Sunday, June 28, 2009

Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1)

(1) - Introduction and 1. Nature and Purpose of Kola’s Archaeological Investigation

(2) 2. Location and Form of the Mass Graves

(3) 3. Corpses Found


4. Volume of the Mass Graves, Human and Wood Ashes

4.1 The Capacity of the Graves[74]


In section 4.1 of the original blog[75], I demonstrated that, contrary to what Mattogno had claimed in his book[76], there are weighty reasons speaking against the assumption that the volume of the mass graves existing at Belzec was not sufficient to take in the corpses of the ca. 434,000 Jewish deportees mentioned in the report sent by SS-Sturmbannführer Höfle in Lublin on 11 January 1943 to Obersturmbannführer Heim in Krakow[77] (hereinafter the "Höfle report") as having been delivered at Belzec until the end of 1942.



My arguments were the following:

• The number of corpses buried in each cubic meter at the Belzec mass graves must have been higher than the "maximum capacity" of 8 assumed by Mattogno, as the proportion of children must have been higher than one third. Based on Charles Provan’s experiment about how many people could have fit into the Belzec gas chambers if more than half of the deportees were children[78], I considered a capacity of ca. 15 per cubic meter, which means that the 21,310 cubic meters of burial space estimated by Kola could have taken in 319,650 corpses, if the corpses had all been thrown into the graves at the same time.
• The corpses were not thrown into the mass graves all at the same time, however. The mass graves at Belzec were filled over a period of about 8 months, each layer of mass graves being covered with sand or quicklime. The effects of the latter substance, together with those of natural decomposition, led to the bodies in the graves'lower layers losing volume and to grave space thus being "recovered" for placing further bodies into a grave.
• Furthermore there is evidence pointing to additional stretching of the grave space by top-down burning of the bodies in the graves.
• There is also evidence suggesting that the mass graves were originally deeper than was established by Prof. Kola's core drillings.

The first thing that Mattogno takes issue with is my having based my calculation on the number mentioned in the Höfle report (434,508 Jews delivered at Belzec until the end of 1942) as the total number of this extermination camp’s victims, instead of sticking with the "official" number of 600,000 Belzec victims. He points to several other estimates, mostly higher than the "official" figure, that he had made a pointless fuss about over 3 ½ pages of his book[79] before mentioning in that section's last sentence that, according to German sources, the number of Jews deported to Belzec was 434,508. This figure, he claims, has not been accepted by "holocaust historiography" as representing the total death toll of Belzec extermination camp, and his critic as "a simple amateur who plays the historian together with his holocaustian luncheon companions" ("un semplice dilettante che gioca a fare lo storico con i suoi compagni di merenda olocaustici") is not entitled, in the bitching coryphée's distinguished opinion, to make a downward revision of the "official" figure.

The nonsensical nature of this argument aside – what matters, after all, is the figure or order of magnitude that is best supported by evidence, whether or not it has been accepted as "official" by related historiography –, Mattogno has thus revealed that he reads and/or renders of "holocaust historiography" only what is convenient to his argument. Mattogno learned about the Höfle report figure from the 2001 article by Witte and Tyas[80], so he cannot have failed to notice that these authors considered the Höfle report figure to be "nearly identical with the actual total number"[81]. It would seem that professional historians Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas are not part of Holocaust historiography, in Mattogno's book - or at least not of "official" historiography, whatever that is supposed to be. And neither is renowned German historian Wolfgang Scheffler, who according to Witte & Tyas "arrived at a minimum figure of 441,442 victims from identified towns and villages, and explained that a precise calculation was not possible because of additional unknown transports"[82]. The Höfle report is also mentioned by Robin O'Neill, one of Mattogno's two favorite whipping boys (the other being Michael Tregenza) from "official" historiography, who writes that the analysis of Witte and Tyas "is supported by the findings of Wolfgang Scheffler, who estimated 441,442 victims from identified towns and villages in the General Government and Galicia, but did not take into account the 100,000 foreign Jews or other unknown transports"[83]. O’Neill’s assumption of "other unknown transports", which goes against Witte and Tyas’ assessment, is obviously not accepted by German historian Dieter Pohl, a leading authority in research on the Nazi genocide of the Jews, who refers to Belzec as follows (my translation)[84]:

Belzec (south of Lublin), extermination camp from March to December 1942. Deportations from the Galicia, Lublin and Cracow districts of the General Government. Ca. 435,000 victims, three survivors.


Online sites dealing with Belzec – including the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - have also adopted Höfle's figure[85]. The USHMM site states the following:

Between March and December 1942, the Germans deported approximately 434,500 Jews and an undetermined number of Poles and Roma (Gypsies) to Belzec, where they were killed. Most of the victims were Jews from the ghettos of southern and southeastern Poland. The Germans also deported German, Austrian, and Czech Jews previously sent to transit camp-ghettos in Izbica, Piaski, and elsewhere to Belzec.


So much for Mattogno’s claim that the 600,000 figure established by the Polish Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes has been almost unanimously accepted and almost all contestations of that figure have been upwards ("accettata quasi unanimamente e contestata quasi sempre al rialzo").

After showing how much – or how little – he knows about Holocaust historiography, Mattogno explains how he arrived at his assumed "maximum capacity" of 8 corpses per cubic meter, based on fellow "Revisionist" John Ball’s "study" of the mass graves at Hamburg, Katyn and Bergen Belsen. He takes issue with my having pointed out that the number of bodies buried per cubic meter in other mass graves at other places, using other methods and with other purposes in mind, is of no relevance whatsoever to how the available grave space was used at Belzec, making an amusing fuss about how I, like others of my "ilk" ("come i suoi congeneri") in another context, supposedly shun "experimental data" about burial in mass graves even though such data are indispensable assessment criteria because they are based on "real experience". Actually my "congeneri" and I are aware of something that Mattogno and other pseudo-scientific charlatans have at best failed to understand, which is that nowhere except at mass murder sites such as Belzec there were hundreds of thousands of people buried in very deep mass graves, and nowhere else it was necessary to use limited burial space available as economically and sparingly as in these extermination camps. This alone means that conclusions derived from the number of bodies per cubic meter at places like Hamburg, Belsen or Katyn are of limited if any validity as concerns places like Belzec. Furthermore the age and sex composition of the dead in the Belzec graves on the one hand and in the Hamburg, Belsen or Katyn graves on the other are a significant differential factor to be considered, which further limits the usefulness of assumptions derived from other "real experience". The only real experience that matters here is that of 434,500 people who disappeared from the face of the earth at a place called Belzec.

My criticism of his assumptions regarding the age and sex composition of the deportees to Belzec (I argued that children must have been a majority, whereas Mattogno had generously made allowance for the "hypothetical existence of children as comprising one-third of the victims") Mattogno dismisses as being based on just two eyewitness testimonies (one of these being that of Kurt Gerstein, go figure) and avoiding the "fundamental point" that according to Holocaust historiography, Belzec was a camp of total extermination, without any distinction between those able and those unable to work. He omits my mention in this context of a contemporary German source whereby Belzec was a place where the unemployable Jews were sent – even though he mentions this same source in an incidental criticism of Hilberg's assessment of Belzec as a camp for indiscriminate extermination[86]. And his knowledge of "storiografia holocaustica" again leaves much to be desired, for he is obviously unaware of the fact that, according to research more recent than Hilberg's, the extermination of Jews in the Generalgouvernement was carried out in several phases[87], the first not being yet characterized by a total and indiscriminate extermination of both working and non-working Jews.

In a first phase, until mid-1942, the goal of German occupation authorities in the Generalgouvernement and other areas was to decimate the Jews by murdering those not required for work and therefore "useless", while the others were still to do forced labor for some time to serve the German war industry[88]. The second phase of the extermination process, according to Gerlach[89], began in August 1942, when in connection with a threatening food crisis in the Reich, which was to be avoided by increased food supplies from the Generalgouvernement (where the food situation was highly critical already) it was decided to kill all remaining Jews, including the workers, within the shortest possible time. Even in this phase, however, an intervention of the armament and labor service authorities, aimed at maintaining urgently needed Jewish skilled labor, led to the Jews working in the armament industry being temporarily spared[90].

The result of the second phase by the end of 1942 is reflected in the Korherr Report, "long version"[91]: out of an original Jewish population of about 2 million under German rule in the General Government (1.3 million at the time of its constitution plus 700,000 in what Korherr calls the Lemberg District, i.e. Eastern Galicia, which was added to the General Government after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union starting 22 June 1941), a mere 297,914 were still left by the end of 1942. A total of 1,274,166 had been deported, ostensibly to the "Russian East" but actually to the camps of "Einsatz Reinhart", as is confirmed by, among other evidence, the Höfle report[92]. The remainder had died of starvation and disease or fallen victim to on-the-spot shootings[93] and been recorded by Korherr in the categories "emigration" and "excess mortality" in the "short version" of his report[94]. In mid-July 1942, according to Gerlach[95], about 1.5 million Jews in the Generalgouvernement were still alive. The number of 1.5 million surviving Jews was mentioned at a government meeting called in by General Governor Frank for 24 August 1942, the protocol of which contains the following statement by the head of the agriculture department, Naumann[96] (my translation):

"The food supply of the Jewish population, so far assumed to number 1.5 million is cancelled, that is, except for an assumed number of 300,000 Jews who are still working in the German interest as craftsmen or otherwise. [...] The other Jews, 1.2 million in total, will no longer receive food supplies."


Governor Frank stated the following[97](my translation):

"It is noted merely at the margin that we are sentencing 1.2 million Jews to death by starvation. It is understood that a non-starvation of the Jews will hopefully lead to an acceleration of anti-Jewish measures."


At the end of the year in which this decision was taken, only 297,914 Jews were still alive in the Generalgouvernement, thereof 161,514 in the Galicia district and only 136,400 in all other districts together. Gerlach remarks[98] (my translation):

It can hardly have been a coincidence: this number [297,914] corresponded almost exactly to that "assumed population number" of 300,000 according to the food supply plan of 24 August 1942 by the Generalgouvernement's Main Department for Food and Agriculture.


These ca. 300,000 had not been included in the deportations to the Aktion Reinhard(t) extermination camps. It stands to reason that these spared working Jews must have been almost exclusively adults, which in turn means that deportations to the extermination camps must have included a lower percentage of adults than the general Jewish population. If we assume that out of 1,572,080 Jews from the Generalgouvernement who were either transported to the Reinhard(t) camps (1,274,166) or still alive in ghettos at the end of 1942 (297,914), 29.6 % or 465,336 were children up to 14 (according to Mattogno's source Jakob Leszczynski), then the remaining 1,106,744 were adults. If - as follows from the above-mentioned sources - 297,914 of these adults were alive in ghettos at the end of 1942, it follows that of the 1,274,166 murdered in the Reinhard(t) camps until 31.12.1942, 465,336 or 37 % were children and 808,830 or 63 % were adults.

