Part 1, Section 2a
Part 1, Section 2b
Part 2, Section 1
Part 2, Section 2
Part 2, Section 3
Part 2, Section 4
Part 2, Section 5
Part 3, Section 1
Part 3, Section 2
Chapter 8 of the HC critique of Mattogno, Graf and Kues, about the burning of the corpses at the Aktion Reinhard(t) extermination camps Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka and at Chełmno extermination camp, is 76 pages long (pp. 440 – 516) and has about 24,000 words including footnotes. Mattogno’s response to this chapter stretches over a full 177 pages (1296 – 1473) of MGK’s magnum opus and has a word count of well over 71,000, i.e. it is almost three times as long as the chapter it refers to.
But then, it’s expectable that an interested amateur like myself should have much less to write about the subject of cremation than someone who prides himself (p. 1296) on "studies on this issue, lasting more than two decades and culminating in the two-volume, 1211-page opus I forni crematori di Auschwitz" and who, according to his co-writer Jürgen Graf, has an "encyclopedic knowledge of all problems related to cremation". Graf’s bragging that includes this period is part of the magnum opus’s presentation by the editor of this "Holocaust Handbook", suggesting that MGK are particularly proud of Mattogno’s "encyclopedic" cremation lecture, which certainly deserves the name as concerns its volume. Whether the same applies as concerns its content will be examined in this series.
Cremation Devices, Methods and Times
Chapter 8 of the critique began with a presentation of what is known from evidence about the cremation devices and methods applied as well as the duration of cremations at each of the four extermination camps. Mattogno’s response begins with the aforementioned self-congratulation, followed by a torrent of invective ("…this chapter by Muehlenkamp is certainly the most ludicrous among all the rubbish I have read about this issue. As stupidity goes, it exceeds even …"; "Beyond being “farcical,” Muehlenkamp’s exposition is also false, hypocritical, misleading and inconsequential."; "This is such a huge stupidity that eventually even Muehlenkamp became aware of it, ……"; etc.) that I welcome as yet another of Mattogno’s self-presentations, especially as it expresses the fit of rage that the critique’s chapter 8 must have thrown "Revisionist" icon Mattogno into.
Following this self-illustrating introduction, Mattogno reiterates his attack against Dr. Pfannenstiel’s accounts of early cremation attempts at Bełżec, adding two arguments to his previous ones. The first argument (p. 1297) is that "the key witness Reder never mentions cremations as having taken place at Bełżec during his stay in the camp (17 August to the end of November 1942)". Interestingly there is no qualification to the term "key witness", suggesting that Mattogno considers Reder to have indeed been a key witness to mass extermination at this camp. Otherwise the argument is without interest as witnesses tend to recall and recollect what impressed them and thus stuck in their memory, and what that is varies from person to person. So if early corpse cremation attempts were not mentioned by Reder, this may simply be because he didn’t take an interest in such attempts, unlike the hygienist Dr. Pfannenstiel and the policeman interviewed by Wehrmacht officer Wilhelm Cornides. Mattogno’s other additional argument is a telegram sent by the head of Aktion Reinhard(t), Odilo Globocnik, on 4 September 1942 to Himmler’s adjutant Grothmann, complaining about his fuel allowance having been reduced and requesting to be allotted a special fuel contingent for this operation. According to Mattogno, this rules out that "gasoline would have been wasted in Bełżec on the burning of corpses" - a non sequitur as one might as well argue that the liquid fuel requirements of Aktion Reinhard(t) became more pressing precisely because such fuel was meant by the staff of one or more camps to be used not just to fuel the gassing engines and generators (the amounts required for that must have been comparatively reduced) but also to burn corpses.
As concerns the "chronological limits" of the "alleged" mass cremation at Bełżec in the final phase of the camp’s operation, Mattogno takes issue with my having considered the possibility that this cremation, which according to eyewitness testimonies started in November of 1942, extended beyond March 1943. One of the sources I had invoked in support of this possibility was Gerald Reitlinger’s The Final Solution, where it is mentioned that a witness noticed the stench of exhumed corpses as late as April 1943. In an endeavor to (quite pointlessly, as I had written nothing to the contrary) highlight the fact that said witness had not mentioned cremation, Mattogno provides a comprehensive quote of the witness’s account, which he had earlier presented as "horrifying propaganda stories" – including the following information, matching Cornides’ account, about what it was like to pass by the place that Mattogno claims was a mere transit camp:
Travelers on the railway line Zawada-Rawa Ruska close the windows, for this awful stench penetrates into the compartments and causes the people to vomit. I myself had to travel along this line on several occasions and have thus been able to convince myself of this state of affairs. As late as April 10, 1943, I passed through there one last time. The Christian population of Belzec has left this place for the only reason of this stench.
The other source, which Mattogno keeps silent about, is local inhabitant Eustachy Ukraiński, who stated that cremation at Bełżec lasted throughout the spring of 1943. Another local inhabitant, Jan Gląb, recalled after the war that the burning of the corpses had ended in April 1943.
Regarding the device used at Bełżec to crush the victims’ bones after cremation, Mattogno amusingly accuses me of having omitted "the fact that Reder is not an eyewitness to the use of this machine", after quoting at length the footnote on pp. 442f. of the critique, in which I mentioned a Hungarian Jew named Szpilke, or Szpilka, "who told Belzec survivor Rudolf Reder about having set up and operated this machine, as mentioned by Reder in his report about Belzec". It should be clear to everyone other than Mattogno that if Reder learned about the device from this Szpilke, or Szpilka, this means that Reder did not witness the device himself. Referring to earlier depositions of Reder’s that mention neither this acquaintance nor the information he provided to Reder, Mattogno argues that "the tale of the grinder of Bełżec is not only without any proof, but also evolved rather late". Yes, the "tale" presumably "evolved" after Reder met the man he referred to as "an acquaintance, the technician Scharf-Szpilka, who assembled the grinder for grinding the bones", but this means not that the "tale" is without any proof, but that the proof consists of or includes Reder’s second-hand testimony. Commenting on a photo I showed on p. 443 of the critique ("Heinrich Chamaides, David Manuschewitz and Moische Korn (f.l.t.r.) on the platform of the bone mill in the Janowska camp in Lwow"), Mattogno mentions that such machine "was found in Lwów and was the object of a Soviet technical report dated 29 September 1944", concedes the possibility that "this machine was also used to grind burned human bones", but then hastens to add that "there is no documentary evidence of it, and neither is there any documentary proof that this machine was ever transferred to Bełżec". That may be so, but it’s not Mattogno who gets to set the rules of evidence, and in historiography and criminal investigation proof may also be provided by oral testimony. As concerns a bone grinding machine from Janowska, Reder’s reference to Scharf-Szpilka may be the only evidence, but local inhabitant Edward Łuczyński mentioned an additional device, a grain mill that had been confiscated from local peasants.
