a) pointed out the irrelevance of the "burial space" exercises that occupy much of his blogging time and space, insofar as they are no argument against the mathematically demonstrated possibility of burying, in the relatively small areas of the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka, the murdered deportees for whose fate "Revisionists" haven’t managed, more than 70 years after the events, to provide a remotely plausible let alone evidence-backed alternative explanation (Jansson took care not to dispute the latter assertion, apparently aware that doing so would earn him an invitation to take my Challenge to Supporters of the Revisionist Transit Camp Theory); and
b) suggested that Jansson have a conversation with his fellow "Revisionist" David Cole regarding an article in which Cole (who Jansson, always the gentleman, calls a "book-hawking publicity whore" and accuses of "stupidity"), among other arguments, mentioned the Cimetière des Saints-Innocents as an example showing that very large numbers of bodies could be a) buried or otherwise kept in a relatively small area and b) removed from there within twelve to fifteen months "using 1780s "technology:" hand-held shovels, horses and carriages, and candlelight, as the work was only done at night (so as to not disturb local commerce and morale) ".
In his blog with the title David Cole/Stein and Roberto Muehlenkamp team up in stupidity, Jansson claims that the number of bodies buried in the Cimetière des Saints-Innocents "is supposed to demonstrate that it is possible to bury a very large number of bodies in a very small space, and thereby refute revisionist arguments concerning burial space at the Reinhardt camps". No, Mr. Jansson, that was not what I wrote, and it was also not the idea. If it had been, I would not have pointed out earlier that Jansson’s "burial space" arguments are irrelevant insofar as they do not refute the mathematical demonstration that it was possible to bury the deportees murdered at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps in the relatively small areas of these camps. That demonstration (together with the documentary and eyewitness evidence whereby these camps were extermination camps, and the utter absence of any evidence supporting an alternative explanation where one would expect an abundance of such evidence) is my main argument against "revisionist arguments concerning burial space at the Reinhardt camps", so I will first address Jansson’s counter-arguments in this respect before discussing what he wrote about the Paris cemetery.
In Chapter 7 of the critique of Mattogno, Graf and Kues, and in the blogs Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1) and Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3), I demonstrated that it would have been possible to bury the corpses of about 434,508 deportees to Bełżec documented in the Höfle message in the 33 mass graves identified in an archaeological investigation led by Prof. Andrzej Kola, assuming that these graves (whose total volume estimated by Kola was 21,310 cubic meters) were the only mass graves in that camp (a later study by Alex Bay suggests that this was not so and there were further graves in the camp not identified by Kola, which are visible on air photography). Jansson’s arguments against this demonstration are limited, in the blog under discussion, to hollow derisive rhetoric ("comically poor work", "Slough of Incompetence") and a reference to the overlong response to the HC critique (hereinafter the "MGK response"), in which Carlo Mattogno is supposed to have "enumerated many of the flaws" in my work. Mattogno’s "enumeration" will have the response it merits as soon as time permits; for now I’ll just address his arguments against my aforementioned demonstration, which are notoriously poor.
My calculation of the possible concentration of corpses in the Bełżec mass graves was based on the substantiated assumptions that a) the Jews of Poland killed at Bełżec were not very tall people (the average height being just 1.60 meters), and b) due to their having been exposed to prolonged malnutrition, their average weight was reduced to 43 kg for adults and 16 kg for children up to 14 years old, meaning that the average weight of a population consisting two thirds of adults and one third of children up to 14 would be (43+43+16)/3 = 34 kg.
What are Mattogno’s arguments against these assumptions?
As concerns the average height of Polish Jews, Mattogno just offers rhetorical blather ("Muehlenkamp recurs as usual to the paraphernalia of sophistic details", p. 1234 of the MGK response).
As concerns the weight, Mattogno asks (p. 1234): "if the average weight of an adult Jew deported to Bełżec was 43 kg, why were two persons necessary to carry a corpse to the mass graves, as Reder had stated?". The answer to this question is given by Reder himself in his report, whose German translation can be found in BAL (Bundesarchiv Ludwigsburg = Federal Archives in Ludwigsburg, Germany) B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. II, f.258 ff. The description of how the bodies were dragged to the graves is on f.274 and translates as follows:
The soil was sandy. A corpse had to be dragged by two workers. For this purpose we had leather strips with clips, which we placed around the hands, the head frequently buried itself into the sand, and thus we pulled.
Reder was not saying here that a corpse had to be pulled by two handlers because it was too heavy to be pulled by one handler alone. He was describing a procedure that was adopted, probably at the orders of the SS overseers, in order to drag corpses to the graves as fast as possible despite the sandy soil and the fact that the corpses’ heads often buried themselves in this soil. Speed was of the essence in dragging the corpses to the graves, for obvious reasons. So Mattogno’s argument is moot.
