His latest piece, with the title Pigs are self-cremating, says Roberto Muehlenkamp, refers to the following considerations in Chapter 8 of the HC critique and my blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (2), about the presumable effects of a corpse’s or carcass’s decomposition on fuel requirements for cremation, which are based on calculations in MGK’s Sobibór book and the animal carcass burning experiments made by German veterinarians Dr. Lothes & Dr. Profé in the early 20th Century, whereby the average amount of wood required to burn a beef cattle or horse carcass on an iron grate over a pit was 0.56 kg per kg of carcass:
In the later stages of the decomposition process, butyric fermentation and dry decay , a corpse is left without most, and finally without all, of the water that makes up most of the human organism. 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.
Exactly the contrary is maintained by Mattogno, Graf and Kues, who argue that the positive effect of dehydration on the cremation heat balance would have been offset by a simultaneous loss of fat:
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 3.5 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 that are neither water nor fat nor protein are neither an asset (like fat and protein) nor a liability (like water) in the heat balance. 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 3.6. 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) 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?
[…] The correctness of the above reasoning is confirmed by the fact that only very low amounts of additional fuel are required to burn carcasses reduced to only their bones.
[…] 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). 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."
MGK are right, of course 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 3.7 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 substances’ weight and the test persons’ original weight of 69.4 kg). It is assumed that burning such a 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, would take 0.56 kg of wood 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.
Despite his heavy-handed claims that my "methodology" (which, as can be seen in the above quote, follows up on MGK’s methodology) is "fundamentally and irredeemably flawed", and that my calculations "cannot be salvaged", Jansson provides no mathematical or thermodynamic demonstration of any flaws in my considerations or calculations. Instead he argues that my assuming 3,677.51 kCal/kg as the calorific value per weight unit at which a normal-weight corpse combusts implies that pigs, whose calorific value he calculates at 3,862.494 kCal/kg, would "self-combust". Toward the end of his article Jansson disgraces himself with the straw-man that it would be enough to "hold up a match to the pigs and let them self-cremate", but earlier he writes that "perhaps a little kindling to get the fire started" will be needed. Jansson then quotes a source according to which, during the 2001 FMD epidemic in the UK, a pyre used to incinerate 400 cows or 1,200 sheep or 1,600 pigs consisted of "1,000 railway ties, 8 tons of kindling, 400 wooden pallets, 4 tons of straw, 200 tons of coal, and 1,000 liters of diesel fuel". The amounts of fuel used per pig, established by dividing these quantities through the number of pigs, would be the following:
0.625 railroad ties
5 kg kindling
0.25 wooden pallets
2.5 kg straw
125 kg coal
0.625 litres diesel fuel
These amounts of additional fuel, according to Jansson, correspond to an added heat of 15,202.77 kCal/kg. This, in turn, is supposed to prove my assumptions must be wrong.
Jannson doesn’t break down his calculations, but dividing the end result by the calorific value of 3,843.48 kCal/kg, which I considered for wood pursuant to MGK’s data, yields an average of about 4 kg of wood or wood equivalent per kilogram of pig. Which seems to be lot, already if you consider other data about cremation of carcasses that I provided in my aforementioned writings, namely the following:
a) The Texas Animal Health Commission’s General Guidelines for the Disposal of Carcasses dated January 2005;
b) The fuel requirements recommendations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which according to my calculations, converting various types of fuel into wood equivalents imply a wood to carcass ratio of 1.84:1;
c) The burning of 600 rams and 218 other sheep carried out in March 2001 near Lille, France, with a wood to carcass ratio of 2.19:1 using dry wood and 2.41:1 using fresh wood;
d) Other incineration cases mentioned by fellow "Revisionist" Heinrich Köchel, which according to Mattogno show that a wood or wood equivalent weight of 140 kg is required to burn a human corpse weighing 70 kg, i.e. a wood-to-corpse weight ratio of 2:1;
e) The Mokshda Green Cremation System, an innovative device introduced in India for human funeral pyres with the express objective of considerably reducing fuel consumption. The description suggests that it’s a rather simple device, and an open-air pyre rather than a cremation oven. It should also be noted that its inventor, Vinod Kumar Agarwal, thinks it should be possible to burn a human body with no more than 22 kg of wood (ratio assuming a body weight of 70 kg as Mattogno does: 0.31 to 1), and that he managed with 100 kg per body (ratio: 1.43 to 1) using the "raised human size brazier" he unsuccessfully (obviously not because of its efficiency but because it failed to gain acceptance among tradition-minded Hindus) tried to introduce in 1993. An essential feature of this brazier was its elevation, which "allowed air to circulate and feed the fire".
