Thursday, June 25, 2015

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (5.2)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (1)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (2)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (3)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (4)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (5.1)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (6)

On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (7)

In this blog I discuss what Jansson calls the "vital question" in his blog Memo for the controversial bloggers, part Vb: Lothes and Profé’s carbonization experiments with anthrax carcasses, i.e. the question "whether Muehlenkamp is correct in asserting that Lothes and Profé achieved complete cremation, or whether Carlo Mattogno was correct in assuming[109] that their experiments aimed only at more or less complete carbonization".

The present blog includes graphic images, which may be disturbing to some readers.

In their 1902 article, Lothes and Profé mentioned "complete combustion" ("vollständige Verbrennung") on three occasions, regarding their experiments numbered "III" ("Besides low amounts of straw 4 ½ cwt of wood and 15 kg of tar had been spent until complete combustion, which was complete after 8 ¼ hours."), "IV" ("For complete combustion only 6.5 cwt of wood were required.") and "VI" ("Besides low amounts of straw 15 kg of tar and 3 cwt of wood were required for complete combustion."). The term is self-explicative, and the description of the experiment numbered "I" further clarifies what the authors meant by "complete combustion":
In the following afternoon at 2 hours, that is 20 hours later, only a weakly smoking heap of ashes was left. (Am folgenden Tage Nachmittags 2 Uhr, also nach 20 Stunden, fand sich nur noch ein schwach rauchender Aschehaufen vor.)
(Emphasis added.)

I concluded from this that Lothes & Profé had in their experiments achieved complete combustion of the carcasses in the sense of reducing them to what they called "ashes", meaning cremation remains so reduced in size that the term "ashes" would be used by an objective observer, even though cremation remains of carcasses or human corpses are never ashes in a strict sense of the term, but rather small bone fragments like those shown by Jansson i.a. here, or like the remains one sees piled up in pictures below of corpse cremation on the Dresden Altmarkt, which are also shown here.

Additionally I argued, on p. 467 of the HC critique and in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (2), that a cremation result less thorough that what they called "ashes" would probably not have satisfied the veterinarians, considering that they were looking for a means to render harmless the carcasses of animals killed by anthrax, a disease that can form extraordinarily resistant spores, which can remain in the soil for "years and decades" according to Lothes & Profé’s aforementioned article.

The argument last mentioned, which is secondary to the argument derived from L&P’s description of the degree of combustion achieved in their experiments, is the one that Jansson spends most text on. Jansson invokes several sources whereby the destruction of anthrax spores does not require complete combustion of infected carcasses but can be achieved through carbonization, and this was the accepted opinion of veterinarians at the time of Lothes & Profé’s writing. One of the sources ("E. Zschokke, Über die Vernichtung von Milzbrandkadavern, Schweizer Archiv für Tierheilkunde, No. 6, 1902, pp. 283-292, here p. 291") is quoted verbatim in a footnote in sufficient length to allow for assuming that, bar evidence to the contrary that I should come upon later, Jansson has a point as concerns the degree of carcass cremation required to destroy anthrax spores.

More problematic is the conclusion Jansson derives from this finding, namely that, as complete combustion was not considered necessary to destroy anthrax spores in infected carcasses, Lothes & Profé had no incentive to achieve complete combustion in their experiments but where rather interested in finding a cheap and efficient manner to carbonize carcasses. Apart from this being a non sequitur conclusion insofar as complete combustion of carcasses at low cost would be a desired result for veterinarians independently of whether it was or not necessary to destroy anthrax spores, it is also belied by the writings of Jansson’s source Zwick, who on page 6 of the article available here (page 370 of the PDF file) wrote the following:
Wenn man nur Veterinär- und sanitätspolizeiliche Rücksichten für die Wahl des Systems der unschädlichen Beseitigung von Tierkadavern und Konfiskaten entscheidend sein lässt, so ist die thermische Vernichtung, das Verbrennen ohne Zweifel die zweckmässigste Methode. Die einfachste Art ist die des Verbrennens auf freiem Felde über offenem Feuer. Aber so sehr dies auch scheinen mag, so ist diese primitive Art der Vernichtung von Kadavern in ihrer Durchführung doch nicht so leicht; sie setzt, wenn sie den gewünschten Erfolg haben soll, eine gewisse Übung in der Aufschichtung und Bemessung der Menge des erforderlichen Brennmaterials voraus. Eine ganz vollkommene Verbrennung wird ausserdem nur selten erreicht, da zu viel Wärme nutzlos ausstrahlt. Das Verfahren ist auch nicht gerade billig, deshalb nur in holzreichen Gegenden durchführbar und es verlangt einen nicht geringen Zeitaufwand; endlich können es ungünstige Witterungsverhältnisse störend beeinflussen oder zeitweilig unmöglich machen.
If one lets only veterinary and sanitation police considerations be determinant for choosing the method of harmlessly removing animal carcasses and confiscates, then thermal destruction, i.e. burning, is without doubt the most adequate method. The easiest manner is that of burning in the open field over an open fire. Nevertheless, however much it may seem to be otherwise, this primitive manner of destroying carcasses is not so easy to put into practice; if it is to be successful it requires a certain practice in piling up and calculating the amount of required burning material. Furthermore a wholly complete combustion is only seldom achieved, because too much heat radiates uselessly. The procedure is also not exactly cheap, and thus executable only in wood-rich areas, and it requires a considerable amount of time; finally it may be hampered or made temporarily impossible by unfavorable weather conditions.
(Emphasis added)

