On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (2)
On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (3)
On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (5.1)
On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (5.2)
On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (6)
On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (7)
This previous blog of this series was originally meant to be the last. However, Jansson’s latest foot-stomping, with the overlong tabloid title Memo for the controversial bloggers, part Va: The sum of all errors: Roberto Muehlenkamp – burial space and decomposition, fits the theme of this series so well that I decided to add another installment, and further installments will probably follow as Jansson goes on hollering against the "controversial blogger" he hates most in "part Vb", "part Vc" (or "part VIa"), etc.
One big problem that Jansson shares with other "Revisionist" charlatans is that he is more concerned with pointing out actual or supposed errors in the arguments of whoever criticizes his ideologically motivated propaganda (and in calling such critic "incompetent", "stupid", etc.) than with actually making a case in support of that propaganda. I’ll leave it open whether and to what extent this nitpicking obsession is due to an overinflated ego, to an inferiority complex calling for constant self-affirmation, or to anger and frustration over having nothing constructive to offer by way of a solid, evidence-backed alternative account of historical events (the essential dilemma of "Revisionism", as outlined in the first installment of this series). Whatever is behind it, Jansson’s nitpicking obsession leads him to sometimes make a big fuss about actual or supposed errors in his opponent’s arguments that are of little relevance insofar as the arguments he attacks were secondary in the first place and/or have become secondary in the face of subsequent arguments presented by his opponent.
Such is the case of Jansson’s rambling in connection with my arguments regarding the relation between decomposition and burial space at the AR camps, namely at Bełżec extermination camp.
On page 421 of the HC critique and in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3), I had written the following:
While of reduced relevance to demonstrating sufficiency of the burial space estimated by Kola for the number of corpses corresponding to Höfle's report of January 11, 1943 (as the concentration of 19.51 bodies per cubic meter established above means that 415,758 out of 434,508 bodies could have been buried in all Belzec mass graves even if all bodies had been buried at the same time or maintained their original mass and weight), the model shows what significant contribution the decomposition process could have made – and probably did make – to the camp staff’s management of the burial space they had available Belzec.If this was not clear enough for Jansson, then at least the updated burial capacity calculations in the more recent blog Friedrich Jansson responded … should have made him realize that decomposition is little more than a side show, at least in the context of burial space. It gets even less important if we consider the fact that the last contingents of deportees to Bełżec were cremated right away and not first buried, as mentioned by German historian Sara Berger (Experten der Vernichtung: Das T4-Reinhardt-Netzwerk in den Lagern Belzec, Sobibor und Treblinka, p. 190):
Belzec war 1943 in groβen Ganzen nicht mehr als Vernichtungslager aktiv, in erster Linie wurden dort die Leichen der zuvor getöteten Menschen verbrannt. Zwar kamen Anfang 1943 noch einzelne kleine Gruppen von Juden an, die aber nicht mehr mit Gas getötet, sondern im Lager II erschossen wurden. Die Leichenverbrennung begann bereits im November 1942, kurz vor dem Ende der Deportationen nach Belzec. Die Leichen dieser letzten Transporte wurden zusammen mit den ausgegrabenen menschlichen Überresten verbrannt. Ende März 1943 erklärte das Lagerpersonal die Verbrennungen für beendet.Translation:
In 1943 Belzec was on the whole no longer active as an extermination camp, first and foremost the corpses of the people killed before were burned there. While in early 1943 a few small groups of Jews still arrived, these were no longer killed with gas, but shot in Camp II. The burning of the corpses already began in November 1942, shortly before the end of deportations to Belzec. The corpses of these last transports were burned together with the human remains dug out. At the end of March 1943 the camp personnel declared the burnings to have been concludedOn pp. 416-422 of Sara Berger’s aforementioned book about the AR camps and their operators, there is a table listing all known transports to Bełżec chronologically and by place of origin. This table mentions 95 deportation contingents, and the minimum figures for each contingent add up to a number higher than the 434,508 deportees mentioned in the Höfle report – 467,550 by Berger’s addition, 470,095 by mine. The minimum figures for the last contingents, between 30.11.1942 inclusive and 8.12.1942 inclusive, add up to 11,200 deportees, or 2.38 % of the total. If we apply this percentage to the figure stated in Höfle’s report and deduct the result from the total of 434,508 deportees, we get a total of 424,156 deportees buried in the Bełżec mass graves. This figure is lower than the figure (426,961) I calculated in the blog Friedrich Jansson responded …, assuming a mass per volume concentration of 604.55 kg per cubic meter (which is borne out by Charles Provan’s experiment) and an average weight per deportee of 37.8 kg. This average weight, for a population consisting two thirds of adults and one third of children, assumes that adults weighed 48 kg on average, 48 kg being the upper range of "underweight" for persons 1.60 meters tall according to the Gewichtstabelle nach BMI, which corresponds to a Body Mass Index of 18.75, above the BMI of 18.5 that the World Health Organization, according to this page, considers to be the threshold of "underweight".