Regarding Sobibór, Mattogno (p. 1302) takes issue with my statement (p. 443) that Sobibór "was the first of the three camps of Aktion Reinhard to change its body disposal procedure from burial to cremation, the main reason being probably a concern that the camp’s water supply might be polluted by leachate from the graves due to the camp area’s relatively high groundwater level." This is supposed to be irreconcilable with an earlier statement whereby the SS "could hope that groundwater pollution by leachate from the corpses would not occur at the site of the graves because underground currents carried such leachate away". Mattogno’s reading problems obviously kept him from realizing that the earlier statement referred to the time when Sobibór was chosen as an extermination site, while the later one referred to developments after the camp had already been conducting killing operations for several months. Mattogno’s attempt to present the choice of Sobibór as "idiotic" on account of the leachate problem that eventually materialized, which Mattogno harks back to here for the sake of cheap ad hominem ("Accordingly, one must believe that the SS, being completely unable to foresee a more than obvious danger of groundwater poisoning due to leachate, were as inept as Muehlenkamp."), has already been addressed. My next statement regarding Sobibór:
The corpses of the victims killed after the camp resumed operation in October 1942 following a two-month interruption were taken directly from the gas chambers to places of cremation, while the corpses of the victims killed and buried until the end of July/early August 1942 were disinterred with a mechanical excavator for this purpose.
also gets prominent attention from Mattogno, who refers to a statement by Jakób Biskubicz whereby the excavator (which extracted previously buried bodies from the mass graves for burial) arrived at Sobibór (only) in December 1942. As I said nothing about when the burning of the interred corpses (as opposed to that of newly killed arrivals, which started in October 1942) commenced, Mattogno’s objection is quite pointless, and his subsequent criticism ("Muehlenkamp does not explain why the camp SS did not take advantage of these two months of respite in order to start the cremations, which were supposedly begun only later in connection with the resumption of the deportations.") must be dismissed as a showpiece of Mattognian silliness as its author does not explain what relevance the missing explanation is supposed to have. Rather than that he produces a quote from Jules Schelvis’ book about Sobibór, followed by a quote from a November 1965 statement by Jakób Biskubicz, which is apparently supposed to belie the conclusions that Schelvis derived from it (how it so does Mattogno doesn’t explain; Schelvis’ statement that "an excavator used to excavate the decomposing bodies from the two existing graves and to haul them over to the new pit" arrived in the autumn of 1942 is in line with Biskubicz’s recalling that the excavator "arrived the beginning of December 1942, perhaps even in November".
As I had referred to survivor eyewitness Leon Feldhendler’s description of the Sobibór cremation device after Mattogno’s black beast Yitzhak Arad, Mattogno then proceeds to demonstrate that Arad’s translation of Feldhendler’s account is "defective and inaccurate", providing the correct translation from Arad’s source and arguing that Feldhendler’s testimony "not only ignores the excavator completely", but "also contains a description of the cremation method which differs radically from that given by Schelvis". Mattogno doesn’t explain wherein the "radical" differences between both descriptions are supposed to consist, and it is hard to see such difference as Schelvis mentions rails crisscrossed over the top of a pit, forming a rudimentary grid, whereas Feldhendler, as quoted by Mattogno, recalled that what he called the "crematorium" consisted "of a big pit, and above it some grids were put and above those rail tracks"
Ever eager to accuse his opponent of wrongdoing, Mattogno then attacks the following statement on pp. 443f.:
SS-Sturmbannführer Streibel, who visited Sobibor in 1942, recalled a roaster made of railway lines, supported by a stone base; he mentioned having seen ‘the cremation sites,’ which suggests that there was more than one of them. The Judgment LG Hagen vom 20.12.1966, 11 Ks 1/64 mentions (several) huge grids inside a pit.
The reference to Streibel is supposed to show my "bad faith" because the pertinent passage from Arad’s book"mentions “the roaster” twice in singular form" which is supposed to be in contradiction with Streibel’s reference in the same paragraph to (several) cremation sites (apparently it didn’t occur to Mattogno that Streibel may have described the roaster of each cremation site he saw, which was "made from the railway lines" and "supported by a stone base").
Providing a further example of his reading abilities, Mattogno then claims that the Hagen Court’s verdict on Sobibór"refers to the installation of a single cremation structure", though the quote and translation he provides clearly mention several grates:
The already decomposed corpses were lifted out of the pits with the help of the excavator and burned on large grates in an already dug but as yet empty pit. The grates consisted of old railway rails which had been placed over concrete foundations.
I considered this description to have been confirmed by archaeological research, on grounds that graves nos. 1 and 2 had been described as body-burning graves by Prof. Kola in his report about his 2001 survey of the camp. In chapter 11 (p. 1256), Mattogno argued that Prof. Kola’s term "grób ciałopalny", which my translator had rendered as "body burning grave", is more correctly translated as "grave accommodating remains of cremation". If so, this means that Prof. Kola didn’t consider these graves to have been places where bodies were burned, but merely dumping sites for cremation remains. It doesn’t, however, rule out that cremation took place at these sites. Neither does the depth of the graves (4.30 m and 4 m respectively), which may have been due to their having originally been intended for burying corpses before it was decided to burn rather than bury further corpses, and to accordingly set up cremation grates inside these pits. In the cremation chapter, Mattogno additionally argues (p. 1306) that the areas of mass graves 1 and 2 are far too large for cremation grates, quite pointlessly so as I had not claimed that the area of the graves had been equal to the area of the grates (I had merely written that the graves were large enough for grates of considerable size to fit into them, p. 444). More pertinent is Mattogno’s argument against my considering the possibility that graves nos. 1 and 2 had originally been a single pit as only one such pit had been described by eyewitnesses: Mattogno argues that the probes made between these two graves (must have) turned up negative, otherwise Kola would not have concluded on two separate pits instead of one. However, an originally single pit remains a possibility if the depth to which cremation remains were buried in that pit was not uniform and Prof. Kola’s negative probes were negative only because he didn’t drill deep enough to come upon human remains in certain places. Alternatively it is possible that one of the two pits was a cremation pit, while the other was merely a pit where cremation remains were dumped.
