Sunday, January 02, 2011

Mattogno on Chełmno Cremation (Part 2)

Part 1

Part 3

This is the second of a series of three blogs addressing the claims and arguments of "Revisionist" coryphee Carlo Mattogno regarding cremation of the people murdered at Chełmno extermination camp.

2. Fuel Requirements

Mattogno and his associates Jürgen Graf and Thomas Kues claim that burning the victims’ corpses at Nazi extermination camps would have required enormous quantities of fuel that are at odds with the evidence if they were logistically obtainable at all. The main parameters on which this claim rests are the average weight of the corpses to be burned and the average amount of wood or wood equivalent required for cremation per kg of corpse weight.

Regarding Chełmno, Mattogno assumes that the corpses had an average weight of 60 kg at the time of death, which he reduces to 45 kg at the time of cremation to take account of the fact that "according to Holocaust historiography", a part of the corpses were exhumed after some months in the mass graves.[79]

The same weight was assumed by Mattogno regarding the victims of Bełżec extermination camp and demonstrated to be way above the mark because deportees to that camp were of somewhat smaller stature than the average German at the time and came from ghettos in which they had lived under conditions of severe malnourishment to the point of starvation, meaning that it is more realistic to assume an average life weight of 34 kg for the average person in a population of which two thirds were adults weighing 43 kg on average and one third were children aged 14 and under weighing 16 kg on average (a generous assumption regarding deportees to extermination camps, among whom children must have been more strongly represented than in the general population because they were deemed unable to work and thus among the first to be exterminated).[80]

The situation was hardly different among the Jews of the Warthegau, the area of Poland annexed to the Nazi Germany from which Jews were deported to Chełmno extermination camp. The food situation in the Łódź ghetto was so desperate that a large number of ghetto inhabitants died of hunger and related diseases.[81] Already in July 1941, SS-Sturmbannführer Rolf-Heinz Hoeppner, had sent a file note to the Reich Main Security Office in which he made the following suggestion, among others, regarding the Jewish population of the Warthegau (my translation):[82]

In this winter there is the danger that the Jews can no longer be all fed. It must be seriously considered whether it wouldn’t be the most humane solution to finish off the Jews through a fast-working method insofar as they are not able to work. This would in any case be more pleasant than letting them starve to death.

The Gypsies of the Łódź ghetto were no better off than the Jews. Packed together in a very small area with no sanitary facilities and minimal food supplies, they were dying like flies from typhus.[83]

Thus the people killed at Chełmno extermination camp can be reasonably assumed to have had the same average life weight as the victims of Bełżec extermination camp. The total weight of the people killed at Chełmno would accordingly be about 157,000 x 34 = 5,338,000 kg.

How much wood was required to burn this mass of human bones and tissue?

This question takes us to the second parameter of logistical feasibility, the amount of wood or wood equivalent required for cremation per kg of cremated corpse mass.

Mattogno, who conducted various experiments burning small amounts of animal flesh, claims that he used 3.5 kg of dry wood per kg of cremated flesh and holds that this ratio reflects wood requirements when burning animal carcasses or human corpses. [84] In his Chełmno book, Mattogno argues that the ovens described by witnesses Zurawski et al[85] resemble a 19th Century device for carcass incineration known as the Feist apparatus, which according to a technical description quoted by Mattogno could burn 250 to 500 kg of carcass (medium: 750÷2 = 375 kg) with 500-600 kg (medium: 1,100÷2 = 550 kg) of coal. 375 kg being roughly the weight of 8 corpses weighing 45 kg each, it follows that each corpse would require about (550÷8) = 69 kg of coal or a wood equivalent, assuming that the calorific power of wood is 46 % that of coal, of (69÷0.46 =) 150 kg – a wood-to-corpse weight ratio of 3.33 to 1, very close to that of Mattogno’s own experiments. As cremation methods were identical ("according to Holocaust historiography") in both phases of Chełmno’s operation, burning "the minimum number of presumed victims – about 145,000 corpses" would thus have required [(145,000 x 150)÷1,000] = 21,750 tons of wood. Assuming that a 20-year-old pinewood forest produces 185 tons of wood per hectare, the required wood amount would correspond to (21,750÷185) = 117.5 hectares of pine forest.[86]

As on other occasions, Mattogno’s reasoning leaves much to be desired.

First of all, the Feist apparatus could, according to Mattogno’s source, burn up to 8 carcasses of smaller animals with 500 to 600 kg of coal, reducing the carcasses to a small amount of ash residue.[87] The source mentions that complete combustion required 8-9 hours for carcasses of huge animals, i.e. such that weighed 250 to 500 kg or the same as 4 to 8 carcasses of smaller animals, whose combustion took only 5 to 6 hours. It is possible that fuel consumption was also less when burning smaller animals (for which the source is obviously assuming an average weight of 60 kg), and that 8 such animals weighing (8x60=) 480 kg could be reduced to ashes with the lower coal weight of 500 kg mentioned by the source. Coal consumption per kg of carcass weight would thus have been (500÷480 =) 1.04 kg; applying Mattogno’s coefficient this would correspond to (1.04÷0.46 =) 2.26 kg of wood. The burning of an average Chełmno corpse weighing 34 kg would thus have required about 77 kg of wood, little more than half the amount assumed by Mattogno, and the burning of 145,000 such corpses would have required 11,165 rather than 21,750 tons of wood. This is assuming that the cremation devices of Chełmno’s 2nd phase were no more fuel-efficient than the Feist apparatus, which is questionable considering
a) the method described by witnesses of alternating layers of chopped wood with layers of corpses and leaving space between the corpses, which wasn’t applied in the Feist apparatus according to the description in Mattogno’s source [88],
b) other factors like the much larger size of the Chełmno device (which with a depth of four meters was about twice as deep as the device that Mattogno compares it with, had an upper opening of 60 m² vs. the Feist device’s 2 m², and burned about 100 corpses at a time, according to Zurawski et al, while according to Piller the oven had an area of 40-48 m² at the top and was 7-8 meters deep) and the huge air shaft mentioned by Piller (8 meters long and wide enough for a man in ducked position to move to the grid)[89], and
c) the fact that, while in the Feist device the carcass was reduced to a small amount of ashes, burning was not necessarily as complete in the Chełmno ovens (as suggested by the short burning time per corpse mentioned in the Polish Central Commission’s report)[90], requiring much subsequent crushing/grinding work.