In transports from the Galicia district, where a large part if not the majority of the deportees to Belzec came from, the proportion of children must have been even higher. Assuming Korherr's original population figure of 700,000[99] and comparing this figure with the number of Jews still in ghettos in that district by 31.12.1942 (161,514, according to Korherr), one concludes that the percentage of Jews kept alive in the Lemberg district as laborers was higher than in the Generalgouvernement as a whole - 161,514 ÷ 700,000 = 23 % vs. 297,914 ÷ 2,000,000 = 15 %[100]. The same survival rate for Galicia follows from the study of Sandkühler[101], who considers Korherr’s 700,000 figure too high and assumes a minimum Jewish population of 530,000 in the Galicia district at the time it was occupied by Germany in mid-1941, of which 120,000 (Korherr’s figure of 161,514, according to Sandkühler, failed to take into consideration mass shootings[102]) were still alive at the end of 1942. Until mid-March 1942, when deportations to Belzec started, about 100,000 of the at least 530,000 Jews in the Galicia district in mid-1941 had either come under the jurisdiction of another district due to a border correction (ca. 20,000), or succumbed to mass shootings, hunger and disease (ca. 80,000)[103]. If the 430,000 Jews still alive in Galicia in mid-March 1942 included 29.6 % = 127,280 children up to 14 and 430,000 minus 127,280 = 302,720 adults, and if there were no children up to 14 among the ca. 120,000 survivors at the end of 1942 assumed by Sandkühler, the ca. 310,000 who were deported to Belzec or succumbed to mass shootings, hunger and disease between mid-March and December 1942 would consist of 182,720 = 58.9 % adults and 127,280 = 41.1% children. Assuming Korherr’s figure of 161,514 survivors at the end of 1942 is correct, the distribution of the 430,000 – 161,514 = 268,486 dead would be 141,206 = 52.6% adults and 127.280 = 47.4% children. Another source[104] gives the number of Jews in the Galicia district in January 1942 at 404,162, which (assuming the 29.6 % / 70.4 % relation as per Mattogno's source) would mean 119,632 children and 284,530 adults. Set against the 161,514 Jews in Galician ghettos at the end of 1942, mentioned by Korherr, this would mean 242,648 Galician Jews shot or deported to Belzec, thereof (assuming that the 161,514 Jews left behind were workers and thus adults, i.e. people older than 14) 123.016 adults (51 %) and 119.632 (49 %) children. Set against the 120,000 survivors assumed by Sandkühler[105], the 404,162 – 120,000 = 284,162 dead would consist of 164,530 = 57.9% adults and 119,632 = 42.1% children.

At least as concerns transports from the Galicia district, Mattogno’s assumption that "hypothetical" children made up just one third of the victims is thus mistaken.

This is one of the mistakes affecting Mattogno’s clamoring about how woefully unrepresentative of the Jewish deportees to Belzec the test group in Charles Provan’s gas chamber occupation experiment (two young male adults weighing 63 and 62 kg, an elderly lady weighing 49 kg, four children weighing 25, 26, 19 and 15 kg, and a doll representing a baby weighing 7 kg, average weight 33.25 kg)[106] is supposed to be. Another is Mattogno’s arguing that the adults’ weight corresponds to the average weight of adolescents 14 to 16 years old, and that Provan’s experiment is therefore based on the false assumption that there were no adults at all among the deportees to Belzec. This is utter nonsense. While it may be true that children/adolescents aged 14 to 16 have a weight of over 60 kg these days, that would hardly have been so in the 1940s, when people were less tall on average than they are today and children/adolescents 14 to 16 years old accordingly didn't have the average heights that would correspond to these weights. Furthermore we are not talking about well-fed present day Europeans or Americans here, but about ill-fed or starving Polish ghetto Jews, who (according to contemporary anthropological studies referred to by Provan[107]) were also somewhat less tall on average than Germans at the time. According to an online weight table after Brocca[108], 62 to 63 kg is the normal weight of persons with a height of 1.62-1.63 meters, the ideal weight of such persons being 56 - 57 kg for men and 52 - 53 kg for women. It is also the ideal weight for men 1.69-1.70 meters tall and for women 1.73-1.74 meters tall. The adult males in Provan's test group were 1.68 and 1.70 meters tall, which means that their ideal weight would be 61 and 63 kg and their normal weight 68 and 70 kg. In other words, these adults have a weight corresponding or close to their ideal weight. According to another online table based on the Body Measurement Index (BMI)[109], their normal weight would be, respectively, 54 to 70 and 55 to 72 kg. The height of the lower of these test persons was 1.68 meters, which can be safely assumed to have been the height of the average German adult in the 1940s[110]. This means that the average height of an adult Polish ghetto Jew at the same time, according to the anthropological sources referred to by Provan, was 1.60 meters[111]. Assuming that these underfed people were on average underweight but not yet skeletons like those seen on contemporary photographs from the Warsaw Ghetto[112], their weight was between 38 and 48 kg, the medium of both figures being 43 kg. According to the aforementioned BMI table, an underweight adult Polish ghetto Jew would have had to be at least 1.82 meters tall to be in the weight range of Provan's male adult test persons.

Mattogno seems to believe – or expect his readers to believe – that malnourished Polish ghetto Jews in the 1940s had the same average size and weight as present day Europeans. This is how he arrived at his assumed “maximum capacity” of 8 bodies per cubic meter in the Belzec mass graves (my translation):

As concerns the percentage of children, according to demographer Jakob Leszczynski the percentage of Jewish children and adolescents up to 14 in 1931 Poland was 29.6 %, that is a little less than 1/3.

Based on scientific tables about growth, the average weight of children and adolescents up to 17 years is 35 kg. If for an adult one assumes an average weight of 70 kg, the average weight of 3 persons (two adults and one child or adolescent) is ([70 + 70 + 35]: 3 =) 58.3 kg. Therefore 6 corpses of adults, with a weight of (70 x 6 =) 420 kg, are the equivalent of (420: 58.3 =) 7.20 corpses of adults and children-adolescents in the relationship of 2:1. According to another table, until 14 years the average weight is circa 25.4 kg, which in this case leads to an average weight of 55.1 kg and a density of (420 : 55.1 =) 7.6 corpses per cubic meter.

The figure of 8 corpses per cubic meter that I have assumed is based on my calculations is therefore rounded upwards.


According to Brocca’s table[113]], 70 kg is the ideal weight of a male 1.78 meters high or a female 1.82 meters high. It is also the normal weight of an adult person 1.70 meters high. Are we asked to believe that Jewish adults in starving Polish ghettos in the early 1940s were 1.70 meters high on average and had a normal weight, or a lower ideal weight? According to the BMI table[114], a person with a height of 1.70 meters is underweight at 43 to 55 kg and has a normal weight at 55 to 72 kg. If adult Jews in Polish ghettos in the early 1940s were 1.70 meters high on average, my name is Mattogno. As pointed out above, an average height of 1.60 meters is more realistic. As concerns weight, Provan[115] mentions that "The Jews of eastern Poland (and specifically, Lvov/Lemberg, which is where the Jews of Gerstein's account are said to have come from) were, in August of 1942, ill-fed and even starving." Ill-fed or even starving people tend to be underweight if not skeletal, and the weight range of underweight adults 1.60 meters tall, according to the BMI table, is 38 to 48 kg. I'll assume that the average weight of adult Jews in Polish ghettos at the time was in between the upper and the lower value, i.e. (38+48) ÷ 2 = 43 kg (which is probably optimistic considering what is known about food and health conditions and related mortality in Polish ghettos). According to Mattogno's "other table", the weight of an adult is 2.76 times that of a child up to 14. This relation would mean a weight of 43 ÷ 2.76 = 15.6 kg for ill-fed or starving children in Polish ghettos. Rounding up the latter value, a group of two adults and one child from a Jewish ghetto in Poland would thus weigh (43+43+16)/3 = 34 kg, meaning that
a) Gerstein’s estimate of 35 kg[116] was realistic despite being nothing more than an educated guess;
b) The average weight of Provan’s child-heavy test group (33.25 kg) is close to the average weight of an adult+adult+child group of ill-fed or starving Polish ghetto Jews in the 1940s.
c) According to Mattogno's formula 420 ÷ 34 = 12.4 (12) corpses with this average weight could fit into 1 cubic meter of grave space.

Now to Mattogno’s reference weight based on "experimental data" (6 adults a 70 kg per cubic meter = 420 kg per cubic meter). Alex Bay[117] calculated the space that would be occupied by a human being having the measurements of proportions of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Vetruvian Man", and concluded that 91,000 corpes with the proportions of the "Vetruvian Man" and an assumed height of 68 inches (1.73 meters) could have fit into 8,502 cubic meters of grave space - 10.7 (11) per cubic meter. The ideal weight of a person 1.73 meters high would be 66 kg for men and 62 kg for women. Taking the lower value, 10.7 human bodies with the measurements and weight of an ideal adult person 1.73 meters high would have a weight of 10.7 x 62 = 663.40 kg, instead of Mattogno's 420 kg. Using the higher value as a reference, the unrealistically high weights assumed by Mattogno for an adult+adult+child group, i.e. (70+70+25,6) ÷ 3 = would mean 663.40 ÷ 55.13 = 12.03 (12) corpses per cubic meter. With the more realistic weights for malnourished Polish ghetto Jews that I established above, the average would be 663.4 ÷ 34 = 19.51 (20) corpses per cubic meter. With Provan’s test group, the average would be 663.4 ÷ 33.25 = 19.95 (20). This is more than the average that results from my previous calculation based on Provan's experiment, and the difference is not hard to understand considering that the height of the space I considered (that of a Belzec gas chamber according to Gerstein) was 1.9 meters, whereas the tallest person in Provan's experiment was 1.70 meters tall. Provan's box had a volume of 21 x 21 x 60.5 = 26,680.50 cubic inches or 0.44 cubic meters, and he managed to squeeze 8 people (including the doll representing and baby) into that space - a concentration of 18.2 per cubic meter. These were living people, and they were "able to breathe just fine" according to Provan, meaning that there was still some space left in the box not filled by their bodies. Provan's photos[118] suggest that the box could have taken in one or two more bodies, at least of children, if the bodies had needed no breathing space because they were dead. The difference between the realistic calculated concentration for an adult+adult+child group of ill-fed or starving Polish Jews (19.51 corpses per cubic meter) and the concentration calculated for Provan's test group with the same reference parameter of 663.40 kg, i.e. 19.95 corpses per cubic meter, is not very big because Provan's test group, while consisting mostly of children, was made up of healthy and well-fed (though not overweight) present-day Americans. Applying Polish ghettos weights to Provan's test-group members (i.e. 43 kg for each of the three adults and 16 kg for each of the five children), the average weight would be [(3x43)+(5x16)]÷8 = 26.13 kg, and the calculated concentration would be 663.40÷26.13 = 25.39 corpses per cubic meter. This means that, if the age and sex distribution of half-starved Polish ghetto Jews deported to Belzec had been like that of Provan's test group, the 21,310 cubic meters of grave space estimated by Prof. Kola could have taken in over 540,000 dead bodies. With the calculated concentration for an adult+adult+child group weighing as much as half-starved Polish ghetto Jews can realistically (even somewhat optimistically) be expected to have weighed, the number that could be buried at one time in this grave space was 19.51 x 21,310 = 415,758.

Mattogno, incidentally, doesn't seem to be wholly disinclined to accept concentrations higher than the 8 per cubic meter he calculated based on "experimental" data. On page 147 of Mattogno & Graf's book about Treblinka[119] the authors tell their readers that "3,000 bodies take up a volume of about (3,000×0.045 =) 135 m3". The concentration they are assuming here is 3,000 ÷ 135 = 22 bodies per cubic meter...

The conclusion I reached in my original article as concerns the capacity of the mass graves was the following:

If 703 living persons could fit into a space of 5 x 5 x 1.9 = 47.5 cubic meters, this meant a density of ca. 15 persons per cubic meter in the Belzec gas chambers. What applies to living people certainly applies to corpses, so it can be assumed that 15 corpses out of a transport to Belzec made up in more than half by children could be made to fit into one cubic meter of burial space in the Belzec mass graves. Assuming such composition for all transports to Belzec, and without taking into consideration the emaciation and size factors mentioned by Provan, the 21,310 cubic meters of burial space estimated by Kola could have taken in 319,650 corpses – if they had been thrown in there all at once.


