Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,2)

(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

(4,1) 4. Volume of the Mass Graves, Human and Wood Ashes
4.1 The Capacity of the Graves



4.2 Wood Requirements[175]

In section 4.2 of my original article[176], I refuted Mattogno’s assumptions regarding the amount of wood required to burn the bodies of the people murdered at Belzec extermination camp.



I argued that Mattogno’s considerations are wrong in several respects:

1. They are based on an assumed weight per corpse to be burned of 45 kg, which is much too high. The average weight of malnourished Polish ghetto Jews brought to Belzec was more like 35 kg, and by the time the corpses were burned the decomposition process, especially the loss of water during that process, would have brought the average weight of the corpses down to 25 kg at most.
2. They assume a wood weight to corpse weight ratio of 3.5 to 1, based on experiments conducted by Mattogno with relatively small amounts of meat. Recent data from incineration of large numbers of carcasses in air curtain incinerators or open pyres suggest a ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1.
3. They don’t take into account the fact that dehydration of the corpses in the course of the decomposition process would make burning them much easier and require less fuel because what requires additional flammables in corpse cremation is the need to evaporate the water that a human body mostly consists of.
4. They don’t take into account the contribution that flammable substances forming in the body at various stages of the decomposition process – methane, butyric acid, and grave wax or adipocere, among others – could have made to the burning process.

In his response, Mattogno starts out by repeating his objections against my assumptions regarding the average weight of the deportees to Belzec, which have been dealt with in the previous part of this riposte[177] and thus need not be addressed here anymore. I have demonstrated that the average weight of an adult+adult+child group of malnourished Polish ghetto Jews in the 1940s was about 34 kg, so Mattogno’s objections against Provan’s experimental test group (average weight 33.25 kg) and Gerstein’s estimate (average weight 35 kg) are moot.

Mattogno writes that the average pre-burning weight of the corpses he assumed, i.e. 45 kg, corresponds to a 35 % water loss of bodies weighing 58.3 kg on average. The former assumption is no less unreasonable than the latter. According to my previous calculations[178], 83.6 % of the victims would have been lying in the graves between 80 and 200 days or longer than 200 days – 363,270 out of the 434,508 deportees mentioned in Höfle’s report to Heim of 11 January 1943. These bodies would not have lost just part of their water; they would have lost most or all of it. And all bodies older than 20 days, if not also bodies more recent than that, would have lost part of their water.

If we make a simplified calculation assuming that bodies older than 80 days had lost all of their water and bodies "younger" than 80 days had lost no water at all, we get the following result, assuming Mattogno’s unreasonable average life weight of 58.3 kg and the weight loss due to dehydration considered in my original article:

Bodies older than 80 days
Number: 363,270
Life weight: 21,178,641 kg
Decomposed weight (40 %): 8,471,456 kg
Bodies "younger" than 80 days
Number: 71,238
Life weight: 4,153,175 kg
Decomposed weight (100 %)
4,154,175 kg
Bodies total
Number: 434,508
Life weight: 25,331,816 kg
Decomposed weight: 12,624,631 kg
Average decomposed weight per body: 29 kg, and not 45 kg as Mattogno claims.

With the lower average weight of 55.1 kg considered by Mattogno in his response to section 4.1 of my article, the average decomposed weight would be 27 kg, i.e. just 2 kg more than the 25 kg I assumed in my original article.

Replacing Mattogno's unreasonable life weight assumptions with a realistic value for undernourished and underweight Polish ghetto Jews, i.e. 34 kg, we get the following:

Bodies older than 80 days
Number: 363,270
Life weight: 12,351,180 kg
Decomposed weight (40 %): 4,940,472 kg
Bodies "younger" than 80 days
Number: 71,238
Life weight: 2,422,092 kg
Decomposed weight (100 %)
2,422,092 kg
Bodies total
Number: 434,508
Life weight: 14,773,272 kg
Decomposed weight: 7,362,564 kg
Average decomposed weight per body: 17 kg, i.e. 8 kg less than I originally assumed!

In the original article I referred to a carcass burning experiment with an air curtain incinerator regarding which various sources point to a wood weight to carcass weight ratio of either 0.58:1 or 1.74:1. Mattogno’s first objection to the lower figure is, quite amazingly, an article by fellow “Revisionist” Heinrich Köchel, ostensibly based on a serious study of literature about the large-scale burning of diseased carcasses during the 2001 epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom[179], which according to Mattogno shows that a wood or wood equivalent weight of 140 kg is required to burn a human corpse weighing 70 kg, i.e. a wood or wood equivalent weight to corpse weight ratio of 2:1 – the higher of the ratios I eventually assumed in my original article.

Köchel's article is a rather transparent collection of nonsense. For instance, he baselessly claims a ridiculously low concentration of just two bodies per cubic meter on the grid, and that an incineration grid could only have been reloaded after ten days considering the time for burning, cooling of the remains, sifting through them and crushing larger remains (as if the latter tasks couldn't have been done in parallel while the grid was made ready for the next cremation). One wonders how, then, they managed to burn 6,865 bodies on a single much smaller grid within a couple of weeks (with much of the time obviously being taken up by efforts to identify the victims) on the Dresden Altmarkt after the bombing attack on 13/14 February 1945[180]. The only more or less useful part of Köchel's article is the table at the end of it, in which he puts together data from various sources about the incineration of animals affected by foot-and-mouth-disease in Great Britain in 2001 and converts the amounts of various burnable substances given by those sources into the equivalent in wood corresponding to the equivalent of one adult pig carcass:

Table 7

Köchel writes (my translation):

If one adds up the heating values of the burnable materials and expresses the sum as an equivalent amount of wood, the resulting values are between 125 and 875 kg of wood for the equivalent of one pig, the average value being 325. Given this relatively high variation it seems appropriate to dismiss the two extreme values, and the average thus corrected is then 280 kg of wood for the equivalent of one pig. If one considers the human body in this manner, one can make the careful assumption that two human corpses correspond to one swine carcass, or eight human corpses to one carcass of beef cattle. One thus obtains an amount of about 140 kg of wood, which would have to be used for burning one human corpse. Depending on the type of wood this weight corresponds to about 0.2 to 0.3 cubic meters of dry (!) wood.


Mattogno apparently assumes that Köchel considers the average weight of a pig to be 140 kg and the average weight of a human being to be 70 kg, though this doesn't become apparent from Köchel's article. As the weight of a domestic pig ranges from 50 to 350 kg [181], the data in Köchel's table don't tell us much without knowing the weight of the animals burned that each of his sources mentions or considers, which in turn makes Köchel's dismissing the highest and the lowest value seem somewhat arbitrary, all the more so as the latter is based on recommendations made by an authoritative source on the subject, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which is furthermore the basis of Köchel's conversion of animals other than swine into swine equivalents. As concerns fuel requirements for burning animal carcasses in the open, the FAO [182] provides the following information:

Fuel requirements
Local availability will govern the type and amount of fuels. The following can be used as a guide per adult beast:
• heavy timber: 3 pieces, 2.5 m × 100 mm × 75 mm;
• straw: 1 bale;
• small timber: 35 kg;
• coal: 200 kg;
• liquid fuel: 5 litres.
Fuel requirements may be estimated on the basis that one adult cattle carcass is equivalent to four adult pigs or shorn sheep or three adult woolly sheep.


I shall now convert these values into wood equivalent (as Köchel did), also using the BTU values considered in my original article:

1 cubic meter of heavy timber: 10,097,787 BTU
1 kg of light timber = 16,671 BTU
1 kg of coal = 24,692 BTU
1 bale of straw = 9,000,000 BTU
1 litre of diesel fuel: diesel oil produces about 139,000 BTU's of energy per gallon (3.79 liters) [183], which means that one liter of diesel fuel has ca. 139,000 ÷ 3.79 = 36,675.5 BTU.

Considering the quantities of each type of fuel indicated by the FAO and the weight of one adult beast of beef cattle considered in my original article, we thus get the following:

Table 8

The average of 1.84 kg of wood weight per kg of carcass weight, calculated in Table 8, is close to the average of 1.9 established in my original article, based on the data from the IAEA [184]. It is also close to the 2:1 ratio assumed by Mattogno based on Köchel's article.

Mattogno tries to explain the much lower fuel consumption suggested by one of the sources about the 1994 Texas disposal trial mentioned in my original article[185] by pointing out the particular characteristics of and namely the high temperatures reached in air curtain incineration. However, Mattogno’s sources[186] provide no specifics about fuel-economy as compared to other burning methods, and the other source about the aforementioned disposal trial that I referred to[187] suggests a wood weight to carcass weight ratio in the range of what becomes apparent from the FAO and IAEA data.

Next Mattogno remembers that the 2:1 ratio he accepted based on Köchel’s data is way below the 3.5:1 ratio he claimed based on his experiment, and accordingly tries to push up the wood weight to corpse/carcass weight in the latter direction. He argues that the wood heating value I considered in my calculations is too high even for very seasoned wood, and that it is more realistic to consider the heating value of firewood with a moisture content of 30 % according to an online source[188], i.e. 2,780 Kcal/kg. The heating value I calculated based on IAEA data as necessary for destroying 250 cattle carcasses (3,923,646,250 BTU or 988,758,855 Kcal) would correspond to (988,758,855 ÷ 2,780 =) 355,668 kg of this kind of fire wood, which for 125,000 kg of cattle carcass would mean a wood weight to carcass weight ratio of 2.84:1 – close to his experimental results of 3.5:1, as Mattogno is glad to announce. His calculation is fallacious, as my 3,923,646,250 BTU or 988,758,855 Kcal were calculated considering a heating value for the firewood of 16,671 BTU or 4,200 Kcal. Had I considered the heating value of Mattogno’s 30 % moisture firewood instead, the result would have been a wood weight to carcass weight ratio of 2.82, all other parameters remaining equal (2,780 Kcal/kg = 11,032 BTU):

Table 9

But not all other parameters can remain equal, for in my original calculation I assumed the same heating value for kindling wood as for railway sleepers. This means that if the heating value for kindling wood is reduced, the heating value of the railway sleepers must be reduced accordingly.

Firewood with a lower heating value means that more firewood is required, of course. But why does Mattogno consider firewood with a moisture content of 30 % as being average? He offers no explanation for this; another source he quotes[189] refers to the water content of wood in general, not to that of dried or seasoned wood, and his first source[190] expressly states that on average well seasoned firewood possess a calorific value of 3,200 Kcal/kg. According to the table in that source, 3,250 Kcal/kg corresponds to wood with a moisture content of 20 %. Applying this heating value to my calculations (3,250 Kcal = 12,897 BTU), and without taking into consideration the corresponding modification of the railway sleepers´ heating value, the resulting wood weight to carcass weight ratio is 2.42:1, as shown below.

Table 10

Mattogno’s source considers either one single type of wood or an average of wood types with a relatively low heating value. Another online source[191], which lists the heating values of green wood and dry wood (moisture content ca. 20 %) for 27 different species of wood, points to a higher average heating value for both green wood (3,556 kCal or 14,112 BTU per kg) and dry wood (3,912 kCal or 15,523 BTU – the heat value of cords with dry wood is estimated by adding the green wood cords values with approximately 10%), according to my calculations:

Table 11

The average heating value of one cubic meter of wood in the above table is 5,466,825 BTU for green wood and 6,013,507 BTU for dry wood, meaning that the railway sleepers in my original calculation, with an assumed volume of 0.0975 cubic meters, have a heating value per unit of 533,015 BTU (green wood) or 586,317 BTU (dry wood). Introducing these values into my original calculation, the resulting wood weight to carcass weight ratios are the following:

With green wood: 2.15
Table 12

With dry wood: 1.97
Table 13

Introducing the corresponding changes into my above calculation based on the FAO data (Table 8 ), the results are the following:

With green wood: 2.12
Table 14

With dry wood: 1.94
Table 15

Mattogno criticizes my not having mentioned the type and weight of the residues from the burning considered, referring to a device created at the end of the 19th Century (the Feist apparatus) to render harmless pathogens by carbonizing carcasses, without a complete incineration being required. Even intense carbonization requires less fuel than incineration, he points out. However, incineration is what the IAEA instructions I based my calculations on are obviously aimed at, judging by how the objective and result of the process – which, unlike Mattogno seems to be assuming, doesn’t involve the use of an air curtain incinerator – is described[192]:

Countermeasure description After slaughter, animal carcasses may be completely destroyed to ash, at sites suitable for burning. […]Countermeasure effectiveness Highly effective if carcasses completely reduced to ash. Complete combustion is not always achieved when the whole carcass is burned.[…] Waste: Amount and type Ash. Approximately 350 kg is produced per tonne of animal.[…]


The same becomes apparent from other sources related to animal carcass incineration [193]. The quantity of ashes mentioned in the above IAEA quote seems rather high, as it would amount to more than one third of the carcass life weight. It is corroborated, however, by data from the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic in the United Kingdom, during which 600,000 tons of carcass were disposed of, thereof 286,000 by rendering, in licensed commercial landfill sites or at four mass burial sites and the rest obviously in pyres, from which "Approximately 100,000 tons of pyre ash were transferred to landfills."[194]. Though much of this ash was probably from external flammables rather than the carcasses, the proportion of corpse/carcass ash to life weight seems to be significantly higher in open air burning than the 5 % considered by Mattogno and accordingly in section 4.5 of my original article[195]. The implications of this fact will be addressed together with Mattogno’s comments to that section.