The above means that there is no need to factor in corpse volume reduction due to decomposition in order to conclude that the burial volume of the 33 mass graves discovered at Bełżec by Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological team (21,310 m³) is compatible with the burial in these graves (except for the aforementioned last contingents) of the 434,508 deportees to Bełżec mentioned in Höfle’s report. It should be further borne in mind that considering only these 33 mass graves as places of burial is a worst case scenario, as there is evidence suggesting that there were further mass graves in the Bełżec extermination camp’s area.
Maybe Jansson did realize that decomposition is but a side show as concerns burial space at Bełżec, and his focus on this side show – which he discussed with me at length on the RODOH thread Now that Mr. Jansson is with us ... – is due to the failure of his attempts to disprove my assumptions regarding the average mass (in kg) of the buried deportees and the mass of human or animal corpses or carcasses that can fit into one cubic meter of burial space (see the blogs Friedrich Jansson freaked out …, "Muehlenkamp lies about Provan" …, Friedrich Jansson tries to help Mattogno …, Just when I thought I had seen all of Jansson’s fits …, Jansson on 1942 births in Leningrad, As Jansson continues producing junk …, The more you scratch Friedrich Jansson … - section 3, and Jansson thought of quitting our discussions … - section 2 plus the respective part of the update), in which Jansson only managed to a) show that he’s an inveterate liar, as was pointed out here) and b) provide carcass mass per volume projections by Young, Marsland and Smith that are in line with my own corpse mass per volume calculations, as pointed out here (section 3).
Anyway, let’s see what Jansson has got on decomposition and its impact on available burial space.
The first paragraph of Jansson’s blog is barely worth looking at, as it consists of little more than bitching about oh-so-stupid errors I’m supposed to have made regarding comparatively minor issues moreover unrelated to the stated topic of "burial space and decomposition". As usual, Jansson’s nitpicking reveals less about its "target" than about Jansson himself. I may not be as versed as Jansson in geometry or the possible sloping of sand piles, but that doesn’t mean I’m out of touch with reality, whereas Jansson’s conspiracy theories (including without limitation his belief that the AR camps were transit camps despite the absence of even a single name in support of this humbug) clearly show that he lives in a fantasy world.
As to the Strawczyinski vs. Epstein "dilemma" that Jansson brings up to claim that I was not being consistent with my co-authors (you mean, like Graf’s holding on to six-digit Dresden death toll figures shot his co-author Mattogno in the foot, Mr. Jansson?), that’s not a dilemma at all if one considers the possibility of certain pits less deep than others being completely emptied (as was presumably described by Epstein) whereas deeper pits were not, and crimes site investigation reports and related photos of the Treblinka site, as well as finds of corpses not exhumed at Treblinka’s sister camps Bełżec and Sobibór, suggest that Strawczyinski’s claim about corpses being left at the bottom of graves, even if based on hearsay as Strawczyinski did not work in the extermination area, was accurate regarding at least some of Treblinka’s mass graves.
The second paragraph of Jansson’s blog also exemplifies the proverb whereby "he who sits in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones", as a true believer with a manifest aversion to all documentary, demographic, eyewitness and physical evidence inconvenient to his articles of faith amusingly accuses his opponent of "hostility to empiricism", and that moreover because said opponent, as he has often explained to Jansson, doesn’t think much of "an examination of actual mass graves", not because it would refute his "claims" but because there are no "actual mass graves" that compare to the AR camps’ mass graves as concerns the age and sex composition and average mass of those graves’ "population", the space constraints under which those filling the graves were operating and the methods they accordingly applied to save space.