Were the cremation grates set up above a pit as assumed by Schelvis and described by Feldhendler (see above), were they set up inside such a pit as per the Hagen court’s findings of fact, or were both methods used at one or the other time? In support of the second of these possibilities, considering my reading of Prof. Kola’s archaeological investigation results, I had referred to several witnesses (p. 444, footnote 18): former SS-man Erich Bauer, who mentioned that the corpses were burned in pits on grids made of railway rails ("In den Gruben wurden die Leichen auf Rosten, die aus Eisenbahnschienen hergestellt waren, verbrannt."); inmate Chaim Engel, who mentioned a deep pit containing burning grids; inmate Kurt Thomas, who in various depositions had mentioned a "Krematoriumsschacht" (crematorium shaft), a "Verbrennungsschacht" (burning shaft) and a "Kremationsgrube" (cremation pit); Jan Piwonski, turnout setter at Sobibor train station, who learned about the burning of corpses in a pit from a non-German camp guard. It speaks volumes of Mattogno’s methodology that he addresses only the last of these witnesses, who provided quite a detailed description (quoted by Mattogno, pp. 1310f.) of what he had been told about the cremation method by a guard named Waska:
The guard told me that in the vicinity of the mass graves a pit around two meter deep was dug, that in this pit a kind of grate was constructed from railway tracks, and that on this grate the root stumps previously doused with some liquid were put. When this [fire] burned well, the excavator is said to have put the corpses on top of it.
Mattogno remarks that according to this second-hand witness the cremation is stated to have taken place in one single pit (no problem with that) on one single grate (which doesn’t preclude the setting up of one or more further grates at a later stage). Deliberately conflating the time when Sobibór changed its body disposal procedure from burial to cremation (October 1942) and the time when cremation was extended to the previously interred corpses (which happened in the second half of November or in early December 1942, according to Piwonski), Mattogno further remarks that "According to the witness, the cremations commenced in December 1942, not in October as stated by Muehlenkamp" (who, as we have seen, didn’t state that cremation of exhumed corpses, as opposed to corpses of freshly killed deportees, started in October 1942).
Before Piwonski, Mattogno attacks the testimonies of several witnesses I had referred to not as concerns whether the burning was carried out above or inside a pit, but regarding the cremation pyres having been doused with gasoline or another flammable liquid: Berisch Freiberg (inmate), Jan Krzowski (inhabitant of Wlodawa), and Bronislaw Lobejko (railway worker).
Freiberg is quoted at length by Mattogno so he can make a fuss about my having omitted this witness's "nonsense" about the corpses having fallen through the gas chamber floor after the gassing, as if this obviously inaccurate description (or, for that matter, the subsequent, equally inaccurate description of the burning process) ruled out the possibility that the witness was right about the cremation pyres having been doused with gasoline. Mattogno obviously hasn’t understood yet that a witness, especially one that, like any surviving Sobibór inmate, didn’t witness the killing and body disposal process first hand, may be dead wrong about certain details but right about others, and that a witness who is either right or wrong about everything he recalls is a rarity in real life. His rambling against Freiberg’s "nonsense", on the other hand, doesn’t keep Mattogno from using Freiberg’s testimony to his advantage, as he points out that the cremation system described by this witness "is in total contradiction to the one evoked by Muehlenkamp" (which is irrelevant as I didn’t refer to the witness as concerns the cremation system).
Regarding Jan Krzowski, Mattogno yells "hearsay" as if that ruled out using the testimony in question as evidence (that may be so in Mattogno’s world, but in the real world hearsay can also be a source of historical evidence). Again, Mattogno proposes the non sequitur conclusion that the information gathered by Krzowski from Sobibór camp guards about the fuel used for burning the corpses must be inaccurate because the guards also told him about the gas chamber having an automatically lowered floor and the victims having been poisoned with lead oxide from a combustion motor. Krzowski’s sources were obviously not direct witnesses to and had inaccurate notions about the killing process and how the corpses were removed from the gas chambers, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they were wrong about the cremation being done on "car frames or railway tracks" using "root stumps and wood" that were "doused with some liquid".
According to the same Mattognian logic, Lobejko’s mention of having smelled burning petroleum from the pyres is supposed to be wrong because Lobejko mentioned a widely exaggerated (800,000) estimate of the number of victims. Obviously logical thinking is not Mattogno’s strength, or then he expects a readership gullible enough to be impressed by such flagrant non-sequiturs. Never shy to use what parts of an oh-so-unreliable witness’s testimony seem to serve his argument, Mattogno then quotes Lobejko’s claim that "only one mass grave was utilized in Sobibór", thereby shooting himself in the foot as this claim supports my assumption, based on Bolender’s testimony, that only one grave was completely filled and the concentration of corpses in that grave was thus somewhat higher than postulated by Mattogno.  Ukrainian guard Daniltsjenko, as Mattogno correctly points out on p. 1311, was referred to in the critique to document the statement that Ukrainian guards in their watchtowers found it hard to breathe when the wind blew in their direction from the burning grids – and not as concerns the number or makeup of cremation sites. This, however, doesn’t keep Mattogno from quoting a part of Daniltsjenko’s testimony whereby there was a single cremation "ramp", and baselessly accusing me on the very same page of having transformed that one "ramp" into several. Mattogno must think very little of his readers’ intellect if he expects them to swallow such blatant falsehoods hook, line and sinker.