In view of the above considerations, this conclusion must be considered a rather conservative one.

Mattogno takes issue with my assumption that what applies to living people as concerns fitting them into a certain space certainly applies to corpses. He claims that Provan’s test persons contracted themselves as much as possible to fit into Provan’s test box, whereas rigor mortis would have made it extremely difficult to put 15 corpses per cubic meter into a mass grave, considering that dragging the bodies from the gas chambers to the graves must have taken much longer than the 2 hours that, according to survivor eyewitness Reder (quoted by Mattogno), were necessary to fill all gas chambers with people. Mattogno cites a source whereby rigor mortis takes between 2 and 13 hours, usually 9 hours, to be complete[120], and further argues, based on another source, that homicidal gassing would have led to a phenomenon known as cataleptic rigidity.

There are several mistakes in Mattogno’s argumentation.

First of all, Provan’s test group didn’t have to strain very much to fit into Provan’s test box, as becomes apparent from Provan’s description of his experiment[121].
Second, apart from Provan's test group having fit into the box easily, Provan couldn't have packed them in so tightly that they no longer were able to adequately breathe – a constraint he would not have faced with dead bodies.
Third, rigor mortis would only affect maneuverability of the corpses after it began, it would take some time until maximum stiffness was achieved, and after that it would start dissipating and eventually disappear completely. According to the Australian Museum[122], rigor mortis "commences after around 3 hours, reaching maximum stiffness after 12 hours, and gradually dissipates until approximately 72 hours after death". According to another online source[123], rigor mortis begins within two to six hours of death, "starting with the eyelids, neck, and jaw". It stands to reason that the stiffness of eyelids, neck and jaw is not a exactly a huge obstacle to the manhandling of a corpse.
Fourth, it doesn’t follow from the time required to put all people into the gas chambers that the time required to withdraw the bodies would be much longer or even equally long. Actually shoving nervous and reluctant or at least passively resisting living people into several small rooms in a building may take longer than it would take a sufficiently dimensioned team of workers, always kept on the run by their overseers, to withdraw the dead bodies from the gas chambers and take them to the mass graves.
Last but not least, the phenomenon of cataleptic rigidity or cataleptic spasm, which Mattogno invokes to make the victims’ bodies stiff more quickly than rigor mortis would, rarely affects the whole body, according to Mattogno’s own source about rigor mortis[124]. Cataleptic rigidity may have occurred in some of the victims of gassing at Belzec, though there is no eyewitness testimony I know of that mentions a post-mortem stiffness suggesting this phenomenon. The most detailed description of gassing victims I have read, that of former SS-man Karl Alfred Schluch[125], suggests no such rigidity.

In addressing my argument that the mass graves at Belzec were filled over a period of about 8 months and mass grave space must thus have been "recovered" due to bodies in the graves' lower layers losing volume through the effects of quicklime and decomposition, Mattogno starts out with some classic fish-wife bitching. He takes issue with my having quoted a passage from the Düsseldorf Court of Assizes' judgment at the 1st Treblinka Trial[126] while omitting the judgment at the Munich Belzec trial in which (how frightfully shocking!) the court very conservatively estimated the capacity of the Belzec homicidal gas chambers at 200 to 300 people, way below Gerstein’s estimate of 750. Building on this showpiece of "Revisionist" fish-wife mentality, Mattogno then argues that if I accept as accurate Gerstein’s claim that the mass graves remained open for the bodies therein to settle and further bodies to be added on top, and that there were "4 times 750 persons in 4 times 45 cubic meters", i.e. 3,000 people in the four gas chambers, I must also be assuming that 4,500 people were killed in the five Belzec gas chambers (of which Gerstein mentions only four) in each gassing session, as I hold that all transports to Belzec consisted predominantly of children and the deportees had an average weight of 35 kg. Considering that the average volume of the Belzec mass graves identified by Prof. Kola was (21,130÷33 =) 640 cubic meters, it follows, in Mattogno’s reasoning, that

1) Each day 4,500 Jews were murdered at Belzec, whose corpses occupied (4.500÷15 =) 300 cubic meters of mass grave space, and thus after (640÷300 = 2.1) little more than two days a grave was completely full and no longer usable.

2) The number of victims I consider accurate – 434.508 – were killed in (434,508÷ 4,500 =) circa 96 gassings.

3) The camp operated for about 240 days (8 months), thus on average there was (240÷96 = 2.5) one gassing every two and a half days.

Thus a mass grave is supposed to have filled within little more than four days on average, leaving no room for my "conjectures" about the bodies losing volume through the effects of quicklime and natural decomposition.

The first thing we have here is a mendacious misrepresentation of my argument. It cannot have escaped the coryphée of "Revisionism" that it's completely irrelevant to my argument whether the Belzec gas chambers actually took in 200-300 at a time as conservatively assumed by the Munich Court of Assizes at the Belzec Trial or 750 as per Gerstein's account (which referred only to those gassings he personally observed, whereas the Munich Court's estimate is obviously an average for all gassings). Whether this was so, or whether the Munich County Court’s more conservative estimate is closer to fact, is completely irrelevant to my argument. The only thing that matters for my argument is that a concentration as per Gerstein's estimate was plausible, that it was physically possible, and that a similar concentration of bodies in the Belzec mass graves was therefore also physically possible.

Second, we have here a breakdown in logic that is as infantile as it is typical for "Revisionist" argumentation. If one accepts certain information provided by an eyewitness as accurate or at least plausible, this doesn't imply that one is accepting all information provided by that eyewitness as accurate or even plausible. Eyewitnesses can be right regarding some aspects of their testimony and wrong regarding others, and they usually get the essentials of their narrative right even if their observation or recollection may leave much to be desired as concerns certain details. This applies even in regard to problematic witnesses such as Gerstein. Gerstein's accounts may contain some wild exaggerations and other false data, but what he wrote, for instance, about the management of mass grave space at Belzec, makes perfect sense and is also corroborated by Stangl's testimony, as I pointed out in my original article and Mattogno conveniently ignored. Keeping open the mass graves for natural decomposition to reduce the corpses’ volume as quickly as possible and then adding further bodies is one of the things I would have done had I been Belzec's first commandant Christian Wirth or his successor, if faced with the task of accommodating first tens of thousands and eventually hundreds of thousands of bodies in mass graves in a part of the limited area of a small camp.

Third, Mattogno’s calculations are oversimplified in three respects:
1. They postulate an equal size of all 33 graves, though we know well from Kola’s report that the size of the graves varied considerably, from very large ones to graves so small that it was assumed they had only been used as ash disposal pits following the burning of the corpses.
2. They postulate an equal size of all transports, although documentary evidence shows a considerable variation in the size of transports arriving at Belzec. Some transports to Belzec were as large as or larger than the transport described by Gerstein (e.g. the transport from Kolomea discussed in part 5 of my original article[127]) whereas other transports carried only a few thousand Jews, and there were days when arrivals at Belzec numbered less than 1,000 or even only a few hundred[128].
3. They postulate a regular cadence of large transports and related gassings at Belzec, one every two and a half days. Actually there were times when transports arrived at Belzec day after day without letup, and other times when transports arrived only at larger intervals. There was even a period during the camp's operation, lasting from about mid-April to mid-May 1942, when no transports arrived at all[129].

Rather than rely on oversimplifications like Mattogno does, I modeled on an Excel spreadsheet a more realistic scenario of mass grave space management and presumable grave space economy resulting from such management, based on what information I have at my disposal about day-by-day arrivals at Belzec, the size of the mass graves and the chronological order in which they were dug. This model depends on many assumptions and makes no pretense to be anything like an accurate calculation of mass grave space management at Belzec – such a calculation would only be possible if it were known how many of the 434,508 Jews mentioned by Höfle arrived at Belzec on exactly what days of the camp's operation, what mass graves were dug and filled at what times and how long each of these mass graves remained open. Nevertheless, the model can claim to be far more precise than Mattogno's oversimplified thumb calculations, and while its results are not nearly precise enough to be statements of fact, they give an idea of the order of magnitude of grave space economy that an efficient grave space management could ideally have achieved.

The first part of my model is a list of the number of people who arrived at Belzec during each of the 267 days of killing operations at that camp, between 17 March and 8 December 1942. There is no table of transports to Belzec containing a day-by-day breakdown of the 434,508 arrivals mentioned by Höfle, but there is a table in Appendix A of Arad’s study on the Reinhard(t)camps[130] that adds up to a higher number (513,142, according to my summation) and allows for a day-by-day breakdown of this number, albeit with certain assumptions and the inaccuracies inevitably resulting from such assumptions. Thus where Arad gives a number of deportees covering a certain period (e.g. 30,000 Jews deported from Lublin between 17 March and 14 April 1942), I assumed a more or less even distribution of the number of deportees over the period in question, taking into account information about the daily number of deportees where available (as in this one case, where there is information about a daily number of 1,500 deportees[131]). Where the time is stated as the beginning or the end of a certain month, I assumed the date being, respectively, the first or the last day of that month. Where only the month is stated, I assumed the date to be the middle of the month. This leads to a "bunching" of deportees on certain dates as I have the data derived from Arad (which are ordered first by the district, county and towns where the deportations originated and only thereafter by date) sorted according to the first criterion of deportation start date (the most disadvantageous option for my argument, as it puts dead bodies into the mass graves earlier than an ordering by deportation end dates would). This "bunching" is unrealistic but difficult to avoid in a model based on assumptions as concerns certain dates, and as it is disadvantageous to my argument (for the same reason that sorting according to deportation end date is, i.e. that it leads to a faster filling of the mass graves in the model), I decided to put up with it. Further assumptions concern the number of deportees where Arad's list gives only an order of magnitude; thus I assumed 300 deportees from Kamionka-Strumilova in the Galicia district on 28 October as corresponding to the "hundreds" mentioned in Arad's list, and regarding the deportations from Zbaraz on August 31 and September 1 I assumed "hundreds" to mean 400 deportees, 200 of them on each day. I furthermore corrected what I consider to be a mistake in Arad's list: the start date of the first wave of deportations from Lvov in the Galicia district is given as being 15 March 1942, which I think cannot be correct as Belzec extermination camp only started operating on 17 March 1942 with the arrival of the first transport from the Lublin ghetto[132]. Therefore I replaced 15 March 1942 with 17 March 1942 in my list of deportations to Belzec by place of origin and date.

The first part of the aforementioned model is shown below in digital copies of the corresponding Excel tables ("List of deportations to Belzec by place of origin and date" – Table 1 and "List of deportations to Belzec by date" – Table 2). The second table shows both the assumed number of deportees arriving and being killed on each day and the corresponding cumulated number of deportees who had arrived and been killed until that day inclusive.

Table 1: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5

Table 2: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5.