Next (pp. 1234-35) Mattogno invokes the testimony of Leon Weliczker, a member of the "Death Brigade" in charge of exhuming and cremating bodies at the Janowska concentration camp in Lemberg/Lwów, who claims to have carried adult corpses weighing 70-80 kg each. Without prejudice to the essential accuracy of Weliczker’s description of the body disposal procedure, his claim about the weight of the corpses cannot possibly be correct. Considering the average height of Polish Jews that I established in the critique – and against which Mattogno, as mentioned before, presented no arguments – corpses weighing 70 kg would have been in between the lower and upper ranges of overweight according to the BMI table, and corpses weighing 80 kg would already have been obese. Are we expected to believe that there were overweight or even obese people among the severely malnourished population of Polish ghettos? Even if the corpses had been as tall as what I considered to be the average height of German adults at the time – 1.68 meters – a corpse weighing more than 70 kg would be overweight. So Weliczker’s figures for the weight of the corpses transported by him and his fellow handlers must be considered grossly exaggerated. The reason for this exaggeration can only be guessed.
On page 1236 Mattogno shows a picture of a group of male Jews and asks who can seriously believe that "25 of these persons could fit into one cubic meter, even assuming the presence of one third of children" (a straw-man because, as we shall see, I never made this claim, or then Mattogno is not a very attentive reader). He further expresses his incredulity at the notion that "their average weight would be 43 kg". This is another straw-man, as 43 kg would be the average for both male and female adults, the latter probably weighing a little less than the former, and male Jews taken to the Bełżec labor camps in 1940 – which are in all probability what Mattogno’s picture shows, as do a number of other photos in the collection of the Ghetto Fighters’ House (GFH online archives, keyword "Belzec") to which this picture belongs – would be comparatively stronger and better-fed specimens, who after one year or less of ghetto existence might still have a normal or close to normal weight (whether they still had it in 1942, when the deportations to Bełżec took place, is another matter).
As concerns my calculation of the possible concentration of corpses in the Bełżec mass graves identified by Prof. Kola’s team, Mattogno tells his readers (p. 1235) that «Based on these data, Muehlenkamp calculates 12 corpses for each cubic meter (p. 418). However, "[w]ith the more realistic weights for malnourished Polish ghetto Jews that the author established above, the average would be 663.4 ÷ 34 = 19.51 (20) corpses per cubic meter" (ibid.).». Readers are thus left without understanding my calculations, perhaps because Mattogno didn’t understand them himself. Or then, because he doesn’t want to acknowledge that my calculations are based on his own and that the calculation method I applied was exactly the one he proposed.
Mattogno had argued that a maximum of 6 adult bodies weighing 70 kg, that is 420 kg of human body mass, could fit into one cubic meter. He had then calculated, based on the assumption that children 14 years and under made up the same part of a mass grave’s "population" as they did in the general population (roughly one third), that an adult+adult+child group in which the adults weighed 70 kg each and the child 25.4 kg, would have an average weight of ((70+70+25.4)÷3) = 55.1 kg, meaning that 420÷55.1 = 7.6 corpses could fit into one cubic meter of mass grave space if two thirds of them were adults and one third were children 14 years and under.
I first challenged Mattogno’s weight assumptions, arguing that an adult weight of 70 kg was wildly unrealistic for the population of Jewish ghettos in Poland, who were not only of comparatively small stature according to contemporary anthropological studies (average height 1.60 meters) but also severely malnourished at the time deportations to Bełżec took place. The more realistic average weights I calculated, taking these circumstances into consideration, were 43 kg for adults and 16 kg for children. An adult+adult+child group would thus weigh (43+43+16)÷3) = 34 kg on average, meaning that 420÷34 = ca. 12 corpses could fit into one cubic meter of mass grave space if two thirds of them were adults and one third were children 14 years and under.
Next I challenged Mattogno’s argument that no more than 420 kg of human body mass could fit into one cubic meter, supporting my challenge with the calculations of Alex Bay in his article The Reconstruction of Treblinka (Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued)), whereby 91,000 corpses with the proportions of the "Vetruvian Man" and an assumed height of 68 inches (1.73 meters) could have fit into 8,502 cubic meters of grave space - 10.7 (11) per cubic meter. The ideal weight of a person 1.73 meters high would be 66 kg for men and 62 kg for women. Taking the lower value, 10.7 human bodies with the measurements and weight of an ideal adult person 1.73 meters high would have a weight of 10.7 x 62 = 663.40 kg, instead of Mattogno's 420 kg. These 663.40 kg being thus the amount of human body mass that could be made to fit into a mass grave, I divided it through the previously established average weight of 34 kg for a malnourished population of short-stature ghetto inhabitants of whom one third were children, the division yielding a possible concentration of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter. Multiplying this concentration with the volume of the identified Bełżec mass graves established by Prof. Andrzej Kola – 21.310 cubic meters – yielded that these mass graves could take in 415,758 corpses, i.e. the corpses of all but 18,750 of the 434,508 deportees mentioned in the Höfle message. The balance would easily be accounted for by the effects of decomposition (considering that the graves were filled not all at once but over a period of about 8 months) and the top-down burning practiced by the SS as early as August 1942, probably as a sanitation measure.