So much for Mattogno’s attack on my rendering of evidence about cremation at Sobibór. Before I move to what Mattogno has to say about my rendering of cremation evidence regarding Treblinka, it is worth mentioning recent archaeological finds in the context of cremation at Sobibór, which have progressed somewhat since Prof. Kola’s 2001 archaeological investigation. Archaeologists Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek have expanded on Prof. Kola’s finds regarding graves nos. 1 and 2, and the grave pinpointed as a cremation site by Prof. Kola, grave nr. 7:
A third grave, Grave 7, is located in Hectare XVIII (Fig 2). Eleven excavation squares covering an area of 275 square meters were opened over Grave 7. The area was found to be heavily disturbed and contained the remains of human bones, artifacts and ash to a depth of 0.5 meters. Below these remains was found a dark brownish-red line, three meters wide and 15 meters in length and oriented east to west (Fig 15). We believe that this layer constitutes the site of the crematorium in Camp III. A section, three meters wide and three meters deep was excavated north to south across part of this line. The section revealed very hard, reddish soil that extended down to the level of the ground water and exuded a strong, unpleasant odor (Fig 16 and 17). This appears to have been deposits of fluids and fat of the victims that settled below the crematorium and soaked into the sandy ground. Soil samples from these deposits were collected for chemical analysis.[…]
Graves 1 and 2 are not mass graves, however the remains of humans bones found in the deposits suggest that they were used to some extent for the burial of victims in the camp. Again, further research is required to determine the precise use of these pits.
An important question is the exact size of the crematorium revealed in Grave 7. We need to continue to excavate in this area in order to determine its size. 
The aim of the excavation was to reveal the perimeter of the mass graves and to better understand the connection between the crematoria discovered in the spring of 2013 and the mass graves.[…]
In the winter season, over 3,500 square meters were excavated, revealing remains of the crematoria, mass graves and remains of double fence that encircled Camp 3. Fragments of human bone and hair were uncovered in the excavation.[…]
Most of the murders were carried out in Camp 3 where burnt and unburnt bone fragments were found scattered. This area is not flat and it is heavily disturbed. Following the removal of upper layer of grass, we were able to discern perimeter f the mass graves of the camp and the crematoria. The southernmost grave is Grave No. 8, uncovered in the Spring 2011 excavation. In the Spring 2013 excavation part of Grave No. 15 was also uncovered. In the winter excavation, it became apparent that Graves Nos. 8 and 15 were interconnected and actually form 'L' shaped grave (Fig. 6 – marked in blue). The northern part of the grave is deeper: 2.5 meters in depth and it lacks the remains of bones. The soil in the grave is gray and mixed with sand. The southern part of the grave (Grave No. 8, uncovered in Spring 2011) is 1.80 meters in depth. It contained three layers of human bones. This grave cancels out the two crematoria (Objects 2486 and 2469). Thus it appears that this was the latest grave created in the camp and that it was not put to use for these crematoria (Fig. 7). The northern part of Grave No. 8/15 produced a metal shovel (Fig. 8).[…]
Grave No. 7 cancelled out the crematorium, Object 2119, as can be seen in Fig. 4. An additional grave, Grave No. 14, was discovered over this crematorium in Spring 2013.[…]
A number of crematoria were uncovered during the Winter 2013 excavation (Fig. 12). These were open crematoria where bodies were burnt on iron rails like those discovered in Spring 2013. Wood logs were used as fuel under the iron rails. An example of this method of disposal was recorded in the Ohrdruf concentration camp when it was liberated by the Americans in April 1945 (Fig. 13).
The crematorium, Object 2597, is located in the southeast corner of Grave No. 4. It was also damaged during the mechanical work in the 1990s (Fig. 14). As noted here above, Grave No. 8/15 cancelled up a number of crematoria: Objects 2469, 2486, 2517, 2520, and 2535. 
So Haimi and Mazurek a) found that the cremation site of grave nr. 7 was larger than had been established by Prof. Kola, exact size yet to be determined, and b) identified further cremation sites in the former area of Sobibór’s "Camp 3".
As concerns Treblinka, Mattogno starts out (p. 1311) by referring to his earlier exploits in commenting my statements regarding corpse burning in August and September as well as October, November and December 1942. These have been commented in another blog, in which I distinguished three phases of cremation at Treblinka that I consider probable:
- 1st phase, beginning in late August 1942 and lasting until October of that year: not very successful attempts to burn the upper layers of corpses in the graves for hygienic purposes (especially in order to combat the smell of decomposition emanating from the corpses), burning of deportees murdered in the Lazarett;
- 2nd phase, beginning in November or December 1942: not very successful attempts (see e.g. Rajchman’s account quoted above) to burn all the corpses, (also) motivated by at least one complaint about the stench emanating from insufficiently buried corpses as the graves in camp’s extermination sector were filled to or beyond capacity;
- 3rd phase, after an efficient cremation procedure had been implemented, in which the corpses were systematically removed from the mass graves with excavators and burned on pyres made of concrete bases and railway rails.
When did the 3rd phase commence? In the Critique I had assumed with Arad that this had happened after "Himmler’s visit to the camp at the end of February/beginning of March 1943". Mattogno claims that the beginning of wholesale cremation at that time is "one of the pivotal points of the orthodox exterminationist account of the cremations in Treblinka", but actually it just happens to be the timing assumed by a historian who wrote the first comprehensive account of the Aktion Reinhard(t) camp, and there are reasons to call that timing into question. Mattogno would like wholesale cremation to have started later, so he refers to Wiernik, who links Himmler’s visit to the discovery of the Katyn mass graves first publicized by the Germans on 13 April 1943. However, it is possible that Wiernik misdated Himmler’s visit, and there are sources suggesting that the aforementioned 3rd phase started earlier than February 1943. One of these sources is Chil Rajchman, who dated the arrival of a cremation specialist nicknamed the "Artist" by the inmates to January 1943, though his account of how the new procedure was put into practice suggests that it took some time before the "Artist" succeeded in implementing an efficient cremation system. Camp commandant Stangl recalled "the beginning of 1943" as the time when "excavators were brought in", "the corpses were removed from the huge ditches which had been used until then", and the "old" corpses "were burned on the roasters, along with the new bodies". The verdict of the 2nd Düsseldorf Treblinka trial mentions that around the turn of the year 1942/1943, following instructions from higher up, the bodies started being burned, which suggests that if there was a Himmler order for the burning of the bodies, it was given at that time and not in late February or early March 1943. The judgment mentions that there were difficulties with the installation used (a grid made first of trolley rails, then of railway rails placed on concrete foundations, with a pit underneath in which a wood fire was maintained) until "an Unterführer by the name of Floss" managed to bring the grid into the right position. On the other hand, German historian Sara Berger reconstructs the history of cremations at Treblinka as follows: until early 1943 cremation had been limited to the corpses of those murdered in the "Lazarett" and to sporadic attempts, e.g. during cleanup works in September 1942. In January 1943 it had been attempted to burn the corpses of newly arrived deportees, because the burial pits were overfilled. Only after Himmler gave the order to remove the corpses, a wholesale exhumation and cremation operation began in late February 1943. 