The second part of the model sorts the cumulated numbers of corpses from the "List of deportations to Belzec by date" according to how old they are, i.e. how long they have been lying in mass graves on a given date. The purpose of this subdivision is to establish how many corpses can be assumed to have been in a given state of the decomposition process on a given date, assuming only natural decomposition (i.e. without factoring in the accelerating effect of quicklime poured on the bodies[133]) and that the mass graves were kept open (as is suggested by Gerstein's and Stangl's descriptions and corresponds to my own idea of "how I would have done it", see above). The following periods were considered, based on the duration of the various phases of the decomposition process[134]:

a) Bodies up to 10 days old, i.e. up to the maximum duration of the Putrefaction stage above ground[135];
b) Bodies older than 10 days but less than 20 days old, i.e. the period between the maximum duration of the Putrefaction stage above ground and the maximum duration of the Black Putrefaction stage above ground[136];
c) Bodies older than 20 days but less than 50 days old, i.e. the period between the maximum duration of the Black Putrefaction stage above ground and the maximum duration of the Butyric Fermentation stage above ground[137];
d) Bodies older than 50 days but less than 80 days old, i.e. the period between the maximum duration of the Butyric Fermentation stage above ground and the maximum duration of the Black Putrefaction stage below ground, which according to the sources mentioned in section 4.2 of my original article[138] is four times longer than above ground;
e) Bodies older than 80 days but less than 200 days old, i.e. the period between the maximum duration of the Black Putrefaction stage below ground and the maximum duration of the Butyric Fermentation stage below ground.
f) Bodies older than 200 days.

The result of this subdivision is shown in the below digital copy of my Excel table "Cumulated number of bodies divided according to time since burial" (Table 3).

Table 3: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5.

According to this table, the "age" of the bodies in the Belzec mass graves on the day the last transport was gassed was the following:

Less than 10 days: 8,700 (1.70 %)
Between 10 and 20 days: 15,300 (2.98 %)
Between 20 and 50 days: 36,950 (7.20 %)
Between 50 and 80 days: 23,180 (4.23 %)
Between 80 and 200 days: 348,060 (67.83 %)
More than 200 days: 80,952 (15.78 %)
Total: 513,142 (100.00 %)

Applied to the 434,508 Jews deported to Belzec according to Höfle’s report to Heim of 11 January 1943, the following breakdown is obtained:

Less than 10 days: 7,367 (1.70 %)
Between 10 and 20 days: 12,955 (2.98 %)
Between 20 and 50 days: 31,288 (7.20 %)
Between 50 and 80 days: 19,628 (4.23 %)
Between 80 and 200 days: 294,723 (67.83 %)
More than 200 days: 68,547 (15.78 %)
Total: 434,508 (100.00 %)

The next part of the model calculates an indicator for the amount of grave space required. In order to factor in the loss of volume due to decomposition, the indicator must be either the volume of the bodies or a magnitude related to the volume, the body weight. I picked the latter for the simple reason that it allows for more easily calculating an average and I already established the average life body weight of people buried in the Belzec mass graves before – 34 kg. This would be the weight of the bodies until the end of the Putrefaction stage, perhaps temporarily increased due to putrefaction gasses. A huge loss of weight would then come in the Black Putrefaction stage, in which "A large volume of body fluids drain from the body at this stage and seep into the surrounding soil."[139]. By the end of the Butyric Fermentation stage, the body would be dried out and have no fluids left. A more precise calculation of what loss of volume and weight corresponds to each stage may be necessary in responding to Mattogno’s comments about section 4.2 of my original article[140], but for now I assumed that the average weight of all bodies older than 50 days would be half the life weight, i.e. 17 kg (which corresponds to a loss of most but not all the water in the body). The below Table 4 – "Cumulated burial weight per day" shows the following:

• Column (a): cumulated weight in tons of the bodies less than 50 days old (i.e. up to the maximum duration of the Butyric Fermentation stage above ground), obtained through multiplying the added numbers of bodies from the columns "10d ≥ n", "20d ≥ n > 10d" and "50d ≥ n > 20d" of the table "Cumulated number of bodies divided according to time since death and burial" by an average weight of 34 kg.
• Column (b): cumulated weight in tons of the bodies more than 50 days old, obtained through multiplication by an average weight of 17 kg of the added numbers of bodies from the columns "80d ≥ n > 50d", "200d ≥ n > 80d" and "n ≥ 200" of the same table.
• Column (c): cumulated weight in tons of bodies buried/requiring burial, which is the sum of columns (a) and (b).
• Column (d): (additional) burial weight requiring burial space on a given day, calculated as the difference between the total burial weight on that day and the total burial weight on the previous day. This value will be positive if additional bodies were buried on the respective day and zero if there were no additional bodies buried on that day, and it will be negative where occupied burial space has been freed due to the shrinking of the bodies' volume and weight during the decomposition process, i.e. where burial space already used up has been recovered due to decomposition of the corpses.

Table 4: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5.

Column (d) in Table 4 is the input for the table in which the usage of the available mass grave space according to the (additional) burial weight requiring burial space will be calculated. In order to do this calculation, it must first be established what burial weight (assuming an average corpse weight of 34 kg) the volume of each mass grave, as established by Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological investigation, corresponds to. This is done in the table "Burial weight capacity of mass graves" (Table 5), shown here below. This table contains the following data:

• Number and volume of each grave according to Mattogno's table based on Prof. Kola’s data[141].
• Part of camp in which the grave is located. Prof. Kola[142] found the graves concentrated in two parts of the former camp area: "The first zone, probably the older one, contained the graves appearing close to the other in western and north-western part of the camp" and "The other zone of the graves appearance takes up the north-eastern area of the camp. 12 graves were reported here (about 36% of the total number), with more regular forms (mainly of a rectangle view), which differed from one another in size and appearing in significant scattering". The first zone described by Kola is identified by the initials "NW" for "North-West", the second by the initials "NE" for "North-East". Furthermore a distinction is made between burial graves (BG) and crematory graves (CG). The former are mass graves initially filled with dead bodies, which now contain cremation remains from the burning of the bodies exhumed from the graves and sometimes bodies in wax-fat transformation that for some reason were never exhumed. The latter are smaller graves used only to dump cremation remains after the burning of the bodies. I assumed that a grave was a crematory grave if it is very small (volume below 150 m3) or expressly referred to by Prof. Kola as a crematory grave, as is the case of grave # 2[143].
• Number of bodies in each mass grave at different concentrations per cubic meter, columns (a), (b) and (c). Column (a) uses the concentration that results from applying Mattogno's formula with Mattogno’s reference weight (6 adult bodies a 70 kg = 420 kg), but with realistic weights for half-starved Polish ghetto Jews (43 kg adults, 16 kg children) instead of the weights corresponding to well-fed present day Europeans or Americans assumed by Mattogno. Column (c) uses the concentration that results from applying Mattogno’s formula with the aforementioned realistic weights for half-starved Polish ghetto Jews and a reference weight (10.7 * 62 = 663.40) derived from Alex Bay's calculations of a Treblinka mass grave’s capacity[144]. Column b) uses the calculation derived from Provan’s experiment and the measurements of a Belzec gas chamber according to Gerstein’s report of 4th May 1945[[145] that I used in section 4.1 of my original article - 703 bodies ÷ 47.5 cubic meters = 14.8 bodies per cubic meter.
• Weight in tons of the number of bodies that could fit into each mass grave, column (d), calculated by multiplying the number of bodies in column (b), i.e. the one calculated with a concentration of 14.8 bodies per cubic meter, with the assumed average life weight of 34 kg per body.

Table 5

The last of the columns in Table 5 is also input for the following table, in which the usage of the available mass grave space according to the (additional) burial weight requiring burial space is calculated. In this table, headed "Management of burial space taking into account gains through decomposition process" and shown below (Table 6), it is assumed that burial space was used as it became necessary, i.e. new burial space was only used when the burial space so far used was no longer sufficient to take in the next day’s load of dead bodies, and that the "Northwest" (NW) graves were used before the "Northeast" (NE) graves, the assumed order of use among the graves in each area being inevitably arbitrary for lack of corresponding data. Thus in column (a) - "Burial weight corresponding to available burial space on day (in tons)" I considered that the first grave used was grave # 10, with a volume of 2,100 cubic meters and a burial capacity of 2,100 x 14.8 x 34 ÷ 1000 = 1056.72 tons of body mass to start with on 17 March 1942. The capacity used that day, shown in column (b) "(Additional) burial capacity used up on day (in tons)" was 119 tons (input from column (c) "Total cumulated body weight (in tons)" of Table 4 - "Cumulated burial weight per day"), so that the burial capacity remaining for the next day, shown in column (c) "Burial capacity of burial space not yet used on day (in tons)" was 1056.72 – 119 = 937.72 tons of body mass. On the next day, 18.03.1942, there were no burials, so that the available burial capacity at the end of the day was the same as at the beginning. Then on the following day, 19.03.1942, an additional 85 tons of body mass were placed in that grave, bringing the burial capacity still available down to 937.72 – 85 = 852.72. And so on, day after day, until on 30.03.1942 the burial capacity of grave # 10 was down to 40.12 tons of corpse mass and new burial space had to be added to that of grave # 10 in order to cope with the next day's load of corpses. I assumed that the new burial space was that of grave # 14, with a volume of 1,850 cubic meters and a corresponding burial capacity of 1,850 x 14.8 x 34 ÷ 1000 = 930.92 tons of body mass. With the added burial space of grave # 14, total burial capacity available for 31.03.1942 was the leftover burial capacity of grave # 10 plus the outset burial capacity of grave # 14, i.e. 40.12 + 930.92 = 971.04 tons of dead body mass. With 379.85 tons of body mass buried on 31.03.1942, burial capacity shrank from 971.04 tons to 971.04 – 379.85 = 591.19 tons of body mass. And so on, new burial space being added as it becomes apparent that the existing burial space is not sufficient to cope with future daily loads of body mass. However, there are also days when body mass is gained (the value in column (b)- "(Additional) burial capacity used up on day (in tons)" thus being negative) because the decomposition process of the older bodies has freed up grave space as as becomes apparent from Gerstein’s description in his report of 4th May 1945[146]:

After a few days the corpses welled up and a short time later they collapsed, so that one could throw a new layer of bodies upon them.


The model conservatively assumes this recovery of grave space to occur only when decomposition has reached the end of the Butyric Fermentation Stage above ground, and of course I expect the "collapsing" of the bodies and the resulting gain of burial space to be a gradual process rather than something that happens from one day to the next. However, such gradual development is impossible to simulate in my calculation model, already because I don’t have the required data at my disposal, so in Table 6 below it looks like burial space is gained from one day to the next as a given additional number of dead bodies ages beyond the 50-day threshold.

Table 6: Page 1; Page 2; Page 3; Page 4; Page 5; Page 6; Page 7.

The end result of calculations in the above table is that by 8 December, with a total of 513,142 people killed and buried at Belzec, mass graves with a total burial capacity of 10,401.13 tons (i.e. all graves identified by Prof. Kola except for the small ones I considered crematory graves) have been put to use and 9,759.56 tons of body mass have been buried in these mass graves, i.e. not all of these mass graves' burial capacity has been used and another 641.57 tons of body mass could still be buried in them (the situation where 100 % of all burial graves’ capacity is used would be reached with an average weight of bodies older than 50 days of ca. 18.42 kg instead of the assumed 17 kg).

