a lorry (Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution, 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition, Thomas Yoseloff, South Brunswick, New York, page 137). It seems more likely that what was used in evidence at Widmann's trial was this amateur film discovered in 1949. If so, the question arises where the 1947 gassing sequence came from. Could it be that there were several films of this experimental gassing, and that one of these films was captured by the Allies and presented as evidence at Nuremberg?

Assuming that the 1947 film is (also) a life recording of the gassing experiment at the Mogilev insane asylum in September 1941, that the building was hermetically sealed and that no air outlet was made in the sealed building before the second hose was connected to the second opening with a pipe in it, this would mean that Nebe and Dr. Widmann made a mistake in their experiment. How long it would have taken for pressure building up inside the room to shut off or damage the engines, or at least cause them to lose power and burn a lot more fuel (see above), would probably depend on how big the room was and how tightly it was packed with insane asylum inmates to be gassed. Nebe and Widmann may have been lucky to complete their gassing experiment before the absence of an air outlet led to any of these consequences, or to any consequence beyond excessive fuel consumption. Given the evidence – which sufficiently convinced an independent court of the Federal German constitutional state that the gassing experiment had taken place and Dr. Widmann was guilty of having taken part in it – concluding on an experiment that could have gone wrong but did not seems more reasonable than denierbud's conjecture about a tale invented by technically unwise "storytellers". After all this was just the first trial-and-error approach to a procedure that, as Just’s letter to Rauff of June 5, 1942 shows, was eventually purged of this error when homicidal gassing with engine exhaust was conducted on a large scale.

3. Killing experiment with explosives

Earlier on page 10 of Arad's book, the author describes a killing experiment carried out by Nebe and Dr. Widmann at an insane asylum near Minsk, in which the insane were blown up with explosives:

In September 1941, Einsatzgruppe B was faced with the task of liquidating the patients of the lunatic asylums in the cities of Minsk and Mogilev. Nebe decided to find a simpler way for his men to kill the mentally diseased, other than by shooting them. He contacted Kripo headquarters and asked for their help in carrying out the killing of the insane with either explosives or poison gas. Dr. Widmann of the Criminal Police was sent to Nebe in Minsk, but before he left, Dr. Widmann discussed with the director of the Criminal Police Technological Institute, Dr. Heess, ways of using the carbon monoxide from automobile exhaust for killing operations in the East, based on the experience gained from the euthanasia program. Dr. Widmann took to Minsk 400 kgs of explosive material and the metal pipes required for the gassing installations.
Nebe and Dr. Widmann carried out an experimental killing using explosives. Twenty-five mentally ill people were locked into two bunkers in a forest outside Minsk. The first explosion killed only some of them, and it took much time and trouble until the second explosion killed the rest. Explosives therefore were unsatisfactory.


Denierbud calls this a "ridiculous" experiment on how to kill "millions of Jews" with explosives. He also tells his viewers what he thinks makes this experiment so "ridiculous": "Explosives would take a toll on the bunker as well, by blowing it up, and imagine the mess."

Say what?

The bunker in question, as we shall see below, was a bunker-like wooden refuge, i.e. something that could be set up without too much of an effort.

And the mess, as we shall also see below, was one of the reasons why the method of killing by explosives was not pursued beyond this one experiment.

But was the possibility of such mess a reason not to try this experiment at all?

One should bear in mind the problem that experimenting with this and other killing methods to replace mass shooting was meant to solve: the emotional stress of regularly bumping off at close range large numbers of defenseless people, including many women and children, with the victims screaming and crying and their blood and brain matter flying all over the place and unto the killers’ boots and uniforms, was taking a toll on the executors' psyche, and therefore alternative killing methods were sought that would spare the killers the direct confrontation with their victims. Blowing the victims up from afar came to mind as such a method, and it promised the additional advantage of giving the victims a more "humane" death: instead of suffering the agonies of death panic as they were waiting for their turn to be lined up in front of a trench or ravine or lie down inside it, and then for the fatal bullets to hit them, the victims would be unsuspecting of their fate until killed by the explosion in a split second, without even realizing what was going on. So this method was at least worth a try, not because it would make killing more efficient if it worked – it would hardly be a match for mass shooting as concerns efficiency – but because it would spare the victims suffering and keep the executors from losing their minds.