Based on this judgment, the judgment at the 1st Treblinka trial and the testimony of camp guard Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko, I had in an earlier blogattempted a reconstruction of a Treblinka cremation roaster. As Leleko had mentioned a "cement pit about one meter deep and 20 meters long" with a "series of furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails", while according to the 1st Düsseldorf judgment the installation consisted of "concrete bases about 70 cm high, on which 5 to 6 railway rails about 25 to 30 meters long lay in small intervals", I had matched both sources by assuming that Leleko’s "furnaces" were subdivisions of the cement pit by the concrete blocks on top of which the rails were placed, and that these were either blocks 1.70 meters high placed inside the pit and protruding from the pit for 70 cm, or blocks 70 cm high placed on the rims of the pit, the distance between the bottom of the rails and the bottom of the pit being, in any case, 1.70 meters. I had also assumed that the rails were 25 meters long (the middle value between Leleko’s 20 meters and the higher length of 30 meters mentioned in the Düsseldorf judgment), and that the width of the structure was 2 meters, 2.625 meters or 3.25 meters, depending on whether the grill consisted of four, five or six rails. Taking the middle of these three values, 2.625 meters, I had calculated that the average area of one roaster at Treblinka would be 65.625 square meters, and the volume of space underneath the same about 112 cubic meters.
Such attempts to reconcile various sources of evidence into a narrative or the description of a device are the daily bread of who researches historical events, but Mattogno doesn’t think much of what is one of the tasks of historiography. He prefers to stomp his feet and holler that such "desperate efforts to reconcile what is irreconcilable" are "pathetic". As a fellow blogger once remarked, this behavior resembles that of "a child that stands before a heap of puzzle parts, decides after a brief glance that nothing fits together, angrily throws the whole stuff out of the window and tells Mommy, who asks for the puzzle, that there had never been one". Why exactly are the sources I reconciled supposed to be irreconcilable, according to Mattogno? The reasons he gives are truly pathetic:
Leleko speaks of a pit 20 meters long and 1 meter deep, 4 "rows of rails" and 1,000 corpses cremated at a time. The verdict of 3 September 1965 on the other hand mentions concrete blocks (unknown to Leleko) upon which 5-6 rail tracks (25-30 meters long) were put (well exceeding the length of Leleko’s pit) with a capacity of 2,000- 3,000 corpses at a time. The verdict completely ignores the pit underneath the railway tracks.
So what? The 1st Düsseldorf judgment may not have mentioned a pit underneath the railway tracks, but the 2nd Düsseldorf judgment did. Leleko mentions no concrete blocks but he mentions "furnaces" in a concrete pit, and it seems reasonable to assume that the subdivisions of that pit by the concrete blocks on which the rails were placed would have appeared as "furnaces" to the witness. Information about the length of the rails varies, but that may be due to rails of different lengths having been used at different times or in different devices, and besides measurements and other numbers are data that eyewitnesses usually can only estimate and are not necessarily good at estimating. This also applies as concerns the number of corpses that were piled on a grate at one time, Leleko’s more conservative number possibly being the more realistic one. The differences between Leleko’s number of rails and those of the witness or witnesses on whose testimony the data in the 1st Düsseldorf judgment are based may be due to the fact that the several structures of this kind in operation at Treblinka had different sizes. So why should one not try to put together a description, based on plausibility considerations, that reconciles these various sources as much as possible?
Mattogno mumbles that doing so depends on assuming a priori that all testimonies are truthful, which I would qualify in the sense that there’s no reason (certainly not one provided by Mattogno) for assuming that various testimonies independent of each other, which coincide in their essential aspects but differ as concerns certain particulars, are not essentially accurate, even if one or more (or even all) of the witnesses didn’t get certain particulars right.
Mattogno should bear in mind that my suppositions are in line with a narrative based on all available evidence, which means that they are sustainable as long as they are plausible and compatible with the narrative. In order to refute my suppositions, Mattogno must demonstrate that either or both criteria are missing; simply calling them "imaginary" or "without any value" won’t do. Neither is it sufficient to state that according to Leleko the rails were "inside the pit, close to one of its walls", without explaining what this is supposed to imply (pp. 1315f). Or to read into the 1st Düsseldorf judgment the statement that all cremation facilities were identical in size at all times, which is not to be found in that judgment (p. 1316) Or to postulate that the space of 50 cm between rails I considered would be "still too wide to allow the railroad rails to hold the corpses in their state of decomposition", without backing up this claim (same page). Or to proclaim (still on the same page) that "Because the Treblinka trial verdict speaks of concrete blocks with a height of some 70 cm, the only valid data is this, and the volume underneath would accordingly be (0.7 × 65.625 =) approx. 46 m³" - thereby ignoring the 2nd Treblinka trial verdict, whereby there was a pit underneath the rails.  Or (same page again) to set up a straw-man in order to discredit what is the reasonable assumption of the middle of three possible values regarding the width of the pyre. Or argue (p. 1317) that SS Oberscharführer Heinrich Matthes mentioned no pit when describing the facility (neither did he state that there was none, and his description does not exactly go into great detail, so Matthes’ not mentioning the pit means nothing either way). In this context it should be pointed out again that the pyre area I considered is more conservative than that considered by Mattogno himself.