The total volume of all burial graves is 20,670 cubic meters, i.e. 513,142 dead bodies have been buried in 20,670 cubic meters of burial space, a concentration of 24.83 bodies per cubic meters. The number of bodies that could have been buried in the same graves at a concentration of 14.8 bodies per cubic meters, i.e. if all bodies had been buried at once with their average life weight of 34 kg or maintained that weight throughout the camp’s period of killing and burial operations, would have been merely 305,916. Leaving the graves open as long as possible and thus taking the best possible advantage of the decomposition process, it was possible, in this model scenario, to bury an additional 207,226 bodies, i.e. to increase the burial capacity by 67.74 %! The total body mass mentioned above, 9,759.56 tons (10,401.31 tons if bodies older than 50 days weighed ca. 18.42 kg instead of 17 kg on average) corresponds to 60,950 corpses or 11.88 % of the total with a "dead for up to 50 days" – weight (which is unrealistically assumed to be equal to the life weight) plus 452,192 bodies (88.12%) with a "dead for more than 50 days" – weight (which is assumed to be half the life weight). Applying this relation to the 434,508 deportees mentioned in Höfle’s message to Heim of 11 January 1942, we would have 51,610 corpses with a "dead for up to 50 days" – weight plus 382,898 corpses with a "dead for more than 50 days" – weight. The total weight of these corpses, depending on whether one considers 17 kg or ca. 18.42 kg as the average weight of decomposed bodies (more precisely: bodies beyond the longest duration of Butyric Fermentation in the open), would be 8,264.01 or 8,807.25 tons – 79.45 % % or 84.68 % of the 10,401.13 tons established as being the available capacity of all burial graves.

As I said at the beginning of the above demonstration, this is a model, which makes no pretense to be anything like an accurate calculation of mass grave space management at Belzec. It depends on many assumptions where precise data are lacking, and it assumes an ideal scenario in which all bodies in open mass graves decompose within the maximum times for each stage of decomposition in the open that are given on the Australian Museum’s "Decomposition" pages. Actually the bodies in an open mass grave's lower layers may decompose more slowly than those in the upper layers, though I don’t expect the difference to be as high as in relation to bodies buried underground. On the other hand, however, it has not been factored in to what extent the use of quicklime would hasten decomposition. On the whole the scenario considered in this model seems realistic, and it is certainly much closer to the actual burial space management at Belzec than Mattogno's oversimplified milk-maid calculations. While of reduced relevance to demonstrating sufficiency of the burial space estimated by Prof. Kola for the number of corpses corresponding to Höfle's report of 11 January 1943 (as the concentration of 19.51 bodies per cubic meter established above means that 415,758 out of 434,508 bodies could have been buried in all Belzec mass graves and 403,272 could have been buried in the 20,670 cubic meters of the burial graves alone even if all bodies had been buried at the same time or maintained their original mass and weight), the model shows what significant contribution the decomposition process could have made – and probably did make – to the SS' management of the burial space they had available Belzec.

That said, I return to Mattogno’s pathetic considerations as he, through a markedly self-serving and far-fetched interpretation of Gerstein’s above-quoted statements, tries to throw sand in his readers’ eyes by, among other things, filling the Belzec mass graves with as much sand as he possibly can.

After a book by one of his companions in "Revisionism"[147], Mattogno renders an Italian translation of a statement of Gerstein’s reading as follows:

Dopo qualche giorno i corpi si gonfiavano e il tutto si innalzava di 2–3 metri a causa dei gas che si formava nei cadaveri. Dopo qualche giorno, il rigonfiamento cessava [e] i corpi ricadevano [giù] insieme. Un altro giorno le fosse furono riempite di nuovo e coperte di 10 centimetri di sabbia.


My translation:

After some days the bodies swelled and all rose up by 2-3 meters because of the gas that formed inside the corpses. Some days afterwards, the swelling stopped and the bodies collapsed. Another day the graves were filled up anew and covered with 10 centimeters of sand.


Mattogno argues that the swelling and collapsing process was a matter of just a few days, instead of the "long phenomenon of decomposition". This is a weak argument insofar as Gerstein is obviously describing the final filling of a grave that has been filled to the rim and become first more than filled as the bodies welled up (2 to 3 meters above the rim, according to Mattogno's text), then again less than filled as the bodies collapsed, and finally filled again with the final layer of bodies. The 10 centimeter sand cover that Gerstein describes was thus the graves' final cover, and it wasn't much of a cover as heads and arms kept protruding[148], which also means that it cannot have significantly if at all slowed down the decomposition process. If Mattogno argues that according to Gerstein the welling-up and collapsing process took only a few days, he is shooting himself in the foot, for Gerstein's description would mean that the decomposition process until the bodies collapsed (obviously as their liquids seeped out of them in the Black Putrefaction phase[149]) was a lot faster than I assumed above based on the maximum durations in the open stated on the Australian Museum's "Decomposition" pages (a possibility borne out by a video shown on the same pages[150]). This, in turn, would mean that grave space at Belzec became free for further bodies a lot faster than I conservatively assumed, which in turn would drag out the time until new mass grave space had to be used or at least the extent to which it was necessary to use new grave space at a given time. It does not mean that the graves were "finished" within just a few days as opposed to weeks or months, as Mattogno would have it. On the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume that the process of allowing the bodies in the grave to settle and then placing new bodies into the thus freed grave space had been repeated several times before the grave was so full that the corpses' welling-up would push them above the rim. And with a ten centimeter cover layer of sand it is also likely that the decomposition process continued at more or less the same pace and the grave in question could receive at least one further layer of corpses in the future.

Mattogno's next and equally poor argument is that Gerstein is only describing the reduction of the corpses' volume from the highly bloated aspect they had acquired due to the putrefaction gasses, but says nothing about a reduction of the bodies original volume. True enough, but the Australian Museum’s "Decomposition" pages show that a reduction of the original volume is what happens when a body collapses, after bloating during the putrefaction stage, as not only the gasses but also a large amount of liquids leaves the body. What Mattogno doesn't realize is that the "gigantic" swelling of the corpses he refers would only push them above the rim of the grave as described by Gerstein in the statement quoted by Mattogno if the grave was full or almost full before this welling-up occurred. When the bodies had been placed in the grave, there had been no room for more bodies, and with the welling-up the mass grave even "overflowed". But as the bodies collapsed and settled, the grave that had been first full and then overfilled became less than full, so that more bodies could be added. If the collapsing of the corpses had merely brought them back to the volume they had had before welling up, as Mattogno is apparently arguing here, it would not have been possible to add further bodies on top as described by Gerstein.

Now comes the sand-filling trick. Mattogno understands Gerstein's and Pfannenstiel's description in the sense that every other or every layer of bodies in a Belzec mass grave (and not just the final topmost layer) was covered with a layer of sand 10 centimeters thick, and calculates that one-third or half of the mass graves' space available for burial would thus have been filled with sand. The SS, according to Mattogno's calculations with the capacity of 15 corpses per cubic meter considered in my original article, are supposed to have filled with sand burial space large enough to hold 105,000 or 205,000 corpses. And I'm supposed to have omitted this inconvenient fact.

Actually Gerstein's account doesn't allow for concluding that a layer of sand 10 centimeters high was poured on top of every two layers of corpses; all that can be inferred from his description is that the final topmost layer of corpses in a mass grave was covered with a ten centimeter layer of sand. In what concerns the layers below, Gerstein's description might as well be interpreted as suggesting that no sand was poured on top of each of the lower layers, or at least not a layer of sand 10 centimeters thick. With his calculations Mattogno did me the favor of telling me what they would imply: one third or half of the grave filled with sand instead of bodies, depending on whether he has 10 cms of sand poured on every two layers of corpses (as per his adventurous extrapolation from Gerstein's description) or "marries" Gerstein's 10 cm with Pfannenstiel's mention of a layer of sand covering every layer of bodies. Being as they were in need of carefully managing their available grave space at a small place like Belzec, the last thing the SS would have done is to waste so much grave space on sand layers, which in turn means that, if sand was poured on top of every layer or every two layers of corpses, it can only have been a very thin layers of sand and not layers ten centimeters thick[151].

In a particularly amusing fit of Mattognian hysteria, the "Revisionist" coryphée accuses me of having omitted the fact that Gerstein exaggerated not only the depth of the pits, but also their length and width, which together with the exaggeration of the pits' depth made one single pit have a larger volume than the actual volume of all 33 grave pits identified by Prof. Kola (100 x 12 x 20 = 24,000 cubic meters vs. 21,310 cubic meters). This exaggeration, according to Mattogno, undermines the witness’s credibility to such an extent as to render unsustainable any assumptions based on that witness's account. And only with a single mass grave of the size claimed by Gerstein, according to Mattogno, would the filling have taken so long as to allow for the corpses' decomposition to free mass grave space.

The latter supposition has been proven nonsensical by my above calculation model (Tables 1 to 6 and related explanations). As to the former argument, Mattogno is indulging in dishonest fish-wife bitching in a puny attempt to discredit his opponent. If I consider Prof. Kola’s archaeological finds accurate, I'm obviously not accepting Gerstein’s data about the length and width of the mass graves just because I happened not to mention that they are exaggerated as well (think before writing, Charlie). And the statement whereby 750 persons could fit into a room of 25 square meters if (as Gerstein also mentions) half of them were children has been experimentally proven plausible, notwithstanding Mattogno’s hysterics. As to the average weight of deportees on the transports Gerstein observed, his estimate has been shown by my above calculation to be even on the high side. An adult+adult+child group of underweight Polish ghetto Jews must have weighed less than the 35 kg estimated by Gerstein. Gerstein may have been at odds with Kola or other evidence in as many details as Mattogno would like to make a fuss about, but this doesn’t change the fact that his descriptions of grave space management and his estimate about the average weight of the deportees he observed, among other parts of his account, are plausible and/or in line with other evidence, and can therefore be accepted as accurate, however much else there is in Gerstein’s accounts that must be dismissed as obviously exaggerated or otherwise unreliable. This approach is not cherry-picking, as Mattogno might want to call it, because the criterion for accepting certain parts of this witness’s testimonies as accurate and dismissing others as inaccurate is not convenience; it is plausibility and/or corroboration by other evidence. For who claims to be a historian Mattogno seems to know damn little about how historians assess and use evidence, so I’ll let someone who unlike Mattogno deserves being called a historian – Prof. Christopher Browning – tell him how it is done. Emphases in the following quote[152] are mine:

Many aspects of Gerstein's testimony are unquestionably problematic. Several statements he attributes to Globocnik are clearly exagerrated or false, and it is not clear whether Gerstein or Globocnik was the faulty source. In other statements, such as the height of the piles of shoes and clothing at Belzec and Treblinka, Gerstein himself is clearly the source of exaggeration. Gerstein also added grossly exaggerated claims about matters to which he was not an eyewitness, such as that a total of 25 million Jews and others were gassed. But in the essential issue, namely that he was in Belzec and witnessed the gassing of a transport of Jews from Lwow, his testimony is fully corroborated by Pfannenstiel. It is also corroborated by other categories of witnesses from Belzec.


Mattogno's speech about Gerstein being unreliable to the point of not being usable as a witness does not, however, keep Mattogno from using parts of another equally pooh-poohed witness's account in his favor, for he attacks my argument that the corpses were systematically arranged inside the mass graves so as to save space on grounds that what I assumed (and the Düsseldorf Court of Assizes concluded regarding Treblinka) is contradicted by who Mattogno calls the most important eyewitness of Belzec, surviving inmate Rudolf Reder. This witness claimed that the bodies were thrown into the mass graves at random and only the upper layer, which protruded 1 meter above the ground, was systematically arranged before being covered with sand and quicklime. Reder is also invoked as "refuting" my assumptions regarding the concentration of bodies in the mass graves, because (this is how ridiculous Mattognian "Revisionism" gets) his grossly exaggerated claims about the dimensions of the graves would, if set against his claims about how many bodies were buried in each grave, lead to a concentration of less than three bodies per cubic meter. On the other hand, he doesn’t qualify in Mattogno’s book as evidence that the upper layer of bodies protruded 1 meter above the mass graves' rim before first growing even further and then settling to ground level.