Projecting his own somewhat-less-than-honest habits, Jansson lamely accuses his opponent of trying to "tweak the numbers as he sees fit" and to obtain "his desired figures". You mean, like you omitted essential information from your source to obtain a range of birth weights more favorable to your argument, Mr. Jansson? Or like you kept silent about a) the figures of Young, Marsland and Smith’s carcass mass per volume projections and b) the reasons given by these authors for differences between their projections and (some) practical experience?
After these self-projecting accusations comes Jansson's familiar sermon about "hard data", as if he had anything remotely resembling hard data (or any data at all) to support his cherished beliefs.
Following these two paragraphs of self-defeating rhetorical bluster, Jansson finally turns to the subject of decomposition in the third paragraph.
His only argument in this paragraph consists in taking issue with one of my sources – the Australian Museum’s webpage Stages of Decomposition, mumbling that it is not "academic literature", that the set of stages of decomposition shown on this page is "nothing more than the descriptive terminology of one museum exhibit", while there are "various ways in which the stages of decomposition for a body on the surface can be described", and that in "examining several dozen scholarly books treating human decomposition" (bravo, Friedrich, good boy) he didn’t find any (emphasis his) source that gives the phases which I use "so confidently".
And so, Mr. Jansson?
Where are these erudite considerations of yours supposed to get us?
Are they supposed to mean that it is inappropriate to subdivide decomposition into the stages mentioned by the Australian Museum, or that the museum’s information about the duration of and what happens during each stage is mistaken?
If that’s what you’re trying to argue, you’ll have to do better than try to impress your faithful sheep with meaningless blather about the webpage not being "academic literature", and bragging about how much such literature you claim to have read.
In the fourth paragraph Jansson criticizes my methodology, which consists in inferring "from the behavior of bodies on the surface to the behavior of bodies in mass graves" based on "rules of thumb for such inference", which are mere "rough instruments".
That’s not the way to do it, schoolmaster Jansson tells me, as the differences between decomposition on the surface and underground "go beyond simply rescaling the time axis" and decomposition underground "is a complex phenomenon that must be studied directly"; moreover "decomposition in mass graves demands its own special study, as large mass graves have a tendency to preserve bodies better than individual burials".
All of this is fairly interesting, but equally pointless unless Jansson (who, as he should have understood by now, has the burden of proving the impracticability of mass burial densities he claims to have been impracticable) can produce a special study of decomposition in mass graves that shows my oh-so-oversimplified assumptions to be way off the mark. Apparently there is no such study yet.
For a detailed discussion regarding the presumable pace of corpse decomposition in the AR mass graves I refer to the RODOH thread Now that Mr. Jansson is with us ... (which later also goes into the topic of corpse discoloration and ends with my pointing out what seems to have been a self-defeating argument of Jansson’s in the context of said topic, but that’s another matter).
Setting aside the methodological inadequacy of Muehlenkamp’s discussion of decomposition, let us examine the details of how he carries out his analysis. As usual, he errs fundamentally in carrying out his calculations. On the basis of accumulated degree day methods, and the work of Arpad Vass in particular, he states that he will analyze “time to skeletonization at Belzec in the late spring, summer and autumn of 1942” under the assumption that temperatures at this place and time were 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (p. 420). These assumed temperatures would be excessive even if daily highs were the relevant figures. Given that accumulated degree day methods actually rely on average temperatures, Muehlenkamp’s temperature suppositions are wildly incorrect. In nearby Zamość, the average temperatures for the months of April through November are 7, 12, 15, 17, 16, 13, 8, and 2 degrees centigrade, well shy of Muehlenkamp’s 20-30 degree range.
The mendacious "As usual, he errs fundamentally …" rhetoric aside, the above could go under "much ado about nothing".