Mattogno continues (p. 1235):
«Or rather, according to "Provan’s test group" "19.95 (20)" persons would fit into one cubic meter. As if such fatuous nonsense were not enough, Muehlenkamp tops it off with something even sillier: by "applying Polish ghetto weights to Provan’s testgroup members" he arrives at the startling result of "25.39 corpses per cubic meter, " and therefore "the 21,310 cubic meters of grave space estimated by Kola could have taken in over 540,000 dead bodies" (footnote 107 on p. 418)»
It should be duly noted not only that Mattogno is making a fuss about a mere footnote remark of mine, the figures in which I used nowhere in my calculations, but also that empty weasel-words like "fatuous nonsense", "even sillier" and "startling result" are Mattogno’s only "arguments", at least in this paragraph, against the figures he derides. Which is not surprising, as these figures are well substantiated. The 19.95 results from dividing the human body mass that could fit into one mass grave (663.40 kg) by the average weight of a person in the test group that the late Charles Provan used for his experiment documented in Provan’s article "Kurt Gerstein and the Capacity of the Gas Chamber at Belzec" (Mattogno calls this experiment "risible", referring to his "first rebuttal", which was deconstructed as concerns Provan’s experiment in part 4, section 1 of my related response). That this average is not unrealistic follows from the fact that Provan indeed managed to pack 8 human figures (two young male adults weighing respectively 63 and 62 kg, and elderly female adult weighing 49 kg, four children weighing respectively 25, 26, 19 and 15 kg, and one baby doll representing an infant child, with a theoretical weight of 7 kg, total weight 266 kg) into a space of 0.44 cubic meters. This experiment proves that (266÷0.44 =) 604.55 kg of human mass, or a group of 18 persons consisting of adults and children as in Provan’s test group, could fit into one cubic meter. And what is more, these were living people, and they were "able to breathe just fine" according to Provan, meaning that there was still some space left in the box not filled by their bodies. Provan's photos suggest that the box could have taken in one or two more bodies, at least of children, if the bodies had needed no breathing space because they were dead. Now, Provan’s test group was made up of normally fed adults and children. What if the adults and children had had the weights I established for malnourished ghetto inhabitants? Three adults weighing 43 kg each and 5 children weighing 16 kg each would have had a total weight of 209 kg and an average weight of 26.13 kg, instead of the 266 kg total and 33.25 kg average in Provan’s test group. If we take the human mass that could fit into a cubic meter according to my calculations (based on those of Alex Bay), i.e. 663.40 kg, this would mean that 663.4÷26.13 = 25.39 such corpses could fit into one cubic meter. If we take the aforementioned 604.55 kg of human mass in a cubic meter, physically proven by Charles Provan’s experiment, we get 23.14 such corpses per cubic meter.
However, as mentioned before, I didn’t consider that the people buried in the Bełżec mass graves were divided into adults and children in the same proportions as Provan’s test group, but instead used the division considered by Mattogno (two thirds adults, one third children).
The fill-at-once capacity of the Bełżec mass graves identified by Prof. Andrzej Kola, considering a concentration of 19.51 per cubic meter, would be the aforementioned 415,758 corpses, i.e. the corpses of all but 18,750 of the 434,508 deportees mentioned in the Höfle message. This calculation does not consider the volume-saving effects of the corpses’ decomposition, which according to my latest calculations of the time it took for the graves to be filled up (based on the schedule of deportations on pp. 416-427 of Sara Berger’s book Experten der Vernichtung. Das T4-Reinhardt-Netzwerk in den Lagern Bełżec, Sobibor und Treblinka) must have been considerable in at least one and possibly two of the mass graves. Neither does it factor in the presumably volume-reducing effect of incinerating the upper layer of corpses, reported as early as August 1942, as a (futile) measure against the stench of decomposition. And then there’s the evidence that the graves were filled not only to but above the rim. Reder’s report, German translation in BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. II, f.258 ff. (p. 273), my translation:
The digging of a grave lasted one week, and the most horrible thing for me was that they had ordered to lay the corpses one meter high on the already filled grave and cover them with sand, the black, thick blood emerged from the graves and covered the whole surface like a sea.
In his interrogation on 29 December 1945 in Cracow (German translation in BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. II, f. 1175 ff. (p. 1178)), Reder stated the following (my translation):
The corpses were thrown without order into the graves, only the upper layers, which protruded 1 meter about the level of the soil surrounding the grave, were ordered systematically, i.e. the corpses were laid in parallel one next to the other. The mound of corpses thus piled up the inmates covered with sand. Before covering lime was poured over the bodies. In the first days a high wall of soil rose above such a grave. As time went by the soil sank and the level slowly became even.
