Thursday, August 25, 2011

Human remains inside the mass graves at Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór

The contents of mass graves at the Nazi extermination camps Bełżec, Sobibór, Treblinka and Chełmno are one of the obsessions of "Revisionist" Greg Gerdes, the "president" and only member of the fraudulent "association" that now calls itself "The National Association of Forensic Historians".



In the course of my discussions with Gerdes in a dedicated section of the Revisionist Workshop forum, I calculated what I consider the minimum amounts of human remains that, based on the results of archaeological research, can be assumed to currently lie in the mass graves of the three among these four camps whose areas have been investigated by archaeologists: Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór.

The following is a reproduction, converted to this blog’s format, of my three posts containing these calculations, posted on the aforementioned forum on Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:39 am (Chełmno), Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:11 am, (Bełżec) and Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:27 am (Sobibór). The tables at the beginning of each post can be enlarged in the reproduction by clicking on them.

Currently provable amounts of corpses/human remains in individual mass graves at Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór

1. Chełmno



The above table shows an estimative calculation of the minimum amounts of human cremation remains (ashes, bone fragments, teeth or tooth meal) that can be reasonably expected to be currently buried in the mass graves at the former Nazi extermination camp of Chełmno, as well as a calculation, based on a reasonably estimated average weight of the deportees, of the number of corpses corresponding to these cremation remains. It is based on archaeological data and other evidence mentioned below, and on realistic, conservative assumptions complementing such data and other evidence where necessary. It can therefore, in my opinion, be considered proof of the numbers of human cremation remains and corresponding numbers of whole corpses stated therein, according to the standards of proof that would be applied by a German court of law, whereby a reasonable estimated minimum quantity is considered the (maximum) quantity that can be proven, even if there are good reasons to assume that the actual quantity is higher.

The table consists of the following columns:

Grave #: the number of the grave according to the report about Archaeological Research in the area of Chełmno extermination camp by Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak, which is transcribed in Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak (editor), Chelmno Witnesses Speak and on the website of the Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner (hereinafter called the "Chełmno Report").

(a) Volume m3: Volume in cubic meters of each grave, according to the Chełmno Report and my blog articles Mattogno on Chełmno Mass Graves and Mattogno on Chełmno Cremation (Part 3).

(b) Thereof occupied by corpses (m3): Part of each grave’s volume that is occupied by whole corpses. In the Chełmno Report there is no indication of whole corpses inside the graves, so this column is blank.

(c) = (a) - (b) = Thereof occupied by soil and cremation remains (m3): The part of each grave’s volume occupied by soil and cremation remains is the difference between each grave’s total volume and the part of that volume occupied by whole corpses. As no whole corpses were reported to exist in the Chełmno graves, this volume is equal to the each grave’s total volume.

(d) % of human cremation remains in soil: The concentration/density of human cremation remains contained in the soil of each grave is an essential parameter for establishing the amount of human cremation remains in each grave. The term "human cremation remains" is understood as meaning burned or unburned parts of human bodies left over from a not necessarily complete cremation process, crushed or uncrushed and including ashes, bone fragments, teeth (scorched or not) and tooth meal.

The Chełmno Report provides the following descriptions of human cremation remains contained in the graves:

Grave # 1 ("The first grave")
Under the humus, on the top of the ash layer, we found several unburned objects belonging to the victims.


Grave # 2 ("The second grave")
While the new layout was being uncovered, the existence of burned-out objects and ashes as well as crushed human bones both burned and unburned was stated.[…] Further part of the grave contains burned-out objects mixed with inclusions of ash and bonemeal as well as lumps of burn waste and coke.[…] The northern segment of the grave may probably be linked to different attempts to remove the corpses, burn them inside the graves or in primitive furnaces-hearths as well as to the process of crushing bones. In the other segment, bones ground into bonemeal can already be found.[…]


Grave # 3 ("The third grave")
The contents of the grave includes sandy soil with gravel, burn waste, ash, and crushed human bones.


Grave # 4 ("The fourth grave")
It is filled with gray sandy soil mixed with inclusions of burn waste, ash and crushed bones.


Grave # 5 ("The fifth grave")
The dimensions of the pits vary from 9x7.5 m to 15.50x8.50 m. They are filled with gray soil with a significant mixture of burn waste and crushed human bones.


One notes that the pits making up grave # 5 are described as containing a "significant" mixture of burn waste and crushed human bones in their soil, whereas no such precision is made as concerns the other four graves. This suggests that the concentration of human cremation remains in the first four graves is rather lower than in grave # 5 – high enough to be detected, but not so high as to be considered "significant".

As the report does not express in percentage terms what is meant by significant and not-so-significant admixtures of human remains in the soil, another archaeological source must be used to obtain some precision. In his Chełmno book (see my blog Mattogno on Chełmno Cremation (Part 3)), Revisionist writer Carlo Mattogno informs his readers that at the end of 1988 the Koniń District Museum sent to the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the Poznań Medical Academy a package containing four sacks of soil mixed with ashes and bone fragments collected in the area of the Chełmno camp, requesting an expert opinion about whether these ashes and bone fragments were of human origin and what their concentration in the soil was. The Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed on 5 December 1988 that these remains were of human origin and that the concentration of human remains in all the material sent could be estimated at "some percent". Also not a precise quantification, but at least it allows for making some reasonable assumptions. "Some" is certainly more than one or two percent and certainly less than ten percent. It would not be far-fetched to assume that "some percent" could mean 5 % or more. However, in order to be on the safe side I’ll consider that it’s no more than 2.5 %. As the samples were examined in 1988, they must have been collected before, and as only the first grave and what was considered one of the camp’s crematoria had been investigated before 1988, the samples examined must have been from either of the two. The relatively low concentration of human remains in these samples is likely to be equal to the concentration found in the other three graves proper (i.e. the ones that, unlike the ash disposal pits that make up grave # 5, had originally been used to bury whole human corpses), regarding which the concentration of human remains in the soil is not pointed out as being "significant". Therefore, this was the concentration of human cremation remains that I considered to be present in Chełmno graves nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.