Another, more serious fallacy is Mattogno’s ignoring or unreasonably dismissing the eyewitness and archaeological evidence whereby the cremation devices and methods applied in Chełmno’s 1st phase were, contrary to Mattogno’s assumption, not akin to the ovens used in the 2nd phase that he compares with the Feist apparatus. This evidence suggests that the corpses burned right after gassing were burned in purpose-built crematoria with a chimney, whereas corpses exhumed from mass graves were cremated on grid structures over pits similar to those used at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps.[91] Both types of devices may well have achieved fuel efficiency considerably higher than that of the inverted cones used in the 2nd phase (assuming these were no more fuel-efficient than the Feist apparatus).

As concerns the crematoria with chimneys, one may assume that they were similar to those used at Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau. Regarding these cremation ovens, it follows from Jährling’s memo of 17 March 1943[92] that in continuous operation the five triple-muffle ovens of each of Birkenau crematoria II and III used about (2,800 ÷ 15 ÷ 12 ≈) 15.6 kg/h of coke per muffle. According to Pressac, cremation capacity was generally calculated in civilian practice taking as unit an animal carcass weighing 70-100 kg.[93]. The medium of these values, 85 kg, roughly corresponds to the weight of two adult Polish ghetto Jews, five Jewish ghetto children or an adult plus two or three children, assuming the respective weights mentioned above. If just two corpses could be burned with 15.6 kg of coke, the average coke consumption per body would be 7.8 kg. The wood weight equivalent of these 7.8 kg of coal, applying Mattogno’s 0.46 coefficient, would be about 17 kg.

As concerns the burning on grids over pits, the carcass burning experiments of German veterinarians Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé in the early 20th Century suggest that a wood-to-corpse weight ratio of 0.56:1 (the average achieved by the veterinarians in a series of three experiments in which the carcass was placed above ground on T-carriers over a pit in which the fire burned) or even 0.48:1 (the average achieved in another three experiments in which the fire pit over which the carcass was placed was a smaller pit dug from the sole of a larger pit, the carcass thus burning inside the larger pit with reduced heat loss and protection against wind) could have been achieved at the Nazi extermination camps, if not an even lower ratio considering economy due to mass burning (as opposed to the burning of single carcasses in Lothes & Profés experiments) and the fact that (also unlike the carcasses in the experiments of Lothes & Profé) the corpses were not completely reduced to ashes by cremation on those roasters.[94] Even if the aforementioned cremation ovens had not existed, it would thus have been possible, given a proper methodology, to burn the about 150,000 victims of Chełmno’s 1st phase, weighing about (150,000x34 =) 5,100,000 kg, with no more than [(5,100,000x0.56)÷1,000] = 2,856 tons of wood. The amount corresponding to Mattogno’s assumptions (150,000 corpses x 150 kg per corpse = 22,500 tons of wood) is almost eight times higher.

Unlike Mattogno’s calculations, the above are based on the corpses’ assumed life weight and not on their assumed decomposed weight. This leads to the question what impact the decomposition of those corpses from Chełmno’s 1st phase that had been lying in mass graves before cremation is likely to have had on wood requirements.

In the later stages of the decomposition process, butyric fermentation and dry decay [95], a corpse is left without most, and finally without all, of the water that makes up most of the human organism[96]. One would expect this to positively influence external fuel requirements in two respects, one being the much lower mass to be burned and the other that little or no heat is expended in evaporating body water. This assumption is supported by evidence whereby at Treblinka extermination camp corpses removed from the graves required less fuel for burning than fresh corpses.[97]

Exactly the contrary is maintained by Mattogno and his associates Jürgen Graf and Thomas Kues (hereinafter "MGK"), who in their recent book about Sobibór extermination camp[98] argue that the positive effect of dehydration on the cremation heat balance would have been offset by a simultaneous loss of fat:[99]

Assuming that the human body consists on average of 64% water, 14% fat and 15.3% proteins,405 a corpse of 60 kg contains 34.80 kg of water, 8.40 kg of fat, and 9.18 kg of proteins.
The heat consumption for the evaporation of body water and the superheating of the steam to 800°C thus amounts to [640+(0.493×700)] ≈ 986 kcal for 1 kg of water. Animal fat has a heating value of some 9,500 kcal/kg, hence, in the thermal balance the heat added by 1 kg of fat is equal to the heat lost by the vaporization of (9,500÷986=) 9.6 kg of water. For the proteins with a heat value of about 5,400 kcal/kg this ratio is roughly 1:5.5 in terms of weight.
Therefore, even assuming an extreme case where the alleged corpses at Sobibór would have lost their total water content over a period of 4 months, the heat of vaporization thus saved would have been 38.4×[640+(0.493×700)] ≈ 37,800 kcal for each corpse.
To balance this saving in heat, a loss of, say, 40% of body fat and 12% of proteins would have been sufficient: [(0.4×8.4×9,500) + (0.12×9.18×5,400)] ≈ circa 37,800 kcal.

The above looks quite "scientific" and is probably correct – under the assumption that the corpse’s weight remains unchanged and the corpse’s calorific value, expressed in kcal/kg, thus remains the same.

Of course this is not so. As shown in Table 2.1 below, MGK's 60 kg corpse has a total heating value of 91,509.60 kCal and a heating value per weight unit of 1,525.16 kCal/kg, assuming MGK's distribution by water, fat and protein, the heating values per weight unit they give for each of these substances and that the 4.02 kg of body weight other than water, fat or protein are neither an asset (like fat and protein) nor a liability (like water) in the heat balance (this table, like all the following, can be enlarged by clicking on it).

Table 2.1

Now the body loses all its water, 40 % of its fat and 12 % of its proteins as per MGK's example. As MGK seem to assume that all three substances vanish completely, this of course also means that the corpse's weight is reduced accordingly. We thus get what is shown in Table 2.2.

Table 2.2

With zero water, 60 % of its original fat and 88 % of its original proteins, the body now weighs just 17.14 kg and has a total heating value of 91,503.36 kCal and a heating value per weight unit of 5,339.08 kCal/kg - very close to that of protein (and not far below that of coking coal[100]) and 3.5 times higher than the heating value per unit of the fresh, un-dehydrated body.

Are MGK trying to tell their readers that burning a corpse with a heating value of 5,339.08 kCal/kg requires the same amount of wood per kg as does burning a corpse with a heating value of just 1,525.16 kCal/kg?

Of course fat and proteins don’t just disappear, unlike the body fluids that seep into the soil. They are transformed into glycerol and fatty acids, as MGK themselves point out[101]. Glycerol and fatty acids (the latter including butyric acid, which at the stage of butyric fermentation gives corpses or carcasses a cheesy smell[102]) are flammable substances with a considerable calorific value[103], which means that the heat balance asset of fat and protein is (to put it conservatively) not completely lost when both break down.