The above quote, especially in the highlighted parts, clearly shows that – contrary to Jansson’s claim that according to Zwick "cost was a major reason why carcasses were not burned", cost was merely one of Zwick’s several concerns, and arguably a concern secondary to the one that "a wholly complete combustion is only rarely achieved". Zwick’s expression of this concern (conveniently omitted by Jansson) dovetails with the background of their experiments mentioned by Lothes & Profé in their 1902 article, where they mention that the solution of burning carcasses in the open, preferable for sanitation reasons to burying them, "was until now generally considered non-executable". The Eighth Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cites a contemporary professional source commenting Lothes & Profé’s experiments, whereby it had prior to these experiments been thought "impossible to destroy carcasses at an open fire". The cost aspect is mentioned in neither of these statements, which rather express the opinion that it was considered wholly impracticable (and not just impracticable at an acceptable cost) to destroy a carcass in an open fire.

Is carbonizing a carcass in an open fire (which is hardly the same as destroying it) supposed to have been considered physically/technically impossible? That’s hard to believe, and Zwick’s above-quoted statement clearly suggests otherwise: independently of cost, the problem was that what Zwick called a "wholly complete combustion" (he could hardly have been clearer) was "only rarely achieved" in open pyres.

Besides his aforementioned anthrax argument, Jansson mentions an article written by Lothes & Profé two years after the aforementioned article ("Lothes & Profé, Die unschädliche Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung, Fortschritte der Veterinär-Hygiene, No. 12, March 1904, pp. 325-328"), and insinuates, again projecting one of his own habits, that I deliberately ignored this article. Actually I wasn’t aware of this article before Jansson mentioned it, but now that Jansson has brought it to my attention I would like to read it, especially as Jansson claims that in this article L&P refer to complete carbonization ("vollständige Verkohlung") and complete combustion ("vollständige Verbrennung") as if the two terms were equivalent. If this is so (I have seen too much of Jansson misrepresenting his sources to take his claim at face value), and if L&P’s understanding of "vollständige Verkohlung" is not one that implies reduction of a carcass to the same extent as the horse in their experiment numbered "I", i.e. to a "heap of ashes" (contrary to what I would expect if they really treat as equivalent notions that are not equivalent, as Jansson claims), I wonder why Jansson did not provide a comprehensive quote of the relevant parts of this article, like he comprehensively quoted from an article less important to his argument.

My access to sources like this being limited by location, time and means when they are not published on the internet or made available to me by someone else, I therefore suggest that Jansson send a copy of this article to the e-mail address in my blogger profile. Said copy will then be made available to our readers on the same thread featuring L&P's 1902 article, and I would make a translation of the relevant parts of the article (or of the whole article, if it is not too long) for the benefit of those who don’t read German. I look forward to a message from Jansson in my inbox.

Jansson further argument in support of his claim starts with breaking the "news" that L&P are not "making strict use of language" when referring to the results of their experiment numbered "I" as "ashes", given that "corpses never – not even in crematory ovens – burn to ashes in the strict sense of the term".

Thank you Mr. Jansson, but I got there long ago, and it happens that L&P were not just using the term "ashes" in an obviously not-so-strict sense, but expressly pointing out that, at the end of the burning process, all that was left of the carcass in question was "a weakly smoking heap of ashes".