In the pits that make up grave # 5, on the other hand, the concentration of burn waste and crushed human bones was found to be "significant". These pits, as mentioned in the blog Mattogno on Chełmno Mass Graves, had already been described in the report of the site investigation made in 1945 by Judge Włodzimierz Bednarz, where it is pointed out that "because of the soil’s fertilization by human ashes the vegetation in this area is much richer and its color is much greener". Even today, according to the Chełmno Report, "the flora on the pits is more luxuriant, making this stretch more visible on the surface". All this shows that the concentration of human cremation remains in grave # 5 is much higher than in graves nos. 1 to 4. How much higher cannot be determined on hand of the available data, so caution calls for assuming the lowest threshold of what can be considered a "significant" concentration, which I conservatively put at 10 %. The actual concentration of human remains in this grave is probably higher, but according to the rationale that a reasonably estimated minimum is a proven maximum, I considered this percentage as being the minimum density of human cremation remains in Chełmno grave # 5.

(e) = (c) * (d) = Volume of human cremation remains (m3): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains in each grave, calculated by multiplying the part of each grave’s volume containing soil and human cremation remains instead of whole corpses (which in the case of the Chełmno graves is the whole volume of each grave) with the (minimum) percentage thereof that can be considered to consist of human cremation remains, i.e. 2.5 % for graves nos. 1 to 4 and 10 % for grave # 5.

(f) = ( e) * 0.5 t/m3 (metric tons): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains, calculated in column (e), is converted into the weight of these cremation remains in metric tons considering the specific weight of human cremation remains, which according to Mattogno, Graf and Kues (MGK) is 0.5 g/cm3 (see, among others, my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4)).

The weight of human cremation remains in the Chełmno mass graves, calculated in the above table, is the following:

Grave #_Weight of human cremation remains in metric tons
1_15.11
2_66.68
3_52.20
4_68.25
5_204.80
Total_407.04

Readers who want the above weights in pounds need only introduce them into the online weight converter. 1 metric ton equals 2,204.6226218 pounds.

(g) Corpse residue factor: This factor represents the part of a corpse’s original volume and weight that is left over after cremation. Dividing the cremation residue weight in column (f) by this factor, one thus obtains the corpse’s original weight prior to cremation. According to MGK (see again the above-mentioned blog) the remains left behind by cremation would correspond to about 5 % of the corpses’ non-decomposed weight. This percentage, however, is too low for open-air cremation, in which corpses are not reduced as thoroughly as in a crematorium and the percentage of cremation residue is thus higher. According to a document from the British Environment Agency referred to by MGK (Environment Agency North West Region Area. Extracts from Submission to Cumbria County Council’s Inquiry into the Foot and Mouth Crisis, section 5.2.4 on page 13), a typical pyre for 300 cows at the time of the British Foot & Mouth Disease Crisis in 2001 could leave 15 tons of carcass ash and 45 tons of other ash to be disposed of. Assuming that each cow weighed 500 kg (as is done in the article CBA of Foot and Mouth Disease Control Strategies: Environmental Impacts by Paul Watkiss and Alison Smith, footnote 7 on page 4), the original weight of carcasses burned on such a pyre was 150 tons, i.e. the carcass ash amounted to 10 % of the original carcass weight. I therefore considered a corpse residue factor of 10 % instead of MGK’s 5 %. Note that this assumption, besides being based on empirical data from cremation under comparable circumstances, leads to a much lower life or pre-cremation weight corresponding to a given weight of cremation remains than the residue percentage considered by MGK, and therefore to a lower number of corpses whose cremation is considered to have produced these cremation remains.

(h) = (f)÷(g) * 1,000 = Pre-cremation weight of cremated corpses (kg): Dividing the cremation residue weight in columns (f) by the corpse residue factor in column (g), one obtains the pre-cremation weight of fresh corpses in metric tons. Multiplying the result of this division by 1,000 yields the same corpses’ weight in kg.

(i) = Average weight of corpse (kg):

The average life weight of a deportee murdered at Chełmno extermination camp was calculated as being 34 kg, see the blogs Mattogno on Chełmno Cremation (Part 2) and Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1). In these blogs I also explain why the average weight considered by Mattogno in his Chełmno book (45 kg) is too high.

(j) = (h)÷(i) = Number of corpses reduced to cremation remains: The number that results from dividing the total pre-cremation weight of the corpses in column (h) by the average weight of corpses in column (i). As no whole corpses in the Chełmno mass graves have been reported, this is also the total number of victims whose remains can be proven to currently lie in the mass graves at Chełmno.

The numbers are the following:

Grave #_Number of victims whose remains currently lie in grave
1_4,445
2_19,610
3_15,353
4_20,074
5_60,235
Total_119,717


2. Bełżec



The above table shows an estimative calculation of the minimum amounts of human cremation remains (ashes, bone fragments, teeth or tooth meal) that can be reasonably expected to be currently buried in the mass graves at the former Nazi extermination camp of Bełżec, as well as a calculation, based on a reasonably estimated average weight of the deportees, of the number of corpses corresponding to these cremation remains. It is based on archaeological data and other evidence mentioned below, and on realistic, conservative assumptions complementing such data and other evidence where necessary. It can therefore, in my opinion, be considered proof of the numbers of human cremation remains and corresponding numbers of whole corpses stated therein, according to the standards of proof that would be applied by a German court of law, whereby a reasonable estimated minimum quantity is considered the (maximum) quantity that can be proven, even if there are good reasons to assume that the actual quantity is higher.