The correctness of the above reasoning is confirmed by the fact that very low amounts of additional fuel are required to burn carcasses reduced to only their bones.[104]

Mattogno, Graf & Kues present an example supposedly corroborating their claim that burning decomposed corpses requires no less or even more fuel than burning fresh bodies. The burning of 21,000 decomposing carcasses at Epynt in Wales between 24 April and the end of August 2001, they write, required an amount of fuel and a timeframe far in excess of those that had been observed with fresh carcasses.[105] However, a look at the source referred to reveals that this claim is a half-truth at best. The Epynt Enquiry Report[106] describes a rather disastrous, badly mismanaged procedure on page 4. After a failed attempt to burn them in the burial pit, the carcasses were moved to the burn site "in their deteriorated state, mixed with mud and stones". The pyre temperature was too low for safe burning, for the pyre "was built on the flat with no trench to create the draft usually necessary to ensure high temperatures for burning". Moreover the pyre "was in fact over 400 metres long (whereas according to the EA's report it should have been 250 metres long) and was so wide that the machines used to stoke up the fire could not reach the centre which left much of the carcasses only partly burnt". Those machines caught fire themselves, leading to the use of "fire hydrants alongside the pyres to dowse down burning machines".

One can see that the outrageously high fuel expenditure[107] was due to several factors besides the deterioration of the carcasses[108]. First of all, the carcasses in their deteriorated state were burned together with mud and stones, meaning that the coal expenditure was not due to the carcasses alone. Second, the pyre was inadequately wide and didn’t allow for air circulation, which rendered the burning very inefficient. Third, fire hydrants alongside the pyre dowsing down burning machines would hardly have improved the already low burning efficiency.

In sum, this showpiece of incompetence can hardly be used as evidence in support of the counterintuitive proposition that burning decomposed corpses requires more fuel than burning fresh ones.

A more pertinent argument of the "Revisionist" authors is derived from the so-called Minnesota Starvation Experiment (November 1944 through December 1945), in which 36 volunteers underwent a restricted diet over 24 weeks and saw their weight dropping from an initial average 69.4 kg in the last week of the control period to 52.6 kg at the end of 24 weeks of semi-starvation, a loss of 16.8 kg. Water eventually represented 37 % of the lost body mass (6.2 kg), protein 9 % (1.5 kg) and fat 54 % (9.1 kg).[109] MGK argue that "the loss of 6.2 kg of body water saves some 6.2×(640+0.493×700) ≈ 6,100 kcal in terms of fuel requirements, as opposed to a loss of available fuel of (9.1×9,500+1.5×5,400) ≈ 94,500 kcal caused by the loss of body fat and proteins. This results in a negative balance of some 88,400 kcal, the equivalent of 23 kg of dry wood"[110]

MGK are right in that burning the fresh corpse of a person that has lost most of its fat but a lesser part of its water due to malnutrition will require more wood and/or other external fuel than burning the fresh corpse of a person with a normal fat and water content, even though the mass and weight to be burned has been reduced. Quantifying how much more wood is required, however, must take into account the weight loss and the impact thereof on the calorific value in kCal/kg.

Table 2.3 shows the original weight of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (MSE) test subjects, broken down into water, fat, protein and other substances according to the ratio applied earlier by MGK (64 % water, 14 % fat and 15.3 % proteins, other substances the balance between the sum of these three and the test persons’ original weight of 69.4 kg). It is assumed that burning such corpse on a grid with the method applied by Dr. Lothes & Dr. Profé, and arguably on a much larger scale at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps and at Chełmno, would take 0.56 kg of wood or wood equivalent per kg of corpse weight, or 38.86 kg of wood in total. In the above-quoted statement MGK consider 23 kg of wood to correspond to 88,400 kcal, which means that they are assuming wood with a calorific value of 3,843.48 kCal/kg. 0.56 hereof is 2,152.35, which raises the corpse’s calorific value per weight unit from 1,525.16 to 3,677.51 kCal/kg. This is assumed to be the calorific value per weight unit at which the normal-weight corpse combusts.

Table 2.3

In the next table (2.4), the corpse has the weight of an MSE test person at the end of the experiment (52.6 kg) after losing 6.2 kg of water, 1.5 kg of protein and 9.1 kg of fat. It’s calorific value per weight unit is down to 330.98 kCal/kg, which means that wood must contribute an additional 3,346.53 kCal/kg to reach the 3,677.51 kCal/kg required for combusting the corpse. These 3,346.53 kCal/kg correspond to 0.87 kg of MGK’s wood, which means that the wood weight to corpse weight ratio goes up from 0.56:1 to 0.87:1, and the total amount of wood required for cremation rises from 38.86 kg to 45.80 kg.

Table 2.4

The next table (2.5) shows how much water loss due to the corpse’s decomposition would be required to bring wood consumption back to the original 38.86 kg in absolute terms. A water loss of merely 5.72 kg (ca. 15 %) from 38.22 kg to 32.50 kg, bringing the corpse’s weight down to 46.88 kg, would be sufficient for this purpose, the wood weight to corpse weight ratio improving from 0.87:1 to 0.83:1.

Table 2.5

For the original wood-to-corpse weight ratio of 0.56 to be restored, a higher but not a total water loss is required. In the following table (2.6), the corpse’s water content has gone down from 38.22 kg by 25.02 kg (ca. 65.5 %) to 13.2 kg. The corpse now weighs 27.58 kg, and 15.45 kg of wood are required to burn it.

Table 2.6

What this exercise shows is that the negative effect of malnutrition on fuel requirements is compensated when the corpse has been decomposing long enough to have lost a substantial part of its remaining water content.

Applying this exercise to the average weights of deportees to Chełmno extermination camp established above (34 kg), and considering how many of the deportees had been decomposing in mass graves for how long before being cremated, it is possible to roughly estimate the presumable wood expenditure of cremation at this camp.

Deportations to Chełmno extermination camp during the 1st phase (December 1941 to March 1943) can be roughly broken down as shown in Table 2.7.[111]

Table 2.7

Assuming that corpses were buried until July 1942 inclusive and cremation of previously interred bodies started in October 1942[112], the bodies of people killed at Chełmno until July 1942 inclusive would have been lying in the mass graves for at least two months by the time they started being cremated. Those that had arrived in May 1942 would have been lying in the graves twice that long. If the mass graves were not closed until they had been filled to the brim, it seems reasonable to assume that the speed of decomposition was closer to that of decomposition above ground than to that of decomposition below ground[113] and that these corpses had at least reached the stage of butyric fermentation[114] and most of their water had gone.