Incidentally, explosives were considered a recommendable method for killing large numbers of people at a time – more so than homicidal gassing, and on a par with mass shooting – by no less a "Revisionist" icon than Fred Leuchter. Leuchter said as much in the documentary film Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., as is mentioned on the Wikipedia page about this film (emphasis added):

In the course of the film Leuchter goes so far as to state frankly that he could not believe in the gas chambers because he could not himself conceive of their mechanics, although he makes it plainly evident that he knows very little of the history in which these arose. He suggests a series of options (hanging, shooting, and explosives), most of which the Nazis had in fact attempted (shootings and explosives) before determining that direct, ongoing, and extensive SS involvement would not be sufficient to the genocidal objectives they set for themselves after earlier forays into mass murder, such as Einsatzgruppen and Babi Yar.
.

The exact words used by Leuchter in the film were the following (emphasis added):

It's a tough job...

to execute several hundred people at once.

We have a hard job executing one man.

I think it would be easier to shoot them or hang them.

I probably could do a reasonably good job by building a multiple gallows...

and hanging people at once.

I probably could execute more people...

within a shorter time frame.

Why didn't they just shoot them?

Bullets would've been cheaper than doing this.

Why didn't they just blow them up?

Why didn't they take them down into a mine and seal the mine off?


While Leuchter’s conjectures are not less ignorant than denierbud’s, it's amusing to see a mass killing method recommended by "Mr. Death" himself called "ridiculous" by one of his admirers (denierbud seems to have Leuchter in high esteem as a "scientist", see clip # 18 of his One Third of the Holocaust video and the related article on this blog).

The oh-so-ridiculous explosion experiment at the Minsk lunatic asylum (the outcome of which was indeed as ridiculous as it was horrifying, but then even denierbud's oh-so-efficient Germans made blunders sometimes) was reconstructed in detail in the course of the West German criminal investigation and trial of Dr. Widmann. An account of the planning and execution of this experiment, based mostly on the files of this trial, can be found on pages 368 ff. of the book Besatzungspolitik und Massenmord. Die Einsatzgruppe D in der südlichen Sowjetunion 1941-1943, by historian Andrej Angrick (English translation see my RODOH post # 10473). This account mentions that Himmler himself instructed Nebe to research for murder methods other than shooting, and that the bunkers used for the explosion experiment were "two small bunker-like wooden refuges" in a forest near Minsk. It also becomes apparent from this account that Nebe himself considered the outcome of the explosion experiment a mess, and that the mess, together with the extensive preparations, was what led to this method being rejected, despite the advantages in expectation of which the experiment had been carried out in the first place:

Meanwhile darkness had fallen, so that the »experiment team« returned to Minsk, but the next day they were back on the site of the crime in order to analyze the results and remove the traces as best as possible. After these »tests«, Nebe dismissed killings by explosion, which he - probably because they were even more burdensome on the perpetrators than other forms of murder and furthermore implied unpredictable risks to themselves - called a »very big mess« (»ganz große Schweinerei«). Dr. Widman and Schmidt were in a depressed mood after the »failure« of the »experiment«.
[…]
One day later the KTI-workers and Nebe compared the various murder techniques at the headquarters of Einsatzgruppe B in Smolensk, because Himmler had ordered a report about the results. Despite the »fitfully« occurring death, blasting was rejected on account of the extensive preparations and the need to fill in the bomb craters: »Under these circumstances the killing by exhaust was to be preferred, because there were vehicles available everywhere and any kind of room could be used.«


Another hint that makes the findings of a detailed investigation by German criminal justice authorities into a "made-up story from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about" in denierbud’s book is the amount of explosives brought along for the experiment: 400 kilograms, which denierbud apparently considers too much. Actually some redundancy or overkill is what one would logically expect to be in the plans of who was trying to find a killing method as quick and painless as possible and therefore disinclined to run the risk that the amount of explosives might not be sufficient. The question why the amount of explosives was so high seems to have also been raised during the West German criminal investigation of this incident, which also managed to establish where the explosives had been obtained:

Regarding the alternative killing variant Nebe had instructed through Werner that members of the KTI should get on their way to Minsk with 250 kilograms of explosives. As neither the KTI nor the police had such an amount of explosives at their disposal and the Wehrmacht made none available, the explosives were bought from Wasag (Westfälische-Anhaltische Sprengstoff AG) in Berlin. Widmann had increased the quantity to 400 kilograms for good measure, »because that must be done in any blasting in case something goes wrong«. With the explosives in their luggage – the detonators were transported separately – Dr. Widmann, Hans Schmidt (expert on ammunition and fires) and Dr. Hans Battista (a member of the KTI Vienna) drove to Belorussia with their drivers.


Widmann’s precaution turned out to have been justified, because something did go wrong in the initial blast, as is also mentioned in Angrick’s account:

The institution inmates were locked into the bunker with the explosive charges, the Jewish men into the other. The area was sealed off so that the »experiment« could begin. In Nebe's refuge the detonator cables were activated, then there was a short explosion. The desired effect had not occurred as expected. While the wooden roof had collapsed and the door had been blown open, half of the patients crawled or ran out of the bunker in panic, screaming loudly. While Jewish forced laborers had to catch the surviving patients in the twilight, Widmann and his companions analyzed their errors. They concluded that the explosive charge had been too weak, and a second attempt was undertaken. After this explosion the refuge collapsed completely, and there was no longer any noise. Several parts of the victims' corpses were hanging in the trees. Now the hole in the ground should have been filled-in by the Jewish ghetto inmates, but these had managed to flee in the general confusion.


Rather than a story made up to vilify the poor Germans, what we have here is the detailed reconstruction of a well-evidenced, botched experiment aimed at finding an alternative to mass shooting that would be more "humane" on both the victims and the killers – and what is more, one that corresponded to Fred Leuchter’s own ideas on how best to kill large numbers of people at one time.

4. Body-burning experiments with fire bombs

Denierbud has a problem with experiments to burn dead bodies with incendiary bombs, which are mentioned on page 171 of Arad's book in the following context:

After his appointment, Blobel, along with a small staff of three or four men, began experimenting with systems for burning bodies. The place chosen for these experiments was Chelmno, the first death camp that had been established and had been operating since the end of 1941. At that time, tens of thousands of Jews from the Lodz area had already been killed there; they were buried in pits in a wooded area. The pits were opened, and the first experiments were carried out. Incendiary bombs were tried, but these caused large fires in the surrounding woods. Then they started to cremate the bodies on wood in open fireplaces.


Denierbud’s comment: "Hmm, multiple large fires in the surrounding woods. OK."

What’s the poet trying to tell us here? That the perfectly efficient Germans of his fantasies would not have tried this method because they would have realized, without even trying, that fires caused by incendiary bombs might have undesirable collateral effects offsetting their effectiveness as a body disposal method? Such reasoning fails to take into account the situation that led to this method being attempted. Tens of thousands of bodies lying in mass graves at Chelmno had to be removed, and burning them in huge fires seemed the best way to do that, so the question was how to make such huge fires, preferably with the least effort and at the lowest cost. Incendiary bombs were a simple and effective way to start large fires at high temperatures, which were just what was needed to burn all those bodies in a speedy and thorough manner. Incendiary bombs were something that could be handled by the small staff of SS-men assigned to the task (see above quote from Arad), whereas building fireplaces to cremate the corpses (the solution eventually adopted), and transferring the corpses from the graves onto these fireplaces, required time and a workforce of permanent camp inmates. And the SS-officer in charge of burning the bodies, Paul Blobel, was not at the same time a forest-keeper, and may only have started caring about environmental side effects of his work after he or his superiors were faced with complaints about forest fires caused by the body-burning. Such complaints from the local forest administration and/or other entities were probably what caused this method to be abandoned and a burning method perhaps less comfortable but more sparing on the environment to be adopted. What's the implausible part supposed to be?