The table consists of the following columns:

Grave #: the number of the grave according to the report about archaeological research in the area of Bełżec extermination camp by Prof. Andrzej Kola (Kola, Andrzej (2000) Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999, Warsaw-Washington, The Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), which is partially scanned on the thread Archaeological investigation of Belzec mass graves of the Holocaust Controversies Forum and discussed in, among others, the blogs of the series Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves. It is hereinafter referred to as the "Bełżec Report".

(a) Volume m3: Volume in cubic meters of each grave, according to the Bełżec Report, see Table 2.1.1. in the Bełżec section of my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1).

(b) Thereof occupied by corpses (m3): Part of each grave’s volume that is occupied by whole corpses.

At Bełżec 10 of the 33 mass graves were reported as containing not only cremation remains but also whole corpses in wax-fat transformation at the bottom of the graves, presumably corpses that were left there because they were too difficult to extract when the graves were emptied to burn the corpses.

Assuming that each corpse layer is as extensive as the grave’s surface area, the number of corpses in wax-fat transformation inside each grave at a density of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter (the density at which corpses were buried in the Bełżec mass graves identified by Kola, if these were the only mass graves at Bełżec extermination camp, is most likely to have been this high or even higher considering the corpses’ decomposition while the graves were being filled, as was explained in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3)) would be the following (regarding corpse layer volumes see the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (2), where the assumed density is a conservative 15 corpses per cubic meter):

Grave #_Area (m2)_Thickness of corpse layer (m)_Volume of corpse layer (m3)_Number of corpses at 19.51 corpses per m3
1_480.00_0.40_192.00_3,746
3_240.00_1.00_240.00_4,682
4_96.00_0.40_38.40_749
10_432.00_0.40_172.80_3,371
13_199.75_1.00_199.75_3,897
20_286.00_0.40_114.40_2,232
25_60.00_0.45_27.00_527
27_111.00_1.00_111.00_2,166
28_25.00_0.40_10.00_195
32_75.00_0.40_30.00_585
Total_2,004.75_5.85_1,135.35_22,150

These numbers, as well as the ones that follow, have already been presented in my OP of this thread.

A more and perhaps even exceedingly cautious approach to establishing the volume of the corpse layers assumes that the graves narrowed considerably towards the bottom due to sloping of the graves’ walls and that the graves’ bottom area was thus considerably lower than the surface area (Prof. Kola’s estimates of the graves’ volumes obviously took into account such a volume-diminishing effect, though not to the same extent as was done for good measure in the calculations shown hereafter). Based on this assumption, my calculations of the corpse layers’ volume and the corresponding number of corpses (at the aforementioned concentration of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter) are the following:

Grave # 1: corpse layer volume 79.44 m³, 1,550 corpses.

Grave # 3: corpse layer volume 99.29 m³, 1,937 corpses.

Grave # 4: corpse layer volume 15.89 m³, 310 corpses.

Grave # 10: corpse layer volume 71.49 m³, 1,395 corpses.

Grave # 13: corpse layer volume 82.64 m³, 1,612corpses.

Grave # 20: corpse layer volume 47.33 m³, 923 corpses.

Grave # 25: corpse layer volume 11.17 m³, 218 corpses.

Grave # 27: corpse layer volume 45.92 m³, 896 corpses.

Grave # 28: corpse layer volume 4.14 m³, 81 corpses.

Grave # 32: corpse layer volume 12.41 m³, 242 corpses.

The above are the corpse layer volumes stated in column (b) of the above table, which are deducted from the respective grave’s total volume to obtain the volumes in column (c).

(c) = (a) - (b) = Thereof occupied by soil and cremation remains (m3): The part of each grave’s volume occupied by soil and cremation remains is the difference between each grave’s total volume and the part of that volume occupied by whole corpses. In graves nos. 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 20, 25, 27, 28 and 32, this volume is the difference between each grave’s total volume in column (a) and the corpse layer volume in column (b). In the other graves, in which no whole corpses were reported to have been found at the bottom, this volume is the whole volume of the respective grave.

(d) % of human cremation remains in soil: The concentration/density of human cremation remains contained in the soil of each grave is an essential parameter for establishing the amount of human cremation remains in each grave. The term "human cremation remains" is understood as meaning burned or unburned parts of human bodies left over from a not necessarily complete cremation process, crushed or uncrushed and including ashes, bone fragments, teeth (scorched or not) and tooth meal.

Descriptions of the Bełżec mass graves by postwar judicial investigators and in the Bełżec Report show that the concentration of human cremation remains in the Bełżec mass graves identified by Kola is higher than the concentration of human cremation remains on Chełmno grave # 5 considered in the Chełmno section of this study (see my post of Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:39 am).

The following are excerpts from judicial investigation reports written in 1945, which are quoted in the Bełżec section of my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1) (emphases added):

The opening labeled No. 1 was taken down to a depth of 8 m and a width of 10 m and attained the bottom level of the graves. During the operation, at a depth of about 2 m, we struck the first layer of ash stemming from incinerated human bodies, mixed with sand. This layer was about 1 m thick. The next layer of ash was discovered at a depth of 4 – 6 meters. In the ash removed, some charred remains of human bodies were found, such as hands and arms, women’s hair, as well as human bones not totally burnt. We also recovered pieces of burnt wood. In trench No. 1, the layer of human ash stopped at a depth of 6 meters. The opening labeled No. 2 was taken down to a depth of 6 meters. In this trench, the layer of human ash began at a depth of 1.5 m and continued down to a depth of some 5 m, with occasional breaks.[…] Furthermore, at a level of between one and three meters, these holes yielded human ash mixed with sand and fragments of incompletely burnt human bones. Openings labeled Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were dug to a depth of 2 m, but showed only human ash mixed with sand and human bones, such as jawbones and shinbones. Throughout all the excavations it was observed that the camp cemetery had already been disturbed by wildcat diggings; this is borne out by the fact that the layers of human ash are not uniform but mixed with sand.