This, in turn, means that whatever negative influence these victims’ malnourishment before being murdered may have had on fuel requirements was at least compensated by the loss of water. If the deportees upon arrival, weighing 34 kg on average due to malnutrition, consisted of water, fat and protein in the same proportions as an MSE test person after the same[115], their calorific profile was as shown in Table 2.8, meaning that burning these corpses immediately after death would have required 29.60 kg of wood per corpse (a weight ratio of 0.87 to 1). But if after some months in the grave most of the remaining water had vanished, as in the example of Table 2.9, the body would weigh just 17.83 kg and require only 9.98 kg of wood for burning (corresponding to the weight ratio of 0.56 that has been assumed for burning the non-decomposed corpse of a sufficiently nourished person).

Table 2.8

Table 2.9

Assuming an (unrealistically high) loss of 40 % of the remaining fat and 12 % of the remaining protein (as considered in MGK’s example calculation regarding decomposed bodies[116]) together with the water loss considered in Table 2.9, the amount of wood required to burn the corpse would be accordingly higher (weight ratio: 0.62 to 1), as shown in Table 2.10.

Table 2.10

In the following it will be considered that not all water and a significant portion of the fat and protein was lost (lost completely, that is, which in actual fact doesn’t happen because fat and protein break down into substances with a considerable calorific value like glycerol and butyric acid, see above), which corresponds to the scenario shown in Table 2.10. The decomposed corpses of deportees killed at Chełmno until the end of July 1942 would thus have weighed 16.96 kg on average at the time of cremation, which would have required 10.54 kg of wood per corpse (weight ratio: 0.62 to 1). The corpses of deportees killed thereafter, on the other hand, are assumed to have had the calorific profile as per Table 2.8, their cremation thus requiring 29.60 kg of wood per corpse.

The wood requirements calculation for Chełmno’s 1st phase, assuming that disinterred bodies were burned on grates like those used at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps and that burning "fresh" bodies in the cremation ovens proper built in the summer of 1942 was no less fuel-efficient than burning on the grates, would thus be as shown in Table 2.11

Table 2.11

The ca. 7,000 bodies burned right after gassing in the camp’s second phase (1944/45) had the same calorific profile as those of deportees killed in and after August 1942 (Table 2.8), so their cremation, under the same fuel-efficiency assumptions as regarding the 1st phase, would have required 7,000 x 29.60 = 207,200 kg or 207.2 tons of wood. Assuming that the ovens used in the 2nd phase required 2.26 kg of wood per kg of corpse as calculated above, i.e. that they were much less fuel-efficient than burning on grates over pits according to the methods of Lothes & Profé, wood consumption in the 2nd phase would have been somewhat higher. Replacing the wood to corpse weight ratio of 0.56 in Table 2.3 with a ratio of 2.26, the subsequent calculations yield a ratio of 2.57:1 for corpses of malnourished deportees weighing 34 kg on average. The amount of wood required for each corpse would thus be 87.4 kg, and the amount required to burn 7,000 such corpses would be about 611.8 tons. Total wood consumption at Chełmno would then be (2,450.9+611.8 =) 3,062.7 instead of (2,450.9+207.2 =) 2,658.1 tons – still just one-seventh of the amount considered by Mattogno for the 1st phase’s about 145,000 Jewish victims alone.[117]

The above calculations assume the use of dry, seasoned wood such as was used by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé in their carcass burning experiments. With freshly cut wood the amount required would have been somewhat higher. According to Mattogno, Graf & Kues, "1 kg of dry wood (20% humidity) with a calorific value of 3,800 kcal/kg is the equivalent of 1.9 kg of green wood".[118] Assuming this is correct, and that Chełmno could only obtain green wood for burning the corpses, the wood quantities in Table 2.11 would have to be multiplied by the factor 1.9, yielding the figures in Table 2.12.

Table 2.12

The assumption underlying these calculations is that wood required for burning was wholly or mostly procured by inmate woodcutting teams from the respective extermination camp in the forests surrounding that camp. However, it is hardly a given that Chełmno, or any other of the extermination camps for that matter, was dependent on what wood could be obtained by the camp’s own workforce, and to the extent that what such workforce could obtain was not sufficient it is likely that additional wood was brought in from lumberyards elsewhere[119]. Obtaining up to ca. 2,500 tons of dry wood or 4,700 tons of green wood from labor camps or forestry enterprises, over a period of at least five months[120], cannot have been much of a problem in a lumbering country like Poland, which had an enormous wood production as far back as 1921: according to an article written that year by then Polish Prime Minister Wincenty Witos[121], 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. According to a source mentioned by Mattogno, Graf & Kues[122], the weight of freshly cut red pine is 880 kg per cubic meter, so if this was the kind of wood supplied to Chełmno 4,700 tons of fresh wood would have a volume of ca. 5,341 cubic meters, a mere 0.0411% of the export yield of 13 million cubic meters or 0.0214% of the total yield of Poland’s privately owned wood preserves of 25 million cubic meters in 1921. Transporting 2,500 tons of dry wood or 4,700 tons of fresh wood to the camp by truck would have required 500 to 940 5-ton truckloads, which over a period of at least 150 days (unrealistically assuming that wood shipments didn’t start coming in before cremation began) would mean 3 to 6 truckloads per day.

Mattogno makes much of his claim that the earlier map drawn by Zdzisław Lorek[123] shows the Chełmno camp area surrounded by pre-war woods with only one hectare of wood presumably planted by the SS after cutting the previously existing trees in that area. One hectare of forest would yield just 185 tons of wood, which according to Mattogno’s calculations would be sufficient to cremate only (185,000÷150 =) 1,230 corpses[124] (according to the calculations in Table 2.12, 185,000÷56.24 = 3,289 fresh corpses or 185,000÷20.03 = 9,236 decomposed corpses could be cremated with this amount). Reckoning that wood need not have been cut in the camp’s immediate vicinity, Mattogno also mentions a rectangle of about 1,200 by 1,900 meters (228 hectares) around the camp’s wood area with ample deforestation, which is visible on an air photo of the camp area taken in March 1942.[125]

However, Mattogno adds, the SS would then have had to obtain their cremation wood "even further away" ("ancore più lontano") from the camp, using inmate woodcutting squads and trucks. Transporting 21,750 tons of wood would have required 4,350 truckloads and such coming and going of vehicles could not have remained unnoticed by "the local Polish population", Mattogno argues, yet no mention thereof is made by judge Bednarz.[126]