Despite it’s comparatively low calorific value, the wood considered by Mattogno’s source[196] needs a higher moisture content than 30 % to vindicate the 3.5:1 ratio that Mattogno achieved in his burning experiments with dry oak wood and pine branches[197]. Thus Mattogno argues that in the corpse burnings at Belzec, which were mostly carried out in winter, the wood must have had a heating value of 2,300 kCal/kg at most, which corresponds to a moisture content of 40 % according to Mattogno’s source. This low calorific value implies a wood weight to corpse weight ratio of 3.44:1 to reach the heating value of 3,923,646,250 BTU or 988,758,855 Kcal/kg that I calculated in my original article as corresponding to the amounts of flammables recommended by the IAEA to destroy 250 cattle carcasses. Convenient as this result is for Mattogno, it is based on unproven assumptions that do not necessarily hold true. Even if it was cold as hell at Belzec in the winter, this doesn’t necessarily mean the wood was lying around in the snow and being drenched in moisture. Dry wood may have been brought into the camp on a daily basis. What is more, we’re not talking of wood alone here but of the wood equivalent of various burnable substances including wood, and there is evidence that burnable substances other than wood played a significant role in the burnings at Belzec, like they did on the Dresden Altmarkt following the air attack on 13/14 February 1945 (also in winter), where the amount of wood that could be placed underneath the single low grid was rather small and gasoline poured on the bodies was the main combustion agent[198]. At Belzec the decomposed human corpses extracted from the graves with an excavator were placed alternately with layers of wood on huge roasters made of railway rails, which were then drenched in gasoline and oil and ignited[199]. Cold weather doesn't necessarily imply increased humidity, by the way - after all laundry does dry outside in winter[200].

Mattogno also refers to a burning of 600 rams and 218 other sheep carried out in March 2001 near Lille, France, on a 100 meter long pyre using 350 railway sleepers, 56 cubic meters of firewood, 10 tons of straw and 60 tons of coal and naphta. Mattogno converts these flammables into 270,200 kg of firewood, estimates the weight of the carcasses at 73,620 kg and calculates a wood weight to carcass weight ratio of 3.67:1.

Interestingly this is the same cremation mentioned as # 10 in Köchel’s table at the end of his article Leichenverbrennung im Freien[201], on the basis of which Mattogno had assumed and accepted a wood weight to carcass weight ratio of 2:1. Köchel assumes 190,000 kg of wood equivalent whereas Mattogno assumes 270,200. Mattogno's calculations are visualized in the following table:

Table 16

Apart from his having baselessly postulated moisture content of 40 % for the unseasoned wood in his assumptions, there are also other mistakes in Mattogno’s calculations.

One is that he uses the calorific values from his source[202], but calculates the weight of the 56 cubic meters of wood based on the wood weight calculated in my original article (2,195 kg per cord or 605.6 kg per cubic meter), which corresponds to wood with a much higher calorific value than the one considered in Mattogno’s source – 16,671 BTU/kg or 4,201 kcal/kg instead of 12,897 BTU/kg or 3,250 BTU/kg for dry wood (moisture content ca. 20 %). If he uses the calorific values provided by his source, he must also use the wood weights provided by the same source, which are about 350 kg/m3. Correcting this mistake, we get the following:

Table 17

Another mistake is that he uses the maximum calorific value provided by his source as a calculation parameter for establishing the fresh/unseasoned wood equivalent of dry wood and vice-versa (3,490 Kcal/kg, which Mattogno rounds up to 3,500, vs. 2,300 Kcal/kg for fresh/unseasoned wood), instead of what his source states to be the average calorific value of well-dried wood with a moisture content of 20 % - 3,200 kcal/kg according to the text, 3,250 kcal/kg according to the table, the latter value being preferable for calculation purposes as it correlates with calorific values at higher humidity contents in the same table. Correcting this mistake, we get the following:

Table 18

If instead of the heating values of Mattogno’s source (which, as I pointed out before, are based on a single type of wood or an average of woods with a relatively low heating value) we use the average heating values of 27 types of wood calculated in Table 11 (3,556 Kcal/kg for fresh/green wood and 3,912 Kcal/kg for dry wood) and the corresponding average weight of dry wood (1,404 kg per cord = ca. 387 kg per cubic meter), the results are the following:

Table 19

So by correcting Mattogno’s mistakes and using a broader database of heating values for fresh/green and dry wood, we obtain wood weight to carcass weight ratios closer to those I calculated on the basis of IAEA and FAO data than to Mattogno’s experiment results even for this particular case, which is not necessarily representative of carcass burning whereas the guideline data from authorities like the IAEA and the FAO are presumably supported by a multitude of carcass burning experiences. This shows how unsuitable Mattogno’s experiment is to establish the relative quantities of burning material required in mass burning of carcasses or human corpses.

Mattogno’s next and last reference is funeral pyres in India, which according to his source require 400-600 kg of wood to burn a human body (mean value 500 kg, a ratio of 7.14:1 assuming a body weight of 70 kg), vs. 250 to 300 kg in an improved open fire system using a metal grate (mean value 275 kg, a ratio of 3.9:1) and 100-150 kg (mean value 125 kg, a ratio of 1.8:1) in a certain crematorium. He assumes that the cremation on railway tracks at Belzec was more similar to the metal grate method mentioned by his source, and that the ratio of that method, 3.9 to 1, fully confirms the ratio of 3.5 to 1 he established in his experiment. Mattogno doesn’t explain why wood expenditure for the not necessarily fuel-efficient funeral cremation of single human beings in India should be the best criterion for evaluating fuel expenditure in mass cremation, or a better criterion than fuel expenditure in mass cremation of animals whose bodies, as concerns their water and fat content, as not so different from human beings. And he ignores sources whereby much better wood weight to corpse weight ratios have been achieved in India, not with cremation ovens but with open-air pyres, namely several online articles referring to the Mokshda Green Cremation System and its creator, Vinod Kumar Agarwal[203].

I haven't managed to find a photo of the Mokshda Green Cremation System, but the description suggests that it’s a rather simple device, and an open-air pyre rather than a cremation oven. It should also be noted that its inventor thinks it should be possible to burn a human body with no more than 22 kg of wood (ratio assuming a body weight of 70 kg as Mattogno does: 0.31 to 1), and that he managed with 100 kg per body (ratio: 1.43 to 1) using the "raised human size brazier" he unsuccessfully (obviously not because of its efficiency but because it failed to gain acceptance among tradition-minded Hindus) tried to introduce in 1993. An essential feature of this brazier was its elevation, which "allowed air to circulate and feed the fire". They pyres on the Dresden Altmarkt and in the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, where elevation of the grid from the ground was obviously meant to achieve the same purpose (allowing air to circulate and feed the fire) immediately come to mind. To be sure, they didn't have a "roof with slats to maintain the heat" like Agarwal’s device, but wouldn't their size and accordingly higher amount of air circulation have more than compensated for the absence of this roof?

In the early 20th Century, German engineers experimenting with various methods of carcass burning seem to have come close to achieving a wood weight to carcass weight ratio more or less corresponding to the 22 kg for one human corpse that the inventor of the Mokshda Green Cremation System considers theoretically possible, even though he still has to achieve this ratio in practice. The work of these experts was described by one of them, engineer Wilhelm Heepke, who is quoted at some length in Carlo Mattogno’s otherwise unremarkable article about his combustion experiments [204]. Engineer Heepke, however, is not responsible for who refers to his writings and conclusions, and what Mattogno has quoted from these is interesting indeed.

The first of Mattogno’s quotes from Heepke’s writings refers to a procedure in which the carcass is burned on a pyre of firewood inside a pit. This procedure, which leads to the carcass being completely consumed by the fire, is relatively fuel-intensive, requiring ca. 2.5 cubic meters of good firewood and 35 liters of petroleum to burn a carcass weighing about 250 - 300 kg within 5 to 6 hours. The below calculation of the wood-equivalent weight to carcass weight ratio uses the wood data from Tables 11 and 19 (weight of 1 cubic meter of wood: 1,404 ÷ 3,625 = 387 kg, calorific value = 3,912 kcal/kg for dry wood and 3,556 Kcal/kg for green wood as in Table 11). The calorific value of petroleum I considered to be equal to that of heating oil, which has a heating value of 11.86 kWh/kg (=10,204.59 kcal/kg) or up to 10.6 kWh (9,120.46 kcal) per liter[205].

Table 20

Another method, according to Heepke, is the combustion of carcasses on iron grids. Heepke describes two variants of this method, one in which the grid rests on the long side of the pit containing the fuel that helps the burning and one in which the grid is inside the pit, resting on a section of the pit deeper and more narrow than the rest, which contains the fuel. As to the results of experiments with both variants of this method, Heepke wrote the following (translation in Mattogno's aforementioned article):

Using both methods for burning on grids, the official veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne made a series of experiments, the main results of which are shown in Table I [see document 2]. The table tells us that the second method (trials IV, V, and VI), in which the grid is placed inside the pit, is to be preferred over the first, as the duration is reduced by a factor of 1.5 and the fuel consumption is lower. We also note a reduction in time for the digging of the pit as well as a certain independence from the wind. In this latter respect, we must assume that trials I - III were undertaken at a time of particularly little wind, otherwise the results obtained would have been even worse.


As can be seen in Heepke’s Table I[206], the "worse" trials I – III differ from the "better" trials IV, V and VI especially in what concerns the duration of the process, not so much as concerns the fuel requirements. The average fuel weight to carcass weight ratio in trials I to III is 0.55; in trials IV to VI it is 0.50.

The relatively low fuel consumption in the trials listed by Heepke poises a problem for Mattogno, which he tries to solve by arguing that the result of these cremation experiments was only "a more or less complete carbonization", because that was all that was required to render hygienically harmless the carcasses of animals and because otherwise a contemporary incinerator would have required as much or even more wood than the burning pits in question, which "is obviously impossible".[207]

Mattogno’s claim that the grid burning trials described by Heepke resulted only in a "more or less complete carbonization" rather than a complete reduction of the carcass to ash is somewhat less than convincing for several reasons. One is that Heepke obviously doesn’t mention such restriction, and the methods involving a grid that he describes are obviously understood as alternatives to the "simplest procedure", that of burning the carcass directly on the fuel inside a pit 2.5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide and deep, which leads to the carcass being "completely consumed". It stands to reason that this must also have been the result of the methods Heepke described as alternatives to this "simplest procedure". Another reason is that open-air pits may have a better draft than the animal incinerators operating at the time of Heepke’s studies, which may have accounted for similar or lower fuel consumption in the former, even though Mattogno considers this "obviously impossible". Yet another reason is that the open-air burning experiments described by Heepke made use not only of wood, but also of highly flammable substances like straw, tar and resin, the calorific contributions of which must be added to that of the wood for a proper comparison. It thus seems arguable that the result of Heepke’s grid burning experiments was the same as that of the "simplest procedure" of pyre burning or that of the burning in a contemporary animal incinerator, i.e. a complete combustion of the carcass. Earlier in this section I quoted present-day sources about open-air incineration of carcasses, which clearly show that the desired result is reducing the carcasses to ashes, and not merely carbonizing them.

Even if Mattogno’s reading were correct, on the other hand, this wouldn’t necessarily preclude applying the fuel-to-carcass ratios mentioned by Heepke to the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, insofar as there is evidence suggesting that the result of corpse incineration at Treblinka may have been less than complete reduction to ash in a great many cases. This evidence namely includes the findings of Polish investigation commissions quoted after Mattogno & Graf in another of my blog articles[208], among which were human remains larger than the ashes and bone fragments that would have been left over alone in case of complete combustion and subsequent easy crushing of friable leftovers. Incomplete combustion/carbonization is also suggested by at least one eyewitness account[209].

Was the body-burning method applied at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps similar to the grid-burning methods mentioned by Heepke?

The method applied at Sobibor was described as follows in the judgment of the Hagen district court at the trial against Karl Frenzel et al, 11 Ks 1/64[210]:

The already decomposed corpses were dragged out of the pits with an excavator and burned on huge roasters in an already dug, but still empty pit. The roasters consisted of old railway rails, which were lain over concrete foundations.


The Sobibor roasters, according to the evidence on which the Hagen court based its findings of fact, were inside a pit. The above-quoted description is reminiscent of the grid burning procedure that Heepke considered the most efficient, that with the grid inside the pit. As concerns Treblinka, the description of the cremation devices in the judgment at the Düsseldorf trial of Treblinka’s commandant Franz Stangl[211] was the following (my translation, emphasis added):

Around the turn of the year 1942/1943, following instructions from higher up, the bodies started being burned. At first a burning grid was made out of the trolley rails still available. However, these could not bear the weight of the mountains of corpses. Thereupon a bigger grid was erected by the gas chamber building, which was made of railway rails placed on concrete foundations. At first there were difficulties also with this burning installation. As a specialist for such burnings an Unterführer by the name of Floss came to Treblinka, who after some experiments brought the grid into the right position. In a pit underneath the grid a wood fire was maintained. The corpses were now placed upon the grid in layers and burned.


The presence of a pit underneath the grid, in which a fire was made in order to set the corpses on the grid on fire, also becomes apparent from the description provided by Ukrainian guard Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko[212]:

An incinerator from the burning of bodies was situated about 10 meters beyond the large gas chamber building. It had the shape of a cement pit about one meter deep and 20 meters long. A series of furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails extended along the entire length of one of the walls of the pit. The bodies were laid on the rails, caught fire from the flames burning in the furnaces and burned. About 1000 bodies were burned simultaneously. The burning process lasted up to five hours.