The area of the cemetery, in particular the wildcat holes, is covered with layers of human ash of varying breadth, which stem from the incineration of human corpses and wood; they are intermingled with sand in varying proportions. The color of the ash varies between light-ash and dark gray; the ash has a heavy consistency and smells of decomposing human bodies. In the ash, charred human bones as well as pieces of charcoal are clearly visible. In the lower strata of the ash the smell of decomposition is more pronounced than in the layers nearer the surface.


On grounds of the postmortem examination made I find that the aforementioned bones and soft tissue parts as well as the ash are predominantly of human origin. A very small part comes from wood. Judging by the huge amount of ash and bones I assert that the same must be from a very large quantity of human bodies.


In the churned-up area there lie huge amounts of scattered human bones, skulls, vertebrae, ribs, shinbones, jawbones, tooth implants made of rubber, hair (mainly female and often braided), furthermore pieces of decomposed human flesh like hands and lower limbs of little children. Furthermore there lie on the whole area described above huge amounts of ashes from the burned victims as well as remains of the burned human bones. From the deeply dug-up holes there comes the smell of decomposing human bodies.


The following are excerpts from the Bełżec Report (emphases added):

In some graves the layer of corpses reached the thickness of ca 2,00m. Most often the layers of corpses were covered with burnt bone remains mixed with charcoal. It can be explained by the fact that the grave pits, made as a result of corpse compression, were used to clear up furnaces. The fact of burning the victims' bodies in Bełżec during the second stage of the camp functioning was confirmed during the prosecutor's investigation in 1945 year. Some parts of the grave pits, particularly those relatively smaller and not so deep ones is only of a crematory character. The excavations proved many layers of body ashes mixed with sand in turn, which indicated that the pits were used in many stages, each time covered with a new sand layer. One can suppose that the ashes filled the pits completely, and only a very thin layer of surface soil was used as a cover. Therefore during the camp closing in 1943 year and levelling works taken up at that time, as well as robbery digs around the camp area directly after the war, the most part of body ashes was placed over the surface, and even now the presence of burnt bodies' traces is quite clear in the surface structures, particularly in the western and northern part of the camp.


The grave pit No 1 (Fig. 18)
[…]The pit was filled with bodies in wax-fat transformation; from the depth of about 2,00 m burnt human bones and charcoal were mixed together. Such contents was already reported at the depth of about 20-30 cm from the surface.[…]


The grave pit No 3 (Fig. 20)
[…]The contents of the pit is mixed – from about 20 cm from the top to the depth of about 4,00 m crematory contents with charcoal appears; a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation below.[…]


The grave pit No 4 (Fig. 21)
[…]The drilling was given up here at the depth of 2,30 m, because of a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation. Above crematory remains mixed with charcoal were placed. The volume of a crematory part is of about 250 m3, the total grave body has not been estimated.


The grave pit No 5 (Fig. 22)
[…]The layer with the biggest thickness and intensity of crematory contents appeared in the lowest part of the pit and was about 1,00 m thick; above 50 cm thick layer of soil, 4 following layers of crematory remains appeared, separated from each other with 20-30 cm layers of sand. The volume of the pit is about 1350 m3.


The grave pit No 6 (Fig. 23)
[…]It is homogenous crematory contents. The volume of it is about 1200 m3.


The grave pit No 7 (Fig. 24)
[…]The depth of the pit was over 4,50 m. The grave is homogenous with crematory remains. All the drills confirmed considerably crematory ashes and sand. The lowest layer (not drilled till the very bottom) with the thickness of over 1.50 m contained the most intensive traces of body ashes.[…]


The grave pit No 8 (Fig. 25)
[…]The depth of the original graves was of about 4,00 m, and their bottom parts with thickness of about 2,00 m consisted of dense crematory remains. The fillings were covered with 20-30 cm layer of sand, coming probably from the soil part separating the graves. The ditch created that way, with the depth of 2,00 m was filled with body ashes, charcoal and brick rubble. At present the remains appear from the depth of about 80 cm.[…]


The grave pit No 9 (Fig. 26)
[…]The depth exceeds 3,80 m. The contents are crematory remains and charcoal.


The grave pit No 10 (Fig. 27)
[…]Over body layers there were some levels of crematory remains mixed with charcoal in turn with layers of sandy soil (20 cm).[…] The estimated volume of the grave amounts about 2100 m3.


The grave pit No 13 (Fig. 30)
[…]The contents is of body remains of mixed character. There is a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation with thickness of about 1,00 m in the bottom part; directly over it there is a layer of sand and lime. Above there are some layers of crematory remains and charcoal. The volume of the grave is estimated for about 920 m3.


The grave pit No 14 (Fig. 31)
[…]The crematory remains appear in the grave directly under the soil surface. The grave's volume is over 1850 m3.


The grave pit No 15 (Fig. 32)
[…]The grave contains only crematory remains with their highest concentration in the bottom part. The estimated volume of it is about 400 m3.


The grave pit No 17 (Fig. 34)
[…]The contents is made of crematory ashes. Burnt bones are also placed in layers with sand.[…]


The grave pit No 19 (Fig. 36)
[…]The grave contains crematory ashes with high density of human bones and charcoal. The volume of the grave amounts about 500 m3.


The grave pit No 20 (Fig. 37)
[…]The grave contained layers of crematory remains and charcoal. The farthest western drill (No 1040) contained not only body ashes and charcoal but pieces of musty paper and wood, a piece of a nail and brick rubble. The estimated volume of the grave amounts about 1150 m3.


The grave pit No 22 (Fig. 39)
[…]The grave contains crematory ashes and sand. The ashes appear here not earlier than from depth of 60-70 cm. The estimated volume of the grave is about 200 m3.


The grave pit No 24 (Fig. 41)
[…]The lowest layer of ashes with the thickness ca 60 cm was covered here with about 40 cm thick layer of sand. Above that regular surface of body ashes and sand are reported. The estimated volume of the grave is about 520 m3.