This is one out of several examples of Mattogno's schizophrenic use of eyewitness testimony (eyewitnesses are liars or lunatics except insofar as their accounts can be used to support Mattogno's argument), together with the counterintuitive postulation, at odds with reason as well as forensic and historical experience, that a witness is either 100 % right or 100 % wrong, that who accepts parts of an eyewitness’s testimony as accurate is thus taking the whole testimony at face value and that an eyewitness who got some details badly wrong (like Reder the measurements of the mass graves) must have everything wrong (except, of course, for what favors "Revisionist" claims or arguments). What utter nonsense. Reder may have been lousy at estimating the measurements and occupation of the mass graves. He may have been lousy at figures altogether, as his overblown estimate of the number of Belzec's victims suggests. He may not have been able to observe the whole procedure of arranging all bodies in the graves as described by Arad[153] and thus wrongly assumed that this procedure was only applied regarding the topmost layer of bodies (which, unlike arranging every layers in a space-saving manner, would have been a pointless thing to do). But does that necessarily exclude his having accurately observed that the upper layers of bodies protruded above the rim of the graves at first and later settled? There is nothing counterintuitive or at odds with the laws of nature in this description; in fact it is in line with what is known about the decomposition process from my Australian Museum source[154], and also corroborated by Gerstein's description, which obviously refers to the upper layer of a filled mass grave (see above). Mattogno's fallacious "all or nothing" approach is not how historians handle evidence, as someone who like he pretends to be a historian should know.

The following pages of Mattogno’s response are dedicated to my assumption, based on testimonies by German hygienist Dr. Wilhelm Pfannenstiel and the diary notes of Wehrmacht non-commissioned officer Wilhelm Cornides, that the capacity of the Belzec mass graves may have been further stretched by partially burning the corpses in the graves to make room for further corpses. Mattogno refers to this assumption as "another", no less unfounded hypothesis that I’m supposedly clinging to because I’m fully aware of the inconsistency of my (other) arguments – a showpiece of mendacity and wishful thinking, as I expressly referred to a factor that may have been of influence besides those discussed before. The next misrepresentation follows suit as Mattogno rambles about the supposed absurdity of Gerstein and Pfannenstiel having observed the same events together but the former having noticed "only" burial of the corpses whereas the latter noticed "only" the corpses' burning.

First of all, it is a known phenomenon in judicial interrogation that different witnesses recall different details at different times, and that what caught one witnesses’ attention to the point of sticking in that witness's memory may not have been that interesting to another witness.
Second and more important, Gerstein did not necessarily describe a gassing and body disposal procedure he had witnessed together with Pfannenstiel. Michael Tregenza, quoted by Mattogno, points out that Gerstein must have been at Belzec more often than his visit together with Dr. Pfannenstiel[155]. A statement in this sense was made by Pfannenstiel himself during one of his depositions, when he surmised that the contradictions between his and Gerstein's account were due to Gerstein's having conflated what he saw during several visits to Belzec into the description of a single gassing and body disposal procedure[156]. How come Mattogno left this important statement out of his rambling against Pfannenstiel?
Third and most important, the burial according to Gerstein vs. burning according to Pfannenstiel juxtaposition is a false dilemma, as Pfannenstiel described burning of the corpses not as an alternative to burial but as a part of the burial process, a means of stretching the available grave space. His deposition on 25 April 1960, quoted by Mattogno[157], could not be clearer in this respect (emphases mine):

From the inspection site the corpses were taken directly to deep mass graves that had been dug in the vicinity of the extermination installation. When the pits were rather full, the corpses were doused with gasoline – it may have been some other flammable liquid – and were then lit. I could only determine that the corpses burned just partly. Then another layer of earth was thrown over the corpses and then fresh corpses were placed into the same pit.


Mattogno’s auxiliary argument is that the partial burning of corpses would not have significantly reduced their volume and stretched the available mass grave space. The merit of this argument can be assessed by taking a look at the following photos of partially burned corpses at the Klooga concentration camp in Estonia, especially the following ones[158] (images can be enlarged by clicking on them; caution: graphic images!):

USHMM 47624 Soviet soldiers observe recently burned corpses stacked on sawed lumber on the grounds of the Klooga concentration camp


USHMM 47627 Burned corpses lie on the grounds of the Klooga concentration camp


USHMM 59486 The partially burned corpses of former inmates are lined up on the ground at the Klooga concentration camp


Mattogno pretends to be particularly offended at my pointing out that his claiming the wholesale falsity of Pfannenstiel’s descriptions of mass murder at Belzec means postulating the existence of sinister conspiratorial entities hell-bent on putting together a false record of what had happened at Belzec during World War II and accordingly pressuring witnesses, entities that would have included or enlisted the support of the criminal justice authorities of the German Federal Republic. No, Mattogno emphatically protests, he does not proclaim or adhere to such conspiracy theories. His theory, he explains, is that wartime black propaganda had created the false idea that Belzec had been an extermination camp, that this false idea had been furthered by criminal justice and historiography in the immediate postwar period, and that by the time West German criminal justice investigated and put on trial suspected participants in Nazi crimes this "official historical – juridical frame" (quadro storico–giudiziario ufficiale) was so consolidated that the poor "imputati" had no choice but to accept it unconditionally in order to diminish the penalties applied against them. So despite Mattogno’s protestations that his "thesis" does not involve German criminal justice authorities pressuring defendants into making false confessions in order to obtain lenient treatment, Mattogno is accusing German criminal justice authorities of just that – of having neglected their legal duties to investigate and established the truth and tried to force-feed a pre-established "historical-juridical framework" to defendants who meekly played along with this charade and didn't even try the obvious first line of defense that anyone accused of a crime will try unless he is aware that the evidence to the contrary is too strong, that of denying that a crime occurred. Just how nonsensical such conjectures are has been demonstrated in one of my previous blogs[159]. If I had been the defense attorney of defendants at the 1965 Munich Belzec Trial or prior investigation procedures, and if my clients had told me a version of events according to which Belzec was not an extermination camp, I would have advised them to stick with that version to the end and done my best to tear apart any incriminating witness in cross-examination. Why care about the previous findings of Soviet and Polish investigators and judges or about what allegations had been made at the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal? A court of the German Federal Republic was in no way bound by these previous findings and could well reach conclusions contradicting the "historical-juridical framework" that Mattogno babbles about. It should be pointed out in this context that the prosecutors and courts of the German Federal Republic have been credited by at least one historian with having made a key contribution to historical knowledge about the Nazi extermination camps, their findings of fact being the main foundation of the existing "historical-juridical framework" rather than the consequence of a pre-established record[160].

Following this demonstration – which will be reinforced throughout his subsequent considerations – that he professes the very conspiracy theories he claims not to adhere to, Mattogno turns to regurgitating the conjectures in his book about Pfannenstiel’s "career" as the "official guarantor of the truth of the Gerstein report", which is supposed to have saved Pfannenstiel from prosecution and earned him at least "a small act of gratitude on the part of historiographers" (to whom Mattogno apparently attributes the same degree of corruption and dishonesty as he does to the criminal justice authorities of the Federal German Constitutional State)[161]. In private, however, Pfannenstiel is supposed to have expressed "what he really thought", namely in a letter he wrote to the father of "Revisionism", Paul Rassinier, in which he referred to Gerstein’s report as "this most incredible piece of trash in which 'poetry' far outweighs truth". Actually Pfannenstiel wrote nothing that historians like Prof. Browning (see above quote) haven’t realized as concerns Gerstein’s account, and also nothing that he didn’t say at his interrogation on 6 June 1950[162]. And what Mattogno doesn’t tell his readers is that Pfannenstiel told Rassinier, in private conversation and without being conceivably subject to any form of pressure, about having visited the Belzec extermination camp together with Gerstein and witnessed a gassing there. What is more, Pfannenstiel mentioned the "only partially successful" burning of the corpses in the graves at Belzec, though not as something he had witnessed himself – at least this is Rassinier’s rendering – but as something he had been told about by camp commandant Christian Wirth[163].

Mattogno directs at me one of the rhetorical questions in his book[164]:

Today, some official historians, such as Tregenza, consider Pfannenstiel’s testimony more important than Gerstein’s, which is (finally) regarded as inadmissible. But why was Gerstein, if describing an actual event, constrained to provide an account so demented as to render it inadmissible?


The nonsense about Gestein’s testimony being considered "inadmissible" by historians aside (see Prof. Browning’s above-quoted statement, and Michael Tregenza’s referring to Gerstein’s account as "unreliable"[165] is not the same as his calling it wholly useless and "inadmissible"), this oh-so-bright question is easily answered: Gerstein was obviously a fantasy-prone person in whose recollections imagination mingled with reality, without this changing the fact that the essential aspects of his account, especially the mass murder by gassing he witnessed at Belzec, are confirmed by the depositions of more sober eyewitnesses, and that some none-essential details mentioned by Gerstein (namely those that support my assumptions discussed above) are quite plausible. This corroboration Mattogno cannot explain away, his pathetic attempts to make believe that corroborating witnesses were influenced by Gerstein's account (he expressly claims this as concerns Pfannenstiel) being doomed to failure by, besides the lack of evidence to any such influence, the low opinion of Gerstein's account professed by Pfannenstiel both in private (the letter to Rassinier that Mattogno makes so much of) and in public (the deposition of 6 June 1950), and the mention, towards both Federal German criminal justice authorities and Rassinier, of details that do not figure in Gerstein’s account.

In my original article I asked the following in question:

Why should Pfannenstiel have invented this detail, which, as Mattogno’s conspiratorial phantoms lead him to point out, "was in contradiction both with his own statements, with the Gerstein report, and with official historiography (G. Reitlinger)"?


Unable to answer this question, Mattogno tries to circumvent it by arguing that, because of Pfannenstiel’s failure to mention burning of the bodies in previous depositions (namely the aforementioned deposition on 6 June 1950), the question should rather be why Pfannenstiel lied about this detail. Projecting one of his own standard tactics, Mattogno accuses me of having conveniently omitted this contradiction with prior depositions, and he amusingly does so before discussing my explanation why such contradiction – which I expressly refer to – should not be taken as an indication that Pfannenstiel knew and was influenced by another source, namely Cornides’ diary notes[166]. Supposedly because I didn’t know what else to cling to ("Non sapendo a che cosa appigliarsi"), I referred to a legal handbook for trial judges and attorneys[167] whereby additions or changes of details in various depositions made by a witness are nothing uncommon in forensic practice, and even considered to speak in favor rather than against the witness's reliability regarding the core of the testimony. Mattogno sharply points out that what we have here is not an addition or change but a "contradiction" because the corpses were cremated rather than buried (actually, as we have seen, the partial cremation mentioned by Pfannenstiel was not an alternative to but a part of the burial process). He apparently forgot to read the last part of the translated excerpt from Bender and Nack’s treatise, whereby not only extensions on the one hand and one or the other omission on the other are a reality criterion, but "even major corrections of the first deposition may be".

Mattogno lamely asks how Pfannenstiel’s memory could possibly have improved over the years (something I didn’t claim was the case and is neither implied by Bender and Nack’s treatise), before continuing to regurgitate his baseless conjectures about Pfannenstiel's testimonies having been influenced by Gerstein's account, and to push the false burning-versus-burial dilemma by pointing to Reitlinger's having mentioned that erasing the traces of the camp lasted until June 1943 and a witness noticed the stench of exhumed corpses as late as April of that year - as if partial cremation to stretch burial space and the general exhumation and cremation of the bodies at the end of Belzec's operation period were not two entirely different pairs of boots, and all bodies had been completely reduced to cremation remains.