To be sure, I wrote the following i.a. here:
Forensic anthropologist Arpad A. Vass and his colleagues have "worked out a simple formula, which describes the soft tissue decomposition process for persons lying on the ground. The formula is y=1285/x (where y is the number of days it takes to become skeletonized or mummified and x is the average temperature in Centigrade during the decomposition process). So, if the average temperature is 10 °C, then 1285/10 = 128.5 days for someone to become skeletonized". According to Vass's formula, the time to skeletonization at Bełżec in the late spring, summer and autumn of 1942, at temperatures presumably ranging between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, would have been 43 to 64 days for bodies exposed to air and insects, as bodies lying in open mass graves can be expected to have been. The time until the bodies were reduced to less than half their original volume and weight through loss of fluids and other factors would be even lower.However – as Jansson will tell us in the very next paragraph, when arguing that "There is no direct link between Vass’ work and Muehlenkamp’s assumption’s regarding mass loss." – my model of the effects of corpse decomposition on the amount of grave space available at Bełżec, in the blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1), is not based on the assumption that bodies in the Bełżec mass graves became skeletonized after 43 to 64 days.
Nevertheless, Jansson’s attempt to make Bełżec colder than it was at the relevant times has some amusement value, so I will address it.
Jansson is familiar with Sara Berger’s book Experten der Vernichtung, so he must know that the minimum numbers of deportees to Bełżec listed by this historian (who, for reasons that "cannot be further explained here", footnote 280 on page 570, doesn’t accept the 434,508 deportees mentioned in Höfle’s report as the total number of deportees to Bełżec and also considers Höfle’s figures for Sobibór and Treblinka too low) in the table on page 254 are the following:
Month_Deportees killed at Belzec (Berger)_% of total_% applied to Höfle's figure
We see that only 5.89 % of deaths at Bełżec occurred in April 1942 and the number of deaths during the months May and June 1942 was comparatively minimal. By contrast, 67.02 % of the deportees killed at that camp perished in the months July to October 1942. In these months, according to the Zamość weather page presented by Jansson, average temperatures are 17, 16, 13 and 8 degrees centigrade, the highest recorded temperature is 32, 31, 28 and 25 degrees centigrade, and the number of days with temperatures above 18º C is 24, 24, 12 and 4.
The weather in Poland "tends to be capricious and the seasons may look quite different in consecutive years". The summer of 1942 seems to have been a particularly hot summer, as mentioned here, judging by the fact that Sobibór had to change its body disposal method from burial to burning because the rapid decomposition of the corpses in the hot weather rendered the former method unsustainable. And if, as late as 10 October 1942, the War Diary of the Oberquartiermeister of the military commander in Poland recorded a report whereby "the Jews in Treblinka are not adequately buried and as a result an unbearable smell of cadavers pollutes the air", this suggests a Polish "Indian summer" with amenably warm temperatures.
So it’s not exactly far-fetched to assume that, in the peak months of killing operations at Bełżec, the corpses were exposed to temperatures ranging between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius during much of the day.
In the sixth paragraph of his blog, Jansson points out that the term "skeletonization" was used by Arpad Vass in a very specific sense, in which a body "is said to be skeletonized if it has ceased to release volatile fatty acids" He does this to argue that one "cannot infer how much mass a carcass has lost from the fact that it has ceased to release volatile fatty acids".
Where in Vass’ article this "very specific sense" is supposed to be expressed I don’t know, but assuming that Jansson’s understanding is correct, the stage of decomposition in which the body has ceased to release volatile fatty acids is probably the stage that the Australian Museum calls dry decay, judging by the fact that this phase is preceded by butyric fermentation, so called because during this stage butyric acid – a volatile fatty acid – is produced.
The above images from the Australian Museum’s webpage suggest that, while at the stage of butyric fermentation there is still some (though little) moisture left in the body, at the stage of dry decay the body has lost all all of its moisture. This takes us to the following mumbling of Jansson’s:
Though this is not made absolutely explicit in the manifesto, the details being hidden behind his citation of one of his blog posts, the output that Muehlenkamp takes from his analysis of decomposition is that the bodies older than 50 days will have lost 50% of their mass – a figure which is nothing more than Muehlenkamp’s guesstimate, unsupported by any data.For someone whose articles of faith are supported by no data at all, and who bears the burden of providing the data that would prove his impossibility/impracticability claims correct, Jansson complains way too much.
