Thursday, August 04, 2016

Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (4)

Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (1)
Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (2)
Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (3)
Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (4)
Mattogno and Father Patrick Desbois (5)

In the previous blog of this series we had a look at the sloppy research, illogical nonsense and insidious but easily detectable falsehoods whereby Mattogno tries to discredit Ukrainian witnesses to Nazi mobile killing operations interviewed by Father Patrick Desbois.

In this blog, we will examine Mattogno’s handling of evidence regarding mass killings and corpse incinerations that took place in areas around the city of Lviv, Ukraine (Lvov in Russian, Lemberg in German) during the Nazi occupation, including a forest area referred to in Desbois’ book as the Lisinitchi Forest.

The witnesses to the aforementioned mass killings and corpse incinerations include three surviving members of a unit of Jewish forced laborers who, supervised by members of the SS and police, were forced to unearth corpses from mass graves and burn them on pyres, and occasionally also to burn corpses of people right after they had been killed. Their names are Heinrich Chamaides, Moishe Korn and Leon Weliczker Wells. Chamaides testified before the deputy of the Lvov district attorney on 21.9.1944, Korn before the deputy of the Lvov city attorney on 13.9.1944. Chamaides’ and Korn’s testimonies were later made available to West German criminal investigators and are transcribed, in German translation, in a collection of documents dealing with Nazi crimes in Poland and the Soviet Union that was published in the German Federal Republic[85]. Weliczker Wells, who eventually emigrated to the US and lived there until his death in 2009[86], was the author of an account including the narration of the aforementioned body disposal unit’s activities, which was partially or fully printed in various languages, including English[87]. Weliczker Wells also before testified before the Soviet Extraordinary Commission[88] and at the Eichmann Trial[89].

Desbois went to New Jersey to interview this witness. The contents of the conversation, which took place in a local restaurant and then in Weliczker Wells’ home, are rendered as follows in Desbois’ book[90]:
We finished our conversation at his house: “You see the wall on the left, it is dedicated to my wife’s family; they painted. That is why that side of the wall is full of paintings. On the other side the wall is bare because nothing remains of my family.” [91]
He told us how he had burnt other Jews with the commando of requisitioned Jews. He told me that the Germans had nicknamed him “Baby.” He was 14 years old at the time. I asked him: “What did you do, Baby?” [92] He answered, “I pulled out the gold teeth of the Jews who had been dug up, put them in a bag and gave them to the Germans in the evening. That went on for a long time because there were 90,000 bodies. There was also my friend who was younger than me, who was called the Tzeler, the Counter. He was in charge of counting the bodies every evening, and writing the number in a little book.”
I asked: “He counted the bodies? What happened to him?” His expression fell. “Of course they killed him.” I told him that I knew that they killed the counters. “Yes,” he replied, “that is why there is no record of the numbers.” I asked: “They made you sleep under some sort of canvas so that you wouldn’t see who it was they were killing?” He answered, “Yes, but I was the smallest so I managed to peek under the canvas. I saw all the executions and afterwards we had to go out to undress and burn them. That went on for six months.”

Mattogno takes issue with every aspect of this conversation except the witness’s mention of his extinguished family. His arguments will be examined hereafter, not necessarily in the order in which they are presented as the main issue – the number of dead bodies – deserves a more detailed discussion, which I leave for last.

Mattogno contends that in his book, Weliczker Wells (who I shall hereinafter refer to as "Wells" for the sake of simplification) makes no specific mention of "gold teeth", but rather of "precious metals, such as gold or platinum", which were not "disinterred" but rather found among the crematory ashes and placed, not in a "little bag" but rather in a "special sieve", furthermore that these tasks were performed by the "ashes column" of which Wells formed no part. While it is correct that Wells didn’t mention in his book that he worked in the "ashes column", there is a specific mention of gold teeth and of a bag for collecting the valuables in the book’s English version, which reads as follows[93] (emphases added):
The work of the ash brigade is to crush the bones that hadn't completely burned with heavy wooden poles to fine dust and pick out all the metallic items, for example, fillings of teeth, gold teeth, jewelry, and so on. These valuables are to be put into a sieve standing near the bench. In the evening the foreman is to bring the sieve up the hill, giving them to the Untersturmführer, who will then empty it into a linen bag which he then carries off with him.