These examples show that it is possible to cremate pig carcasses, other carcasses or human corpses with much less fuel expenditure, in terms of the ratio between wood or wood equivalent weight and carcass/corpse weight, than in the case mentioned by Jansson. The ratio may be 2:1, less than 2:1 or even as low as 1:1 according to these examples, versus 4:1 in Jansson’s example. And then there are the aforementioned experiments of Dr. Lothes & Dr. Profé, who achieved a ratio of just 0.56 kg of wood or wood equivalent per kg of carcass, and that in their less fuel-efficient experiments. Lothes & Profé burned beef cattle or horses, which contain less fat than pigs, so it stands to reason that with their method (burning on a grate above a pit, which differs from the methods applied in Jansson’s example as well as all but the last of the more recent examples I mentioned above) they could have burned pigs with even less fuel expenditure than they needed for beef cattle or horses.
Jansson asks whether I indeed believe that, as is shown by my "analysis" (or better, by what this "analysis" implies according to Jansson), "100 kg Poland China pigs will self-cremate".
Well, I certainly do not believe that they would ignite as easily as suggested by Jansson’s deplorable "hold up a match" - straw-man.
I also don’t believe that bones ignite when you hold a match to them, even though they have a calorific value of 11,000 BTU per pound (6,107 kcal/kg) according to Norbert Fuhrmann, Sales manager of Air Burners LLC in Florida, USA, cited in the blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,2). The same goes for wood and coal.
However, I do believe that these substances, once ignited, can sustain their own combustion, which in turn means that no more additional fuel is required to combust them than is required to make a fire in which they ignite (as concerns bones, see the calculations in the aforementioned blog, which are based on data in a technical report headed Elimination of the carcasses of animals that have died from anthrax).
I also believe that is possible to ignite the carcass of a pig with relatively little external fuel in such a manner that the carcass will, even after the external fuel has been used up, sustain its own combustion from its fat as the fat emanates onto a porous surface acting as a wick. An experiment in this sense is described in the article "Sustained Combustion of an Animal Carcass and Its Implications for the Consumption of Human Bodies in Fires", by John D. DeHaan, Ph.D. and Said Nurbakhsh, Ph.D., Journal of Forensic Sciences 2001 Sep;46(5):1076-81 (abstract; reprint of complete article). The authors described the experiment as follows (emphases added):
In the test reported here, a freshly-slaughtered pig carcass with a net weight of 215 lb. (95 kg) was wrapped in a cotton blanket and placed on a carpet-covered plywood panel. The fire was initiated using 1 L of gasoline poured on the shoulder area of the blanket-wrapped carcass. The gasoline burned off within 4 min, having ignited a large area of the blanket and adjoining carpet. Flames from those fuel packages resulted in the establishment of a steady-state fire sustained by the rendering of the body fat, with the necessary wick provided by the charred cotton blanket and carpet. The heat release rate of this fire was 60 +- 10 kW, with flames less than 12 in. (0.35 m) high for its duration. The fire sustained itself by the rendering process for more than 6 ½ h from ignition, at which time it was extinguished. An average mass loss rate of 1.5 g/s (5.3 kg/h) was observed during the self-sustained fire. Extensive destruction of the carcass (more than 60% by weight) included reduction of large bones to a fragile, ashen state.
The authors reached the following conclusion (emphases added):
It has been demonstrated that given a source of external ignition of some duration (10 to 15 min or longer) such as a fire in clothing or bedding, the skin of a body can char and split and the melted, subcutaneous fat be released. If that fat can be absorbed onto a suitable porous rigid substrate that can act like a wick, it can support flaming combustion for as long as fuel is available.[…]Given enough time and an adequate wick, such fires can sustain themselves for many hours, accomplishing a great deal of damage including fragmentation and powdering of bone.
So the answer to Jansson’s question is that a) a kindling fire strong enough to split open the skin and cause the fat to be released is required for a pig carcass to sustain its own combustion with the burning of its fat, as is a surface that absorbs the fat emanating from the carcass and acts like a wick; and b) the kindling fire does not necessarily require a large amount of external fuel.