By the details "hidden behind his citation of one of his blog posts" Jansson presumably means the following statement in my blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1):
A more precise calculation of what loss of volume and weight corresponds to each stage may be necessary in responding to Mattogno’s comments about section 4.2 of my original article, but for now I assumed that the average weight of all bodies older than 50 days would be half the life weight, i.e. 17 kg (which corresponds to a loss of most but not all the water in the body).Earlier in the same blog I explained what I considered "older than 50 days" to imply as concerns the progress of decomposition according to the Australian Museum’s stages:
Bodies older than 50 days but less than 80 days old, i.e. the period between the maximum duration of the Butyric Fermentation stage above ground and the maximum duration of the Black Putrefaction stage below ground, which according to the sources mentioned in section 4.2 of my original article is four times longer than above ground;So assuming that a corpse would have lost 50 % of its weight after 50 days in the grave is a guesstimate indeed. However, it is not an unreasonable one if one considers that, according to MGK as quoted i.a. here, 64 % of a human body’s mass is water. A completely dehydrated human body will thus have lost 64 % of its mass, which means that I assumed the bodies older than 50 days to still have some water left in them, as is suggested by the images of the butyric fermentation stage shown above.
Jansson may argue that the loss of moisture in corpses buried underground is not that high and the number of corpses I considered to have lost 50 % of their mass is therefore excessive, but in doing so he should consider that the inflexibility of my calculation model (which does not simulate a gradual loss of volume but unrealistically assumes that 50 % of a body’s volume is lost from one day to the other after day 50, and that until day 50 corpses still had their original mass, see also this RODOH post) introduces a bias against my argument that arguably offsets, as concerns the total mass of corpses, the effect of my having assumed corpses to reach the dehydration stage corresponding to butyric fermentation faster than they actually would reach that stage in an AR mass grave (also considering certain particularities of mass burial at the AR camps), if I so did.
Jansson’s claim that "the figure found in the literature is that a total of one third of the carcass mass is ultimately lost in leachate" seems to be supported by his sources, but he’s invited to demonstrate that, as concerns the total corpse mass, the difference between a volume loss of only one-third and a volume loss of 50 % in the number of corpses for which I considered the latter would not be offset by the aforementioned bias against my argument introduced by the inflexibility of my model.
The seventh paragraph of Jansson’s blog contains a long lecture on why it is supposed to be "the most mindless of possible ways" to assume that "the proportion of mass lost by the individual carcasses is equal to the proportion of volume lost by the carcass mass". The uncalled-for abuse aside (Jansson likes to act as if certain facts or circumstances he happens to be familiar with were supposed to be common knowledge), Jansson’s lecture is not without interest, but equally useless without at least an approximate quantification (taking into account the aforementioned bias against my argument) in support of his claim, in the following paragraph of his blog, that "the volume loss of the carcass mass will be significantly less than the mass loss of the carcasses". His chief argument in support of his claim seems to be that the porosity of the carcass mass increases as the mass of each carcass shrinks, but that would only be a hindrance to grave space recovery to the extent that it would not be possible to reduce porosity by pressing decomposed or decomposing carcasses closer together, something that in the AR camps could have been done at least in the vertical direction, and perhaps also horizontally to some extent. A most unpleasant and repulsive task, to be sure, but then the Jewish slave laborers in those camps’ extermination areas were not there to enjoy themselves.
In the same paragraph, Jansson refers to Mattogno’s milk-maid calculations whereby "filling rates for the graves would have been far too rapid for decomposition losses to have made any significant contribution to grave capacity". I rejected these calculations in favor of my model based on available deportation data from Arad for the reasons explained here, and I will continue doing so in the future, except that instead of Arad’s deportation data I will in my response to Mattogno use those on pp. 416-431 of Sara Berger’s Experten der Vernichtung (data for Bełżec on pp. 416-422), which I presume to have benefited from sources that were not available at the time of Arad’s research. And I’ll assume, with Jansson’s blessing and in accordance with one of his sources, that each corpse lying in a mass grave released one-third of its mass as leachate into the soil within two months, regardless of how long it took to completely fill the respective grave.