The grave pit No 25 (Fig. 42)
[…]The bottom of the grave contains 40-50 cm layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation, covered with a lime layer. Above that there is a layer of body ashes with the thickness of about 60-80 cm, covered with 80 cm layer of sand.[…]


The grave pit No 26 (Fig. 43)
[…]It contains crematory ashes with clear layers of ashes, charcoal and sand. The estimated volume of the grave is about 320 m3.


The grave pit No 30 (Fig. 47)
[…]The crematory remains are noted only from the depth of 2,70 m and they reached the ground bed (thickness of about 1,00 m).[…]


The grave pit No 31 (Fig. 48)
[…]The grave in bottom view had probably a shape of a rectangle with the size of 9,00 x 4,00 m, reaching the depth of 2,60 m. It is crematory ashes grave. The layers mixed with sandy soil appear from the depth of about 60 cm.


According to the above descriptions it seems reasonable to assume that many of the graves had a crematory ashes contents much higher than 10 %, also considering that, as observed by the above-quoted Polish forensic expert shortly after the war, the ash in the Bełżec mass graves was predominantly human ash and only a relatively small part of it was wood ash (suggesting that the external fuel used to burn the corpses was predominantly liquid fuel, which leaves no traceable residue). Grave # 1 is 4.80 meters deep, so if the corpse layer at the bottom was only 40 cm thick, there was a layer of burnt human bones at least 2.40 meters thick on top of it, judging by the above-quoted description. This means that, if volume is distributed in the same measure as depth, 50 % of this grave consists of burnt bones and charcoal, mainly the former. In grave # 3 crematory contents are 3.80 meters thick, i.e. almost 60 % of the grave’s depth is filled with crematory remains. In grave # 5 one of several layers of crematory remains, the one "with the biggest thickness and intensity of crematory contents" was 1 meter thick, i.e. between 20 % and 25 % of the grave’s depth, and there are another 4 layers of crematory remains. In grave # 7 there are also several layers of crematory ashes including one "with the thickness of over 1.50 m" which "contained the most intensive traces of body ashes"; this layer alone covered about one-third of the grave’s depth. The bottom parts of grave # 8, with a thickness of 2 meters, consist of body ashes, charcoal and brick rubble, the crematory remains being described as "dense". The whole of grave # 9, which is more than 3.80 meters deep, seems to be filled with "crematory remains and charcoal", i.e. predominantly the former according to the above-mentioned forensic expert’s postwar findings. The same seems to apply for the much larger grave # 14, where "crematory remains appear in the grave directly under the soil surface". Grave # 15 "contains only crematory remains with their highest concentration in the bottom part". The contents of grave # 17 are "made of crematory ashes". Grave # 19 contains crematory ashes with "high density of human bones" and charcoal. The large grave # 20 contains layers of crematory remains and charcoal, and the one drill that unlike the others found "not only body ashes and charcoal" but also pieces of musty paper and wood was expressly pointed out. Grave # 22 contains crematory ashes and sand with a thickness of at least 2.80 out of its 3.50 meters. Grave # 24 consists mostly of a mixture of ashes and sand and has a "layer of ashes with the thickness ca 60 cm" at the bottom. In grave # 25 there is "a layer of body ashes with the thickness of about 60-80 cm"; the thickness of this layer of body ashes corresponds to up to 20 % of the grave’s entire depth. Grave # 30 has a layer of crematory remains about 1 meter thick, which corresponds to about one-third of the grave’s depth. Most of grave # 31 (2 meters out of 2.60 meters) is filled with crematory ashes mixed with sandy soil.

It is hardly far-fetched to consider that in the graves with the highest concentration of crematory ashes (graves nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19 and 20) the human part of these ashes makes up at least 15 % of each grave’s volume. If crematory remains make up only half of the volume of these graves not occupied by corpses, that’s less than would result from the minimum human cremation remains vs. total cremation remains ratio in the calculations underlying tables 5.8 and 5.9 of my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4), whereby the volume of human ash residue at Bełżec makes up at least 34 % of total ash residue. In all other graves except for the three mentioned hereafter, half that concentration (7.5 %) seems to be the appropriate minimum as they contain distinguishable layers of crematory ashes. In the small grave # 11, the layer of crematory remains is mentioned as being rather a small one, suggesting that it is not so small in the other graves for which a 7.5 % concentration is assumed. Grave # 11 is considered to contain no more than 2.5 % of human cremation remains, like Chełmno graves nos. 1 to 4. In graves # 27, the content of crematory ashes in a "2 m thick intensive layer of charcoal" is reported to be "small", so it seems fair to assume that the concentration of human cremation remains in the part of the grave not filled with whole bodies is no more than 2.5 %. In grave # 28 no clear body ashes were reportedly found in the charcoal above the corpse layers, so the human cremation remains content of this grave is assumed to be zero.

(e) = (c) * (d) = Volume of human cremation remains (m3): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains in each grave, calculated by multiplying the part of each grave’s volume containing soil and human cremation remains instead of whole corpses by the percentage thereof that can be considered to consist of human cremation remains, i.e. 15 % for graves nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19 and 20, 2.5 % for graves nos. 11 and 27 and 7.5 % for all other graves except grave # 28, which reportedly contains no clear human ash.

(f) = ( e) * 0.5 t/m3 (metric tons): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains, calculated in column (e), is converted into the weight of these cremation remains in metric tons considering the specific weight of human cremation remains, which according to Mattogno, Graf and Kues (MGK) is 0.5 g/cm3 (see, among others, my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4)).

