Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 7: Mass Graves (6). Soil Removed from the Graves.

Soil Removed from the Graves

The grave volumes that Mattogno claimed for Treblinka would have led to amounts of excavated soil that, according to these authors, would have caused major problems to the camp organization. The volume of soil excavated from a pit or grave is usually 10-25% larger than the volume of the pit itself, according to M&G’s source, so with mass graves having a total volume of 118,800 cubic meters of soil (i.e. what M&G considered necessary to bury 860,000 bodies), the excavated soil would have had a volume of at least (118,800×1.1=) ca. 130,700 cubic meters. M&G claimed that "If this mass were arranged in the form of a pile 6 m high, with sides each having an angle of 30 degrees and a width of 10 m, then its length would have amounted to (130,700÷30) 4.4 kilometers, covering some 44,000 m2!"[139]
M&G assumed a pile narrowing towards the top to such a degree that half the cross-section area of a 6x10 m even rectangle is lost, which is hardly what one sees at construction sites. A more reasonable assumption is a pile narrowing towards the top in the same manner as a pit with sloped walls narrows towards the bottom.
According to the author’s calculations above, the Treblinka grave pits would have had a volume of 60,130 m³ at most, but their volume might also have been just 34,360 m³ if corpses were buried as densely as at Belzec. The maximum expanded soil volume would thus have been 60,130 x 1.25 = 75,163 m³ (66,143 m³ with a 10 % dilation) or 34,360 x 1.25 = 42,950 m³ (37,796 m³ with a 10 % dilation). According to Alex Bay’s calculations[140], 9 pits with a total length of 9x50 = 450 m, a width of 25 meters, a depth of 10 meters and 60 degree slope angles would have a total volume of 9 x 8,502 = 76,518 m³, roughly 68 % of the volume (450x25x10 = 112,500 m³) that they would have if they had an even rectangular shape. Dividing the calculated sand pile volumes by this percentage, one obtains roughly the volume that sloped pits with these volumes would have if they were even rectangles. Dividing these volumes by an assumed pit width and depth of respectively 10 and 6 meters (corresponding to the width and depth of the sand pile assumed by M&G), one obtains the length of the sand pile corresponding to each of the aforementioned sand volumes, as shown in Table 7.5.
Table 7.5
These lengths are presumably on the high side, as the calculation assumes that the same sloping angle is required for a pit 6 meters deep as for a pit 10 meters deep.
Much of the sand removed from the mass graves was used for the embankments on either side of the extermination sector, which Alex Bay estimated to be at least 4 meters high.[141] What sand was not used for the embankments could be left by the mass graves, or it could be taken out of the extermination sector or out of Treblinka extermination camp altogether. The removal of sand from the camp by train is mentioned in the Soviet 65th Army report from August 1944: “Dozens of witnesses attest to have seen how up to three transports of Jews, with 60 cars each, arrived in the camp on a daily basis. The trains left the camp either loaded with sand or empty”.[142] Mattogno quotes this report in Treblinka, including this excerpt.[143] So Mattogno’s removed soil "problem" comes across as rather artificial and even self-contradictory.
The same applies as concerns Belzec, regarding which Mattogno calculated an extracted sand mass of 82,500 mł considering a 10% dilation, which would, if "spread evenly throughout the camp in a layer 2 m thick", have covered an area of 41,250 m², "equal to the total area of the camp minus the mass graves", and weighed "(82,500×1.4=) 115,500 tons, or the equivalent of more than 4,600 freight cars or more than 24,000 truckloads."[144]
Actually, considering the volume of the mass graves identified by Kola (which, as we have seen, were perfectly sufficient to bury the bodies of the camp’s ca. 435,000 victims), the amount of sand was more like 21,310 x 1.1 = 23,441 m³ (assuming a dilation of 10 %, as Mattogno does). If there had been no space to pile up the sand in a layer 2 meters thick (i.e. covering 23,441 ÷ 2 = 11,721 square meters, little more than ¼ of "the total area of the camp minus the mass graves"), they could have piled it up in a layer 4 meters thick (the minimum height of the embankments at Treblinka, according to Bay) covering just 5,861 square meters. 23,441 m³ of expanded sand have a weight of 23,441 x 1.4 = 32,817 tons, or 6,563 truckloads of 5 tons each. With 10 daily trips to a nearby storage place, 656 trucks could manage this load in a single day, 66 trucks in 10 days and 7 trucks in 100 days. Even the much higher quantity claimed by Mattogno could have been removed within 100 days, which was much less than the gassing operations at Belzec lasted, with no more than 24 trucks. Not exactly an insurmountable logistical problem.

[139] M&G, Treblinka, p.139.
[140] As note 138.
[141] As note 137, Figure 43. 
[142] Akt, 24.8.1944, GARF 7021-115-9, p.108; cf. M&G, Treblinka, p.78.
[143] M&G, Treblinka, p.78
[144] Mattogno, Bełżec, pp.87-88.

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