Then comes the inevitable argument that the SS should and thus would have burned the bodies right away, which apart from being moot in the face of evidence fails to take into account that, as Mattogno well knows, evidence shows how it took the SS a while to work out a burning process at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps that would effectively reduce the corpses to cremation remains, even after it had been decided to burn all the corpses[168].

In my original article I pointed out that Pfannenstiel’s description is corroborated by the notes of Wehrmacht non-commissioned officer Cornides (a source, by the way, that Mattogno didn’t spend a word on in his Belzec book), which mention "a strong smell of something burning" from inside the camp and descriptions of smoke rising from the camp by Cornides' interlocutors, one of whom attributed the burning smell to a "crematorium", i.e. a device for burning human bodies. Mattogno’s objection is that this smell and smoke could have come from the burning of the victims’ personal belongings. To be sure, there are other possibilities as to where the smell of burning noticed by the passengers in Cornides' train came from. However, the explanation that is borne out by two other elements of evidence – Pfannenstiel's account and the account of the Chelm policeman also mentioned by Cornides – is that the smell came from the burning of corpses. And one cannot rule out the possibility that the burning smelled by the passengers in Cornides' train and mentioned by Cornides' policeman interlocutor in Chelm had something to do with the phenomenon mentioned by Pfannenstiel, which in turn means that, for all his waffle, Mattogno cannot rule out Pfannenstiel's having been right about bodies being burned in the burial pits at Belzec. The only alternative explanation for the smell of burning, incidentally, is not exactly one that would favor Mattogno's "Revisionist" articles of faith.

What follows is another of Mattogno's, well ... appeals to authority. Pfannenstiel's testimonies and Cornides diary have been known for decades, Mattogno tells us (thereby making the omission of the latter in his book look all the more deplorable), yet none of the "maximum Holocaust specialists of the Belzec camp", be it Arad or Tregenza or O’Neill, ever mentioned anything about bodies being burned inside mass graves, in order to stretch burial space, prior to the general exhumation and cremation of the corpses that started in November 1942.

My comment to this pathetic argument is: so what? The evidence is what matters, not what historians or researchers made or failed to make of it. Amateurs like me are at least as entitled to point out details in evidence that have been overlooked or not considered relevant by historians as propagandistic charlatans like Mattogno are. The same applies as concerns the number of people killed at Belzec, which Mattogno brings up again: whatever (over)estimates have been made by eyewitnesses, historians or other researchers have no impact on the fact that the documented number of people deported to and killed at Belzec is the one that becomes apparent from the Höfle report, 434,508.

Displaying his characteristic tendency to see in evidence only what he wants to see, Mattogno next refers to Cornides’ notes – a rather explicit and damning piece of evidence that, as was already mentioned, he failed the address in his book – as further proof of his "point" that the Belzec camp and what was going on there could be seen with relative ease. Again, what's that supposed to mean? It is as well-known fact that the Polish underground reported about Belzec as early as April 1942, certain that the Jews taken to that place were being killed there though still reduced to speculations (the hypotheses considered were electricity, gas and pumping out the air) about how the killing was being done[169]. There is also no question that the mass murder at Belzec was an open secret among the population of the surrounding areas, as is shown by Cornides' diary entries, among other evidence. So what? The SS could live with what was known to local Poles and Germans, and they had no choice anyway. A compromise had to be made as concerns secrecy in order to have access to good railway connections, which was the essence of Belzec's functioning. You can’t have everything when you build and operate an extermination camp.

Mattogno's final argument against concluding from Pfannenstiel's testimonies that bodies were burned in the graves is that Pfannenstiel described only one single occasion of such happening – apparently we are asked to believe that commandant Wirth had the bodies cremated only on one single day to honor his distinguished visitor, and that despite the several references to body-burning by the interlocutors recorded in Cornides’ diary. Far more likely is what Pfannenstiel told Rassinier: that Wirth had described this burning procedure to him as one that had been tried with only partial success, and eventually given up again, presumably because the results were not considered worth the huge amounts of fuel expended.

After repeating his nonsensical claim that at least one third of the mass grave space would have been filled with sand – which is supposed to have offset any gain of grave space from corpse volume reduction by burning – , Mattogno contests my argument that the SS tried to make the most of the available grave space, by invoking the "confused and irrational" arrangement of the mass graves that supposedly becomes apparent from Prof. Kola’s map and has been discussed before[170]. How the concentration of the mass graves in the north-western and north-eastern parts of the camp is supposed to be incompatible with an effort to save grave space is beyond my understanding.

Arguing on both sides of his mouth, Mattogno then asks what kept the SS from using a larger part of the camp as grave space. The SS' lack of skill and limited availability of machinery for making graves comes to mind, as do considerations of hygiene relevant to the camp staff's own safety, which Mattogno himself pointed out[171]. More important, it's not as if any part of the camp's area not used for mass graves had been left idle, is it? Perhaps Mattogno would like to point out where in the camp the SS could have made more graves than they did without disturbing the other functions of the extermination process.

On the other hand, air photo analysis by Alex Bay suggests that indeed there were more graves, along the camp's north-eastern border, than were discovered in that area by Prof. Kola[172]. If Bay's findings are correct, this would reduce the relevance of the present discussion about grave space at Belzec. As the additional mass grave shapes identified by Bay are in the north-eastern camp sector, his assumption that the regular shapes of these grave reflected the greater expertise and use of machinery that characterized the camp's later operation stages would also be in line with Prof. Kola’s assumption that the graves in the north-western sector were the older and the ones in the north-eastern sector the more recent ones[173].

In my original article I finally argued that the depths of the mass graves established by Kola need not have been the original depths of the mass graves, a consideration supported by Kola's having referred to the 4-5 meters depth of some of the graves (as Mattogno was quick to unnecessarily point out, this statement referred only to the majority of the graves in the camp’s north-eastern area) as being the "optimum" ones, by the fact that at least one of the graves (grave # 10, which happens to be in the camp’s north-western area) was found to be 5.20 meters deep in places, and by the estimate of a former member of the camp’s SS-staff, Alfred Schluch, according to which a mass grave he described was 5 to 6 meters deep. Mattogno's counter-argument consists in banging on the table and proclaiming that, as Michael Tregenza based his upward revision of the number of Belzec’s victims on Prof. Kola's "effective" archaeological results alone (which is false – Tregenza also refers to "recent research" besides Kola’s excavations as the source of his conclusions – and would be irrelevant if correct), all that counts are the "effective" findings of Prof. Kola and everything else are "vain and inconsistent conjectures". Mattogno apparently hasn’t understood that it is for him to rule out the realistic possibility that at least some of the mass graves were deeper than established by Prof. Kola, and that this is not done by his hand-waving dismissal of the evidence pointing in that direction.

Mattogno ends his considerations in this section with some confused waffle about what my "fallacious or arbitrary" assumptions would imply, followed by an equally pointless attack against the results of the Munich Belzec trial, based on the discrepancy between the figure of 434,508 victims that is proven by the Höfle report and former SS-man Heinrich Gley's estimate whereby 540,000 corpses were burned at Belzec between November 1942 and March 1942, which is supposed to have been a lie that the court uncritically took at face value. It apparently hasn’t dawned on the coryphée of "Revisionism" that numbers are something few eyewitnesses get right, especially when it comes to such orders of magnitude, without this meaning that the eyewitness in questions didn't testify in good faith. And the Munich Court of Assizes at the Belzec trial, as Mattogno well knows, didn’t base its findings of fact about the number of Belzec victims on Gley's testimony but made a conservative estimate whereby at least 390,000 deportees – a number below that of the then unknown Höfle message – were killed at Belzec[174].

Prior to this last demonstration (in the section of his risposta here under discussion) of his ill-reasoning and intellectual dishonesty, Mattogno claims victory by announcing that the overall conclusion in my original article is totally worthless. Actually Mattogno has not only failed to devaluate my conclusion, hard though he tried, but also allowed me to further solidify it. Given my above calculations and considerations, I would now say that there are no reasons at all to assume that the volume of the mass graves at Belzec estimated by Prof. Kola was not sufficient to take in the corpses of the ca. 434,000 Jewish deportees mentioned in Höfle’s report to Heim of 11 January 1943.

Thanks, Charlie!

Notes

[74] Controversie, Pages 12 to 29.

[75] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (1).

[76] Mattogno, Belzec, page 85.

[77] Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, "A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during 'Einsatz Reinhardt' 1942," Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15:3 (2001) pp. 468-486 (hereinafter "Witte and Tyas"); see also the archived ARC – page Aktion Reinhard PRO Decodes, written by Stephen Tyas.

[78] Kurt Gerstein and the Capacity of the Gas Chamber at Belzec, by Charles D. Provan (hereinafter "Provan, Capacity").

[79] Mattogno, Belzec, pages 47 to 50.

[80] Mattogno, Belzec, page 103.

[81] Witte and Tyas, page 472.

[82] As above.

[83] Robin O’Neill, Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide; Hitler's answer to the Jewish Question, Chapter 16.

[84] Dieter Pohl, Verfolgung und Massenmord in the NS-Zeit 1933-1945, 2nd. Edition, 2008 Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, page 95.

[85] Archived ARC page Belzec Camp History; Wikipedia page Belzec extermination camp, last acessed 14 June 2009, 23:23 hours GMT; German Wikipedia page Vernichtungslager Belzec, last accessed 14 June 2009, 23:25 hours GMT; USHMM Belzec page.

[86] The document in question, Fritz Reuter’s notes of 17 March 1942 about a conversation with Hauptsturmführer Höfle on the previous day, is quoted after Mattogno (Belzec, pages 103 f.) in Part 5 of my original article. What becomes apparent from this document is that Belzec was, at the time in which this document was produced, meant as a destination for the unemployable Jews and for the unemployable Jews only. There is no indication that the "large camp in which the employable Jews can be registered in a file system according to their occupations and requisitioned from there" has anything to do with Belzec. On the contrary, it is clear from the document that this labor camp is a camp other than Belzec, which is mentioned only as a destination for the unemployable Jews. According to Polish historian Bogdan Musial (Deutsche Zivilverwaltung und Judenverfolgung im Generalgouvernement, hereinafter "Musial, Zivilverwaltung", page 265), the "large camp in which the employable Jews can be registered in a file system according to their occupations and requisitioned from there" that Höfle referred to was Majdanek.

[87] See especially Christian Gerlach, "Die Bedeutung der deutschen Ernährungspolitik für die Beschleunigung des Mordes an den Juden 1942", in: Gerlach, Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord - Forschungen zur deutschen Vernichtungspolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1998 Hamburger Edition HIS Verlagsges. mbH (hereinafter "Gerlach, Völkermord"), pages 167 to 257.

[88] Gerlach, Völkermord, pages 168 f, 181. Evidence pointing to this policy, mentioned by Gerlach (Völkermord, pages 181 ff) includes Goebbels' remark in his diary entry of 27 March 1942, whereby 60 % of the Jews in the Generalgouvernement would have to be liquidated whereas only 40 % could be used for work, a statement by State Secretary Josef Bühler at the beginning of May 1942, according to which new plans provided for the Jews able to work to be kept and the others to be murdered, and a message at the end of June 1942 by Viktor Brack, the member of the Führer's Chancellery who had been in charge of the "euthanasia" killings of handicapped people, in which he suggested that out of ten million Jews in Europe two to three million should not be murdered but sterilized and used as forced laborers, as well as instructions - issued by Himmler himself and by the Commander of Security Police Cracow, e.g. regarding the clearing of the Warsaw Ghetto starting 22 July 1942 - to exempt Jews between 16 and 32 years or between 16 and 38 years from the extermination actions.