The weight of human cremation remains in the Bełżec mass graves, calculated in the above table, is the following:

Grave #_Weight of human cremation remains in metric tons
1_106.5
2_6.4
3_64.6
4_8.8
5_101.3
6_45.0
7_120.0
8_63.8
9_21.0
10_76.1
11_1.0
12_15.0
13_31.4
14_138.8
15_30.0
16_26.3
17_37.5
18_21.4
19_37.5
20_82.7
21_1.3
22_7.5
23_20.6
24_19.5
25_9.0
26_12.0
27_5.1
28_0.0
29_33.8
30_2.8
31_3.4
32_14.5
33_4.5
Total_1168.7

Readers who want the above weights in pounds need only introduce them into the online weight converter. 1 metric ton equals 2,204.6226218 pounds.

(g) Corpse residue factor: This factor represents the part of a corpse’s original volume and weight that is left over after cremation. Dividing the cremation residue weight in column (f) by this factor, one thus obtains the corpse’s original weight prior to cremation. According to MGK (see again the above-mentioned blog) the remains left behind by cremation would correspond to about 5 % of the corpses’ non-decomposed weight. This percentage, however, is too low for open-air cremation, in which corpses are not reduced as thoroughly as in a crematorium and the percentage of cremation residue is thus higher. According to a document from the British Environment Agency referred to by MGK (Environment Agency North West Region Area. Extracts from Submission to Cumbria County Council’s Inquiry into the Foot and Mouth Crisis), section 5.2.4 on page 13), a typical pyre for 300 cows at the time of the British Foot & Mouth Disease Crisis in 2001 could leave 15 tons of carcass ash and 45 tons of other ash to be disposed of. Assuming that each cow weighed 500 kg (as is done in the article CBA of Foot and Mouth Disease Control Strategies: Environmental Impacts by Paul Watkiss and Alison Smith, footnote 7 on page 4), the original weight of carcasses burned on such a pyre was 150 tons, i.e. the carcass ash amounted to 10 % of the original carcass weight. I therefore considered a corpse residue factor of 10 % instead of MGK’s 5 %. Note that this assumption, besides being based on empirical data from cremation under comparable circumstances, leads to a much lower life or pre-cremation weight corresponding to a given weight of cremation remains than the residue percentage considered by MGK, and therefore to a lower number of corpses whose cremation is considered to have produced these cremation remains.

(h) = (f)÷(g) * 1,000 = Pre-cremation weight of cremated corpses (kg): Dividing the cremation residue weight in columns (f) by the corpse residue factor in column (g), one obtains the pre-cremation weight of fresh corpses in metric tons. Multiplying the result of this division by 1,000 yields the same corpses’ weight in kg.

(i) = Average weight of corpse (kg)

The average life weight of a deportee murdered at Bełżec extermination camp was calculated as being 34 kg, see the blogs Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3) and Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1). In these blogs I also explain why the higher average weight considered by Mattogno is way above the mark.

(j) = (h)÷(i) = Number of corpses reduced to cremation remains: The number that results from dividing the total pre-cremation weight of the corpses in column (h) by the average weight of corpses in column (i).

(k) = Number of whole corpses in those graves in which corpses in wax-fat transformation were found at the bottom, as mentioned in item (b) above.

(l) = (j) + (k) = total number of dead lying in each of the Bełżec mass graves identified by Prof. Kola either as cremation remains or as whole corpses.

The numbers as the following:

Grave #_Number of victims whose remains currently lie in grave
1_32,886
2_1,875
3_20,923
4_2,892
5_29,779
6_13,235
7_35,294
8_18,750
9_6,176
10_23,768
11_294
12_4,412
13_10,848
14_40,809
15_8,824
16_7,721
17_11,029
18_6,287
19_11,029
20_25,247
21_386
22_2,206
23_6,066
24_5,735
25_2,852
26_3,529
27_2,382
28_81
29_9,926
30_827
31_993
32_4,517
33_1,324
Total_352,902



3. Sobibór



The above table shows an estimative calculation of the minimum amounts of human cremation remains (ashes, bone fragments, teeth or tooth meal) that can be reasonably expected to be currently buried in the mass graves at the former Nazi extermination camp of Sobibór, as well as a calculation, based on a reasonably estimated average weight of the deportees, of the number of corpses corresponding to these cremation remains. It is based on archaeological data and other evidence mentioned below, and on realistic, conservative assumptions complementing such data and other evidence where necessary. It can therefore, in my opinion, be considered proof of the numbers of human cremation remains and corresponding numbers of whole corpses stated therein, according to the standards of proof that would be applied by a German court of law, whereby a reasonable estimated minimum quantity is considered the (maximum) quantity that can be proven, even if there are good reasons to assume that the actual quantity is higher.

The table consists of the following columns:

Grave #: the number of the grave according to the report about archaeological research in the area of Sobibór extermination camp by Prof. Andrzej Kola (Kola, Andrzej, "I Badania archeologiczne terenu byłego obozu zagłady Żydów w Sobiborze w 2001 r" ("1st Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001", hereinafter "Kola, Sobibór"), in: Przeszłość i Pamięć. Biuletyn Rady Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa Nr. 4 (21) z 2001 r, pages 115 to 123; descriptions of mass graves on pages 116/117; translation into English by Katarzyna Piotrowska is available on the thread 1st Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001 of the Holocaust Controversies Forum and discussed in, among others, the blogs of the series Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves. It is hereinafter referred to as the "Sobibór Report".

(a) Volume m3: Volume in cubic meters of each grave, according to the Sobibór Report, see Table 2.2.1. in the Sobibór section of my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1).

(b) Thereof occupied by corpses (m3): Part of each grave’s volume that is occupied by whole corpses.

At Sobibór 4 of the 7 mass graves were reported as containing not only cremation remains but also whole corpses in wax-fat transformation at the bottom of the graves, presumably corpses that were left there because they were too difficult to extract when the graves were emptied to burn the corpses.