The next paragraph of Mattogno’s wisdom (p. 1317) deserves to be quoted in all it’s splendor:
The subsequent quotation is a passage from a statement by Yechiel Reichman, again taken from Arad, but its very beginning destroys all of Muehlenkamp’s mental guesswork about weights and measures of the Polish Jews (see point 36): “The SS ‘expert’ on body burning ordered us to put women, particularly fat women, on the first layer of the grill, face down.” (p. 448). Therefore in the “extermination camps” there were even fat women!
First of all, there were not only Polish Jews in the extermination camps of Aktion Reinhard(t). Treblinka also received 8,000 deportees directly from Theresienstadt and 14,159 deportees on long-range transports from Saloniki, Macedonia and Thessaloniki. These deportees had not previously gone through the rigors of ghetto life and were thus not malnourished. Second, even among malnourished populations like that of Polish ghettos there are some who are better off than the average (just like there are many who are worse off), so the existence of women that could be called "fat" among the deportees doesn’t contradict my assumptions about the average height and weight of Polish ghetto Jews.
In his eagerness to find contradictions between eyewitness testimonies, Mattogno argues that the witness Leleko speaks of only one cremation installation and claims that the corpses were put on it when the fire was already burning (p. 1319). The latter is indeed improbable and may be a mistranslation, or then what the witness was describing an early procedure later replaced by a more expedient one. As to the former, Leleko was describing one specific "incinerator" that was "situated about 10 meters beyond the large gas chamber building" – which doesn’t rule out the existence of further such incinerators. It is also possible that each of the "furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails" was a grate consisting of four rails, and that the witness recalled several such grates placed next to each other.
Mattogno seems to harbor a special grudge for Israeli historian Yitzhak Arad, for he misses no opportunity to accuse the man of indulging in "speculations" and proclaiming what "can only be regarded as his personal opinion". Yet the examples that are most thickly decorated with Mattogno’s rhetoric rather reveal Mattogno’s ignorance of what is obviously the source of Arad’s description. Take, for instance, the following information on p. 448 of the Critique ("This incessant referring to Arad’s speculations, as if they were a sacred truth, shows all of Muehlenkamp’s childish gullibility"):
Arad writes that round wooden sticks were then used to break the remaining bones into small fragments, which were then run through a tightly woven screen made of metal wire; those bone fragments which did not pass through the screen were then returned for further smashing. Unburned bones which proved too difficult to fragment were returned to the roaster and re-ignited with a new pile of bodies.
What Mattogno calls "Arad’s speculations" was described by inmate witness Chil Rajchman, as follows:
The body parts of the corpses that had been incinerated in the ovens often kept their shape. It was not uncommon to take out whole charred heads, feet, bones etc. The workers of the ash commando then had to break up these body parts with special wooden mallets, which recalled the iron mallets used to pound gravel on motorways. Other instruments also resembled the tools used when working with sand and stone. Near the heaps of ash stood thick, dense wire meshes, through which the broken-up ashes were sifted, just as sand is sifted from gravel. Whatever did not pass through was beaten once more. The beating took place on sheet metal, which lay nearby. The carriers were not allowed to bring bones from the grills that had not been completely incinerated. They remained lying next to the furnaces and were thrown on top of the next layer of corpses that were brought in. The definitive "finished" ash had to be free of the least bit of bone and as fine as cigarette ash.
As I pointed out in an earlier blog, postwar photos showing the soil of Treblinka littered with bone fragments and larger bones suggest that the "fine as cigarette ash" principle was at least not always adhered to. Yet the above quote shows that every word of what Mattogno decries as "Arad’ speculations" is in line with first-hand eyewitness evidence. The same applies to the following statement of Arad’s in another publication:
The bones were ground with rounded wooden stakes and afterwards they were shaken through a fine-meshed metal sieve; what got stuck therein was ground one more time. Unburned bones which were difficult to crush were thrown into the fire a second time.
regarding which Mattogno embarrasses himself by claiming (p. 1320) that "the Israeli historian merely took the Düsseldorf Court verdict and added his personal speculations".
Then there is the following supposedly unsupported statement in Arad’s book:
Other efficiency measures introduced included increasing the number of cremation sites to six – thus enabling the workers to burn up to 12,000 corpses simultaneously – and placing the cremating roasters nearer the mass graves to save time in transferring the bodies.
which happens to be in line with the testimonies of Rajchman (as concerns the number of ovens) and Wiernik (as concerns the number of corpses). Rajchman wrote the following:
It turns out that the corpses dug out of the pits burn even better than those of recently gassed people. Every day new ovens are constructed, more and more of them. After a few days there are six ovens. Each oven is served by several workers who load it with fodder.
Wiernik wrote the following:
The cremation of the corpses proved an unqualified success. Because they were in a hurry, the Germans built additional fire grates and augmented the crews serving them, so that from 10,000 to 12,000 corpses were cremated at one time.
Regarding the wooden sticks or stakes used to grind the bones – Rachjman, see above, described them as "wooden mallets, which recalled the iron mallets used to pound gravel on motorways" – , Mattogno presents one of those "the Germans wouldn’t have done it that way" – arguments that are a staple of "Revisionist" rhetoric:
Muehlenkamp completely lacks any critical sense, since he does not even notice the fierce contrast between his descriptions of the treatment of the cremation remains at Bełżec and Treblinka respectively. Even though the SS were able to arrange machines such as that shown in Illustration 12.2, they are said to have preferred to execute this task manually at Treblinka, using makeshift tools to crush the bones from 789,000 corpses!
What actually takes a lack of any critical sense, among other Mattogno blunders, is assuming that the propaganda storytellers of Mattogno’s fantasies would not have avoided such "fierce contrast", whereas real life events are full of apparent incoherence. And is there really such a "fierce contrast"? A mechanical ball mill might have certain advantages over makeshift tools operated by manual laborers, but it also had the great disadvantage of being subject to mechanical failures and breakdowns. So why should the SS not complement it with manual labor or use manual labor instead, when they had no restrictions as concerns the size of the labor force? I say "complement" because Leleko mentioned a "special mortar" in which body parts that had preserved their natural shape were "pounded into flour", and Rachjman mentioned instruments that "resembled the tools used when working with sand and stone".