Note that in the experiment described by DeHaan and Nurbakhsh, unlike in the experiments performed by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé, the carcass was not placed on a grate above the external source of fire. Air circulation therefore was probably not the best, unlike in Lothes & Profé’s experiments.
A similar experiment involving a ewe was described in Chapter 8 of the HC critique and in this blog, as follows:
The importance of bringing the grid into the "right position", one that provided for good air circulation and in which the corpses burned largely on their own combustible substances because they were suspended over a fire fed by body fat, is illustrated by the experimental burning of two carcass in two different cars described in a 1969 scientific article by Bruce V. Ettling. One of the experimental carcasses burned rather incompletely whereas the other was mostly consumed by fire. The reason for the difference was that the latter carcass "was still suspended on the seat springs with a lot of char and ash underneath. The fat being rendered from the carcass dripped onto the char which acted like a candle wick and kept the fat burning." This burning rendered more fat, which in turn kept alive the fire consuming the carcass. Ettling concluded that a carcass, and presumably also a human body, "can be rather thoroughly consumed by fire from its own fat", a necessary condition being that "the body be suspended in such a way that it is over the fire which is fed from the body fat". He drew the following parallel with burning procedures at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps (emphasis added):
Some related information was found in an article concerning a Nazi extermination camp and its trouble destroying the corpses (3). Burning gasoline on piles of corpses on the ground did not consume the corpses. Eventually an "expert" was brought in who arranged the bodies on a rack with the corpses that appeared to contain some fat being placed on the bottom of the pile. A good fire beneath the rack caused fat to drip down and burn. The corpses which were thus over the fire instead of on the ground were reduced to ashes.
Ettling obviously considered that replicating on a much larger scale the conditions in which the carcass was mostly consumed by a fire fed by its own fat (being suspended on seat springs over a lot of char and ash below, which absorbed the dripping fat and acted like a wick) was not only possible, but actually what had been done at Treblinka. The seat springs would be the grates made of railway rails on which the bodies were placed, the wick the char and ash from the fire used to ignite the bodies. The fire would have to be strong enough for the bodies’ skin to char and split, which was certainly the case according to eyewitness descriptions whereby the wood sprayed with liquid fuel underneath the bodies (who were also sprayed with liquid fuel themselves, at least when they were "fresh" bodies) burned with a very strong and hot flame. In this manner it would have been possible to cremate the bodies of the people murdered in the gas chambers with comparatively little external fuel (i.e. a weight ratio between wood and wood equivalent on the one hand and corpse mass on the other that was equal to or lower than in Lothes & Profé’s experiments), even though the results of cremation were not complete; witnesses mentioned that larger bones were left lying upon the grate after the fire went out and some parts of the bodies "preserved their natural shape", requiring much subsequent crushing work and sometimes (Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, pp. 173 f.) having to be "returned to the roaster and re-ignited with a new pile of bodies".
A procedure very similar to the one used to burn the corpses at Treblinka was adopted, albeit on a smaller scale, after the Allied bombing attacks against Dresden on 13/14 February 1945, when a total of 6,865 corpses of bombing victims were cremated on a grate structure set up on the city’s Altmarkt square. Jansson and I have discussed about these grates in some of the past exchanges on the RODOH forum that I linked to in the blog Friedrich Jansson on Burial Space, namely the blogs The rails would have bent in the heat and A new video on open air cremation. In these discussions I showed Jansson several photos of the Dresden pyres taken by Walter Hahn, namely the following:
The color photo on top shows a pyre while burning, and in the foreground what are obviously the results of a previous pyre, i.e. small bone fragments that might be called "ash" and are thus referred to in reports about the results of the cremation (see this post on one of the aforementioned RODOH threads).
What all photos show is that the space underneath the grates, into which some wood had been stuffed, was not very large, which means that only very little wood could be used for the cremation of these corpses. The main external fuel was gasoline. Regarding the amount of gasoline used I wrote the following (same on p. 489 of the critique):
German authorities didn’t consider it a waste to spend 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 regiment were higher than those of corpse cremation at Sobibór if carried out with petrol as the main combustion agent, and even the daily requirements of Treblinka shown in Table 3.23 would have been below those of the 21st Panzer Division.