Details about the construction of the grid were also mentioned in the judgment at the 1st Düsseldorf Treblinka trial (Kurt Franz et al). From the judgment at that trial[213], my translation:

After the most diverse burning attempts had been made for this purpose, a large burning facility was constructed. It consisted of concrete bases about 70 cm high, on which 5 to 6 railway rails about 25 to 30 meters long lay in small intervals.


A comparison between Leleko's description and the ones contained in the above-mentioned Düsseldorf judgment suggests that the "furnaces" mentioned by Leleko were subdivisions of the pit by concrete blocks placed at certain intervals across the pit, which gave this witness the impression that each part of the pit between its ends and a concrete block or in between concrete blocks, in which fire was burning, was a "furnace". The description in the first Düsseldorf judgment suggests that the concrete blocks stood 70 cm above ground, which can be matched with Leleko’s description by assuming that these were either blocks 1.70 meters high placed inside the pit and protruding from the pit for 70 cm, or blocks 70 cm high placed on the rims of the pit, the distance between the bottom of the rails and the bottom of the pit being, in any case, 1.70 meters.

The procedure adopted at Treblinka thus seems to have been similar to the one applied in trials I to III in Heepke’s Table I, except that there was a space between the bottom of the grid and the top of the pit, corresponding to the above-ground height of the concrete blocks. The reason for this is not clear, but it is possible that the creator of this structure wanted more air assisting the incineration than was provided by the grid structure anyway. The importance of good air circulation has been discussed above in connection with the "raised human size brazier" that the inventor of the Mokshda Green Cremation System tried to introduce in 1993. More air means less fuel, also according to another source[214]. The strong air current presumably feeding the enormous fires on the burning grids of the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps, incidentally, may be a reason why burning on these grids was not as far away from air curtain incineration, as concerns combustion speed and fuel consumption, as Mattogno would like it to be. For it is this very abundant supply of air that makes for high temperatures and very complete combustion in air curtain incineration[215].

As to Belzec, not much is known about the configuration of the cremation facility, but it stands to reason that it must have been similar to the one at Sobibor or at Treblinka.

Considering the above, the open-air incineration systems applied at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps may well be seen as versions of the grid-burning systems described by Heepke on a massive, enormous scale. That being so, cremation of corpses at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka may have been done with at least the same fuel efficiency that was achieved by official veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé of Cologne in the trials mentioned by Heepke. The effect of higher quantities of carcass mass on the fuel-to-carcass ratio is visible in the data from animal incinerators shown in Heepke’s Table 3[216]:

Type of oven_Max. Load (kg)_Coal consumption (kg)_Kg of fuel per kg of carcass
1a_250_110_0.44
1b_310_130_0.42
2a_370_150_0.41
2b_450_170_0.38
3a_540_200_0.37
3b_650_225_0.35
4a_750_265_0.35
4b_900_300_0.33
6a_70_50_0.71
6b_100_60_0.60

If, as these data suggest, the incineration of numerous carcasses requires less fuel per kg of carcass than the incineration of just one carcass, it stands to reason that the rates achieved by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé could also be improved upon when incinerating not one, but several hundred carcasses. It would also not be surprising, under this assumption, if mass incineration of corpses at the AR camps achieved better fuel consumption rates than the grid burning experiments conducted by these two veterinarians.

The following table shows the wood-equivalent weight to carcass weight ratios achieved by Dr. Lother and Dr. Profé in each of their trials, taking into account the stated quantities of all burnable substances used.

Table 21: 21.1; 21.2; 21.3; 21.4; 21.5; 21.6; 21.7; 21.8; 21.9; 21.10; 21.11.

Notes: [217];[218];[219];[220];[221];[222];[223];[224];[225]

The fuel weight to carcass weight ratios I calculated differ slightly from those of Heepke (sometimes higher, sometimes lower), which is obviously due to my having used different calorific values for the various types of fuel than Heepke did. Nevertheless, my average ratio for all 11 experiments (0.57) is almost equal to Heepke’s (0.56).

In experiments I to III, the carcass was placed on a grid lying over a pit 1.5 meters deep filled with fuel. In experiments IV to VI, on the other hand, the carcass lay inside the pit on a grid placed over a part of the pit deeper than the rest and filled with the fuel, as shown in a drawing copied by Mattogno from Heepke’s book[226]. In experiments VII to IX, the carcass lay on a grid over a pit only 0.75 meters deep, the fire being protected by a windscreen. In experiments X and XI, the pit was 0.5 to 0.75 meters deep, but the grid and the windscreen were done without.

Experiments IV to IX were considered the most efficient ones in terms of time and fuel expenditure. The reason for this was obviously the combination of good air circulation, provided by the grid arrangement, and avoidance of heat loss due to the fire’s being protected from wind.

The comparatively inefficient trials X and XI, in which no grid was used but the carcass was placed directly on the fuel, were still rather fuel-efficient if compared with the "simplest procedure" of burning a carcass directly on the fuel lying in a pit 2.5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide and deep (see Table 20). This seems to be a contradiction at first sight, one that Mattogno might use to support his claim that the result of the experiments was carbonization and not complete combustion of the carcass. However, there would have been no point in these experiments with alternatives to the "simplest procedure" if their results had not been the same as the result of the "simplest procedure", i.e. complete combustion of the carcass. The huge difference in fuel consumption between the "simplest procedure" and experiments X and XI must have another reason, and the likely reason is that the pit filled with fuel was much smaller in these experiments than in the "simplest procedure" and accordingly filled with much less fuel. This would mean that in the "simplest procedure" the amount of wood was much higher than would have been necessary, i.e. that this procedure was not economical but wasteful. A parallel can be found in the huge difference in fuel consumption between traditional funeral cremation in India and the more efficient pyre-burning methods developed by Vinod Kumar Aggarwal of the Indian NOG Mokshda Paryavaran Evan Van Suraksha Samiti (see above). The differences are actually similar:

Aggarwal’s pyre-burning methods (100 to 150 kg of wood per corpse) are 4 to 6 times more fuel-efficient than traditional Indian funeral cremation (400 to 600 kg per corpse).

Dr. Lothes’ and Dr. Profé’s carcass-burning experiments X and XI (fuel-weight to carcass-weight ratio 0.75, according to my calcaulations) were 5 times more fuel-efficient than the "simplest procedure" described by Heepke (fuel-weight to carcass-weight ratio 3.82). They were also almost three times as fuel-efficient as open-air burning of carcasses during the British FMD epidemic in 2001 or according to IAEA and FAO recommendations. And even in these comparatively unsuccessful experiments (all the more so in experiments IV to IX), Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé came close to achieving the fuel-weight to carcass-weight ratio that Aggarwal considers theoretically possible (22 kg of wood to burn an corpse, which would mean a ratio of 0.31 to 1 with the corpse weight of 70 kg assumed by Mattogno).

A lot of fuel might be saved in future epidemics or other catastrophes requiring cremation of carcasses or human corpses if someone took a closer look at these experiments made in the early 20th Century and adopted the methods successfully applied there. SS-Unterscharführer Floss may have done just that at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps.

So we can conclude that

a) fuel expenditure in cremating corpses or carcasses essentially depends on applying the correct method,

b) Mattogno presented no arguments that would make the higher wood-equivalent weight to corpse weight considered in my original article (2:1) seem inappropriate, while this ratio is borne out by further sources mentioned in this analysis of Mattogno’s response;

c) There are good reasons to assume that the fuel-weight to carcass-weight achieved in burning corpses at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps was much lower than 2:1. Aggarwal’s "raised human-sized brazier" may have achieved a ratio of 100 kg of wood vs. 70 kg of corpse = 1.43:1, and the carcass-burning experiments conducted by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé in the early 20th Century suggest a ratio of 0.57:1. I shall therefore also consider these ratios, rounded to 1 digit, as possible expressions of wood equivalent expenditure at Belzec.

After presenting the enormous quantities of wood that would result from the exaggerated wood weight to corpse weight ratios he assumes, Mattogno addresses my arguments about the reduction of the bodies’ volume and weight due to decomposition, and the resulting reduction of the fuel quantities required for burning the corpses.

Based on the Australian Museum’s "Stages of Decomposition" pages[227] and on an article by Dr. Trisha McNair[228], I had assumed that by the end of the stage of black putrefaction[229], i.e. about 80th days after they had been placed in the burial pits (four times the duration of the black putrefaction period above ground), the corpses buried at Belzec should have had hardly any water left in them and accordingly lost about 60 % of their weight, that about half of the buried bodies were in this advanced stage of the putrefaction process, and that the average weight of the bodies to be burned was thus about 25 kg. According to my calculations in the previous part of this riposte[230], this was a rather conservative assumption, the average pre-cremation weight of the bodies rather being about 17 kg.

My original argument, as Mattogno points out, was based on the assumptions that

1) a human corpse decomposes in the same manner as the 1.5 kg piglet used by the Australian Museum to illustrate a human corpse’s decomposition [231];
2) the black putrefaction stage of corpses buried in the earth was conpleted 80 days after burial, and
3) the bodies had lost all their water by the end of the black putrefaction stage.

The first assumption is "more than a little naïve" in Mattogno’s quack rhetoric and supposedly disproved by the 1932 study of one Dr. Luigi Maccone, whereby the stage of butyric fermentation[232] in a human corpses occurs 3 to 6 months after death, as opposed to 80 to 200 days below ground as I had assumed. Mattogno furthermore invokes the principle known as Casper’s Dictum[233], which I had also mentioned in my original article, to claim that the duration of the butyric fermentation stage below ground is not four but eight times longer than above ground, and that the period to be considered is therefore 160 to 400 days. Regarding the loss of fluid, Mattogno’s argument is that the carcass shown on the Australian Museum’s website in the stage of black putrefaction, which he claims would last 80 to 160 days underground, has lost a large volume of body fluids but still retains some volume and some of its watery contents.

Mattogno’s 1932 source is not necessarily based on better data than a present-day source like the Australian Museum. And it does not become apparent from Mattogno’s quote of his source under what conditions (underground without a coffin, underground in a coffin?) the body was decomposing (according to Dr. Trisha McNair[234], the decomposition process is generally slower in a coffin, and the body may remain identifiable for many months). Other sources I have found online give about the same time frames for the various stages of the decomposition process as the Australian Museum[235]). The last of these sources mentions that the three most important environment factors in corpse decay are temperature, access by insects, and depth of burial, and gives shorter times for human decomposition, based on studies of decay rates of 150 human corpses in the Anthropological Facility in Tennessee. Emphases in the following quotes are mine.

• Slide 17:
Decay Stage - Black Putrefaction (Days 5-11) – […] Carcass begins to assume a blackened, wet appearance, and most of the flesh will be removed by the maggots. Toward end of this period, carcass will begin to dry and beetles feed on drier tissue.

• Slide 18:
Postdecay Stage - Butyric fermentation (Days 10-25) -- In dry habitats, remains consisted of dry skin, cartilage and bones.[…] In wet habitats, a large quantity of wet, viscous material, termed byproducts of decomposition, was found in the soil under the remains.

• Slide 19:
Dry Stage (Days 25 +) -- This stage is reached when mainly bones and hair remain. Odor is primarily that of normal soil and litter.[…]Can last several months to even years.


Forensic anthropologist Arpad A. Vass and his colleagues have "worked out a simple formula, which describes the soft tissue decomposition process for persons lying on the ground. The formula is y=1285/x (where y is the number of days it takes to become skeletonized or mummified and x is the average temperature in Centigrade during the decomposition process). So, if the average temperature is 10 °C, then 1285/10 = 128.5 days for someone to become skeletonized". This is a rough estimate also insofar as buried corpses and corpses submerged in water have different rates of decomposition.[236] According to Vass's formula, the time to skeletonization at Belzec in the late spring, summer and autumn of 1942, at temperatures presumably ranging between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, would have been 43 to 64 days for bodies exposed to air and insects, as bodies lying in open mass graves can be expected to have been. The time until the bodies were reduced to less than half their original volume and weight through loss of fluids and other factors would be even lower.

As concerns the duration of decomposition in bodies buried underground (which is not exactly what the bodies were as long as the mass graves were open), Mattogno offered no arguments to refute my assumption that Dr. McNair’s data (decomposition underground lasts four times longer than above ground) are accurate in what concerns the stages of decomposition until "the putrefactive juices have drained away and the soft tissues have shrunk", i.e. until the end of the black putrefaction or the butyric fermentation stage, whereas after this the environment-dependent time difference becomes more marked, or that Casper’s dictum refers to a body buried or submerged inside a coffin, which slows down decomposition. The 4:1 ratio stated by Dr. McNair is also mentioned in other another online source[237]. The relatively short duration of the decomposition stages up to the dry stage as opposed to the long duration of the dry stage also becomes apparent from the above-quoted presentation.