Reder’s observation that the corpses were thrown "without order" into the graves does not contradict the evidence whereby, once inside the graves (and obviously outside the range of Reder’s observation), the corpses were ordered systematically by a team created for that purpose in order to save space (see Berger, EdV, pp. 66, 113, 148 and 372; judgment LG Düsseldorf vom 3.9.1965, 8 I Ks 2/64 (1st Düsseldorf Treblinka Trial), transcribed online here; Claude Lanzmann’s interview with Franz Suchomel). His description of the "high wall of soil" is not contradicted, but rather confirmed, by depositions of several SS-men including Kurt Franz (EdV, p. 53 and footnote 61 on pp. 470-471), whereby at Bełżec a filled mass grave was topped off with a sand layer one and a half meters high.
One effect of laying the corpses "one meter high on the already filled grave", as mentioned by Reder, would be to enlarge the space available in each grave, by 1 m x the surface area of each grave shown in Table 7.1 on page 389 of the HC critique and in Table 2.1.1 of the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (1). The practical volume of the Bełżec mass graves would thus have been the following, assuming a concentration of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter:
Grave #_Volume (m3)_Corpses
We see that the procedure described by Reder led to the capacity of those 33 mass graves, at a concentration of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter, being well in excess of what was required to bury the corpses of the 434,508 deportees to Bełżec mentioned in the Höfle message.
Now let’s assume (unrealistically in disfavor of my argument) that the average weight of adult Jews in Polish ghettos at the time was not in between the upper and the lower value of what the BMI table considers underweight (i.e. 43 kg), but corresponded to the upper value, i.e. that malnourished adults were not all that malnourished but just one kg below what is still considered normal weight for their average body height of 1.60 m, i.e. 48 kg, and that the average weight of children 14 and under was not 16 kg but 17.4 kg. The average weight of and adult+adult+child group, and thus of a population made up two thirds of adults and one third of children 14 and under, would thus have been 37.8 kg. The possible concentration per cubic meter, established by dividing through this average weight the mathematically established amount of human mass that can fit into one cubic meter (663.40 kg), would thus have been 17.55 corpses. The capacity of the mass graves, enlarged by the procedure described by Reder, would thus have been the following:
The 33 mass graves’ capacity, without factoring in the stretching effects of decomposition and top-down burning, would still be well in excess of what was required of the 434,508 deportees mentioned by Höfle.
Now let’s go one step further and replace the mathematically established amount of human mass that can fit into one cubic meter (663.40 kg) with the amount physically proven by Charles Provan’s experiment, 604.55 kg. Dividing this number by 37.8 kg yields a concentration of 15.99 corpses per cubic meter, which with the enlarged mass grave space would mean the following occupation:
Not quite but almost there, and we haven’t yet factored in the stretching effects of decomposition and top-down burning.
Mattogno’s arguments regarding the effects of decomposition, top-down burning, rigor mortis (Mattogno here repeats an argument already discussed in the blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1)), the amount of sand in the mass graves (Mattogno’s attempt to fill the graves with as much sand as possible was also discussed already in the aforementioned blog), and other aspects of mass burial at the AR camps (such as the use of quicklime and the allegedly "preserving" effects of mass burial) will be addressed in due course as I dissect the chapters of the MGK response addressing Chapter 7 of the HC critique. For now, I trust to have shown again that it was possible to accommodate in the Bełżec mass graves identified by Prof. Kola (which, as mentioned before, may not have been the only mass graves in this extermination camp) the corpses of most, all or more than all of the 434,508 deportees mentioned in the Höfle message, already without taking the space-saving effects of decomposition and top-down burning into consideration. And that Mattogno is short of arguments against my demonstration of this possibility. Perhaps Mr. Jansson, who claims that there are "many numerical errors and erroneous assumptions" in my writings, can point out some numerical errors and/or erroneous assumptions in the above considerations.
That said, let’s now look at what Jansson has written regarding the former Cimetière des Saints-Innocents in Paris. I’ll start with what I consider his main argument:
Thus, at any one time, there were not hundreds of years’ worth of bodies in the pits, but only two years’ worth. Let us accept, for the sake of argument, that the figure 2 million is the correct value for the total buried at the Cimetière des Innocents. Assuming a constant rate of burial, how many bodies would have been present in a single cycle of the pits? According to this site, the use of the site for burial dates to Merovingian times, while it is first mentioned as a burial place in 12th century documents, and some time between 1185 and 1190 the cemetery was enclosed by a wall; other sources give the date 1186 for the construction of the encircling wall. For the sake of generosity, we will suppose that 2 million represents only the number buried after that year. The cemetery was in operation until 1780, of 594 years later. At two years per cycle, that makes 297 cycles; dividing 2,000,000 by 297 gives approximately 6,734. Thus, there were – on the basis of the provisional assumptions we have made – an average of less than 7,000 bodies buried in the site at one time. Obviously, this is a far cry from the 2 million which so excited Cole/Stein and Muehlenkamp.