Wells’ mention in his conversation with Desbois of the "Counter", of the Counter’s fate and of the consequence that "there is no record of the numbers", is contrasted by Mattogno with information that reads as follows in the book’s English version[94]:
On the other side of the fire the tabulator was standing. He held a piece of paper and a pencil in his hands. His task was to keep count of how many bodies were burned each day. This is a top-secret job. It is forbidden to tell even the Schupos how many are burned each day. In the evening the tabulator reports the exact number to the Untersturmführer. Even the tabulator must forget the amount after he reports to the Untersturmführer, my neighbor tells me. When the Untersturmführer asks him the next day, "How many bodies were burned yesterday?" the tabulator must answer, "I don't know."

Mattogno points out that Wells doesn’t mention the killing of the counter in the book, but this doesn’t rule out that the counter was killed, especially as only a few members of the "death brigade" survived. Mattogno further argues that the shooting of counters wouldn’t have sufficed to ensure that no trace of the numbers remained, as the counters could have passed on the numbers to other members of the unit, namely to Wells, who kept a diary of the unit’s activities. This argument is not exactly pertinent considering the perspective of the counter, who may have hoped to survive against all odds and had to fear being caught in the act of passing on information to another inmate or betrayed by his interlocutor or a listener trying to curry favors with the SS and police supervisors. From the perspective of these supervisors, the killing (and replacement) of counters at certain intervals would have been just an additional precaution against eventual information leaks, as no member of the "death brigade" was meant to survive in the end anyway.

During part of the corpse disposal unit’s period of activity its members were accommodated in facilities that Wells refers to as barracks or "bunkers". Later, when the unit moved to a forest called the Krzywicki woods in the book, the inmates were accommodated in tents whose features Wells described in some detail, partially quoted by Mattogno[95]. Mattogno argues that, contrary to Desbois’ question responded affirmatively by Wells, the purpose of these tents was accommodation, and not to keep the inmates from witnessing mass killings. Desbois’ question may have been due to a misunderstanding of (or a simplified reference to) the practice, narrated in Wells’ book, of confining the inmates to their accommodations during "air raids", i.e. during mass executions carried out near their worksites. One such "air raid" took place on 26 October 1943. Wells’ description thereof suggests that, despite being locked inside his tent, he was able not just to hear (as Mattogno claims) but also to see (probably for the reason that he mentioned in his interview with Desbois, namely his being able to "peek under the canvas") what happened on that occasion[96]:
There is now no doubt that the entire camp is being liquidated. We have another "air raid," but not like yesterday's. Then we were taken away from the tents; today we are locked in. We hear the oncoming trucks and the yelling of the Germans: "Alles herunter!" (All out!) "Ausziehen!" (Undress!) "Zu fünf antreten." (Step out in fives!) "Unterhacken!" (Link arms!) "Im gleichen Schritte marsch!" (Step together, march!)
Today they are bringing the victims in trucks. Each truck stops in front of our enclosure. It stands there until we are commanded to get into our tents for an "air raid." The tailgate of the truck then opens, and the Schupos shout commands. Over the guttural yells of the Germans one can hear the swishing of the whips hitting the victims.
Of course, everything does not always proceed "normally." Most of the time it, does, of course; that is, the victims undress quickly, wanting to get it over with as fast as possible, and to save themselves from prolonged torture. Mothers undress their children, and the naked mother carries her child in her arms to the fire. However, sometimes a mother will undress herself but will fail to undress the child or the child refuses to let itself be undressed out of panic. When this happens, we can hear the voices of the children. "What for?" or "Mother, mother, I'm scared! No! No!" In these cases, one of the German SD's takes the child by its small feet, swings it, crushing its head against the nearest tree, then carries it over to the fire and tosses it in. This is all done in front of the mother. When the mother reacts to this, which happens a few times, even if only by saying something, she is beaten and afterward hung by her feet from a tree with her head down until she dies.
But I should like to emphasize again that usually the people undress themselves quickly and go to the fire without protest. Some of them even jump into the fire without an order to do so. They have had enough. The tortures have been going on too long. Most of them have already lost all their near ones, and everyone feels that the world is his enemy; even the children in diapers feel this. We are taught that people sharing common tragedy become friends in sorrow. This didn't happen at Janowska. The word tragedy perhaps is not strong enough to convey what had happened to these people.