Mattogno never had a problem with arguing on both sides of his mouth, and he does it here again when, right after expressing his contempt for "makeshift tools" as opposed to mechanical devices, he postulates that, if the SS had used "massive tampers" to crush the bones like they did at Auschwitz according to Filip Müller (the term fits the "wooden mallets" mentioned by Rachjman and the tools portrayed on David Olère’s picture below), they would have done so perfect a job that crime site investigations would have found no larger human remains.
The job was not perfectly done as Judge Łukaszkiewicz found the Treblinka area strewn over "with cremation remains as well as skulls, bones and other parts of human bodies covering an area of at least 1.8 hectares" (Critique, p. 414), so by Mattogno’s amazing "logic" it was not done at all. And for extra amusement Mattogno calls it "naive" to point out that, as shown by physical evidence, his idols’ effort to destroy the traces of their crimes was as imperfect and incomplete as any human endeavor.
That’s about what Mattogno has got to say regarding my narrative of cremation devices and procedures at Treblinka, except for pointing out another supposed contradiction ("the cremation installations at Chełmno are said to have been shielded even during the day for fear of observation by enemy airplanes, while at Treblinka the cremations proceeded safely even at night": the supposed contradiction can be explained by the fact that a) Chełmno was close to the large city of Łódź on territory annexed to the Reich whereas Treblinka was in the boondocks of the Generalgouvernement and/or b) Bednarz was referring to the ovens built in 1944 as suggested by a later quote of Mattogno’s, i.e. to ovens built at a time when there was considerable enemy air activity over the area, whereas there was no such activity in 1942/43, when Treblinka was in operation) and producing the pearl quoted hereafter:
The reference to “cremation remains” is distinctly comical. He refers to the same sentence quoted in our study on Treblinka: “Dozens of witnesses attest to have seen how up to three transports of Jews, with 60 cars each, arrived in the camp on a daily basis. The trains left the camp either loaded with sand or empty.” This is quoted by Muehlenkamp on pp. 428f., where he espouses his deceptive argument concerning the “sand removed from the mass graves” during their excavation. In point 43 of chapter 11 I explained that this sand in reality came from the sand quarry at theTreblinka I labor camp. Muehlenkamp now hypocritically wants us to believe that the sand allegedly removed during the excavation of the future mass graves contained “cremation remains” even before the cremations had begun!
This in the context of my having mentioned that "Some of the cremation remains were taken away from the camp area, as is mentioned in the Soviet investigation report about Treblinka I and Treblinka II dated August 24, 1944.". Of course I was referring not to sand taken out of the camp by rail but to the following parts of the Soviet report quoted by Mattogno & Graf on pp. 78-80 of their Treblinka book:
A huge area of the camp was covered with cinders and ashes. The road, which connected the two camps and is three kilometers long, was covered with cinders and ashes to a height of 7 - 10 cm. One could recognize the presence of lime in large pieces of cinder with the naked eye. It is well known that lime is a product of burning bones. There were no production sites in the camp, but cinders and ashes were brought out of the camp every day by the ton. This freight was loaded onto railroad cars, and 20 to 30 peasant carts distributed them and poured them onto the road. (Witness testimony of Lucjan Puchała, Kazimierz Skarzinski. Stanisław Krym inter alia).
Mattogno again forgot to read (and think) before writing.
 Jonathan Harrison, Roberto Muehlenkamp, Jason Myers, Sergey Romanov, Nicholas Terry, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. A Critique of the Falsehoods of Mattogno, Graf and Kues, A Holocaust Controversies White Paper, First Edition, December 2011, online i.a. under [link], hereinafter "Critique".
The “Extermination Camps” of “Aktion Reinhardt” An Analysis and Refutation of Factitious “Evidence,” Deceptions and Flawed Argumentation of the “Holocaust Controversies” Bloggers, 2013 Castle Hill Publishers, UK, online under [link], hereinafter "Extermination Camps".
Notwithstanding Mattogno’s claim to the contrary (Extermination Camps, p. 1296), I have made no statement that would justify assuming that I believe myself to be an expert on the subject of cremation, and such cannot be simply inferred from my having tackled the subject.
See the blog "Jürgen Graf at his best" ([link])
Some weak spots of Mattogno’s cremation chapter, especially as concerns the cremations on the Dresden Altmarkt following the allied bombing attacks on 13/14 February 1945, have already been pointed out in discussions with Mattogno’s acolyte Friedrich Jansson – see, among others, the articles collected under the label "Dresden" ([link]).
Addressed in the blog ""Alleged" Mass Graves and other Mattogno Fantasies (Part 4, Section 2)" ([link])
 H. Rothfels "Zur ‘Umsiedlung’ der Juden im Generalgouvernement", Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 1959, Heft 3, pp.333-6. Cornides himself noticed an acrid burning odor when passing the camp by train.
 A. Silberschein, “Die Hölle von Belzec,” in: idem, Die Judenausrottung in Polen, vol. V, Geneva, 1944, p. 22.
Mattogno, Bełżec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research and History (online under [link]), pp. 14f.
Deposition before examining judge Godziszewski in Zamość on 11.10.1945, BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VI, f. 1117-20, referred to in critique, note 5 on p. 441.
Deposition of Jan Gląb on 16.10.1945, quoted in Robert Kuwałek, Das Vernichtungslager Bełżec, p. 235.
Deposition of Edward Łuczyński, referred to in Kuwałek, Bełżec, p. 233. At Bełżec Father Patrick Desbois met the son of a man who "had seen the ash mills operating in the camp, old agricultural machines that were used to sort wheat from other grains. The Nazis used them to ventilate the ashes from the bodies, and to find dental gold." (Father Patrick Desbois, The Holocaust by Bullets, p. 24).
See the blog ""Alleged" Mass Graves and other Mattogno Fantasies (Part 5, Section 1)" ([link])
So what? Every witness recalls what caught his interest, as already explained.
Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibór, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, p. 172.