The Cimetière des Innocents (CdI) was the largest cemetery in Paris at its time, according to the article Lost Paris: The Cimetière des Innocents, whereby it covered an area of 130 by 65 meters, i.e. 8,450 square meters. This area was smaller than the burial area of Treblinka extermination camp, which I considered to have been 18,000 square meters, thereof 8,841 square meters (about half the total area) covered by the mass graves themselves. Assuming that the area of the CdI was used no more intensively than the burial area of Treblinka, about half of it (4,225 square meters) would have been graves. It started operating in the late 12th Century as an orderly graveyard with individual graveyards, but as Paris and the number of burials grew, "mass burials began to be conducted – up to 1,500 dead could be buried in one pit, before it was closed and a new one dug" (Lost Paris). The mass burial pits were "up to thirty feet deep and twenty feet square", according to Blanche Linden-Ward, Silent City on a Hill. Picturesque Landscapes of Memory and Boston's Mount Auburn Cemetery, p. 19. It’s not clear whether by "twenty feet square" the author means twenty square feet or 20 x 20 = 400 square feet (ca. 37 square meters), so I’ll assume the latter. The assumed area covered by graves proper, 4,225 square meters, could take 114 such graves, and if each such grave (with an area of ca. 37 square meters and a depth of 30 feet = ca. 9 meters, i.e. a volume of 333 cubic meters) could hold 1,500 corpses (density: roughly 5 corpses per cubic meter), the CdI had a fill-at-once mass burial capacity of 114 x 1,500 = 171,284 corpses. This means that with only 7,000 corpses in the soil it would have been used only at about 4 % of its capacity, and there would never have been the overflowing that made the CdI into a sanitary problem and eventually led to its closure in 1780 and the removal of its human remains to the catacombs in 1786 (Wikipedia page Holy Innocents' Cemetery).
Jansson concedes that the burial rate "may have grown with time, perhaps contributing to deteriorating sanitary conditions which eventually caused the cemetery’s closure", and in fact the CdI’s graves must have been filled close to or even in excess of its capacity calculated above, if one considers the many calamities (epidemics, war, revolutionary terror) that visited Paris during the existence of the CdI. A Wikipedia page on the Demographics of Paris includes a table whereby the city’s population dropped from 300,000 in 1340 to 200,000 in 1500 due to losses from the Black Death and the Hundred Years War, then from 275,000 in 1550 to 210,000 in 1594 due to losses from religious and civil wars. Half the city’s population of 100,000 died in the peak years of the Black Death, perhaps 40,000 in another plague outbreak in 1466 (Wikipedia page Black Death). According to the online article Paris’ Les Innocents Cemetey, the plague of 1418 "poured 50,000 dead into Les Innocents over a five-week period". Paris was visited by the plague many times not only in the 14th and 15th centuries, but also in the 16th and 17th centuries, as mentioned in Vanessa Harding, The Dead and the Living in Paris and London, 1500-1670, p. 25:
According to Biraben, plague was present in Paris for almost one year in three in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to 1670. There were major epidemics in 1529-33, 1553-5, 1560-2, 1580, and 1595-7, ‘les années terribles’; plague was also present in several other years. It is striking that plague episodes in Paris, unlike London, appear to have lasted two or three years, but the relative severity of each epidemic season cannot be calculated. The epidemic of 1566 may have claimed 25,000; that of 1580, 30,000, according to Pierre l’Estoille, though contemporary estimates are rarely reliable. The records of the Hôtel-Dieu mention plague or plague victims in the hospital in 1533, 1561, 1584, 1596, and 1598. Plague recurred in 1604, 1606-8, 1612, 1618-19, and from 1622 to 1632. After outbreaks in 1636 and 1638, Paris, like London, was largely free from major plague epidemics during the 1640s and 1650s, apart from one in 1652, attributed to the Fronde. The ‘paroxysme’ of 1668 was the last visitation in the capital, though not in France. As elsewhere, it is likely that the disease hit the poor hard, both because of their living conditions and because of the reported propensity of the rich to flee the city in an epidemic; plague was certainly treated as a police matter, because of the possibility of disorder and crime. It was understandably a terrifying disease to the authorities as well as the individual, overwhelming the human body and the social body, generating rational and irrational responses ranging from obsessive precautions to despair.
Mortality in the early modern metropolis was therefore numerically high at all times, but its impact was increased because it was so unevenly distributed. Infants and children suffered most, but still more in poorer areas. Epidemic deaths also concentrated in certain quarters of the city. Patterns of disease contributed to marked seasonal variation. The massive overall growth of the population magnified the scale of the burial problem, while the uneven distribution of resources increased the difficulties of many local communities. The high mortality totals of the early modern period posed a major problem for the cities’ governors, whose authority and adequacy were already under strain because of the rate of population increase and the changing composition of the urban population.