Mattogno doesn’t explain why the local population (insofar as it consisted of Poles and not of ethnic Germans later expelled), should necessarily have noticed the traffic of wood-carrying trucks from an area outside Chełmno’s forest perimeter to the camp (which even according to Mattogno’s calculations would have amounted to just 29 truckloads per day, whereas according to the more realistic calculations above 3 to 6 truckloads would have been sufficient) any more that it should have noticed any other truck shipments of wood in a country whose forests had yielded 25 million cubic meters of wood two decades before. Neither does he explain why bystander witnesses or a judge interrogating them should have been particularly interested in logistical details when testifying about or investigating mass murder (with eyewitnesses testifying to the killing and cremation proper, Bednarz would hardly need deforestation or data about wood shipments to prove that the corpses had been cremated). Instead he destroys his argument about the need of an inmate woodcutting force by quoting Krakowski’s mention of Michał Radoszewski’s deposition about having supplied wood to the camp.[127] Radoszewski was just one of the camp’s wood suppliers, according to the excerpt from Krakowski’s book quoted by Mattogno. After having thus informed his readers that Chełmno had external suppliers to provide the wood it required, Mattogno sees no problem with claiming that an inmate woodcutting detachment would have been "absolutely indispensable" ("assolutamente indispensabile"), and considers it worth while to point out that no such detachment is mentioned in either the Bonn District Court’s judgment or Krakowski’s reference to the testimony of Walter Piller regarding the camp’s 2nd phase.[128]

Wood moreover could to a large extent be replaced as a combustion agent by gasoline or other liquid flammables. MGK inform their readers that the fuel value of gasoline is 10,500 kcal/kg and that "in order to replace the heat produced by 100 kg of fresh wood, ([2,000×100]÷10,300=] 19,4 liters of kerosene (or 19 liters of gasoline)" would have been required.[129]

After the Allied bombing of Dresden on 13/14 February 1945, a total of 6,865 corpses were burned on the Altmarkt square to prevent the outbreak of epidemics. The amount of wood used to burn these corpses was minimal – just what little could fit between the bottom of the grid and the surface of the square, as can be seen on pictures like the one shown below.[130]

The main external combustion agent at Dresden was gasoline, as described by David Irving[131] (emphases mine):

The Steel girders had been winched out of the ruins of the Renner department store on the Altmarkt and these had been laid across crudely collected piles of sandstone blocks. A gigantic grill over twenty-feet long was being erected. Under the steel girders and bars were poked bundles of wood and straw. On top of the grill were heaped the corpses, four or five hundred at a time, with more straw between each layer. The soldiers trampled up and down on top of this rotting heap, straightening the victims, trying to make room for more, and carefully building the stack.[…] Finally gallons of gasoline, sorely needed though it was throughout the whole Reich, were poured over the stacks of victims. A senior officer cleared the Altmarkt square of all unnecessary by-standers, and set a match to the heap.

The procedure was successful in reducing the corpses to ashes, as described by British historian Frederick Taylor[132] (emphases mine):

Corpses were shipped in and laid out ready for registration and, if possible, identification. Searching for ways of keeping them off the ground – and allowing a draft under the planned funeral pyres – workers found a solution in the wreck of a nearby department store, where massive window shutters had survived the bombing. They carried them from the ruins and set them down on the ground, making, as a contemporary grimly expressed it, "huge grill racks."
Large amounts of gasoline were trucked into the sealed city center. Teams poured petrol over the bodies as they lay piled on the shutters. Then the dead were burned at the rate of one pyre per day, with around five hundred corpses per pyre. The task was efficiently done. To reduce that number of human remains to fine ash without access to a purpose-built crematorium is a technically problematic process. It was carried out under the supervision of outside SS experts. They were said to be former staff from the notorious extermination camp at Treblinka.
Between February 21 and March 5, when the last pyre was lit, 6,865 bodies were burned on the Altmarkt. Afterward, when the fire cooled down, it was estimated that between eight and ten cubic meters of ash covered the cobbled surface of the medieval square. The SS in charge of the burning had intended to transport the ashes out to the Heath Cemetery in boxes and sacks and bury them containers and all, but municipal parsimony triumphed. In the end the ashes were simply emptied out of their containers and into the prepared pits, thus enabling the valuable sacks and boxes to be reused.

Besides the corpses’ being reduced to ashes, the above quote conveys the importance of allowing a draft under the funeral pyres, as well as the duration of each pyre – one day, the relatively small amount of corpses burned on the pyre being probably related to the relatively small size of the available grid construction and the fact that the victims were registered and, if possible, identified before burning. The Dresden grid was essentially nothing other than the less fuel efficient of Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé’s carcass-burning methods – the one in which the grid was placed above-ground over a pit in which the fire burned, rather than on top of a fire pit dug from the sole of a larger pit -, except that no pit could be made in the cobbled surface of the medieval Altmarkt square. So the burning process at Dresden was, if anything, less efficient than in the two veterinarians’ experiments, which were reproduced on an enormous scale by the SS at the extermination camps.

While neither Irving nor Taylor provide information about the amount of gasoline used to burn the corpses on the Dresden Altmarkt, the same can be estimated on the basis of assumptions like those made in regard to the corpses burned at Chełmno.

I assume that
a) the 6,865 bodies burned at Dresden included 4,577 bodies of adults (two-thirds) and 2,288 bodies of children 14 years and under (one third);
b) the bodies of the adults (who unlike the Jews of Polish ghettos were reasonably well-fed) weighed 62 kg on average;[133]
c) the relation between the weight of children and the weight of adults was the same I assumed regarding Polish ghetto Jews, i.e. that children on the Dresden pyres weighed (62x16÷43) = 23 kg; and
d) the wood-to-corpse weight ratio in burning the corpses with wood as the main external fuel would have been 0.56:1 (like in Lothes & Profé’s less fuel-efficient experiments).

According to these assumptions the corpses burned on the Dresden pyres had an average weight of 49 kg, and burning them with wood would have required 27.44 kg of dry wood or (applying MGK’s 1.9 factor) 52.14 kg of fresh wood per corpse. The total wood amount required to burn 6,865 corpses would thus have been 357,914 kg or 357.9 tons.

Applying MGK’s 100 kg of fresh wood = 19 liters of gasoline equation to the wood amounts in Table 2.12 and to the Dresden wood amounts calculated above, the amounts of gasoline required to burn the corpses in the 1st phase of Chełmno extermination camp and on the Dresden Altmarkt would have been as shown in Table 2.13 below. Assuming that cremation lasted 5 months during Chełmno’s 1st phase[134], and considering that that the burning of the Dresden corpses lasted 13 days (from 21 February to 5 March 1945, according to Taylor), the average monthly and daily requirements are as shown in the same table.