[89] Gerlach, Völkermord, page 169 and pages 210 ff).

[90] Related correspondence between Himmler and General Kurt von Gienanth, commander of the Military District of the General Government, is quoted in Yithzak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, 1987 Indiana University Press (hereinafter "Arad, Reinhard"), pages 47 ff.

[91] See online transcriptions of original text and English translation.

[92] See note 77.

[93] 70,000 in Eastern Galicia alone in 1941: Gerlach, Völkermord, page 185.

[94] See online transcriptions of original text and English translation.

[95] Gerlach, Völkermord, page 189.

[96] Transcribed in Gerlach, Völkermord, page 220.

[97] As above.

[98] Gerlach, Völkermord, pages 231 f.

[99] Korherr Report, "long version" (see note 91).

[100] One reason for this higher percentage of Jews temporarily spared becomes apparent from the Final Report by Katzmann, Commander of the SS and Police in the District Of Galicia, On "The Solution of the Jewish Problem" In Galicia: "Owing to the peculiarity that almost 90 percent of the artisans in Galicia consisted of Jews, the problem to be solved could only be carried out gradually, as an immediate removal of the Jews would not have been in the interest of the war economy".

[101] Thomas Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, 1996 Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachfolger GmbH, Bonn (hereinafter "Sandkühler, Endlösung"), page 459.

[102] As above, page 460.

[103] As above, page 461.

[104] Frank Golczewski, "Polen", in Wolfgang Benz et al, Dimensionen des Völkermords 1996 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG Munich (hereinafter "Benz, Dimensionen"), pages 411 to 497, specifically page 456.

[105] As note 102.

[106] Provan, Capacity.

[107] As above. Provan points out that "according to ethnological studies done by Dr. Otto Von Verschuer, the Jews of Poland were about three inches shorter than the average German" and that "This comparative smallness is confirmed by other authorities, notably John R. Baker and Lothrop Stoddard."

[108] Gewichtstabelle nach Brocca

[109] Gewichtstabelle nach BMI

[110] In 1890, according to an article in La Gazette de Berlin, the average body height of German army recruits was 1.64 meters. In a thread about average heights in the Wehrmacht on the Forum der Wehrmacht, a poster ("BernieW71", 15.05.2008 21:57) refers to a racial examination chart for the Waffen-SS according to which average height (mittelgross) was considered to be 1.61 to 1.70 for men and 1.51 to 1.60 for women (which would mean an average of 1.61 meters for 2 men and two women with the respective highest and lowest average height). A German book published in 1969 (Roland Göock, Die grossen Rätsel unserer Welt, Bertelsmann Sachbuchverlag Gütersloh), mentions on page 1, in a chapter discussing the existence of giants, that (my translation) "Statisticians established the average body height of Germans to be 168 cm". This average was probably higher than in the 1940, as results from the known fact that humanity has grown taller over time and is also suggested by the sources mentioned before, so that I'm probably on the high side if I assume 1.68 meters to have been the height of the average German in the early 1940s.

[111] See note 107. 1.68 meters equal 66 inches, so if the Jews of Poland were about three inches smaller than the average German, according to Provan's source Dr. von Verschuer, their average height was 63 inches or 1.60 meters.

[112] Some such photographs are included in my collections Photographic documentation of Nazi crimes and Mass Graves and Dead Bodies.

[113] See note 108.

[114] See note 109.

[115] As notes 106 and 107.

[116] Provan, as above; Part 4(1) of my original article.

[117] Alex Bay, The Reconstruction of Treblinka, Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued).

[118] As notes 106 and 107.

[119] Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Treblinka. Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?, translated by Regina Belser, 2004 Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago, online for free download (hereinafter "Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka").

[120] POSTMORTEM CHANGES AND TIME OF DEATH, based on an 1872 study of 113 dead bodies: "In this series, rigor was complete in 14% of cases at 3 hours post mortem and this percentage had risen to 72% at 6 hours and to 90% at 9 hours. By 12 hours post mortem rigor was complete in 98% of cases."

[121] As notes 106 and 107.

[122] Australian Museum, What is rigor mortis?

[123] RIGOR MORTIS AND OTHER POSTMORTEM CHANGES.

[124] As note 120. "Cadaveric spasm involving all the muscles of the body is exceedingly rare and most often described in battle situations.[…] Cadaveric spasm is seen in a small proportion of suicidal deaths from firearms, incised wounds, and stab wounds, when the weapon is firmly grasped in the hand at the moment of death. […] In some homicides, hair or clothing of the assailant may be found in the hands of the deceased."

[125] Quoted in Christopher Browning's expert opinion Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution, Eyewitness Testimony concerning Gassing at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka – Second Category.

[126] Landgericht Düsseldorf, judgment of 3.9.1965, reference 8 I Ks 2/64; see online transcription.

[127] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 5 and Conclusion.

[128] See table in Arad, Reinhard, pp. 383-389 (available online).

[129] Arad, Reinhard, pages 72/73.

[130] As note 128.

[131] Archived ARC page about the Lublin Ghetto.

[132] See sources listed in note 85.

[133] Public Health Fact Sheet Disposal of Animal Carcasses.

[134] Australian Museum, Stages of Decomposition.

[135] As above, Stage 3: Putrefaction - 4 to 10 days after death.

[136] As above, Stage 4: Black putrefaction - 10 to 20 days after death.

[137] As above, Stage 5: Butyric fermentation - 20 to 50 days after death.

[138] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (2).

[139] As note 136.

[140] As note 138.

[141] Mattogno, Belzec, page 73.

[142] Kola, Belzec, pages 38 ff.

[143] As above, page 22.

[144] See note 117.

[145] English translation see archived ARC page The Gerstein Report.

[146] As above.

[147] H. Roques, The "Confessions" of Kurt Gerstein, p. 236.

[148] Gerstein's description in his report of 4 May 1945 reads as follows in the German original (archived ARC – page Der Gerstein Bericht): "Nach einigen Tagen gärten die Leichen hoch und fielen alsdann kurze Zeit später stark zusammen, so dass man eine neue Schicht auf dieselben draufwerfen konnte. Dann wurden zehn Zentimeter Sand darüber gestreut, so dass nur noch vereinzelte Köpfe und Arme heraus ragten." My translation: "After some days the corpses welled up and then strongly collapsed a short time thereafter, so that a new layer could be thrown on top. Then ten centimeters of sand were poured above, so that only some heads and arms protruded here and there".

[149] See note 136.

[150] As note 134; video in Windows Media and Quicktime formats at bottom of page.

[151] Incidentally, one of Mattogno's admirers, who largely drew on Mattogno's wisdom in making a "Revisionist" video about the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, tried to pour sand in his readers' eyes by, among other things, filling the Treblinka mass graves with hilariously unrealistic quantities of sand. This flagrant showpiece of "Revisionist" dishonesty is discussed in my blog article "Videos, a must see!".

[152] Browning, as note 125, item 5.4.1.2.

[153] Arad, Reinhard, page 112 (emphasis mine):
"After the victims' bodies were thrown into a pit by the body-transport workers, the corpses were arranged in rows by the burial detail. To save space, the bodies were arranged head to foot; each head lay between the feet of two other corpses, and each pair of feet between two heads. Sand or chlorine was scattered between the layers of bodies."

[154] See notes 134 to 137.

[155] Mattogno, Belzec, pages 51/52.

[156] Deposition of Pfannenstiel before the Darmstadt Court on June 6, 1950, translation in Friedländer, Saul, Counterfeit Nazi, New York: Knopf, 1969. Excerpt from online transcription, spelling errors corrected, emphases mine: "I know that Dr. Gerstein gives an entirely different description of this gassing scene. That version is false. It is full of exaggerations. What is characteristic in this respect is Gerstein's assertion that, in his view, about 25,000,000 people had been subjected to this treatment. As he told me himself on that occasion, he had been to Belzec a number of times. It is possible that he may have witnessed scenes similar to those he describes and that, in his report of April 26, 1945, he was no longer differentiating between the visits, but giving a summary picture of them. Thus, he mentions a certain S.S. officer Günther who is supposed to have traveled with us, but we traveled alone. In other respects, too, the Report is full of inaccuracies. I maintain especially that I did not say: "as they do in a synagogue." Even if I should have made such a remark, it was not in the sense imputed to me by Gerstein, as if to suggest that I was poking fun at the torments of the prisoners. The situation was much too dreadful for that."

[157] Mattogno, Belzec, page 61.

[158] These photos are featured on the site of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and included in my collection Photographic documentation of Nazi crimes.

[159] Jürgen Graf on Criminal Justice and Nazi Crimes.

[160] Martin Broszat in a foreword to the article Organisierter Massenmord in Nationalsozialistischen Vernichtungslagern by his colleagues Ino Arndt and Wolfgang Scheffler, published in Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 24 (1976), pages 105 ff. and in Peter Maerthesheimer / Ivo Frenzel, Im Kreuzfeuer: Der Fernsehfilm Holocaust. Eine Nation ist betroffen, Frankfurt am Main 1979, pages 167 ff. A translation of Broszat’s statement is included in my blog mentioned in the previous note.

[161] See Mattogno, Belzec, pages 55 ff.

[162] See note 156.

[163] See Sergey Romanov’s blogs An Ugly Analysis and Why the "diesel issue" is irrelevant, the latter with a quote of Pfannenstiel’s description of the gassing engine after Chapter 13 of Rassinier’s book The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses. The reference to the burning of the corpses in the graves reads as follows (emphasis mine): "And, he explained the dangers of that kind of burial. Wirth had told him that into that huge grave lots of gasoline had been poured over the heap of corpses. But, the attempt to cremate the corpses in that manner had been only partially successful. Earth was thrown on top of the corpses, but after two or three days this earth raised up from the pressure of gas rising from below. And, it infected the air. Also, the rotting flesh attracted the clouds of those flies which one saw everywhere. Deciding that he now had seen enough, my visitor left the camp without delay and returned to Lublin." Regarding the identification of Pfannenstiel as Rassinier’s "interlocutor" see Pierre Vidal-Naquet, A Paper Eichmann (1980) - Anatomy of a Lie, footnote 51.

[164] Mattogno, Belzec, page 62.

[165] Mattogno, Belzec page 52.

[166] Transcribed from Peter Longerich, Die Ermordung der europäischen Juden, Munich 1989, pages 212 f, on the archived ARC page Der Bericht des Wehrmacht-Unteroffiziers Wilhelm Cornides; English translation on the page The Report of Wehrmachts Officer Wilhelm Cornides.

[167] Rolf Bender and Armin Nack, Tatsachenfeststellung vor Gericht. Band 1 – Glaubwürdigkeits- und Beweislehre.

[168] Regarding Treblinka, see my article Historiography as seen by an ignorant charlatan ….

[169] Arad, Reinhard, pages 349 to 351.

[170] See the blogs Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 2 and Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (2).

[171] Mattogno, Belzec, page 76: "This is simply a matter of common sense: An orderly arrangement of the graves would obviously have allowed more efficient use to be made of the limited space available within the camp, and a better hygienic protection of the camp personnel."

[172] Bay, Reconstruction; see quote and discussion in part (2).

[173] Kola, Belzec, page 39.

[174] Golczewski, "Polen", in Benz et al, Dimensionen, pages 466/467, footnote 322).

This article was last updated on 25.11.2010.

4.2 Wood Requirements

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