The CdI was the cemetery where plague victims ended up, and it also took in those who died at the Hôtel-Dieu sick hospital (a major place of dying; of the 21,477 recorded deaths in Paris in 1670, 4,812 or 22 per cent died in the Hôtel-Dieu, according to Harding, as above page 20). Additionally the "normal" mortality of 22 parishes in Paris ended up in the CdI (Holy Innocents' Cemetery). As Harding points out, mortality in Paris was high at all times, even when there were no major calamities such a plague epidemics. Figures are given on p. 17 of Harding’s book:
No such detail [as for London] is available for Paris before the 1670s, when according to the newly established series of monthly statistics in the Etat de Baptêmes it experienced some 17-20,000 deaths per annum. At the risk of circularity, however, it is possible to propose that a city with 200,000 inhabitants, the suggested size of Paris c. 1500, would probably have been burying 6,600 to 7,600 bodies in most years; a city of 300,000, between 9,900 and 11,400; a city of 400,000, from 13,200 to 15,200. And the pressure on burial resources was unremitting even when Paris’s live population seems to have fallen, in the 1570s and 1580s, this was at least partly due to increased deaths in the city, as well as to outward movement and the interruption of immigration. The cumulative total of dead in either city over the period 1520-1670 was well over one million. Despite London’s relatively small size in 1500, its sixteenth-century death toll must have reached several hundred thousand, especially since there were at least three major epidemics. In the seventeenth century, between 1603 and 1665, the death total (including the distant parishes) came to over 880,000. Paris’s mortality total must have been higher than London’s, given its much larger size at the heat of the period, and may have neared two million in all.
With so much death around, even in "normal" times and especially in times of major calamities, it is not surprising that a cemetery taking in plague victims, the dead from the Hôtel-Dieu sick hospital and the quotidian mortality of 22 parishes reached the point where even its considerable mass burial capacity (calculated above at over 170,000) was no longer sufficient and grave space had to be recycled, by removing the dead from the graves at relatively short intervals in order to make room for more corpses. Now, what happened with the corpses or skeletons removed from the graves? Were they impiously dropped into the Seine, the way Jansson’s Nazi heroes at Auschwitz-Birkenau dropped the cremation remains of their victims into the nearest river? Were they ground to bone-meal and used as fertilizer? Reading Jansson, one might think that the exhumed corpses left the cemetery’s area in one of these manners, but this was not so. The procedure adopted is described as follows in the article Paris’ Les Innocents Cemetey:
Les Innocents had begun as a cemetery of individual sepulchres, but had become a site for mass graves by then [i.e. by the mid-fourteenth century]. A pit was closed only when it was full (they were dug to hold around 1,500 dead at a time), and another would be opened next to it. This system had used all available ground by the end of the same century. Instead of slowing the burial rate, the church did quite the opposite; around 1400, they intimidated their richer parish members into donating enough funds to build long galleries to the inside of all four cemetery walls called "charniers." When the cycle of mass burials had filled the entire cemetery, the contents of the oldest pit would be dug up and moved to one of the eaves and walls of the long houses.
So the dead removed from the graves remained inside the cemetery’s area, except that the oldest remains no longer lay in the graves but were piled up in galleries inside the cemetery walls, such as can be seen in images featured in the article Lost Paris. This means that the remains of all people buried in the CdI – whether it was about 1,200,000 according to Henry Bayard (the link was taken from Jansson’s blog), or about 2 million according to other estimates – were inside an area half the size of the burial area of Treblinka extermination camp, either as rotting corpses or skeletons inside the soil or as skulls and bones piled up in the "charniers", by the time the CdI was closed down.
While this alone means that the CdI is comparable to the Treblinka burial area as a comparatively small area holding an enormous amount of human remains, one might further ask how many of the dead were in the soil and how many in the "charniers". David Cole maintains that "the majority were in the ground", referring to the article The Decree of 23 Prairial, Year XII, by Mike Bieling. This author shows an image of the CdI that "gives you some idea of how small an area was used to dispose of the remains of close to 2 million people in the Cimetiere des Saints-Innocents". The image clearly shows the "charniers", so it cannot be inferred from Bieling’s statements that he considers the majority of human remains to have been in the soil. However, the possibility that this was actually so is not remote if one considers that the capacity of the "charniers" was limited and there’s evidence that the church authorities owning the cemetery tried to find ways to stretch its burial capacity beyond the figure I calculated above. One way in which they may have done that was to pile up corpses above the rim of the graves (like the SS did at Bełżec according to Reder, see above), as is mentioned in Linden-Ward, Silent City, p. 19:
They [the mass graves] remained open, covered by crude planks, until filled to capacity and above by bodies in shrouds. Only then did sextons cover the anonymous pit with a thin layer of dirt, but only for a brief time. Soil in parts of the Innocents was mounded eight feet above street level when pits were newly filled.