Mattogno is correct in that the piglet in the black putrefaction stage on the Australian Museum’s photograph still seems to have some water inside, but what matters here is whether the loss of volume and weight I had assumed (60 %) is realistic, be it due to water loss alone or on account of other factors as well. According to a Forensic Entomology lecture incorporating data from an experiment conducted with two pigs at a landfill starting 5 September 2003[238], at the end of the phase of decay (which, according to its description, corresponds to the Black Putrefaction stage or to that stage and the Butyric Fermentation stage), the corpse is reduced to about 20 % of its original mass. As to the amount of water loss, data about the estimated amount of leachate fluids released by buried carcasses[239] may give us an idea (emphases mine):

Relative to the quantity of leachate that may be expected, it has been estimated that about 50% of the total available fluid volume would "leak out" in the first week following death, and that nearly all of the immediately available fluid would have drained from the carcass within the first two months (Munro, 2001). For example, for each mature cattle carcass, it was estimated that approximately 80 L (~21 gal) of fluid would be released in the first week postmortem, and about 160 L (~42 gal) would be released in the first two months postmortem. However, the author noted that these estimates were based on the rates of decomposition established for single non-coffined human burials, which may not accurately reflect the conditions in mass burials of livestock (Munro, 2001). Another source estimated the volume of body fluids released within two months postmortem would be approximately 16 m3 (16,000 L, or ~4,230 gallons) per 1000 adult sheep, and 17 m3 (17,000 L, or ~4,500 gallons) per 100 adult cows (UK Environment Agency, 2001b, p. 11).


That's for corpses/carcasses buried underground in closed graves. Loss of fluid can be expected to happen much faster in open mass graves like at Belzec, with access to air speeding up decomposition.

The Australian Museum's photograph of the piglet in the black putrefaction stage does not convey the fact that the body is "flattened" at this stage, as stated in the AM's text[240]. Yet the flattening can be seen quite well in the Australian Museum’s video[241], and also in a forensic video[242] that documents the decomposition of a pig over the course of two weeks in 2005 and corroborates the accuracy of the above-mentioned information about a carcass’s volume loss during the black putrefaction stage. In my calculations in the previous section of this riposte[243] I assume life weight until the maximum duration of the butyric fermentation stage above ground and half of life weight thereafter. The former assumption is unrealistic, of course, and also unfavorable to my case. The latter seems to be a conservative assumption in light of the aforementioned sources.

Rather than focus my attention on a 1.5 kg piglet, Mattogno patronizes (without explaining what is wrong with using a pig carcass as a model for human decomposition, and what the weight is supposed to matter), I should look at concrete cases of human decomposition, for instance the Soviet-made mass graves at Vinniza, Ukraine that were investigated by German authorities in 1943. In these mass graves, according to the German investigation report quoted by Mattogno, the corpses found in the upper layers were prevalently skeletonized or partially to extensively mummified, whereas the ones in the intermediate and deeper layers were found to be macerated dry with adipocere. Evidently because of the extraordinarily high pressure from the above soil layers, these latter corpses were in a relatively good state of conservation with a strong loss of water in the tissues. Elsewhere in the report it is supposedly stated that the loss of water in the adipocere corpses was not so intense after all, and from this Mattogno cheerfully concludes that the hypothesis of dehydration taking place in 100% of the Bełżec corpses within only a few months is indefensible.

Mattogno’s sweeping conclusion is based on an apples and oranges comparison with bodies apparently buried in a manner and in an environment that caused those in the middle or lower layers to undergo wax-fat transformation. Under the conditions in which bodies were buried at Belzec, in graves where they were left to rot in the open for long time, wax-fat transformation would only have occurred in the lower layers (where indeed bodies in wax-fat transformation were discovered by Prof. Kola), whereas the other bodies would have decomposed more completely even if no quicklime had been added to each layer of bodies. Note that the relatively well-conserved state of the bodies in the middle or lower layers at Vinniza is attributed to "the extraordinarily high pressure of the dominating soil strata", a factor that would hardly have been present in the Belzec mass graves. In these graves, a further hindrance to wax-fat transformation would have been the average time required for this phenomenon to occur. According to the University of Dundee [244], adipocere formation ordinarily requires some months and extensive adipocere is not seen before 5 or 6 months after death, and some authors suggest that extensive changes require not less than a year after submersion of upwards of three years after burial. Also note that the bodies in the upper layers at Winniza were in a state of "skeletonization" rather than well-conserved wax-fat transformation. That’s the state that most bodies at Belzec likely to have been closer to, if we take into consideration that the graves were kept open to add further bodies and the decomposition time, at least in the warmer periods of the year, that results from Mr. Vass's above-mentioned formula [245]. Some photos of victims exhumed from Nazi-made mass graves[246] (which greatly outnumbered the Soviet-made mass graves like at Katyn and Vinniza that Goebbels apprentice Mattogno likes to talk about) suggest butyric fermentation, or even dry decay/skeletonization rather than wax-fat transformation. The water loss of these bodies is obviously somewhat higher than the 35 % or 50 % postulated by Mattogno as he calculates what these water losses would imply assuming his unrealistically high average life weight of 58 kg. A 100 % loss of water would, assuming a human body water content of 60 %, reduce these 58 kg to a mere 23.20 kg, lower than the average weight of 25 kg that I assumed in my original article, while the more realistic average weight of 34 kg would be reduced, depending on the assumed percentage of water loss, to 27 kg (35 %), 23.8 kg (50 %) and 13.6 kg (100 %).

Mattogno claims that the favorable effect of decomposition on corpse burning due to the loss of water would have been set off by the loss of fat devoured by bugs during the butyric fermentation phase, the "thermal balance" between water as a factor of heat loss and fat as a factor of heat gain remaining the same if a certain amount of fat is lost. Where the loss of water is compensated by the loss of fat as concerns the "thermal balance", the same amount of wood would be required to burn a decomposing corpse weighing 17.5 kg as to burn a fresh corpse weighing 35 kg, if Mattogno’s theory is correct. Yet Mattogno provides no information about the expectable amount of fat loss during decomposition, merely calculating what would be required to put the "thermal balance" back to what it was before decomposition. The only basis for his conjectures about fat loss due to bugs seems to be Dr. Maccone’s mention that the type of insects feeding on the body during the butyric fermentation phase are well known to grocers and furriers, since they destroy lard and furs. However, it’s not like these insects munch away the body fat the way Mattogno apparently assumes. What actually happens is a hydrolysis in which the fat is broken down into substances no less flammable. According to an article in a Brazilian entomology journal[247], what this source calls the "adipocere-like stage" of the decomposition process (and obviously corresponds to what the Australian Museum and other above-mentioned sources call the butyric fermentation stage, "... is characterized by hydrolysis of the carcass fatty tissue. The carcass loses its shape completely and becomes a mass of non-decomposed hair, fat, skin, and cartilage. Decomposition occurs firstly in the subepitelial fat, which becomes a mass containing parts of the digestive tract". So it looks like by the end of this stage the carcass, while having lost most of its water (which in the human body is mostly contained in the blood and non-adipose tissue [248]), still retains a significant part of its fat. The designation "adipocere-like stage" is probably related to the fat's breaking down into glycerol and fatty acids [249] (namely the butyric acid [250] that leads to this stage also being characterized as butyric fermentation), which under favorable conditions may lead to the formation of adipocere [251]. Fat with a lower water content burns better than fat with a higher water content[252],and the products of fat hydrolysis - glycerol, butyric acid and eventual adipocere - are also flammable or combustible[253].

From the hydrolysis of body fat we move on to the duration of the cremations, as Mattogno valiantly tries to make believe that his preference for Heinrich Gley’s testimony of 8 May 1961 (from which he had inferred that the overall cremation of the corpses at Belzec lasted for only three months) over the same witness’s testimony of 7 January 1963 (which points to a five-month cremation period between November 1942 and March 1943) is based on criteria other than convenience to Mattogno’s argument (the shorter the cremation period, the bigger the fuss he can make about supposed logistical implausibility).

I had reasoned that Gley’s later testimony is corroborated by the Höfle report, insofar as the absence of deportations to Belzec in the last two weeks to December 1942 suggests that the overall exhumation and cremation process was going on at this time already. Against this reasoning, Mattogno argues that Gley’s testimonies point to either November 1942 or January 1943 as the starting point of cremations, as if the fact that cremations were already going on in the last two weeks of December 1942 ruled out their having commenced earlier, say in November 1942 as per Gley’s deposition of 7 January 1943. Again displaying his schizophrenia in handling eyewitness testimonies, Mattogno also invokes Reder’s testimony (whereby the witness escaped toward the end of November 1942 and there were no cremations going on yet at that time) as speaking against Gley’s dating of the start of cremations in his testimony of 7 January 1963. Another argument of Mattogno’s is that the absence of transports to Belzec in the last two weeks of December 1942 is not incompatible with Gley’s 1961 testimony suggesting a start of cremations in January 1943, insofar as the search for and transport of firewood and the exhumation of the bodies in the first mass graves must have required a few weeks of preparatory work.

So Mattogno is assuming that the Belzec staff and the AR organizers were bumbling enough to start organizing the exhumation/cremation only after transports to Belzec had been stopped, which of course is nonsense. If these people had a minimum of foresight, they started preparing the exhumation and cremation process long before stopping the transports, i.e. while the transports were still going on. And this is also what seems to become apparent from the testimonies of several eyewitnesses besides Gley[254]. In his deposition of 7 January 1943 Gley said that the gassings were stopped towards the end of 1942, which is in line with other evidence whereby the last transport arrived at Belzec in early December 1942[255]. While Gley’s statement that "Then the general exhumation and cremation started" suggests that this process started only after the last gassing in early December, Gley continues explicitly giving November as the month in which the general exhumation and cremation started, which can be made compatible with other testimonies pointing to the start of cremations in November 1942 by assuming that Gley incorrectly placed the last gassing in late November rather than early December or didn't recall gassings after the start of the exhumation and cremation process. The hypothesis that overall cremation started only in January 1943, on the other hand, is contradicted by the testimonies of Polish witnesses Kudyba, Kozak, Berezowski, Goch, Ferens, Luczyñski, Maria Daniel and Jan Gleb, as rendered by Robin O’Neill[256], by Gley’s testimony on 7 January 1963 and by the aforementioned assumption of a minimum of foresight on the part of the German organizers. It must therefore be rejected as the least likely of hypotheses.

Unable to understand that the beginning of overall exhumation and cremation of bodies in November 1942 and the continuation of deportations to Belzec until early December 1942 are not two mutually exclusive propositions, Mattogno claims that the 150-day period of cremation I assumed (November 1942 to March 1943 = 5 months = 150 days) should be shortened by 45 days corresponding to the month of November and the first two weeks of December 1942. He then presents what is arguably one of his stupidest arguments: if 540,000 people were burned within 105 days according to Gley’s testimony of 7 January 1963, the burning of the 434,508 deportees mentioned in the Höfle report must have taken a proportionally shorter time, 85 days, and the number of people cremated each day would thus be over 5,000. The reasonable assumption, of course, is that Gley’s figure is too high and that the lower number of corpses more reliably documented by the Höfle report was burned within the period of ca. 5 months that Gley’s testimony and the testimonies of the aforementioned Polish witnesses point to if one does not indulge in Mattognian mental gymnastics. The most that Mattogno might argue, considering that the Polish witnesses apparently mentioned the construction of the cremation pyres in mid-November 1942, is that cremations started at that time and that the period of cremations, if they lasted until the end of March, was not a full five months but rather 135 days. The average of corpses cremated every day would thus be 434,500 ÷ 135 = 3,219 instead of 434,500 ÷ 150 = 2,897 – not a major difference. And although several witnesses mentioned that the cremations ended in March 1942, this does not mean that all bodies had been cremated by that time. According to Reitlinger, as quoted by Mattogno in connection with his objections to my hypothesis of partial burning to stretch grave space prior to the overall cremation operation starting in November 1942, 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[257]. And the findings of Prof. Kola may well point to the presence of thousands of corpses in the Belzec mass graves, as shown in Part 3 of this analysis [258].

As concerns the origin of the wood used to burn the corpses, Mattogno had referred to the writings of his brother-in-spirit John Ball, who claimed that his air photo analysis had revealed far less deforestation in the Belzec area than would be required to provide the wood required for cremating the bodies at the extermination camp. Leaving for later the issue whether Ball’s air photo analysis held water and merely mentioning a source that addresses Ball’s overall fraudulence[259], I had contented myself with assuming that whatever wood could not be felled in the camp’s surroundings could be brought in from elsewhere, and demonstrating that the number of daily truckloads à 5 tons required to bring in this wood would not have been 200 as claimed by Mattogno, but rather 14 ½ or 29, depending on whether the wood weight to corpse weight ratio was 1:1 or 2:1. Mattogno does not discuss this demonstration but merely mouths off briefly about my source having attacked Ball’s credibility as an air photo analyst rather than his analysis, before indulging in a tirade against Federal German criminal courts which, in Mattogno’s book, did not bother with reconstructing and understanding the logistics of the burning of 540,000 corpses (Gley’s estimate) in winter because they were interested not in judicial but merely in "ideological" truth. This utter nonsense, with an element of self-projection as concerns the "ideological truth" part, shows Mattogno’s complete ignorance about what the purposes of a criminal trial are. The juridical truth that a criminal court is out to establish consists in the individual criminal deeds and guilt of individual defendants, and the court is accordingly interested in all details of the events under examination that help it to establish this truth. Details that have little or no bearing on establishing a criminal’s individual deeds and guilt, on the other hand, are of little or no interest to the court. Among these details, at the Belzec trial in Munich that led to the sentencing of Mr. Oberhauser, were the technical and logistical details that Mattogno thinks the court should have concerned itself with. These details may have a certain though reduced interest for a historian and a higher interest in the context of "Revisionist" controversies, but I don't think Mattogno can explain what a detailed reconstruction of the technical and logistical aspects of the body-burning at Belzec would have contributed to establishing the individual criminal actions and the criminal guilt of Mr. Oberhauser, which was what the trial was meant to establish. And why does Mattogno babble about 540,000 corpses in this context? That may have been Gley's estimate about the number of corpses burned, but the number of victims of the Belzec camp estimated by the court as an indisputable minimum was much lower – 390,000, as mentioned in Part 4,1 of this analysis[260]. I thought Mattogno had read the judgment ...