Now, what would one call "a weakly smoking heap of ashes" in this context? Jansson invokes a "contemporaneous study by Fabricius" (meaning the already mentioned veterinarian Fabritius), which "refers to an anthrax carcass being, though still very much intact, covered with glowing ash towards the end of a burning". Apart from it being rather obvious that no one would call a carcass (let alone one "still very much intact") a "a weakly smoking heap of ashes" just because it is covered by ash, Jansson is again taking his readers for a ride (at least those who don’t read German, or then Jansson’s German is not as good as I thought it was), for he provides the following transcription of the relevant passage:
Allmählich senkt sich die Feuerstätte immer tiefer, bis im Laufe einiger Stunden die glühende Asche nur noch spärliche verkohlte Reste des Cadavers birgt.
Which I would translate as follows:
Gradually the fire site sinks deeper and deeper, until after some hours the glowing ash holds only sparse carbonized remains of the carcass.
I can understand Jansson’s having mixed up the terms "birgt", the present tense form of "bergen" (which in this context translates as "to hold something") and "verbirgt", the present tense form of "verbergen", which translates as "to hide something" or "to conceal something" and would thus match Jansson claim that the ash was stated to cover the carcass (as opposed to holding or containing it, which the term "birgt" implies).

However, it is hard to understand how Jansson managed to make "spärliche verkohlte Reste des Cadavers" (sparse carbonized remains of the carcass) into a carcass "still very much intact".

Care to explain how (or why) you returned the carcass to a far less thorough degree of combustion than was described by Fabritius, Mr. Jansson?

Anyway, I have no problem with Fabritius description as rendered in the original German and correctly translated by me, for it suggests a degree of combustion close to the heaps of bone fragments on the Dresden pictures at the beginning of this blog, and also close to what I would expect someone to call a "a weakly smoking heap of ashes".

That expression would hardly be used for carbonized corpses such as those shown in the picture below of people burned to death in the US firebombing of Tokyo on 9-10 March 1945 (which, incidentally, was the largest conventional bombing atrocity in history, killing almost four times as many people as the bombing of Dresden on 13/14 February 1945, and was ordered by a mass murderer who, according to this documentary, might even have launched a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union had he had his way).

A closer match (though not quite the same) would be this carbonized rat:

Or this carbonized rabbit:

Or the carbonized human corpses shown here:

Which remind me of these photographs taken after the Soviets liberated the Majdanek concentration camp, included in the blog Photographic documentation of Nazi crimes:

And also of

a) Leleko’s testimony, whereby "The parts of the body that had burned but had preserved their natural shape were put into a special mortar and pounded into flour."

b) Arad’s description, which like Leleko’s testimony is quoted here, whereby when the pyres stopped burning there were "only" skeletons (whole skeletons, go figure) or scattered bones on the roasters (some of these bones were brittle and easy to crush, others so incompletely burned that they had to be burned a second time);

c) Larger incompletely burned or unburned human remains mentioned in crime site investigation reports cited i.a. here; and

d) My own finds upon the soil of Sobibór in October 2008, which besides small "ashes" mixed with soil included partially burned bone fragments as well as unburned ones.

My argument that the cremation of the corpses at the AR camps was far less thorough than may be suggested by the accounts of some witnesses and/or the descriptions provided by some historians (on which "Revisionist" contentions about "alleged" results of cremation are based) is not exactly new; I already made it in this blog and on pages 448-49 of the HC critique.

Evidence whereby the results of the burning were not nearly as complete as certain descriptions suggest means that the discussion on whether the SS could achieve complete combustion or "only" complete carbonization of the corpses is rather academic. To the extent that the former applies, this only means that they had to do more crushing and grinding after cremation, and that the concentrations of human cremation remains in the AR camps’ mass graves (unless a substantial part of these remains was scattered over larger areas, as mentioned regarding Treblinka on pp. 213 of Sara Berger’s Experten der Vernichtung and on this Wikipedia page after this Polish monograph) were higher than according to my calculations i.a. here.

This, in turn, means that, even if – despite what is suggested by their own 1902 article and by that of Zwick, as well as, at least to some extent, by Fabritius' article quoted by Jansson – Lothes & Profé should not have achieved complete combustion but "only" complete carbonization of carcasses in their experiments, this wouldn’t get Jansson the award known as the golden banana, jokingly said to be attributed by "Revisionists" to the best hoaxers in the movement. Jansson’s apparent aspirations to this award, suggested by his bragging about the "garbage heap of failed anti-revisionist arguments", are taken note of with amusement.

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