Table 2.13

One can see that the daily gasoline expenditure at Chełmno, if the 1st phase corpses had been burned mainly with gasoline like the corpses on the Dresden Altmarkt, would not have been much higher than it was at Dresden. This shows the absurdity of claiming – as MGK are wont to do[135] - that the Nazis could not afford to "waste" gasoline or other liquid fuels on burning bodies at their extermination camps. German authorities didn’t consider it a waste to spend about 68,000 liters of gasoline within 13 days to burn the bodies of civilian air raid victims at Dresden in February/March 1945, at a time when the Reich had lost almost all of its petrol resources and its war machine was bogging down for lack of fuel. Why should they have minded allotting higher amounts of gasoline to a state project of vital importance like the extermination of a minority of perceived dangerous subversives and useless eaters harmful to Germany, and that moreover at a time when the Third Reich still had access to its main sources of petrol, especially the Romanian oilfields? The daily petrol requirements of a single armored division were almost 6 times higher than those of corpse cremation at Chełmno would have been if it had been carried out with petrol as the main fuel[136]. Who claims that the Third Reich could not have "wasted" gasoline or other liquid fuels "in such a manner" fails to take into account Nazi Germany’s overall fuel resources and expenditure at the time on the one hand and the importance that the Nazis gave to this particular project on the other.

MGK’s other objection against gasoline is "its volatility; by the time the corpses would have been thoroughly doused, ignition could have caused an explosion of the gasoline/air mixture"[137]. If so, this risk would also have been present on the Dresden Altmarkt, where it seems to have been managed, there being no reason why it should not have been managed at the extermination camps as well – moreover as gasoline need not have been the only liquid fuel used for burning at these camps.[138]