That said about Mattogno’s minor bickering regarding the conversation between Desbois and Wells, I move on to the numbers issue. Mattogno’s argument in this respect reads as follows:
The figure of 90,000 bodies is not mentioned in the book, and is not the sum of the sums mentioned, a total of approximately 5,100, plus "thousands," an order of magnitude far removed from 90,000. What is more, this figure is in contradiction with the procedures described by Weliczker. In fact, he claims that it took three days to eliminate 700 bodies in June of 1943 (exhumation, cremation, sifting the ashes, filling and levelling the mass graves) and another three days to eliminate 750 bodies in August, so that the average was 250 bodies a day, not counting Sunday, which was a holiday! It follows that the elimination of 90,000 bodies would have required 360 working days, or 420 days including Sundays, that is, 14 months. But Weliczker only spent 5 months in the "death brigade."

While it is true that the figure of 90,000 bodies mentioned by Wells in his conversation with Desbois does not appear in the book[97], the rest of Mattogno’s argument is yet another collection of falsehoods, or at least another example of Mattogno’s abysmal capacity for reading and understanding texts.

The following information regarding procedures and numbers in Wells’ book provides a picture of the undertaking’s magnitude that is rather different from the one conveyed by Mattogno:
• Under the date "June 15th, 1943", Wells describes a ravine that is "over a thousand feet long" and contains "an open mass grave with thousands of bodies"[98].
• Under the same date, Wells mentions that his unit is on a road that connects the Janowska concentration camp with a place known as the "sands". He states that the whole of this place is a mass grave[99]. Later in the book he describes this place in more detail: "In the western section of Lvov is Janowska Street. At the end of this street, as I've said, is a huge sandy area, called the Janowska "sands." These "sands" have high hills, deep ravines, and cover an area of approximately two and a half square miles."[100].
• On another day, "our brigade is opening a mass grave that contains 1,450 bodies"[101].
• Thursday, June 24th: "The Untersturmführer, satisfied with yesterday's work (over two thousand corpses were burned), makes a speech during our lunch."[102]
"Friday, June 26, 1943": three mass graves containing "over seven hundred bodies" are opened[103]. Under the date of the next day ("Saturday, June 27th"), it is mentioned that "In the ravine, where all the bodies are already burned, the ground is turned over to see if anything is left."[104] This suggests that these about 700 bodies were burned in one day and not in three days as Mattogno claims. The following day, Sunday, is a day of rest. Under the date "Tuesday, June 30th", Wells mentions that "The work on the three graves, which was started on Friday, is completely finished today. The fire is dying out, and the people can be seen carrying the remaining ashes in wooden boxes to the Ash Brigade."[105] This is probably the basis for Mattogno’s claim (ignoring the aforementioned entry for "Saturday, June 27th", as well as the entry for Thursday, June 24th whereby "over two thousand corpses" had been burned on the previous day) that "it took three days to eliminate 700 bodies in June of 1943".
• On the same day, there is a mass execution at the work site of the "death brigade", during which its members are ordered to stay in the "bunker"; however some peer through cracks in the roof and report to the others what is happening. When the execution is finished, the body disposal unit is called out to burn the victims’ bodies: "An hour later all the bodies are aflame. They number 275."[106]
• On "Wednesday, June 31st", a large group is scheduled to start on a new working site, which is described as follows: "The graves here are about two months old. The ground is moist, and the workers soon find that the corpses have disintegrated. For this reason the work takes much longer. Instead of pulling out an entire body, one pulls out parts of it; usually the heads are severed from the bodies. We count only the heads. Bodies without heads are not tallied-they are too disintegrated for accurate counting. In one of the graves the bodies are completely deteriorated, with only bones strewn about. The work is gruesome. The inmates are up to their knee in puddles of foulness. With bare hands, they toss the remnants into buckets; they carry the buckets over to the fireplace and toss the contents into the fire."[107]
• On Thursday, July 1st, Wells decides to discontinue his day by day account "because it is to repetitious" and to henceforth "touch only the highlights of life in our brigade". The next chapter begins with the description of a new working place, the fourth area containing mass graves that the brigade has worked in. In this place, "one has to dig very deep before one finds the bodies. The corpses are clothed; they were inmates of the concentration camp six to eight months ago. They lie in layers. Every few feet there is another layer of thirty to fifty bodies. This grave goes down as deep as twenty-five feet and is about seventy-five feet long."[108] On the same page, Wells starts describing the progress that his unit has made in managing to burn more bodies at a faster pace[109]:
"At first, we had been capable only of building heaps of five hundred bodies. After a while we managed to pile up heaps of seven hundred and fifty, and now, really experienced, we can stack up heaps of two thousand and more. The carriers ascend to the top of these heaps on ladders with their bodies.
To light the fire, we pour gasoline all over the top and on the sides of the pyramid. Afterward we make a torch and ignite the fire. There is an explosion as the fire catches and the sky darkens from the smoke.
The length of time required to burn the bodies depends on whether the bodies are clothed or naked, fresh or putrid. Clothed bodies burn more slowly, as do those in an advanced state of decay. The difference in time of burning between fresh and putrid bodies is a matter of one day. Children and women burn faster. But success in our work depends on how much experience we have. In the beginning it took us one week, using much oil to burn the same sized pyre that took only two days using one quarter the amount of oil later on. It's a matter of "knowhow."