In my original article I argued that the wholly or largely dried-out bodies in the Belzec mass graves at the end of the black putrefaction or butyric fermentation phase would have been much easier to burn than fresh bodies because most of the heat required to burn a body goes into evaporating the water while on the other hand the substances that remain after the water is gone, especially bones, have a considerable calorific value of their own. I referred to the statement of Norbert Fuhrmann, Sales Manager of Air Burners LLC in Florida, whereby bones have a calorific value of about 11,000 BTU per pound and therefore much less wood weight would be required in relation to the weight of bones to be burned than in order to burn a whole human corpse.

After attacking Norbert Fuhrmann’s calorific value as too high – Mattogno claims that the calorific value of the substances that bone consist of is 2,390 kcal/kg rather than 2,800 kcal/kg as would correspond to Mr. Fuhrmann’s data[261] –, Mattogno lets fly with a big sermon about how absurd it is to assume that the combustion of bones would demand much less fuel than that of a whole corpse. His reasoning is as follows:

• A corpse weighing 82 kg contains (82 x 0.64 =) 52.48 kg of water, (82 x 0.14 =) 11.48 kg fat, and (82 x 0,153 =) 12.54 kg of protein, thus the loss of heat due to vaporization, at 800°C, equals 52.48[640 + (0.493 x 700)] = ~ 51.700 Kcal, the heat produced by the combustion of fat equals (9500 x 11.48 =) ~ 109,100 Kcal the heat produced by the combustion of proteins equals (5400 x 12.54 =) ~ 67,700 Kcal. The heat produced by the combustion of fat and proteins (109,100 + 67,700 = 176,800 Kcal) outweighs the heat lost through evaporation of water, 51,700 Kcal, by 125,100 Kcal.
• The bones of an 82-kg corpse weigh 13.12 kg, whereof (16 x 0.12 =) 1.92 kg are water, (16 x 0.28 =) 4.48 kg are proteins and (16 x 0.10 =) 1.6 kg are fat. The heat produced by the combustion actives (fat and proteins) exceeds the heat lost due to the evaporation of water by 37,500 kg.
• Although the heat produced by an 82 kg human corpse’s combustion actives exceeds the heat lost due to water evaporation by 125,100, a human corpse with this weight doesn’t burn on its own but requires the heat produced by a coffin of 40 kg with a calorific value of 3,000 Kcal/kg and about 30 kg of coke with a calorific value of 6,470 Kcal/kg.
• As the combustion of a human corpse’s bones produces (125,100 – 37,500) = 87,600 Kcal less than the combustion of the corpse as a whole, the missing heat has to be made up, considering an effective heating value of 4,850 Kcal/kg for coke, by an additional 87,600 ÷ 4,850 = 18 kg of coke, if all other parameters remain the same.

And this, dear readers, is supposed to be the demonstration that burning a human corpse’s bones requires more external fuel than burning a human corpse’s bones alone. Actually it is as good a demonstration of Mattogno’s imbecility and/or intellectual dishonesty as I can think of. For all other parameters remaining the same would mean that the matter to be burned continues to weigh 82 kg while giving off only 37,500 Kcal of heat, which is obviously not the case. The bone matter giving off 37,500 Kcal weighs only 13.12 kg and has a heating value per weight unit of 37,500 ÷ 13,12 = 2,858 Kcal/kg, whereas the whole corpse has a heating value per weight unit of only 125,100 ÷ 82 = 1,525 Kcal/kg, i.e. the bones have almost twice the heating value that the body as a whole has. And what is more, if the burning of the bones weighing 13.12 kg gives off 37,500 Kcal and the burning of the remaining body weighing 82 – 13.12 = 68.88 kg gives off 87,600 Kcal of heat, the heating value of the non-bone parts of the body is just 87,600 ÷ 68.88 = 1,272 Kcal/kg, i.e. 44.5 % of the heating value of the bones. It stands to reason that one cannot possibly need more fuel per weight unit to burn a substance with a heating value of 2,858 Kcal/kg than to burn a substance with a heating value of only 1,525 Kcal/kg or 1,272 Kcal/kg. Yet this is what Mattogno apparently believes, or would have his readers believe.

Two practical examples shall illustrate what was stated by Mr. Fuhrmann and corresponds to elementary common sense, which Mattogno is obviously alien to. One comes from Argentina, where the following carcass disposal method was worked out due to the scarcity of burning wood[262]:

Lastly, the Argentines have had some success with an alternative method of carcass disposal as trees are markedly absent in their enzootic areas and therefore carcass burning is essentially impossible on site. Instead they soak the carcass and surrounding immediate area with 5-10 percent formaldehyde to decontaminate the area and discourage scavengers; then they cover the carcass with a heavy-duty tarpauline and securely peg it down. Over 240-260 days the carcass decomposes. They then burn off the tarpauline and the remaining bones and grease using 5 L of diesel. For details go to
Elimination of the carcasses of animals that have died from anthrax." A problem with this method is that foxes will sometimes not be put off by the formalin and will burrow into the carcass. - Mod MHJ]


According to the site referred to[263], the carcass is allowed to decompose, protected by formaldehyde against scavenging animals, until it only the bones are left. These are then burned together with the 100-micron polyethylene sheet, 6 meter long by 3 meters wide, that covers the carcass, using 5 liters of diesel fuel. The polyethylene probably contributes something to the burning of the bones, as polyethylene has a heating value of 11,000 kcal/kg[264]. 100 microns = 0.0001 meters, so the sheet had a volume of 0.0001 x 6 x 3 = 0.0018 cubic meters or 1,800 cubic centimeters. Polyethylene has a density of up to 0.941 g/cm3, so the sheet covering the carcass may have weighed 1,800 x 0.941 = 1,693,8 grams or ca. 1.69 kg; the heating value of the sheet would thus be 1.69 x 11,000 = 18,590 Kcal. 5 liters of diesel oil, according to my above calculations (see e.g. Table 14) have a heating value of 183,378 BTU or 46,241 kcal. So a total of 18,590 + 46,241 = 64,831 Kcal are being used to burn the bones of this carcass - the equivalent of 20 kg of Mattogno’s low calorific value wood when seasoned [265], or of 18 tons of the fresh wood (3,556 kCal/kg) or 17 kg of the dry wood (3,912 Kcal/kg) considered in Table 11.
Assuming that the life weight of the carcass was 500 kg and that the bones weigh 16 % of that = 80 kg, the wood weight to carcass weight ratio would be 0.25, 0.23 or 0.21. This is way below the rates calculated above on the basis of information about fuel requirements in present-day carcass burning, which are in the order of 2 to 1, and even below the also mentioned rates achieved by veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé in the experiments described by a source that both Mattogno and I hold in high esteem, German engineer and cremation expert Wilhelm Heepke. So it becomes obvious from comparing this Argentinian procedure with other modern carcass-disposal methods that burning just bones requires less or much less fuel per weight unit than burning whole carcasses.

The other example comes from Aschaffenburg, Germany. On a site about various disposal methods for various types of waste in Aschaffenburg county, Germany [266] it is stated that bones of animals may be burned in the Gemeinschaftskraftwerk Schweinfurt – a power plant that produces electricity and heating by burning trash and coal – at no expense, instead of being expensively disposed of in special installations, because bones have about the same heating value as brown coal.

So we have two practical examples confirming that the information provided by Mr. Fuhrmann of Air Burners LLC is spot on, whereas Mattogno is either trying to twist thermodynamics or doesn't know what he's talking about.

Nonsensical as the conclusions derived from Mattogno’s calculations of a 82-kg human corpse’s thermal balance are, these calculations are useful to illustrate the impact of water and fat loss on the amount of heat produced by the burning of a human corpse, as shown in the following table.

Table 22

As we can see in Table 22, complete dehydration brings the heat produced by a corpse’s cremation up to almost 6,000 Kcal per kg of body weight, not much less than the calorific value of coke (6,470 kcal/kg) required to burn the body in question according to Mattogno, and way above the "effective" heat value of 4,850 kcal/kg of the same coke that Mattogno considers when trying to make believe that burning a human body’s bones requires more coke than burning a human body. Should the fat also completely disappear when the body is dehydrated (we have seen that this is not the case, i.e. the fat either remains or is broken down into other flammable or combustible substances in the decomposition stages in which the body loses its water), the corpse’s calorific value would be higher than that of the fresh wood in Table 11 and almost as high as that of the dry wood in the same table. With half of both the water and the fat gone, i.e. with much water yet to be evaporated but much less fat to help the evaporation, the corpse’s calorific value would still go up from 1,526 to 1,927 kCal/kg, rather than remaining the same as would correspond to Mattogno’s claims.

Always the pseudo-scientific charlatan and dishonest straw-man artist, Mattogno refers to one engineer Klettner to demonstrate that, despite their relatively high calorific value, bones burn only with a considerable contribution of external heat due to their high ignition temperature. And the "silliness" of my "reasoning" is supposed to be already demonstrated by the fact that brown coal burns easily in a stove whereas it is impossible to burn bones in one without additional fuel. I didn’t know you can light up brown coal by just holding a match to it, but that’s not the problem here. The problem is that I nowhere made the claim that Mattogno is attributing to me here, i.e. that human bones burn without an external heat source. The statement of Norbert Fuhrmann that I quoted reads as follows (emphasis added):

A good rule of thumb is that you need roughly in tons the same amount of wood waste as the weight of the carcasses for bovines, pigs, horses, sheep, etc. For 5 tons of carcasses you need 4-5 tons of wood waste. Bones have a BTU of about the same as brown coal (ca. 11,000 BTU per pound). If you were to incinerate a lot of bones, much less wood waste would be needed.


Maybe Charlie doesn’t know the difference between "much less" and "none at all". Or then he’s just lying again.

After providing a detailed rendering of engineer Heepke’s heat balance calculation regarding cremation in a crematorium, which I shall return to further below, Mattogno addresses my considerations about the possible contribution that flammable substances forming at various stages of a corpse’s decomposition could have made to the combustion. In my original article I had considered it plausible that in the putrefaction stage of the decomposition process flammable substances like methane contained in the corpses provided an essential contribution to the incineration, whereas in the more advanced stages of decomposition the corpses’ dryness, together with the flammable properties of butyric acid or adipocere, should have decisively promoted the incineration process. Regarding the contribution of methane, a highly flammable gas produced during the putrefaction stage of the decomposition process, I had speculated – for lack of data about the quantity of methane that forms in the human body during this phase – that a decomposing human body generates half the amount of biogas (a gas consisting of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide) per weight unit that a load of cattle manure does, and based my calculations about the significant heat produced by a decomposing body’s methane on this assumption. Mattogno makes a big fuss about my reasoning being fraught with miscalculations and logical errors but can demonstrate none of either, my only apparent mistake having been an overestimate of the quantity of methane produced in a human corpse at the putrefaction stage of the decomposition process. Mattogno’s argument is that a decomposing body can produce no more methane or other substances having a heating value than corresponds to the heating value of the body’s calorific substances prior to decomposition. This calorific value is ca. 75,500 kCal/kg for a body weighing 35 kg (the average pre-decomposition weight I had assumed in my original article, which is slightly higher than the average weight of 34 kg I have now concluded on[267]), the calculation (considering the relative proportions of water, fat, organic and other substances assumed by Mattogno) being the following:

Table 23

According to Mattogno’s calculations, the amounts of methane generation I assumed correspond to 29,225 Kcal per day, which would mean that the above body’s entire calorific value of ca. 63,400 Kcal is converted into methane in little more than two days. As the water should be excluded from this calculation, the time would be 75,467 ÷ 29,225 = 2.6 days, but that is also implausible, and information about methane emissions from buried carcasses suggests a quantity of methane not only far lower than that, but also probably too low to have a measurable impact on combustion [268].

After feasting on this one grain he found, blind hen Mattogno again disgraces himself by misrepresenting my conclusions about the contribution of dehydration and decomposition-related flammable substances as being nothing other, in technical terms, than the obvious observation that the calorific value of the human body’s combustible material by far exceeds the quantity of heat necessary to vaporize the water contained in it. Actually the essence of my observation is that the human body’s substances other than water have a calorific value high enough to sustain their own combustion with a much lower contribution of external flammables than the whole body, the combustion of which requires external flammables largely in order to evaporate the water and thus make exothermic reactions possible, and that dehydration accordingly reduces the amount of external flammables required to help combustion. This can be demonstrated on hand of Mattogno’s calculations of the heat balance in cremation and corresponding requirement of additional flammables according to engineer Heepke. Mattogno’s scenario (Scenario 1) is rendered in the table below.

Table 24

In the next scenario (Scenario 2), I assume that the corpse is completely dehydrated, i.e. that the heat factor W2 is zero.

Table 25

The amount of coke required after the 5th or 6th cremation goes down to almost half, from 30 to 17 kg.