[79] Mattogno, Chelmno, p. 114.
[80] See the blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1) (hereinafter "Bełżec Response 4 (1)"). I assumed the height of the average German adult in the 1940s to be about 1.68 meters (66 inches). According to anthropological sources referred to by Charles Provan, the Jews of Poland were about three inches shorter than the average German, which would mean an average height of 63 inches = 1.60 meters. Assuming that underfed inhabitants of Polish ghettos were on average underweight but not yet skeletons, their weight according to the BMI table was between 38 and 48 kg, the medium of both figures being 43 kg. According to a source referred to by Mattogno, the weight of an adult is about 2.76 times that of a child up to 14. This relation would mean a weight of 43 ÷ 2.76 = 15.6 kg for ill-fed or starving children in Polish ghettos. Rounding up the latter value, a group of two adults and one child from a Jewish ghetto in Poland would thus weigh (43+43+16)/3 = 34 kg. The assumed height of 1.68 meters for German adults in the 1940s is probably on the high side, considering what is known or can be concluded from contemporary sources about adult statures in other European countries at the time. The average weight of male Scotsmen measured in 1941 was 138.2 lb (62.7 kg), according to E.M.B. Clements and Kathleen G. Picket, "Body-Weight Of Men Related To Stature, Age And Social Status. Weight Of Scotsmen Measured In 1941", Brit. J. prev. soc. Med. (1954) 8, 99-107, online. According to Brocca’s table, 63 kg is the normal weight of a person 1.63 meters tall. According to the BMI table, a person 1.69 meters tall has a normal weight between 54 and 71 kg, the medium of these two values being 62.5 kg. Women in the 1940s, according to the webpage Women's Anatomy - The 40s and the present, had an average height of 5 ft 2in (= 62 inches = 1.57 meters) and an average weight of 61 kg (the maximum of the normal weight range for this height according to the BMI table; according to Brocca’s table 61 kg would be the normal weight of a person 1.61 meters tall). The height of an average adult in a European 1940s population equally distributed among men and women can thus be assumed to have been [(1.63+1.57)÷2] = 1.60 m to [(1.69+1.61)÷2] = 1.65 m.
[81] During the months January to May 1942, in which about 55,000 inhabitants of the Łódź ghetto were deported to Chełmno, 9,573 people died of hunger, epidemics and cold in the ghetto itself. The mortality rate inside the ghetto was 16 per cent in 1942 (Krakowski, Chełmno, p. 74).
[82] The file note is quoted in LG Bonn Chelmno, Rückerl, Vernichtungslager, pp. 256/257, and in Krakowski’s article about Chełmno in Kogon, Langbein, Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, 1986 Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH Frankfurt am Main (hereinafter "Kogon et al, Massentötungen"), pp. 110-145 (p. 111).
[83] Krakowski, Chełmno, pp. 46 ff.
[84] Carlo Mattogno, Combustion Experiments with Flesh and Animal Fat on cremations in pits in the alleged extermination camps of the Third Reich (hereinafter "Mattogno, Experiments").
[85] See Part 1 of this article, note 23.
[86] Mattogno, Chełmno, pp. 110 ff. (wood amount calculations on pp. 114/115).
[87] M. de Cristoforis, Etude pratique sur la crémation. Imprimerie Treves Frères, Milano, 1890, pp. 125-128, quoted in Mattogno, Chelmno, pp. 110-112. The Feist apparatus consisted of a cone-shaped brick structure with two grids in the lower part, the grids having a diameter of 0.90 m while the diameter of the structure’s opening at the top was 1.60 m. Mattogno provides the following drawing of the device as Document 11 in his book’s appendix: The vertical space between the opening and the upper grid, into which the carcass was introduced, was 1.75 meters high. Straw, brushwood and coal were introduced into the structure underneath the carcass and filling the space between the carcass and the structure’s walls, after which 5 to 10 liters of petroleum were poured on the carcass and the solid flammables. The structure was covered on top with an inverted funnel made of 2 mm iron sheet, and the fire was lit from below. Mattogno’s source mentions an ash residue of 1 to 2.5 kg. Mattogno considers that the residue must have been 10 times higher (i.e. 10 to 25 kg) and that the lower figures are probably due to a print error.
[88] See previous note and Part 1 of this article.
[89] Part 1 (note 23)
[90] See Part 1, note 58.
[91] See Part 1.
[92] Facsimile in Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, p. 224.
[93] Pressac, Crematórios, p. 144.
[94] Dr. Lothes und Dr. Profé, "Zur unschädlichen Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung", in: Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, Year 1902, No. 37, pp. 557 to 560, online translation and digital copy [Broken link replaced on 03.03.2012 - RM.], (hereinafter "Lothes and Profé"), discussed in Animal Carcass Burning; see also Bełżec Response 4 (2).
[95] Australian Museum webpage Stages of Decomposition, sub-pages Butyric fermentation, Dry decay. See also the further sources mentioned in Bełżec Response 4 (2).
[96] The human body is 61.8 percent water by weight. Protein accounts for 16.6 percent; fat, 14.9 percent; and nitrogen, 3.3 percent of human body weight. Other elements constitute smaller percentages of body weight. (Webpage The Human Body - What Percent Of Human Body Weight Is Water?). According to a German encyclopedia site, a human being weighing 70 kg carries around 42 kg of water, which means that its corpse, after the water has left it, will weigh only about 28 kg or about 40 % of its original weight.
[97] Arad, Reinhard, p. 175: "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." P. 176: "The bodies of victims brought to Treblinka in transports arriving after the body-burning began were taken directly from the gas chambers of the roasters and were not buried in the ditches. These bodies did not burn as well as those removed from the ditches and had to be sprayed with fuel before they would burn."
[98] Mattogno, Carlo, Jürgen Graf, Thomas Kues, Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality (hereinafter "MGK, Sobibór"), 2010 The Barnes Review, Washington D.C., online.
[99] MGK, Sobibór, pp. 137f.
[100] International Energy Agency webpage Coal: "Coking coal refers to coal with a quality that allows the production of a coke suitable to support a blast furnace charge. Its gross calorific value is greater than 23 865 kJ/kg (5 700 kcal/kg) on an ash-free but moist basis."
[101] MGK, Sobibór, p. 137.
[102] Butyric fermentation
[103] See the sources mentioned in Bełżec Response 4 (2), fn 253.
[104] See the examples mentioned in Bełżec Response 4 (2): Elimination of the carcasses of animals that have died from anthrax and burning of animal bones in a power plant at Schweinfurt, Germany (Dr. Gerhard Glöckner, Abfallwirtschaft des Landkreises Aschaffenburg).
[105] MGK, Sobibór, p. 138.
[106] Available for download as a Word document on the page
[107] In this respect the report contains contradictory information, first mentioning 4,000 tons of coal for the burning of 21,000 carcasses weighing 1,050 tons and then speaking of 20,000 tons of ash, an amount well in excess of the combined weight of carcasses and coal.
[108] As concerns the carcasses’ deterioration, it is possible that the previous failed attempt to burn them, rather than decomposition, was the main hindrance factor in this respect. According to the intelligent woman's guide to cremation, people who have died in fires are difficult to cremate "as the charring makes a crust that doesn't ignite well".
[109] Flaminio Fidanza, "Effects of starvation on body composition", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 33: July 1980 pp. 1562-1566, online reprint, cited in MGK, Sobibór, pp. 138f.
[110] MGK, Sobibór, p. 139.