Assuming that each corpse layer is as extensive as the grave’s surface area, the number of corpses in wax-fat transformation inside each grave at a density of 9.1 per cubic meter (as calculated in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3)) would be the following:

Grave #_Area m2_Minimum thickness of corpse layer m3_Number of corpses at 9.1 corpses per m3
3_240.00_0.40_874
4_1,575.00_0.40_5,733
5_120.00_0.40_437
6_375.00_0.40_1,365
Total_3,210.00_ _8,409

These numbers, as well as the ones that follow, have already been presented in my OP of this thread.

A more and perhaps even exceedingly cautious approach to establishing the volume of the corpse layers assumes that the graves narrowed considerably towards the bottom due to sloping of the graves’ walls and that the graves’ bottom area was thus considerably lower than the surface area (my estimates of the Sobibór graves’ volumes available for burial took into account such a volume-diminishing effect, though not to the same extent as was done for good measure in the calculations shown hereafter). Based on this assumption, my calculations of the corpse layers’ volume and the corresponding number of corpses (at the aforementioned concentration of 9.1 corpses per cubic meter) are the following:

Grave # 3: corpse layer volume 39.72 m³, 361 corpses.

Grave # 4: corpse layer volume 260.64 m³, 2,372 corpses.

Grave # 5: corpse layer volume 19.86 m³, 181 corpses.

Grave # 6: corpse layer volume 62.06 m³, 565 corpses.

The above are the corpse layer volumes stated in column (b) of the above table, which are deducted from the respective grave’s total volume to obtain the volumes in column (c).

(c) = (a) - (b) = Thereof occupied by soil and cremation remains (m3): The part of each grave’s volume occupied by soil and cremation remains is the difference between each grave’s total volume and the part of that volume occupied by whole corpses. In graves nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6, this volume is the difference between each grave’s total volume in column (a) and the corpse layer volume in column (b). In the other graves, in which no whole corpses were reported to have been found at the bottom, this volume is the whole volume of the respective grave.

(d) % of human cremation remains in soil: The concentration/density of human cremation remains contained in the soil of each grave is an essential parameter for establishing the amount of human cremation remains in each grave. The term "human cremation remains" is understood as meaning burned or unburned parts of human bodies left over from a not necessarily complete cremation process, crushed or uncrushed and including ashes, bone fragments, teeth (scorched or not) and tooth meal.

The graves are described as follows in the Sobibór report:

Grave no 1 is located in the north - eastern part of hectare 17, just west from the memorial to victims. The site was excavated by 27 drills. Horizontally, it measures 20 x 20 m and is up to 4.30 m deep. It was a body burning grave.
Grave no 2 is located in the western part of the hectare 17, south from the memorial. It was excavated by 28 drills. Horizontally its shape is irregular, measuring at least 20 x 25 m – with its longer side in NS position – and with depth up to 4 metres. It was a body burning grave.
Grave no 3 is located in the south- western part of hectare 11 and north - western part of hectare 17. It was excavated by 17 drills. Horizontally, it's irregular, measuring around 20 x 12 m - with its longer side in NS position. The biggest part of the grave is located under north - western part of the memorial. It’s up to 5.80 m deep. In bottom layers, the grave is bony, with human remains in wax- fat transformation. The upper layers are a mixture of burnt body remains with layers of lime stone, sand and charcoal. The northern part of the grave is located near to northern part of the grave no 4. The more precise location of the graves requires additional research.
Grave no 4. It’s a grave with significant size, located in southern part of hectare 11, as well as northern and central parts of hectare 18. It was excavated by 78 drills. Horizontally, in NS position, it measures 70 x 20-25 m with the depth of around 5m. In bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax-fat transformation. The upper layers are a mixture of burnt body remains with layers of lime stone, sand and charcoal.
[...]
Grave no 5. It’s not a very vast grave, located in the north-western part of hectare 18. It was excavated by 7 drills. Horizontally, it's irregular, measuring at least 10 x 12 m, with its depth up to 4.90 m. In its bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax-fat transformation. In the upper layers – burnt body remains.
Grave no 6. It’s located in the central part of hectare 18, south from grave no 5. It was excavated by 22 drills. Horizontally, it’s irregular, measuring at least 15 x 25 m, with its depth up to 3.05 m. In its bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax-fat transformation. The upper layers - burnt body remains.
Grave no 7. Location of body burning activity, measuring at least 10 x 3 m, with its depth up to 0.90 m, in the central part of hectare 18, around 10-12 m south from the southern side of grave 4. The vast majority of burnt body remains were found in 6 drills. Around, vast ground transformation of an uncertain genesis. Only because of the burnt body remains found, the structure was thought of as a grave. In order to state the function of the place more accurately, further archaeological research needs to be conducted.


No information is given here about the thickness of the layers containing burnt body remains. However, earlier in his report Kola writes the following:

The most obvious body burning was found in the bottom layers of those graves, where layers of burnt bones were found with 40 – 60 cm of thickness.


The bottom layers referred to here are obviously those above the layers of bodies in wax-fat transformation in those graves containing layers of whole bodies. How many layers of burnt bones are in each grave is not stated, but the wording suggests that there is more than one, so it seems correct to assume at least 2 layers of burnt bones 40 cm thick in each of the deeper graves and one such layer in grave # 7. These layers would correspond to about 18.60 % of the depth of grave # 1, 20.00 % of the depth of grave # 2, 13.79 % of the depth of grave # 3, 16.00 % of the depth of grave # 4, 16.33 % of the depth of grave # 5, 26.23 % of the depth of grave # 6 and 44.44 % of the depth of grave # 7. I assume that the relation between volumes is the same as the relation between the thickness of cremation remains layers and the depth of the respective grave. According to the calculations underlying my tables 5.8 and 5.9 in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4), the volume of human ash residue at Sobibór makes up between 39 % and 66 % of total ash residue. Multiplying the lower of these percentages with the percentages of total cremation remains in each grave, one obtains the following percentages of human cremation remains:

Grave #_Percentage of human cremation remains

1_7.25%
2_7.80%
3_5.38%
4_6.24%
5_6.37%
6_10.23%
7_17.33%

(e) = (c) * (d) = Volume of human cremation remains (m3): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains in each grave, calculated by multiplying the part of each grave’s volume containing soil and human cremation remains instead of whole corpses by the percentage thereof that can be considered to consist of human cremation remains, according to item (d) above.