In the next scenario (Scenario 3), I assume that the body still has its water and is not burned in a coffin.

Table 26

The amount of coke required after the 5th or 6th cremation goes up to 44 kg because the heat gain from combustion of the coffin is missing.

In the next scenario (Scenario 4) there is no water in the body and also no coffin:

Table 27

We see that the amount of coke required after the 5th or 6th cremation is only little higher than in Scenario 1 with both water and a coffin, which means that almost all of the heat released by the burning of the coffin goes into the evaporation of the water. Comparing Scenario 3 with Scenario 4, we see that absence of water alone reduces coke requirements from 44 kg to 31 kg, i.e. by ca. 28 %. This percentage seems rather low and is obviously related to the fact that, even in the scenarios where the corpse still has its water, most of the heat released by coffin, corpse and coke goes into heating the upper and lower parts of the furnace. If the furnace never cooled down after having heated up, i.e. if bodies were being burned in the cremation oven on a continuous basis, the cremation would not only be self-sustaining, but even generate heat in all scenarios except the one where water is present but a coffin is not, as shown in the following tables.

Table 28

Table 29

Table 30

Table 31

These continuous cremation scenarios seem to be more similar to pyre burning (where there is no furnace to be heated, the need to heat up the furnace in crematorium cremation probably being related to regulations whereby the body is supposed to be not burned but destroyed by heat and evaporation) than individual burnings in which the furnace is heated up every time, which according to Mattogno's calculation method would require more coke for burning an empty coffin - even after the fifth or six cremation - than for burning a coffin with a corpse inside:

Table 32

In scenario 1b), both the corpse's water and the corpse's combustible substances are gone, which leads to an increase of coke requirements from 30 to 36 kg (after the fifth or sixth cremation) just to burn the empty coffin.

What is more, if the coffin were lighter than 40 kg, it would also release less heat, which in turn would mean even more coke required for combustion. This is counterintuitive and contradicts the information provided on the website of a manufacturer of lighter coffins, which states the exact opposite, i.e. that a heavy hard wood coffin increases the mass to be cremated and thus negatively affects the heat balance and the duration of the cremation process[269]. It is therefore questionable whether the calculation method presented by Mattogno, which apparently doesn't allow for taking into consideration the effects that the mass and weight to be burned has on the fuel requirements, is a sound method for establishing the amount of external fuel required, or at least whether it is applicable to corpse burning on a pyre rather than in a crematorium.

The above-quoted light coffin manufacturer source also mentions that the evaporation of the water from the body is the most difficult stage of the cremation process. Another source addressing this is the Encyclopedia of Cremation[270], where on page 132 it is stated that

Since the body comprises up to 75 per cent of water, much of this must be dried out before proper burning can take place. This drying dominates the cremation process with most modern cremators requiring from 60 to 90 minutes for completion from insertion of the coffin.


The same becomes apparent from Mattogno's own rendering of the cremation experiments conducted by engineer Richard Kessler[271]:

On average, the initial temperature of the cremation was 800°C (1472°F); the highest temperature during the combustion of the coffin of about 1000°C (1832°F) was reached after 12 min. The highest temperature of combustion of the bodies of about 900°C (1652°F) was reached after 28 min. The average duration of evaporation of body fluids was 27 minutes, while the main combustion process within the muffle lasted some 55 minutes.


If external fuel is spent evenly throughout the main combustion process (which is probably not the case, most external fuel being rather spent at the beginning), then 27 out of 55 parts of the external fuel feeding the main combustion process, i.e. more than half the total, go into the evaporation of body fluids.

Now, what if the body has already lost most of its water but still retains a significant portion of its fat, as seems to be the case during the butyric fermentation stage? Wouldn't this, apart from reducing the combustion mass and accordingly the amount of fuel required for combustion, save the considerable portion of the fuel necessary to help the body’s combustion (almost 50 % of that fuel, according to the previous paragraph) that the evaporation of the body fluids requires?

So it can be concluded that, while I overestimated the role in cremation of methane and other flammable substances forming during the putrefaction stage of the decomposition process, it is by no means absurd to assume that the wood weight to carcass weight ratio in burning a mass of decomposed corpses that have lost all or most of their water content is considerably lower than the wood weight to carcass weight ratio in burning an equally large mass of non-decomposed corpses still having all or most of their water would be.

Mattogno’s final argument against this notion is that my calculations are based on the burning of fresh pig cadavers with a necessarily higher proportion of combustible materials than that of the decomposed bodies at Bełżec, which would have lost all or the major part of their calorific value in the mass graves and therefore contained little or no combustible material. This is simply nonsense. Actually the relative content of combustible substances in the bodies (especially fat) was not necessarily much lower in the decomposing bodies at Belzec, as explained above. These substances were either still there or had transformed into other, also combustible or even flammable substances like butyric acid. What had become relatively much less at the later stages of decomposition, however, was the amount of water that had to be evaporated. The water being absent, the calorific value of the body would have gone up, not down, certainly exceeding that of a fresh human body and probably also that of a pig carcass. Even if the body had been without any fat and water, the calorific value of the remaining organic substances would still be more than twice that of a whole fresh body, as shown in the table below for a body weighing 35 kg considering the proportions of water, fat, organic and other substances assumed by Mattogno (3,755 Kcal/kg vs. 1,811 Kcal/kg). As long as the body had fat or products of fat hydrolysis (which, as we have seen, are at least as combustible as fat or even flammable), the heating value once the water was gone was about three times that of a fresh body (5,989 Kcal/kg vs. 1,811 Kcal/kg), as shown in the same table:

Table 23

If – as plausibly informed by Norbert Fuhrmann of Air Burners LLC – the wood equivalent weight to corpse weight ratio is lower when burning bones alone than when burning a whole body, due to the higher calorific value of bones, this must apply all the more if the body furthermore consists not only of bones but also of other fat and protein matter or combustible decomposition derivates of such matter (like butyric acid, glycerol or adipocere), and its total calorific value considerably exceeds that of bones, as in the "Body without water" line of the above table. Notwithstanding Mattogno’s pseudo-scientific patronizing, there’s nothing thermodynamically absurd about this notion, on the contrary. If anything is thermodynamically absurd, it is the notion that a dehydrated body in an advanced stage of decomposition, with most or all of its water gone, would have a lower calorific value than a fresh body with high water content as a passive element reducing its overall heat production.

As I pointed out in my original article, my assumptions and conclusions about how the decomposition process influenced fuel requirements at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps in general and Belzec in particular are not merely of a theoretical nature but correspond to the experiences with the burning of corpses testified to by camp staff and permanent inmates, on which Arad’s narrative in this respect[272] is based, especially accounts whereby the burning of the corpses taken out of the mass graves at Treblinka required no additional flammables beyond those there were laid under the incineration grids for lighting the fire. Mattogno feebly claims that the testimonies in question are false testimonies because self-combustion of corpses without additional fuel or the greater combustibility of decomposed corpses compared to fresh corpses are absurdities. The latter he has not demonstrated, whereas logic and all data considered and assessed in this section of my riposte, including some provided by Mattogno himself, point to an easier and less fuel-intensive combustion of dehydrated corpses in the advanced stages of decomposition in comparison to non-decomposed corpses. The former claim, on the other hand, is as transparent a straw-man as one can think of, for the witnesses in question did not say that the corpses burned all by themselves without supplementary fuel. What they said was that it was not necessary to pour an inflammable liquid on top of them in addition to exposing them to fire from below the grid. In fact that fire is expressly mentioned in the excerpt I quoted from Arad's book (emphasis added):

When all was ready, dry wood and branches, which had been laid under the roaster, were ignited. The entire construction, with the bodies, was quickly engulfed in fire. The railings would glow from the heat, and the flames would reach a height of up to 10 meters.
At first an inflammable liquid was poured onto the bodies to help them burn, but later this was considered unnecessary; the SS men in charge of the cremation became convinced that the corpses burned well enough without extra fuel.


While there’s no reason why eyewitness accounts whereby decomposed bodies burned more easily than fresh ones should be wrong, this does not necessarily mean that non-decomposed bodies, or bodies in the early stages of decomposition not yet marked by a strong loss of body fluids, could not also be made to burn largely on their own combustible substances if arranged in such a way that they were suspended over a fire fed by body fat. Of interest in this respect is a 1969 article by Bruce V. Ettling, an Associate Chemist with the Research Division of the College of Engineering, Washington State University, about experiments in combustion of animal carcasses[273]. The author describes the experimental burning of two carcass in two different cars, with one of the carcasses being burned rather incompletely whereas the other was mostly consumed by the fire. The emphases in the following quote are mine:

A second ewe weighing approximately 170 pounds was killed and laid on its back on the front seat of the Plymouth. Eleven quarts of gasoline were poured in selected locations. A window and a door were left open. The gasoline was ignited and allowed to burn freely. After about thirty minutes everything in the car that could burn was consumed except for the carcass. As the rest of the car became cold a modest fire continued around the carcass for more than three hours. The fire was not coming from the carcass itself but from underneath it. The carcass was still suspended on the seat springs with a lot of char and ash underneath. The fat being rendered from the carcass dripped onto the char which acted like a candle wick and kept the fat burning. This burning rendered more fat. The carcass from the Nash weighed an estimated 120 pounds after burning for a loss of about 30 pounds from the fire. The ends of the legs were burned off and the fur and skin was burned off on the exposed chest area. There was still much intact wool beneath the surface char on the animal's back and sides. The carcass remains from the Plymouth weighed an estimated 50 pounds after burning for a loss of about 120 pounds from the fire. The chest and neck were thoroughly consumed. Only the skull and the abdominal and pelvic regions were not completely burned.


The reason why the second carcass burned more thoroughly was explained as follows:

The findings showed that for a ewe, and presumably for a human also, the body can be rather thoroughly consumed by fire from its own fat. A necessary condition is that the body be suspended in such a way that it is over the fire which is fed from the body fat. Some related information was found in an article concerning a Nazi extermination camp and its trouble destroying the corpses (3). Burning gasoline on piles of corpses on the ground did not consume the corpses. Eventually an "expert" was brought in who arranged the bodies on a rack with the corpses that appeared to contain some fat being placed on the bottom of the pile. A good fire beneath the rack caused fat to drip down and burn. The corpses which were thus over the fire instead of on the ground were reduced to ashes.


While this explanation is of limited application to Belzec, where most bodies had been buried in mass graves prior to burning long enough to reach the stage of butyric fermentation, it helps to understand how it was possible to burn a huge number of fresh corpses in the other Aktion Reinhard(t) camps Sobibor and Treblinka, where burning replaced burial as the body disposal method at a certain stage of their operation. The arrangement of the bodies on a rack or grid in such a way that they burn in a fire fed by the body fat seems to have been an essential factor to the success of the cremation operation. This and other factors (like air circulation), which made possible efficient burning on grids at the AR camps and later at Dresden (on the Altmarkt after the air attack on 13/14 February 1945) has been given as little attention by pseudo-scientific "Revisionist" charlatans like Mattogno as the effects of decomposition on combustion efficiency and fuel needs, which the coryphée of "Revisionism" had completely glossed over until "un tale Roberto Muehlenkamp" reminded him of their importance.

As further support for his claims against the feasibility of mass burning at the Aktion Reinhard(t) as described by eyewitnesses, Mattogno mentions that in the 1930s a cremation without additional fuel was not possible even in the gas-fueled Volckmann-Ludwig ovens, considered the best constructions of that time, despite their being advertised as a system working without additional heat, indeed as only using the heat produced by the corpse cremated; during seven months of 1930 the crematorium of Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, using ovens of this type, cremated 2,500 corpses using 103 cubic meters of natural gas (coal gas) plus the heat supplied from a coffin of 35 or 40 kg. These considerations are irrelevant in our context insofar as the witnesses didn’t claim that the burning was conducted without supplementary fuel, but interesting insofar as 103 cubic meters of natural gas would have 550,329 kcal assuming 5,343 Kcal per cubic meter as for the biogas mentioned in my original article[274]. If this was the amount required to burn 2,500 bodies rather than the amount used per body (the latter assumption would make the Volckmann-Ludwig ovens seem rather inefficient as concerns fuel consumption, as it would mean a far higher additional heat requirement than in the cremation oven considered in the above calculations based on engineer Heepke’s data, Tables 23 to 32), then almost all external fuel in cremation with this system was provided by the coffin weighing 35 - 40 kg. Even for a body weighing under 50 kg, this would mean a wood weight to corpse weight ratio < 1, i.e. comparable to what was achieved in the experiments of Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé mentioned by Heepke, and better than the also quite economic results achieved with the Mokshda Green Cremation System in India. Volckmann-Ludwig's furnace would thus be a further indication that, even without factoring in the higher calorific value of a corpse dehydrated during decomposition, the upper ratio of 2:1 considered in my original article must be seen as generously high as concerns wood or wood equivalent requirements for burning corpses at Belzec. Last but not least, Mattogno chides Holocaust historiography for having never seriously addressed the "problems" posed by the cremation of corpses at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps (a criticism I more or less agree with – while it is altogether reasonable to assume that what is proven to have happened must have been physically and logistically possible, historiography should in my opinion have paid more attention to these technical/logistical issues, secondary though they are, so as not to leave them to propagandistic charlatans like Mattogno) and uncritically rendering the oh-so-"absurd" accounts of eyewitnesses[275] (which of course are false, in Mattogno’s book, except where they can be used to support "Revisionist" arguments), and asks two questions he apparently considers very hard to answer: assuming that wood requirements for cremation were as low as I calculated in my original article (72.3 tons of 14 ½ 5-ton truckloads per day with a wood weight to corpse ratio of 1:1 or twice that much with a ratio of 2:1), where would the wood have been stored (the lower volume corresponds to about 120 cubic meters and a three-days supply would thus have occupied 360 cubic meters, according to Mattogno), and where did it come from?