See translated excerpt under [link].
Andrzej Kola, ‘Badania archeologiczne terenu byłego obozu zagłady Żydów w Sobiborze w 2001 r’ (‘Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibór in 2001’, Przeszłość i Pamięć. Biuletyn Rady Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa Nr. 4/21 z 2001 r, pp.115-123; descriptions of mass graves on pages 116/117. Translated into English by Katarzyna Piotrowska. The translation is available on the thread "Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001" ([link])
See the blog ""Alleged" Mass Graves and other Mattogno Fantasies (Part 4, Section 2)" ([link])
Yoram Haimi, "Preliminary Report of Archaeological Excavations in the Sobibór Extermination Center November 2012 – May 2013" ([link])
Yoram Haimi, "Sobibór Excavations Preliminary Report: Winter 2013 Season" ([link])
"Mattogno on early cremation at Treblinka" ([link])
Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp. 173f.
Chil Rajchman, The Last Jew of Treblinka, translated from Yiddish by Solon Beinfeld, 2009 Pegasus Books, New York, pp. 85-88.
Stangl is quoted in Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp. 173f.
Justiz und NS Verbrechen (JuNSV), Bd. XXXIV (Urteil LG Düsseldorf vom 22.12.1970, 8 Ks 1/69; Lfd.Nr.746).
Sara Berger, Experten der Vernichtung. Das T4-Reinhardt-Netzwerk in den Lagern Belzec, Sobibor und Treblinka, 2013 Hamburger Edition, pp. 210/211. Berger’s reconstruction of events is based on the following evidence, according to footnote 110 on pp. 548-549: testimonies of Elias Rosenberg, 24.12.1947, Franz Suchomel 14.9.1967, Sholomo Hellmann, 21.12.1959, Jakob Wiernik, 1./2.10.1964, Szyja Warszawski, 9.10.1945, Stanislaw Kohn, 7.10.1945, Heniek Sperling, August 1950, Gustav Münzberger, 14.5.1964 and 24.6.1970; Rajchman, Ich bin der letzte Jude (German edition of Rajchman’s The last Jew of Treblinka, p. 113.
JuNSV, Bd. XXII (Urteil LG Düsseldorf vom 3.9.1965, 8 I Ks 2/64; Lfd.Nr.596).
Deposition of former Ukrainian guard Pavel Vladimirovich Leleko on 20.02.1945, English translation online under [link] and [link]. Leleko’s description of the facility reads as follows: "An incinerator from the burning of bodies was situated about 10 meters beyond the large gas chamber building. It had the shape of a cement pit about one meter deep and 20 meters long. A series of furnaces covered on the top with four rows of rails extended along the entire length of one of the walls of the pit. The bodies were laid on the rails, caught fire from the flames burning in the furnaces and burned. About 1000 bodies were burned simultaneously. The burning process lasted up to five hours."
"Incinerating corpses on a grid is a rather inefficient method" ([link])
See the blog "Dr. Joachim Neander responds to Carlo Mattogno regarding the September 1941 gassing in Block 11 of Auschwitz" ([link])
Mattogno’s attack on this reasoning (or better, his ad hominem against who proposed it) deserves to be quoted because its puerility is extraordinary even by Mattogno’s standards: "only Muehlenkamp could have confused some “furnaces,” which could have been such only if they were single structures closed from three sides like the Fuel Efficient Crematorium (see Illustration 12.11), with simple “subdivisions of the pit by concrete blocks placed at certain intervals across the pit.”". The issue here is not any "confusion", but that the guard Leleko, presumably a simple fellow, could well have used the term "furnaces" for the subdivisions of the pit because that’s what they looked like to him, rather than sticking with Mattogno’s strict definition of what constitutes a furnace.
See Rolf Bender and Armin Nack, Tatsachenfeststellung vor Gericht - Band I: Glaubwürdigkeits- und Beweislehre, marginal note (Randnummer) 137 (translated as Excerpt 2 in the HC reference library thread "Guidelines for assessing eyewitness testimonies" ([link])
The existence of a shallow pit (eine flache Grube) underneath the rails is also assumed by Sara Berger (Experten der Vernichtung, p. 212). Berger describes the cremation facilities as up to 30 meters long and one and a half to two meters wide, and states that there were four to six such facilities on which more than 5,000 corpses were burned every day. At this pace, the burning of about 800,000 corpses, which Berger estimates to have been lying in the mass graves at the beginning of 1943 (p. 210) was nearly completed between late February and August of 1943.
"Here Muehlenkamp offers another example of his shrewd method: If “extermination camp” witness testimonies present numerical contradictions, one can find the truth simply by calculating the arithmetic average of the different values. According to this logic – for instance – if Gerstein speaks of gas chambers filled with 750 people and Pfannenstiel for the same alleged event indicates a maximum number of 125, one can deduct that a “gas chamber” contained [(750 + 125) ÷ 2] ca. 437 persons!"
See Critique, note 36 on p. 447.
See Critique, p. 480.
A case in point is the normally fed minority of Leningrad inhabitants during the German siege, see the blogs "On "Revisionist" error nitpicking (5.1)" ([link]) and "Jansson on 1942 births in Leningrad" ([link]).
The Last Jew, p. 77.
Yitzhak Arad, "Die ‘Aktion Reinhard’: Gaskammern in Ostpolen," in: Eugen Kogon et al. (eds.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, pp. 189f.
Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 174.
The Last Jew, p. 87.
Jankiel Wiernik "One Year in Treblinka", in: The Death Camp Treblinka. A Documentary, edited by Alexander Donat, New York 1979, pages 147 to 188.
On p. 1358 Mattogno provides the following quote of Bednarz, regarding the 1944 ovens: "When the ovens were not in function, they were camouflaged in order to hide them from above for fear of aerial attacks. Over the funnel of the ovens (“ponad lejem pieców”) railway tracks of ca. 15 meters were put and above them iron sheets and foliage (Bruno Israel – 394)".
Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf, Treblinka – Vernichtungslager oder Durchgangslager?, Castle Hill Publishers, Hastings 2002. English version: Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, Theses & Dissertation Press, Chicago 2003. Online: [link].