"One evening, around July 15th", the brigade is called upon to burn a heap of naked bodies: "Lower down in the heap the bodies are, as usual, distended because of the pressure. All the corpses are heavy because most of them had been men. At 9 :oo A.M. the whole job is finished and all the bodies are stacked up, ready for burning. The pyre is made up of 425 bodies, but its size is as great as that normally built for eight hundred corpses excavated from the pits. That is because the bodies are so bloated."[110]
• Under the date Sunday, August 22nd, 1943, Wells mentions that the work of digging up new pits is "ceaseless"; in the area where the brigade is now, the pits are "about 165 feet long" and "there are about fifteen of them with a total of nine thousand corpses"[111]. Note that this number alone is almost twice as high as the number ("approximately 5,100") that Wells’ partial figures add up to according to Mattogno.
• The procedure for burning the corpses in these new pits is described as follows[112]: "We erect two fireplaces. When one pyre stops burning, we ignite the other one and start on a new heap of the dead. We now have taken to building pyramids of a thousand or more bodies, and have been told to keep using less and less oil. We can manage to do this, for we are now very skillful at body-burning.
Untersturmführer Scherlack tells us that, with these pits, the job will be finished here and we will move to the far end of Lyczakow Street in the Krzywicki woods on the outskirts of Lvov. The deadline for finishing the work here is September, we are informed."

Untersturmführer "Scherlack" was Walter Schallock, commander of the first Kommando 1005 to go into operation in Eastern Europe; this commando was also the only "1005" detachment that did not only unearth and burn corpses, but also carry out large-scale executions of Jews. Schallock’s deputy was Oberscharführer Johannes Rauch. After the war Rauch was recognized on a street in Munich by Wells and two other survivors of the "death brigade", Max Hoening and David Manucewitz. Taken into custody by the Americans, he was handed over to Poland, where in 1949 he was sentenced to death and executed. Schallock, who before the war had been with the criminal investigation department, was the subject of two criminal investigation procedures in the German Federal Republic after the war. Both were eventually cancelled, the first on grounds that Schallock was permanently unable to stand trial for health reasons, the second because of Schallock’s death in 1994. [113]
• Before moving out to its new working site in the Krzywicki woods, the brigade has to remove another mass grave[114]: "Today we start the digging, and the day is over before we reach the bodies.
The next day we go to work at daybreak.[…]By about midday all the bodies are pulled out, the fireplace is built and ignited, and the two pits are refilled with earth. There are 275 bodies. The problem now arises as to what to do with the bones that haven't burned. The Ash Brigade has already finished its work and the grinding machine has been partially dismantled. There is no time to reassemble and start it, because we have a deadline; we must move to our new quarters. We are made to dig a very deep pit and bury the leftover bones."