As to storage: The wood could be brought in on a daily basis without a storage being required, and the space required to store 360 cubic meters of wood would depend on how high the wood was piled. If it was piled four meters high, a mere 90 square meters would be sufficient, and an area this big could certainly have been found inside the Belzec camp enclosure or in the near surroundings.

As to where the wood came from, to the extent that it wasn’t obtained through woodcutting in the forests near the camp: the country in which this mass murder took place, and which was completely in German hands at the time, is a lumbering country. According to an article written in 1921 by then Polish Prime Minister Wincenty Witos [276], Poland’s state forests alone furnished 3,439,047 cubic meters of building timber and 2,019,758 cubic meters of fuel wood. Privately owned wood preserves, according to the same article, yielded 25,000,000 cubic meters of wood per annum, of which only 12,000,000 cubic meters were used to satisfy domestic requirements of reconstruction, fuel, mining etc. while the rest could be exported. The maximum wood requirements for corpse cremation at Belzec considered in my original article – 21,700 tons assuming a 2:1 wood-to-corpse ratio – would in relation to the Polish production numbers given by Prime Minister Witos for 1920/21 represent a mere 0.28 % of the annual export surplus or 0.14 % of the total yield of privately owned Polish forests. Does Mattogno expect his readers to believe that obtaining wood for burning corpses would have been a big deal in a country like Poland?

On the other hand, the people in charge of burning 6,865 corpses on the Dresden Altmarkt following the bombing attacks on 13/14 February 1945 must have made do with much lower amounts of wood in relation to the corpse mass burned, as noted by one of Mattogno's brothers-in-spirit who, in a comment to one of my blogs[277] pointed out that the wood fitting underneath the cremation grid on the Altmarkt was a mere 10 kg at most. And yet at Dresden they managed to burn these thousands of corpses to ashes, as becomes apparent from the sources quoted in another of my blogs[278]. It would be interesting to have big cremation expert Mattogno's explanation as to how the Altmarkt cremators (which are said to have included former Ukrainian Trawniki guards who had gained experience with the same method at Treblinka) managed to pull off this feat of open-air cremation.

4.3 Duration of the Cremations[279]

In section 4.3 of my original article[280], I only had to point out, following my rebuttal of Mattogno’s mindlessly exaggerated wood consumption figures and considering his own data about the duration of the cremation process (he assumed a consumption of 7,200 kg of wood per hour per cremation grid), that the 72.3 tons of wood required for burning 2,893 corpses per day within five months at Belzec, assuming a 1:1 wood weight to corpse weight ratio, would be consumed within 10 hours, whereas twice that amount of wood (assuming a wood weight to corpse weight ratio of 2:1) would be burned within about twenty hours on one grid and about ten hours on two grids.

Mattogno’s main counterargument in his response accordingly consists in claiming that he showed my conclusions as concerns the amount of wood and the time of the overall cremation operation to be wrong. This claim has been taken care of in the previous section 4.2 of this riposte.

As an auxiliary argument, Mattogno forgets about his own calculation whereby 7,200 kg of wood could be burned per hour and grid on a cremation pyre at Belzec, and again displays his schizophrenia in dealing with eyewitness testimonies as invokes two testimonies I’m supposed to have "omitted" (actually I didn’t know about these testimonies, which are not mentioned in the English translation of Mattogno’s book that my original article addresses[281]), those of Motke Zaïdl and Itzhak Dugin, who supposedly stated that cremation pyres similar to those used at Treblinka "usually burned for seven or eight days". As the burning time given by these witnesses contradicts both Mattogno's wood burning time calculations (Mattogno's babbling about the burning time I "concede" is quite amusing as I base my "concession" on his own calculations) and other testimonies, e.g. those of Gley regarding Belzec and Leleko regarding Treblinka, it seems likely that these two witnesses perceived several grid cremations over a period of seven to eight days, during peak operation times of the cremation site they were referring to, as a single cremation. Much ado about nothing.

Finally, Mattogno claims that it would have been impossible to cremate 2,893 corpses daily, without interruptions, during 150 consecutive days and nights, with the pyres exposed to snow, ice and rain. He offers no substantiation for this claim, which is as lame and disingenuous as one would expect from this charlatan. First of all, with the burning time of ten hours on two grids that I assumed on the basis of Mattogno’s own calculations, there wood have been no need to work around the clock. Second, as I pointed out in the previous section 4.2, snow and ice would have been no hindrances if enough dry wood and liquid fuel (gasoline, diesel, oil residues) could be brought in from outside the camp, and there's no reason to assume that this wouldn't have been possible.

Notes

[175] Controversie, Pages 29 to 46; see also the recently published English translation.

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

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

[178] As above, especially Table 3.

[179] Heinrich Köchel, "Leichenverbrennung im Freien", in: Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Year 8, n. 4, December 2004, pages 427-432; available online.

[180] See my article Incinerating corpses on a grid is a rather inefficient method ….

[181] Wikipedia page Pig, last accessed on 2 July 2009 at 15:35 hours GMT.

[182] Manual on Procedures for Disease Eradication by Stamping Out, Chapter 3 Methods of Disposal.

[183] What is the Difference between Gasoline, Diesel Fuel, and Fuel Oil?.

[184] Burning of carcasses by Mercer J.A., Hesketh N., Hunt J., Oughton D.H..

[185] R.D. Lund, I. Kruger and P. Weldon, Options for the Mechanised Slaughter and Disposal of Contagious Diseased Animals – A Discussion Paper.

[186] Alan R. Shapiro, The Use of Air Curtain Destructors for Fuel Reduction; DRIALL Air Curtain Destructor and Refractory Pit; Air Curtain Destructor Operating Procedures.

[187] U.S. Department of Agriculture/Texas Animal Health Commission, Air Curtain Incinerator System, Model T-359, December 19 - 20, 1994, Pilot Point, Texas; see also: Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Ruminant Carcass Disposal Options for Routine and Catastrophic Mortality, where air curtain incinerators are referred to as "fuel intensive".

[188] La legna.

[189] Bernardo Hellrigl, Il potere calorifico del legno.

[190] As note 188.

[191] Wood and Combustion Heat Values

[192] As note 184.

[193] FAO site, as note 182: "A well constructed fire will burn all carcasses within 48 hours. The ashes should be buried and the site restored as fully as possible.". CAL/EPA Emergency Animal Disease Regulatory Guidance for Disposal and Decontamination, page 5:
"The use of accelerants such as diesel fuel, or auxiliary fuels such as wood and straw is required to achieve the combustion temperatures necessary for the complete destruction of animal carcasses.". Management of Animal Mortality in Georgia: "Burning: Burning dead animals must comply with federal, state, and local statutes. Burning is not a preferred method of disposal because of the resulting air pollutants. The entire carcass must be reduced to ashes." Carcass Disposal: A Comprehensive Review. Executive Summary. National Agricultural Biosecurity Center Consortium USDA APHIS Cooperative Agreement Project Carcass Disposal Working Group August 2004: "Open-air burning of carcasses yields a relatively benign waste—ash—that does not attract pests (Damron, 2002). However, the volume of ash generated by open-air burning can be significant (NAO, 2002, p.92)."

[194] Foot and Mouth Disease and Cryptosporidiosis: Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic in 2001; see also National Audit Office (NAO). 2002. The 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 939, Session 2001–2002. The Stationery Office, London, pages 74 and 92.

[195] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (3).

[196] See note 188.

[197] Carlo Mattogno, Combustion Experiments with Flesh and Animal Fat.

[198] See my article Incinerating corpses on a grid is a rather inefficient method …; photos of the Dresden grids can be found on David Irving’s website and on the THHP site.

[199] Michael Tregenza, Belzec – Das vergessene Lager des Holocaust, Jahrbuch Fritz Bauer Institut 2000, pages 241 to 267, specifically pages 252/253 and footnote 62 on page 265. Tregenza refers to the testimonies of Maria Daniel, 16.11.1945, Belzec, and Jan Glab, 19.2.1946, Tomaszów Lubelski, and Heinrich Gley, 6.2.1962, Münster.

[200] Proof: Laundry does dry outside in winter.

[201] See note 179 and Table 7.

[202] See note 188.

[203] More Eco-Friendly Funeral Pyres Introduced in India, by Jeremy Elton Jacquot, Los Angeles on 06.12.07; Hindus Urged to Adopt "Green" Cremation, by Bruce Wallace, September 2, 2007; New 'green' pyre to cool planet while burning India's dead, by Tripti Lahiri (AFP), Jun 13 2007; Making funeral pyres eco-friendly, by Aarti Dhar, May 15, 2005.

[204] As note 197; see also my article Incinerating corpses on a grid is a rather inefficient method … with quotes and conclusions from Heepke’s writings. Direct links to Heepke´s tables copied by Mattogno: Table 1; Table 2; Table 3.

[205] Heizöl, page on the website of Emanuele Centonze SA.

[206] As note 197; direct link.

[207] As note 197.

[208] Polish investigations of the Treblinka killing site were a complete failure …. Excerpt from Judge Lukaszkiewicz’ report of 13.11.1945: "The largest of the craters produced by explosions (numerous fragments attest to the fact that these explosions were set off by bombs), which is at maximum 6 meters deep and has a diameter of about 25 meters – its walls give recognizable evidence of the presence of a large quantity of ashes as well as human remains – was further excavated in order to discover the depth of the pit in this part of the camp. Numerous human remains were found by these excavations, partially still in a state of decomposition. The soil consists of ashes interspersed with sand, is of a dark gray color and granulous in form. During the excavations, the soil gave off an intense odor of burning and decay. At a depth of 7.5 meters the bottom was reached, which consisted of layers of unmixed sand. At this point the digging was stopped here." Excerpt from Judge Lukaszkiewicz’ report of 29.12.1945: "In the northwestern section of the area, the surface is covered for about 2 hectares by a mixture of ashes and sand. In this mixture, one finds countless human bones, often still covered with tissue remains, which are in a condition of decomposition. During the inspection, which I made with the assistance of an expert in forensic medicine, it was determined that the ashes are without any doubt of human origin (remains of cremated human bones). The examination of human skulls could discover no trace of wounding. At a distance of some 100 m, there is now an unpleasant odor of burning and decay." Emphases in both quotes are mine.

[209] Deposition of former Ukrainian guard Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko on 21.02.1945 (emphasis mine): "The parts of the body that had burned but had preserved their natural shape were put into a special mortar and pounded into flour. This was done in order to hide the traces of the crimes committed. Later on the ashes were buried in deep pits."

[210] Kogon/Langbein/Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas (hereinafter "Kogon et al, Massentötungen"), page 188 (my translation).

[211] LG Düsseldorf vom 22.12.1970, 8 Ks 1/69, partially transcribed online.

[212] As note 209.

[213] See note 36.

[214] US Department of Homeland Security, Field Notes for Reponders Euthanasia and Disposal: "Carcasses can be incinerated (burned) in different ways including: Open-air: burning carcasses in open fields on flammable heaps (pyres).Pits: the confined space of a pits helps prevent the fire from spreading to other areas. Because the carcasses are not exposed to as much air (open-air burning), extra fuel or air must be added to the pits to help the fire stay lit."

[215] Shapiro, as note 186.

[216] As note 197; direct link.

[217] Calorific value in kcal/kg from Table 11.

[218] According to the page CO2-Einsparung on the site of the company ISOTOM, Osnabrück, the calorific value of 1 kg of brown coal from the Rhineland in briquettes is 5.7 kWh. 5.7 kWh = 4,904.40 Kcal.

[219] The calorific value of 1 kg of black coal in briquettes is 8.3 kWh (source as previous note). 8.3 kWh equals 7,141.49 cal.

[220] According to an online table of Heizwerte (heating values), resin (Harz) has a calorific value of 11.7 kWh/kg. 11.7 kwH equals 10,066.92 kcal.

[221] Tar (Teer) has a calorific value of 11.1 kWh/kg (same source as previous note). 11.1 kwH equals 9,550.67 kcal.

[222] As note 205.

[223] According to an online page about Heizen mit Stroh (heating with straw), packed bales of straw have a heating value of 5,000 kwH per ton or 5 kwH per kg, which corresponds to 4,302.10 kcal. Heepke doesn’t mention the amount of straw used in the experiments because it was very small. In Table 1 Heepke writes (my translation): "Due to the low amounts there have not been considered: tar, resin and straw in calculating the calorific effect and the evaporation capacity; straw in calculating the costs."

[224] Conversion with heating values from Table 11, by the same calculation as in Table 19 (weight of dry wood x 3,912 ÷ 3,556).

[225] Assuming that calorific value diminishes with moisture content in the same proportion as in the wood considered by Mattogno's source, the calorific value of wood with a moisture content of 40 % would be 2,300 ÷ 3,250 = 70.77%. At a moisture content of 40 %, "my" wood would thus have a calorific value of 3,912 x 70.77 % = 2,768 kcal/kg. The values in this column are accordingly the values in the column "Equivalent weight of dry wood kg" x 3,912 ÷ 2,768.