[111] Figures are based on LG Bonn Chełmno, Rückerl, Vernichtungslager pp. 288 ff. and Krakowski, Chełmno. Individually documented deportations with mentioned numbers of deportees, Column "Łódź Ghetto": figures for January to May 1942 are based on the ghetto’s population statistics and the Łódź Gestapo report of 9 June 1942, referred to in LG Bonn Chełmno (Rückerl, Vernichtungslager, pp. 288/289). The figure for January 1942 includes 5,000 Sinti and Roma (Gypsies) deported to Chełmno between 5 and 12 January 1942 (Krakowski, Chełmno, p. 46). The figure for September 1942 is from a report of the Łódź Gestapo dd. 3 October 1942, quoted in the LG Bonn judgment (Rückerl, Vernichtungslager, p. 290). Column "Other areas of Warthegau": Figures from Krakowski, Chełmno: December 1941: 2,500 from Koło (p. 32f.), 1,000 from Dąbie (p. 37), 1,100 from Kowale Pańskie (p. 87); January 1942: 1,300 from Kłodawa, 1,600 from Kujawska (pp. 37/38); March 1942: 3,200 from Żychlin (pp. 79/80), 2,000 from Krośniewice (pp. 80/81), 7,000 from Kutno (p. 81); April 1942: 1,800 from Poddębica (pp. 81f.), 1,240 from Grabów (p.84), 3,300 from Gostynin (p.84; a small part of the ghetto’s 3,500 inhabitants, assumed to have been ca. 200, was taken to the Łódź ghetto), 1,800 from Gąbin (pp. 84/85); May 1942: 3,400 from Pabianica (pp. 83/84; 5,600 of the ghetto’s 9,000 inhabitants were taken to the Łódź ghetto), 2,000 from Brzeziny (pp. 85/86), 2,000 from Ozorków (p. 86), 280 from Złoczew (p. 87); June 1942: 1,000 from Zelów (p. 95/96; the ghetto’s 6,000 to 7,000 inhabitants were deported in June, August and September 1942, mostly to Chełmno; the figure for June is an educated guess); July 1942: 2,600 from Koźminek (p. 87, assuming that 300 out of 2,900 inhabitants were deported earlier or to Łódź), 4,400 from Kowale Pańskie (pp. 87/88, assuming that out of 4,900 left after the deportation in December 1941 about 500 were taken to forced labor camps or the Łódź ghetto), 850 from Lutomiersk (p. 88, assuming that 50 out of 900 were taken to Łódź); August 1942: 500 from Szadek (p. 89), 1,600 from Pajęczno (p. 89, assuming that 200 out of 1800 were shot on site or deported to Łódź), 1,700 from Wieruszów (pp. 89/90, assuming 300 out of 2,000 shot on site or taken to Łódź), 4,200 from Sieradz (page 90, assuming 300 out of 4,200 shot on site or taken to Łódź), 2,000 from Warta (p. 91), 3,500 from Łask (pp. 92/93), 8,590 from Zduńska Wola (p. 94, rounded value), 1,400 from Lututów (p. 95, assuming 100 out of 1,500 shot on site or taken to Łódź) 2,000 from Zélow (pp. 95/96, educated guess as June 1942); September 1942: 2,500 from Zélow (pp. 95/96, educated guess, assuming 6,000 inhabitants before deportation in June 1942 and 500 deported to Łódź or shot on site). Deportations not individually documented or without mentioned numbers of deportees: difference between an assumed total of 150,000 deportees in the 1st phase and the 148,050 deportees in individually documented deportations was added to the sum for August 1942.
[112] See Part 1. Cremation of corpses exhumed from mass graves started in the autumn of 1942; I assume October as the first purely autumnal month.
[113] As was assumed regarding Bełżec, see Bełżec Response 4 (2).
[114] In the open butyric fermentation occurs 20 to 50 days after death
[115] The semi-starved test person’s weight of 52.60 kg was made up by 38.22 kg of water (72.65%), 0.62 kg of fat (1.17%), 9.12 kg of protein (17.33%) and 4.65 kg of other substances (8.84%).
[116] MGK, Sobibór, p. 138.
[117] One might wonder why, if indeed the second-phase ovens were much less fuel-efficient than burning corpses on grates in the first phase, it was decided to apply this method rather than the more economic one. One possible reason would be that the SS were more concerned with discretion in mid-1944 than they had been in 1942/43, and that burning corpses in the second-phase devices was less conspicuous than burning them on grates would have been. Judge Bednarz’s second report quoted by Mattogno (Chełmno, pp. 109/110) mentions measures taken to hide the ovens from aerial observation. On the other hand, the relatively short time of second-phase killing operations, before the Łódź ghetto’s Jews were shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau in August 1944, suggests that the reinstated killing and body disposal process at Chełmno wasn’t considered efficient enough.
[118] MGK, Sobibór, p. 143
[119] Evidence to such wood shipments is hard to come by because camp records were mostly destroyed and wood shipments were hardly a detail that would under the circumstances catch the particular attention of camp staff members, inmates or bystanders or be of interest to interrogators in the course of criminal investigations, which were about establishing the basic facts of the crime and the deeds of the perpetrators rather than the crime’s logistics. However, one mention of wood brought from outside can be found in Krakowski, Chełmno, p. 123, where the Pole Michał Radoszewski is mentioned as one of the "involuntary" suppliers of wood from the surrounding forests, who testified about the unloading of wood shipments by Jewish forced laborers. Regarding the camp’s 2nd phase, SS-man Walter Piller testified to wood being taken to the ovens by truck through a nearby drive (see Part 1, note 23.
[120] Cremation of exhumed corpses at Chełmno started in the autumn of 1942 (I consider October the first month) and is assumed to have lasted until 8 March 1943 (Chełmno Museum). However, the same source informs that the palace in the village of Chełmno and the crematoria in the cemetery grounds in the Rzuchów forest were blown up only on 7 April 1943, so it is possible that cremation activities continued until that day. It should also be borne in mind that, as pointed out in Part 1, cremation continued in late 1944 after Auschwitz replaced Chełmno as destination of the Jews from Łódź, suggesting that not all 1st phase corpses had been burned in the 1942-43 period.
[121] Wincenty Witos, "Prosperity in Poland", New York Times, 7 August 1921, online.
[122] MGK, Sobibór, p. 144, Fn. 430.
[123] See Part 1
[124] Mattogno, Chelmno, p. 132.
[125] As above, p. 133. The air photo is shown as Document 13 in the appendix of Mattogno’s book.
[126] As above.
[127] As above; see note 119.
[128] As above, pp. 133-34. Mattogno doesn’t mention Piller’s statement whereby wood was taken to the 2nd phase’s ovens by truck through a nearby drive (see Part 1, note 23).
[129] MGK, Sobibór, p. 143, footnotes 423 and 426.
[130] Bundesarchiv Bild 183-08778-0001. Foto: Hahn / Februar 1945
[131] David Irving, Apocalypse 1945. The Destruction of Dresden, p. 278f.
[132] Frederick Taylor, Dresden: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 1945, pp. 350 f.
[133] The medium of the weight of women (61 kg) and Scottish males (62.7 kg) in the 1940s, according to the sources mentioned in note 80, rounded to the nearest full kg.
[134] See note 120.
[135] MGK, Sobibór, p. 143: "What is more, the Third Reich could not afford to waste gasoline or other liquid fuels in such a manner.". MGK take advantage of an ill-reflected claim by Dutch historian Jules Schelvis, who in the German-language version of his Sobibór book shows a written request of Aktion Reinhard(t) commander Globocnik’s dated 4 September 1942 for more fuel and interprets this as meaning that Globocnik was barely able to keep his gassing engines running. Lack of fuel for the gassing engines cannot have been Globocnik’s problem, for even if it ran without interruption during daylight every day (which was hardly the case), a gasoline engine from a tank or truck in idle mode would hardly spend as much fuel as if the same engine had been powering a tank or truck in combat duty or carrying supplies or troops for hours on end every day, and no more than three such engines were operating at the same time in the camps of Aktion Reinhard(t). It is far more likely that Globocnik foresaw the need of high amounts of fuel for cremating the bodies at Sobibór, where it had been decided to abandon burial as a body disposal method and the corpses arriving in and after October 1942 were burned right after gassing (Arad, Reinhard, pp. 172-72, 177).
[136] A regiment of the 21st Panzer Division in Africa consumed 4,400 liters of petrol per day of combat in 1941; the daily consumption of the entire division was 33,000 liters (Pier Paolo Battistelli, Rommel's Afrika Korps: Tobruk to El Alamein, pp. 56/57).
[137] MGK, Sobibór, p. 143, footnote 423.
[138] In the article Tree-felling at Treblinka, Kues points out that "The only kind of fuel mentioned by Willenberg in connection with the cremations – which he did not witness firsthand – is crude oil". Rudolf Höß, (Endlösung, Kommandant in Auschwitz pp. 243-44) mentions having poured oil residues and methanol over the corpses, and that Blobel at Chełmno burned corpses "with wood and gasoline residues" ("Blobel hatte behelfsmäßige Öfen aufbauen lassen und verbrannte mit Holz und Benzinrückständen"). According to Arad (Reinhard, p. 175) an "inflammable liquid" was poured over the bodies at Treblinka to help them burn.

1 comment:

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...


A reader of this blog called my attention to the book Chelmno Witnesses Speak
by Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak (Editor), Juliet D. Golden (Translator), Arkadiusz Kamiński (Translator).

In this book, according to the reader, there is a report called "A Great Lie. National Socialism Unknown to the German Nation" written by Heinrich May, who was "Revieroberförster" at the Chełmno area. Among other things May describes how Bothmann asked wood for the cremation (page 159):

"One day Bothmann came to Forestry Office and said his superiors had ordered him to burn all the corpses. He had already given an order to open up some of the graves, and tried to burn the bodies using thermite bombs. He also considered using fuel wood and demanded large quantities of it. The use of thermite bombs caused fires, which consumed part of the forest hiding the graves. The charred remains could no be removed however, because then the graves would be visible from the road. I requested the fuel wood from the State Forestry Office (Landesforstamt) where I was ordered to give it to Bothmann.

First, I provided him with a large quantity of poles and gnarled wood. Later I also had to provide some thicker wood. Finally, the demand was so great that I had to cut down all the trees in some of the forest districts."

The reader pointed out that the same was repeated in 1944, according to May.

The mentioned book is not included in Mattogno's bibliography.