Mattogno complained on page 1410 of MGK’s magnum opus (after having speculated on p. 1366, against evidence whereby the corpses were reduced to remains small enough to be called "ash" in a contemporary document, that "the purpose of the pyres in this case was not incineration, but the partial carbonization of the bodies for hygienic reasons") that I "neither state how much gasoline was needed nor to what degree the corpses were in fact cremated rather than just superficially charred". The first is false as I clearly stated that according to my calculations 68,000 liters had been spent within 13 days (and provided a link to a blog in which I showed how I had arrived at this amount). The second is equally false, as I quoted a secondary source (Charles Taylor’s book about the Dresden bombing, later substantiated by the primary source quoted here), whereby the bodies were reduced to what was called "ash" in a contemporary document, and not just "superficially charred".
Maybe Mattogno is just a very inattentive reader, but it is also possible that he wanted to avoid providing his own estimate about the amount of gasoline used to cremate the corpses on the Dresden Altmarkt, perhaps also because his co-writer Jürgen Graf had complicated matters by furiously rambling (footnote 2420 on p. 1069) against my co-author Jason Myers' "outrageous assertion that only 25,000 people died in the fire-bombing of Dresden" (never mind that the "outrageous assertion" is supported by the report, prepared after several years of work, of a commission of 13 prominent German historians who examined all available evidence, as mentioned in this article, among others), and in all seriousness citing a report of the Ordnungspolizei Dresden which is supposed to have stated that "Until the evening of 20 March 202,040 dead bodies, predominantly women and children, were recovered. The number of victims is expected to rise to 250,000." (never mind that, as demonstrated more than a decade ago, the version of Tagesbefehl 47 cited by Graf was a crude forgery, in which a zero had been added at the end of each number in the authentic TB 47, making 20,204 recovered dead into 202,040, 25,000 expected dead into 250,000, and 6,865 corpses cremated on the Altmarkt into 68,650). Comically, Mattogno quotes my figure of 68,000 liters of gasoline spent on the Dresden Altmarkt (which one might think he considers too high, as he points out that wood and straw poked under the steel girders, "together with the clothing, reduced the demand for gasoline, which therefore could not have been 68,000 liters") a few pages (p. 1415) after claiming that I had not stated how much gasoline was needed. Maybe good old Charlie is becoming senile.
Fortunately for "Revisionism", there is my friend Friedrich Jansson, who I’m sure will be glad to address the issue that Mattogno apparently preferred to dodge.
So please tell me, Mr. Jansson, how much gasoline do you think they used to cremate 6,865 corpses (or 10 times that many, if you choose to fall for the doctored version of TB 47) on the Dresden Altmarkt after the bombing of 13/14 February 1945?
Do you accept my calculation whereby it was about 68,000 liters (more than twice the daily consumption of a Panzer division, at a time when Nazi Germany was fighting for survival and its armed forces were running woefully short of fuel)?
Do you think 68,000 liters is too high, as one might think Mattogno does?
Or do you think the amount was twice or three times or four times as high (implying a Panzer division immobilized for lack of fuel not two but four, six or eight days)?
Let’s have your take on this, Mr. Jansson. I’m definitely curious.
PS, 14.04.2015: The archival reference given by Dresden historian Matthias Neutzner for the document mentioning how the ash resulting from the Altmarkt cremations was to be disposed of so as to salvage the boxes or sacks carrying the ash for reuse, in the excerpt from Martha Heinrich Acht - Dresden 1944/45 quoted in this RODOH post, is the following: StAD, Marstall- und Bestattungsamt, Nachtrag I - Schreiben, 4.3.1945 (Martha Heinrich Acht, p. 221). "StAD" stands for Stadtarchiv Dresden, the Dresden City Archives. The document previously quoted by Neutzner, whereby the burning of corpses on the Altmarkt was ordered "in consideration of the quickly progressing decomposition and the existing extraordinary difficulties in retrieving [the corpses] as well as the lack of suitable vehicles for transportation to cemeteries", is the Schlußmeldung über die vier Luftangriffe auf den LS-Ort Dresden am 13., 14. und 15. Februar 1945 (link was kindly provided by Mr. Jansson). This document mentions that the ash of the corpses was taken to a cemetery ("Die Asche der Gefallenen wurde auf einen Friedhof überführt."). One of the reasons given for deciding to burn the corpses (lack of suitable vehicles for transporting corpses to the cemeteries) is further evidence that Mattogno's speculation about the corpses having been "just superficially charred" is utter nonsense. For if there was a lack of suitable vehicles for transporting corpses to the cemeteries, what could possibly have been gained by a cremation that "just superficially charred" the corpses?