In the final part of his blog, Jansson takes issue with the following part of Eliahu Rosenberg’s testimony at the Demjanjuk trial, which in Jansson's conspiracy fantasies was inspired by "Kurt Gerstein’s tale of collapsing pits at Belzec" quoted i.a. here:
The pits somehow rose up and this – as we had covered it – the whole thing would suddenly rise up and it served as a kind of volcano from which a thick, viscous sort of material rose-colored and it was bubbling. It was a sort of vulcanized type of matter and the pit and the earth on top of the pit would rise up and then would suddenly drop, would subside. I don’t understand anything about the chemistry of this, but this is how it happened. And in these pits, to the extent that it had subsided, it had sunk, well we would top it up again.Actually the only thing wrong with Rosenberg’s description is that he described the swelling of the corpses due to putrefaction gases during the putrefaction stage, followed by the collapse of the corpse mass during the black putrefaction stage, as if these were sudden phenomena, occurring from one instant to the other, while actually either of these stages takes at least a week (putrefaction: day 4 to day 10 after death; black putrefaction: day 10 to day 20 after death, according to the Australian Museum’s Stages of Decomposition webpage).
For conspiracy theorist Jansson, this timing inaccuracy makes Rosenberg’s and Gerstein’s descriptions into "a tall tale, nothing more". A more reasonable assessment of these descriptions would consider the likely possibility, not unknown to forensic psychology, that memory played a trick on the recollections of traumatic events or phenomena on the part of those who witnessed them, causing them to remember as "suddenly" (Rosenberg) or "after a few days" (Gerstein) phenomena that actually took a little longer. Or that Rosenberg’s "suddenly" and/or Gerstein’s "after a few days" were simply figures of speech meant to dramatize their descriptions, rather than intended renderings of the time span over which the described phenomena occurred.
In a book I’m currently reading, Rodric Braitwhaite’s Afgantsy, one can find on pp. 115-116 an interesting example of the tricks that the memory of violent and traumatic events can play even on highly trained soldiers like the Soviet special forces troops that assaulted the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on 27.12.1979:
For the men who had captured the Taj Bek palace none of this mattered too much. They knew that they had taken part in a remarkable feat of arms. But it had been a very confused business, and in later years many of the participants found it hard to remember exactly what had happened. ‘Much has been wiped from my memory,’ remarked Vladimir Grishin of the Muslim Battalion. ‘When veterans of the Great Patriotic War talk, I am surprised at how well they can remember. I have switched off several episodes. Some of it remained there in my memory: for example, for several months I could sense the smell of flesh and blood.’ A survivor later remembered that the fight on the staircase was just like the storming of the Berlin Reichstag in April 1945, one of the most celebrated moments of the Second World War. Another was surprised when he revisited the ruined palace some years later how narrow the staircase was: he remembered it being as the Odessa Steps in the film of The Battleship Potemkin.(Emphasis added.)
Eyewitnesses often have mistaken recollections of certain details or features of what they witnessed, such as the dimensions of an object or the duration of an event or phenomenon. But it is nonsense to conclude from such mistakes that they didn’t witness the event or phenomenon they describe.
Unlike Jansson can provide solid evidence (hard data, Mr. "hard data") that Rosenberg’s testimony was in some way influenced by Gerstein’s account, I have to thank him for pointing out an eyewitness who mentioned a procedure akin to that described by Gerstein (the placing of a new layer of bodies on top of a "collapsed" layer of bodies) at one of Bełżec’s sister camps.
So much for Jansson’s error-nitpicking exercise "Va". I look forward to exercise "Vb".
A reader of this blog just reminded me of the following statement in the caption of a photograph included in Arpad Vass’ article:
In temperate regions of the United States individuals can be completely skeletonized in 30–40 days in the summer.This takes us to the following question, which I’m sure Mr. Jansson will be glad to answer:
Considering Vass’ formula whereby "y=1285/x (where y is the number of days it takes to become skeletonized or mummified and x is the average temperature in Centigrade during the decomposition process", was he thinking of average temperatures throughout a 24-hour day when writing the above? Or did he have maximum day temperatures (or average daytime temperatures) in mind?