(f) = ( e) * 0.5 t/m3 (metric tons): The volume in cubic meters of human cremation remains, calculated in column (e), is converted into the weight of these cremation remains in metric tons considering the specific weight of human cremation remains, which according to Mattogno, Graf and Kues (MGK) is 0.5 g/cm3 (see, among others, my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4)).

The weight of human cremation remains in the Sobibór mass graves, calculated in the above table, is the following:

Grave #_Weight of human cremation remains in metric tons
1_54.0
2_67.5
3_31.4
4_204.6
5_15.6
6_47.5
7_2.3
Total_423.0

Readers who want the above weights in pounds need only introduce them into the online weight converter. 1 metric ton equals 2,204.6226218 pounds.

(g) Corpse residue factor: This factor represents the part of a corpse’s original volume and weight that is left over after cremation. Dividing the cremation residue weight in column (f) by this factor, one thus obtains the corpse’s original weight prior to cremation. According to MGK (see again the above-mentioned blog) the remains left behind by cremation would correspond to about 5 % of the corpses’ non-decomposed weight. This percentage, however, is too low for open-air cremation, in which corpses are not reduced as thoroughly as in a crematorium and the percentage of cremation residue is thus higher. According to a document from the British Environment Agency referred to by MGK (Environment Agency North West Region Area. Extracts from Submission to Cumbria County Council’s Inquiry into the Foot and Mouth Crisis), section 5.2.4 on page 13), a typical pyre for 300 cows at the time of the British Foot & Mouth Disease Crisis in 2001 could leave 15 tons of carcass ash and 45 tons of other ash to be disposed of. Assuming that each cow weighed 500 kg (as is done in the article CBA of Foot and Mouth Disease Control Strategies: Environmental Impacts by Paul Watkiss and Alison Smith, footnote 7 on page 4), the original weight of carcasses burned on such a pyre was 150 tons, i.e. the carcass ash amounted to 10 % of the original carcass weight. I therefore considered a corpse residue factor of 10 % instead of MGK’s 5 %. Note that this assumption, besides being based on empirical data from cremation under comparable circumstances, leads to a much lower life or pre-cremation weight corresponding to a given weight of cremation remains than the residue percentage considered by MGK, and therefore to a lower number of corpses whose cremation is considered to have produced these cremation remains.

(h) = (f)÷(g) * 1,000 = Pre-cremation weight of cremated corpses (kg): Dividing the cremation residue weight in columns (f) by the corpse residue factor in column (g), one obtains the pre-cremation weight of fresh corpses in metric tons. Multiplying the result of this division by 1,000 yields the same corpses’ weight in kg.

(i) = Average weight of corpse (kg)

The average life weight of a deportee murdered at Bełżec extermination camp was calculated as being ca. 48 kg, see the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (2) (calculation in Table 3.2)

(j) = (h)÷(i) = Number of corpses reduced to cremation remains: The number that results from dividing the total pre-cremation weight of the corpses in column (h) by the average weight of corpses in column (i).

(k) = Number of whole corpses in those graves in which corpses in wax-fat transformation were found at the bottom, as mentioned in item (b) above.

(l) = (j) + (k) = total number of dead lying in each of the Sobibór mass graves identified by Prof. Kola either as cremation remains or as whole corpses.

The numbers as the following:

Grave #_Number of victims whose remains currently lie in grave
1_11,249
2_14,073
3_6,894
4_45,007
5_3,428
6_10,459
7_487
Total_91,597


The numbers of corpses calculated as corresponding to the human remains currently contained in the Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór mass graves identified by archaeologists are lower than the numbers of these camp’s victims (about 157,000 people were murdered at Chełmno, see the blog Mattogno on Chełmno Cremation (Part 1); ca. 435,000 and 170,000 at, respectively, Bełżec and Sobibór, see fn 1 of the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1)). This is due to several factors.

One is that my figures are minimum figures calculated on the basis of conservative and sometimes arguably overcautious assumptions, which means that the actual amounts of human remains in the graves and corresponding numbers of corpses are probably higher than my figures.

The other is that postwar robbery-digging at Bełżec and Sobibór, and presumably also at Chełmno, may well have scattered much of the human remains contained in the mass graves over larger areas, from which the remains were not necessarily returned to the graves when the former extermination camps were turned into memorial sites by the Polish government in the 1960s.

Yet another factor, perhaps the most important one, is that during camp times not all cremation remains were returned to the emptied mass graves but a considerable part of the remains was scattered in nearby forests or dumped into waters or removed from the respective camp area for certain practical uses. Regarding Bełżec and Sobibór, see the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (4), fns. 212 (Sobibór) and 213 (Bełżec). Regarding Chełmno, archaeologist Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak wrote the following in this respect:

Large amounts of ashes as well as ground or crushed human bones were partly thrown into the emptied graves, partly into the 11 trenches dug up in one row, parallel to the mass graves in the clearing. What amount was scattered over forests, what part was sent to Poznań to Fort VII, how much was sent to German settlers as a fertilizer - this we shall never find out. In the second phase of the center operation the ash problem was solved 'simpler' - the ashes were just thrown into the Ner River.


Many of the people murdered at Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór don’t even have the mass graves made by their murderers as a resting place for their remains.

1 comment:

mike said...

Very nice site and article. Amazing one, i appreciate this work.... This is a wonderful post Hey I see smart blog, I love it greatly because I cannot find anything better than your authors.Thanks, I agree that this will be a great help for me.. :)
cremation chandler