[226] As note 197.

[227] See note 134.

[228] BBC page Doctor’s advice.

[229] See note 136.

[230] See note 177.

[231] See note 134. According to the Australian Museum, a 40 kg pig resembles a human body in its fat distribution, cover of hair and ability to attract insects, and these factors make pigs the next best things to humans when it comes to understanding the process of decay of the human body.

[232] See note 137.

[233] See note 120. The cited source mentions that "According to an old rule of thumb (Casper's dictum) one week of putrefaction in air is equivalent to two weeks in water, which is equivalent to eight weeks buried in soil, given the same environmental temperature."

[234] As note 228.

[235] Wikipedia page Forensic entomological decomposition, last accessed on 07.07.2009, 20:19 hours GMT; Forensic Science Notes – Death and Decomposition; response to a query by Michael Weaver, Staff, Biology/Microbiology, Merck & Co., Inc.; "Absolute Astronomy" Decomposition page; presentation "The Chemistry of Death"; Lecture 21 Forensic Etymology - Guest Lecturer: Dr. Richard Merrit Department of Entomology Michigan State University - PowerPoint presentation.

[236] Arpad A. Vass, Beyond the grave – understanding human decomposition.

[237] Human Remains: Decay, DNA, Tissues and Fluids: "Buried corpses decay approximately four times slower than those left on the surface, and the deeper they are buried, the slower they decay (Dent et al. , 2004 )."

[238] Introduction to Forensic Science Forensic Entomology, PowerPoint presentation with photographs, see especially slides 23 – Decay and 24 – Post-Decay.

[239] Carcass Disposal: A Comprehensive Review. Chapter 1 Burial. National Agricultural Biosecurity Center Consortium USDA APHIS Cooperative Agreement Project Carcass Disposal Working Group August 2004.

[240] See note 136.

[241] See note 134.

[242] Pig Decomposition Video

[243] See note 177.

[244] Same source as note 120.

[245] See note 236.

[246] From the collection Photographic Evidence of Nazi Crimes: A mass grave discovered in Iwje, Poland; A Soviet investigating committee beside a mass grave of the Jews of Kozin, which they excavated.; The bodies of Jews in an unidentified ghetto, exhumed from a mass grave; Bones and skulls that were exposed in a mass grave; Corpses exhumed from a mass grave and laid out in rows; Corpses exhumed from mass graves and laid out in rows; The bones of Jews exhumed from a mass grave at Utena (Utian), Lithuania; The exhumation of a mass grave in the city of Bialystok; USHMM 30857 Jewish survivors stand in an opened mass grave among the exhumed bodies of the victims of a mass shooting in Biala Podlaska; USHMM 85805 Soviet soldiers exhume a mass grave in Lvov; In der Nähe des ukrainischen Dorfes Petrikowo/bei Tarnopol. Eine sowjetische Untersuchungskommission vor den exhumierten Leichen erschossener Zivilisten. (Near the Ukrainian village of Petrikovo/by Tarnopol. Members of a Soviet investigation commission before the exhumed corpses of civilians shot.); Gestapo-Opfer in Orjol. Die Schlucht, in der die Zivilisten erschossen wurden. (Victims of the Gestapo in Oryol. The gorge where the civilians were shot.)

[247] Insects of forensic importance from Rio Grande do Sul state in southern Brazil.

[248] Wikipedia page Body Water, last accessed on 13 July 2009 at 23:52 hours GMT.

[249] Hydrolysis of Fats.

[250] Wikipedia page Butyric Acid, last accessed on 13 July 2009 at 00:54 hours GMT.

[251] Australian Museum page What is grave wax?.

[252] Of interest in this respect is a post by "Pangea" on the Axis History Forum about Mattogno's combustion experiments.

[253] Robert Burke, Organic Acids; Flammable/Combustible Liquids 155; Wikipedia page Butyric Acid (as note 248). The flash point of butyric acid is 161º Fahrenheit or 72º Celsius, lower than the flash point of animal fats, which according to Mattogno's article about his burning experiments (note 196) is 184º Celsius. According to an online factsheet, butyric acid has a combustion heat of 10,620 BTU/lb or 5,900 cal/g (= 5,900 kCal/kg). Safety data for glycerol tell us that glycerol has a flash point of 160º Celsius. According to the article Diversified Energy Demonstrates Glycerol Combustion System, "The combustion of glycerol will produce 16 MJ of heat per kilogram of glycerol burned which could be provided back to the biodiesel process, another co-located system, or converted into other energy forms like electricity." 16 MJ/kg = 3,824 kcal/kg. As to adipocere: "It floats on water, and dissolves in hot alcohol and ether. When heated it melts and then burns with a yellow flame".

[254] O’Neill, Stepping Stone, Chapter 10, emphasis mine: "The number of pyres used in Belzec is not clear as witnesses refer to 2 - 5 pyres. These had been constructed in mid-November 1942 and were in continual use until March 1943.[60] - Statements by witnesses: Mieczyslaw Kudyba (mentions 1-3 pyres), Stanislaw Kozak and Alojzy Berezowski (2-3), Eugeniusz Goch and Edward Ferens (3), Edward Luczyñski, Maria Daniel and Jan Gl¹b (3-4)".

[255] Arad, Reinhard, pages 383-389.

[256] See note 254.

[257] See note 177.

[258] Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (3).

[259] John Ball, Air Photo Expert?, by Jamie McCarthy.

[260] See note 177.

[261] This is the value for fresh bones with water in them. If the bones have lost their water, their calorific value would be 2,462 kcal/kg or 9770 BTU/kg; with water 2,390 kcal/kg or 9,484 BTU/kg. Norbert Fuhrmann gives 11,000 BTU or 2,772 kcal not per kg, but per pound. A pound being 0.45359237 kg, 2,772 kcal per pound equals 2,772/0.45359237 = 6,107 kcal/kg. This is too high, suggesting that Mr. Fuhrmann meant to give a heating value per kg and not per pound. According to the ISOTOM list, the calorific value of 1 kg of brown coal from the Rhineland in briquettes is 5.7 kWh. 5.7 kWh = 4,904.40 kcal. Another source gives the heating value of brown or lignite coal at 9 to 17 million Btu/ton or 10 to 20 MJ/kg, which corresponds to between 2,390 and 4,780 kcal. The heating value of bones calculated by Mattogno corresponds to the lower of these values, whereas Mr. Fuhrmann’s value, if referred to the kg rather than the pound, corresponds to a value a little higher but still well below the maximum heating value of brown or lignite coal according to this source.

[262] Anthrax in the Upper Hunter Valley Region in NSW, Australia (moderator’s comment following post by Peter Black).

[263] Elimination of the carcasses of animals that have died from anthrax.

[264] Yupo Corporation page, Environmental Friendliness and Waste Disposal.

[265] 3,250 Kcal/kg, according to the table in La legna (moisture content 20 %).

[266] Abfallwirtschaft des Landkreises Aschaffenburg.

[267] See note 177.

[268] According to Chapter 1 of the USDA APHIS's Carcass Disposal review, "No comprehensive measurements are available to estimate the quantity of site gas being generated. Although it is possible to estimate the quantity of gas generated at municipal waste sites, these methods may or may not be applicable for carcass burial sites. Based on estimates for MSW landfills, the quantity anticipated for the carcass disposal site was estimated to be about 2 kg of methane per tonne of waste per year. Based on a total of 13,600 tonnes of carcasses disposed in the site, this suggested a methane generation rate of 41,000 m3 per year, or 27,000 kg per year (10-3 kg/s) from the site as a whole. This is reportedly an extremely low rate (Det Norske Veritas, 2003, p.VI.24)." Methane having a heating or fuel value of 950 BTU per cubic foot (= 33,549 BTU/m3 = 8,460 kcal/m3), 41,000 m3 of methane would have a calorific value of 349,398,000 kcal, released by 13,600 tons or 13,600,000 kg of carcass. This means that the yearly methane emissions from a buried carcass have a heating value of just 25.69 kcal/kg, which is negligible as concerns the possible contribution to combustion.
Besides methane, on the other hand, there are also other flammable gases (e.g. hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen) that form during the putrefaction process, and the degree to which the Australian Museum's piglet in the putrefaction phase or the human body shown on page 23 of the online excerpt mentioned in note 237 above (careful, graphic image!) are bloated on the respective photos suggests considerable amounts of putrefaction gasses. According to the latter source (page 23), "The decomposing tissues release green substances and gas which make the skin discoloured and blistered, starting on the abdomen in the area above the caecum (Fig. 1.7 ). The front of the body swells, the tongue may protrude and fluid from the lungs oozes out of the mouth and nostrils (Fig. 1.8). This is accompanied by a terrible smell as gasses such as hydrogen sulphide and mercaptans, sulphur - containing organic molecules, are produced as end products of bacterial metabolism. Methane (which does not smell) is also produced in large quantities and contributes to the swelling of the body. In the UK, this stage is reached after about 4 – 6 days during spring and summer but would take longer during colder winter weather. The accumulation of gas can become so severe that the abdominal wall ruptures and this may lead to concerns over whether the wound was caused maliciously. In 1547, the corpse of King Henry VIII underwent such extreme bloat that his coffin, which was being transported back to Windsor castle for burial, exploded overnight and dogs were found feeding on the exposed remains in the morning. This was deemed to be divine judgement on the king for his dissolution of the monasteries." Emphases in the quote are mine.
The above suggests considerable amounts of flammable gases forming inside the body during the putrefaction process, and that the methane emission quantities considered by the first source quoted in this note are much too low. However, without quantitative data about the amounts of flammable gasses that form in a human corpse body during the putrefaction process, it is not possible to determine to what extent such gasses may, beyond facilitating ignition when exposed to fire, contribute to a human corpse's combustion.

[269] Ecologic Coffin (emphases mine): "Combustion is helped, firstly because the mass to burn is much smaller. Indeed hard wood coffins are heavier and more time is required to burn coffin and corpse.Generally, according to the coffin size, the weight varies from 40 to 80 kg. for fir, larch, walnut, mahogany, and density rises from about 0.44 kg/cubic dm. to about 1 ( commercial densities with 15% moisture ). We must take into account that now almost all Crematoriums work by methane, the most suitable fuel, because of its heating power, as well as its fairly short emissions and no solid combustion products.
Besides, methane has a much higher flame temperature ( 1,949 °C adiabatic and about 1,200 °C real average) compared to wood (max 800°C ) which has a higher C/H index. Economy practised in using cellulose coffins must also be taken into account, cremation being destructive.
The hypothesis advanced by someone to use hard wood coffins in order to stoke combustion is absolutely illogical and against good technique for many reasons. First of all, as already said, the cremation mass is increased, cremation takes more time, emissions are higher.
For instance, if an average corpse to be cremated weighs 65 kg. and a wooden coffin 50 kg., the cremation mass is increased from 82 to 115 kg., that is a 40% increase in comparison with the 17 kg. cellulose coffin.
Then, a fuel ( that is wood ) with a weight heating power about three-four times lower ( according to moisture with about averag 3,250 kcal/kg with 20% ) than methane and a much more unfavourable C/H ratio would be used.
Moreover, wood produces cinders ( 1% ), thus increasing the powder rate in emissions, which must be definitely avoided as far as possible, since emissions during cremation are the most important environmental problem. Besides, wood must be initially heated up (at about 210° C) to burn and to produce heat, so that those degradation complicated reactions producing combustible gases can take place in order to get a positive heat balance. It must also be borne in mind that methane, which burns instantaneously, sends forth fewer emissions, heat being equal, and it’s environmentally friendly, while wood combustion comes from different and complicated volatile substances ( 85%) and from coal ( 14%). It must finally be borne in mind that cremation initial stage, ending with the coffin breakdown, must be as quick as possible, so that corpse cremation starts with the most difficult stage, that is water evaporation from the body (about 76%). As everybody knows, evaporation keeps the body "fairly" cold until its removal ( evaporation heat about 540 Kcal/Kg plus sensitive heat ). The cellulose coffin, burning very quickly, with little cinder production, makes this operation easier, in consideration of its nature. The Methane Burners of Crematorium Primary Chambers offer the required heat potential under the most favourable cremation conditions, as above said."


[270] Douglas James Davies, Lewis H. Mates, Encyclopedia of Cremation, online excerpt.

[271] Carlo Mattogno, The Crematoria Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

[272] Arad, Reinhard, pages 173 f.

[273] Bruce V. Ettling, "Consumption of an Animal Carcass in a Fire", in: The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Mar., 1969), pp. 131-132. Thanks to Dr. Nick Terry for sending me this article.

[274] The biogas in question has a heating value of 600 BTU per cubic foot or 21,189 BTU per cubic meter (1 cubic meter = 35.31 cubic feet). 21,189 BTU = 5,343 kCal.

[275] Which is not what historians do, as explained, for instance, in my blog Historiography as seen by an ignorant charlatan ….

[276] Wincenty Witos, Prosperity in Poland, New York Times, 7 August 1921.

[277] «B» as in «Bullshit»; see my comment of December 24, 2006, 1:56:00 AM.

[278] Incinerating corpses on a grid is a rather inefficient method ….

[279] Controversie, Pages 46/47; see also the recently published English translation.

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

[281] Mattogno, Belzec, page 86.


(4,3) 4. Volume of the Mass Graves, Human and Wood Ashes
4.4 The Soil removed from the Graves
4.5 The Ash

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