Other ways might include extending the area of the graves beyond the assumed 50 % of the cemetery’s total area, making the graves deeper, and increasing the corpses’ concentration by arranging them in a space-saving manner (and/or by ignoring regulations specifying the maximum contents of a grave as in the case of another Paris cemetery, mentioned below), and adopting measures that would speed up the reduction of the corpses’ volume. Linden-Ward writes that
Generous use of powdered lie, a caustic chemical, and quicklime, to minimize soil acidity and odors, sped up the process.
Through such measures it may have been possible to considerably increase the number of corpses that could be buried in the CdI. Grave space freed by volume reduction due to decomposition and/or the use of powdered lie and quicklime may have been reused without fully emptying a grave and transferring its contents to the "charniers", placing new corpses on top of corpses already turned into skeletons or so dehydrated that they had lost much of their volume. The CdI would not have been the only cemetery where those in charge of burying the dead tried to make the most of the available space, contrary to what regulations existed at the time. On page 21 of Silent City, Linden-Ward mentions an investigation’s finds at another of the city’s cemeteries:
At the Clamart cemetery in Paris, adjacent to the royal botanical gardens, investigations in 1713 by Marc-Renê D’Argenson, lieutenant-general of the Paris police, responded to complaints on polluted air. This led to the discovery of two pits, one containing over thirteen thousand and the other over eighteen thousand bodies, each intended for only ten thousand. D’Argenson demanded that quicklime be added to these trenches and that they be mounded over with four hundred cartloads of dirt. He issued new regulations limiting the size of mass burials. Thereafter, each pit could be no larger than ten feet deep, nine feet wide, and forty-eight feet long, and hold a maximum of five hundred bodies deposited in no more than seven orderly layers; but no regulatory authority existed, and the order proved unenforceable.Stretching procedures like those considered above may have been what caused the intolerable conditions that eventually led to the CdI being first closed down and then emptied. Linden-Ward describes these developments on pp. 22 of Silent City:
Theories, studies, complaints, and even decrees with the force of law were of no avail until 1780, when the basements of several houses bordering on the Innocents caved in under the weight of two thousand cadavers in an adjacent grave fifty feet deep. The incident precipitated a decisive report on the ill effects of the burial system by Cader de Vaux, Inspecteur Général des Objects de Salubrité, read before the Royal Academy of Science in 1783. Finally, in turn, the Council of State, on November 9, 1785, ordered the cemetery to be destroyed and replaced by a public market. But more than a civil decree would be necessary to dismantle the Innocents. Under intense pressure in 1786, Monseigneur Leclerc de Juigné, archbishop of Paris, reluctantly lent the Church’s authority to the move, ordering the cemetery’s final suppression.
Linden-Ward mentions a grave fifty feet (ca. 15 meters) deep. According to the 30 October 1852 issue of Scientific American quoted in Mark Karmelek’s article You (posthumously) light up my life (which in turn is referred to by Cole), corpses had accumulated at the CdI to a depth of 60 feet (ca. 18 meters) by the time it was emptied. Vertically expanding grave space by making graves this deep and by placing corpses well above the rim would have been an understandable reaction to increasing numbers of corpses to be buried on the one hand and the impossibility of enlarging the grave’s area on the other, as well as the space limitations of the "charniers". It is quite possible that graves this deep were not or not always completely emptied before reuse.
Considering the factors mentioned above, Cole’s claim that there were more corpses in the soil than in the "charniers" doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Presumably aware that what I consider his main argument might not hold water, Jansson also undertook to question the number of burials in the CdI, arguing in classic "Revisionist" fashion that the available numbers are estimates based on assumptions whereby 2,000 or 3,000 bodies per year were buried at the CdI and "are not founded on a firm enough evidentiary basis to use for the purpose of refuting bounds on burial capacity established on the basis of better-documented mass graves" – the standard of what is required to refute "bounds on burial capacity", which he claims can be established "on the basis of better-documented mass graves" (actually it’s irrelevant to the physical possibility of burying a certain number of bodies in graves of a certain size how many bodies were buried in this or that other grave, but don’t expect Jansson to understand this simple logic) being of course none other than Jansson’s own.