The early method of body disposal tried at Chelmno by Paul Blobel may also have been related to his experience as a combat engineer in World War I, which is mentioned in a lecture about >Operation 1005< in Riga:

During the summer of 1942 Blobel stayed several times at the >Waldlager<-section of CheŁmno to test the cremation of corpses. The local camp guards were also interested in Blobels experiments, as he knew something about flamethrowers and incendiary bombs from his experience as a combat-engineer in World War I.


5. Dragging the corpses from gas chambers to mass graves

Denierbud argues that his admired Nazi Germany, with its advanced technology (the only country to have operational jet aircraft during World War II, and miles beyond any country in rocket science) would have applied some "mechanized industrial process" to drag large numbers of bodies from the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps' gas chambers to the mass graves in which they were buried before cremation became the chosen body disposal method, instead of having permanent camp inmates carry or drag them there manually. However, he doesn’t tell his viewers what "mechanized industrial process" exactly he has in mind, let alone if such process would have produced better results than the non-mechanized method of carrying or dragging the bodies to the graves one by one. He tries to impress his viewers with big numbers ("A 100 pounds each, which is 45 kilos, that is 1,200,000 pounds of bodies to be hauled to the pits to be hauled to the pits in just one day, or 545,000 kilos"), as if transporting this weight (corresponding to the maximum number of people killed at Treblinka in one day, 12,000 to 15,000 according to camp commandant Stangl, an average weight of 45 kilos being a somewhat exaggerated assumption considering that the overwhelming majority of the victims were women, children and elderly people) to the mass graves were not just a matter of having a fast-working labor force large, organized and experienced enough. And he doesn’t tell his viewers that at Treblinka a "mechanized industrial process" was actually tried, but found to be less efficient. Arad, page 87, emphasis added:

The removal of bodies from the gas chambers and their transports in trolleys to the ditches was also a slow process, and it delayed the arrival of new victims to the gas chambers. The hand pushed trolley used to transfer the corpses to the pits would often derail and overturn, and it finally was decided to dispense with it altogether. Instead, the prisoners dragged the bodies by their feet to the ditches.


At Sobibor, on the other hand, a trolley rail was used to take the bodies to the mass graves as long as burial and not burning was the body disposal method, according to the judgment at the trial against former members of the Sobibor staff before the Hagen District Court. But then, the killing and body disposal work at Sobibor was much less intensive than at Treblinka or Belzec. Arad, page 79:

The extermination machine of Sobibor operated for months without interruptions and in an orderly way. The structure of the camp was adapted to the extermination technique and enabled more efficient treatment of the arriving transports than in Belzec. Moreover, the frequency of the transports to Sobibor was lower than in Belzec and, in most cases, less people were in each train. Usually only one train with deportees arrived daily, and there were even days without any transports. The size of the transports rarely exceeded twenty freight cars carrying from 2,000 to 2,500 people.


While at Sobibor the luxury of some form of "mechanized industrial process" for taking the bodies to the mass graves could be afforded because there were less bodies to be moved in a given time, such process was unsuitable for the permanent rush job at Treblinka, as the frequent derailing of the trolley cars (probably due the hurry), made it slower than the use of labor alone. For certain tasks, methods that "predate the invention of the wheel" (denierbud) are more effective than what "mechanized industrial process" might be employed instead, and denierbud’s SS-heroes were not enamored with mechanized processes to the point of applying such even if they were more time-consuming.


At the end of this clip, denierbud involuntarily describes himself when he remarks that "What we’re really seeing is the recurring theme of the storytellers thinking they know how the Germans would have done it.". For unless he’s well aware that his conjectures are nonsense, denierbud obviously thinks he knows that his admired Nazis would have engineered elaborate "industrial" methods for mass killing and body disposal instead of doing things in a primitive but more effective manner where necessary, and he dismisses all evidence that doesn’t fit his world-view, however conclusive, on grounds that it contradicts his preconceived notions of the technically advanced German way of mass murder.


Thanks to Sergey for his valuable input about Fred Leuchter’s utterances in "Mr. Death".

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