It may be that the available estimates of burials at the CdI during its existence – 1.2 million according to Bayard, 2 million according to others – are not based on hard evidence such as contemporary burial registers, but considering what is known about the history of the CdI and its burial practices on the one hand and about mortality rates in Paris during the time of its existence on the other they are not exactly unreasonable and may even be conservative. Recall the mortality rates in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries according to Harding’s above-quoted book, whereby "a city with 200,000 inhabitants, the suggested size of Paris c. 1500, would probably have been burying 6,600 to 7,600 bodies in most years; a city of 300,000, between 9,900 and 11,400; a city of 400,000, from 13,200 to 15,200". These figures imply a crude death rate of 3.3 % to 3.8 % per annum, meaning the 2,000 burials per year would correspond to a city with between ca. 53,000 and ca. 91,000 inhabitants, each of these figures being lower than the number of Paris’ inhabitants in 1200, according to the Demographics of Paris page. In the 1670s the city experienced some 17,000 to 20,000 deaths per annum (Harding, p. 17), out of a population that I estimate at ca. 470,000, based on information on figures in the aforementioned page whereby the city had 420,000 inhabitants in 1634 and 515,000 in 1700. The mortality rate was thus between 3.62 % and 4.26 % per annum. And this was in years without major calamities pushing up mortality, especially when the plague was absent. At its peak in the 14th Century the plague killed at least one third but perhaps as many as many as 45-50 % of Europe’s population (according to medieval historian Philip Daileader, as quoted on the Wikipedia page Black Death) or even as many as 60 % (according to Norwegian historian Ole J. Benedictow, "The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever", published in History Today, Volume 55 Issue 3 March 2005, online). The Black Death visited Paris many times in 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, with 50,000 plague deaths having reportedly been delivered at the CdI during the 1418 epidemic alone (Paris’ Les Innocents Cemetey; for further information about plague outbreaks in Paris see Joseph P. Byrne Ph.D, Encyclopedia of the Black Death, p. 259). According to Harding, as quoted above, the total number of deaths from all causes in Paris during the 17th Century alone may have reached 2 million (vs. 880,000 in the much smaller London between 1603 and 1665). This in a city that, according to the Demographics of Paris page, had about 420,000 inhabitants in 1634. Even in "normal" times, and to a much larger extent in times of major epidemics, life was much shorter and death was a far closer companion to man than it is in our comparatively comfortable era, in which the worldwide annual mortality rate is 7.89 per 1,000 (Wikipedia page Mortality rate), and even the highest mortality rate in any country (that of South Africa with 17.23 annual deaths per thousand persons) is far below the rate that Paris had even after its last visitation by the plague.
Considering the high mortality in Paris during the aforementioned centuries, and that plague victims as well as the dead from Paris’ largest hospital (besides the "normal" mortality of 22 parishes) ended up at the CdI, the largest of its time in Paris, an average of 2,000 to 3,000 burials per year seems low to me. The number of burials must have been several times higher than this average in a great many years, and rarely lower.
As concerns the removal of the CdI’s corpses to the catacombs, which according to Cole "took between twelve and fifteen months, using 1780s "technology: " hand-held shovels, horses and carriages, and candlelight, as the work was only done at night (so as to not disturb local commerce and morale)", Jansson argues that "the exhumation which took place during the 1780s does not appear to have removed all of the bodies", invoking two sources whereby remains in the soil were removed only to a depth of 1.6 meters or five feet (ca. 1.5 meters).
OK, let’s assume that bones and skulls worth 40 % of those buried (480,000 to 800,000 people, depending on whether one assumes 1.2 million or 2 million buried in the CdI over the centuries) were piled up in galleries inside the cemetery walls (the "charniers"), which must have been completely emptied, and that by not digging deep enough the diggers exhumed, say, only 30 % of the remainder (i.e. human remains corresponding to 216,000 – 300,000 corpses). The remains transported from the cemetery through the city to the catacombs, in the manner described by Cole (working only at night, and with comparatively primitive means) would then have corresponded to between 696,000 and 1,160,000 corpses. At Treblinka they had mechanical excavators to remove about 700,000 corpses from the mass graves, they could work day and night if necessary, and the excavators had to move the corpses no further than one of the nearby grates on which the corpses were cremated. Entirely possible, as Cole correctly points out, so there’s no reason to suspect that there’s anything wrong with the evidence whereby this actually happened.
Following this argument, Jansson goes into lecturing Cole and his source about wax-fat transformation and its effect on decomposition. It may be gratifying for Jansson to display his superior knowledge about this phenomenon as opposed to "Karmelek and Cole/Stein’s babbling", but as the matter is of little if any relevance to the issue under discussion, I’ll let him be happy with his lecture, and end this article by addressing Jansson’s particularly unfortunate remark, in the last paragraph of his blog, that in relaying Cole’s arguments "Muehlenkamp demonstrates his own lack of ideas concerning his burial space and cremation dilemmas".
What "dilemmas", Mr. Jansson? I have mathematically demonstrated the possibility of burying in areas of a certain size the remains of hundreds of thousands of people that all known evidence shows to have been murdered in the camps that included these areas, so I don’t need to have "ideas" about parallels as concerns burial area, grave space and corpse concentration. Even if there was not a single such parallel, this would only mean that the AR camps were unique in history also in this respect. You would do "Revisionism" a bigger favor if, instead of wasting your time on copiously illustrated and just as irrelevant articles about how many corpses or carcasses were buried in how large an area in this and that place, you tried to, say, refute Cole’s arguments based on the Korherr Report, or provide the name of at least one Jew you can prove to have been transited" to the occupied territories of the Soviet Union via Bełżec, Sobibór or Treblinka. If you cannot even do that, your "Revisionism" is an exercise in futility.
[Edited on 18.04.2015. The unit of mass/weight fitting into a mass grave was erroneously given as cubic meters in some places; this was replaced by the correct unit, which is kg.]