• On "Tuesday, September 7, 1943" the "death brigade" moves to its new working site in the Krzywicki woods[115]. Work there starts on Thursday, September 9, 1943 and is described as follows[116]:
"On Thursday, September 9, 1943, we leave for our first day of work at this new site. There are many graves here, one next to another, starting about one hundred feet from our camp. The corpses in these graves have been in the ground for more than a year. In some of the graves, beside the corpses, there are also packages of clothing. We can tell from these packages that the graves contain the victims of the December, 1941, action at the "Bridge of Death." [117]
At the order of the Untersturmführer we try to build a fireplace with iron grates instead of wooden logs, but under the heat and weight the iron grates bend, and all the bodies cascade down. Since this new experiment doesn't work, we return to the "old" system, the one we used on the "sands." We build pyres of two thousand or more "figures," the name the Germans gave the bodies. They call us "figures," too. They say, for example: "Zehn Figuren heraustreten!" (Ten figures step out!)
Normally we ignite the pyres on Saturday, and it usually takes until Wednesday for the heap to be completely burned. [118] […]
By October 8, 1943, we are all but finished with the work at this new site – Our last pyre of two thousand corpses is ready to be burned."

Wells’ description suggests that they spent Thursday, 09.09.1943 and Friday, 10.09.1943 building the first pyre(s) of 2,000 corpses, which were then lit on Saturday, 11.09.1943. Assuming two days to extract the corpses and build a pyre, about 18,000 corpses would have been burned or ready for burning by Friday, 8.10.1943. Assuming one day to extract the corpses and build a pyre, the number would be 36,000, as shown in the table below:

• Its work in the Krzywicki woods finished, Wells and his fellow inmates move on "to different places, where we unearth the graves, disinter the corpses, and bring them, in the insulated truck, to be burned." They go "to the towns of Jaryczow, Brzuchowice, Dornfeld, and Bobrka."[119]
• On Monday, 25th October 1943, the brigade is required to burn the bodies of a large number of freshly killed people – about 2,500, judging by the number of pairs of shoes they find upon arriving at the extermination site after having been sent away on the pretext of an "air raid"[120].
• On Tuesday, 26th October 1943, another "air raid" takes place, this time within hearing distance of the brigade’s members locked inside their tents and with Wells also being able to see certain details of the killing. No information about the number of victims is given. After describing this killing and reflecting on why the victims didn’t commit suicide, Wells mentions that every day "different groups of SDs arrive here" in order to watch and learn from "the German method of execution and our expertise in the burning of corpses". When questioned by such visitors, the brigade’s members are supposed to claim that they have been doing this work for "less than 12 days", as a corpse disposal unit is supposed to be eliminated and replaced by another every 14 days; Wells assumes that the Untersturmführer is keeping him and his fellow inmates alive because of the expertise they have acquired and because he thinks they have no plans to escape[121].
• On 27th October 1943, the new commandant of Janowska concentration camp[122] starts making preparations for the final liquidation of the camp, which takes place two weeks later ("All received good coats and suits, and they marched out-to death."). Assuming that they will now also be killed because they are no longer needed, the men of Wells’ brigade start to plan an uprising[123].

The uprising took place on 19 November 1943. Most of the inmates in the brigade at that time (126 according to Chamaides, 120 according to Korn[124]) were killed, only 12 managed to survive.

How many bodies were burned during Wells’ time with the "death brigade" will never be known, though the aforementioned information in his book suggests an order of magnitude way above that claimed by Mattogno. Sandkühler estimated that according to Wells’ notes up to 100,000 corpses may have been burned in "the area behind the Jewish cemetery" ("im Gelände hinter dem jüdischen Friedhof") alone, vs. 60-70,000 in the "sands" and 45-50,000 in the Leisinice forest according to Chamaides. Considering these estimates, Sandkühler assumed that about 100-120,000 Jews were shot "in Lemberg"[125]. The number is higher than the 90,000 mentioned by Wells in his conversation with Desbois, which presumably refers to all areas of the "death brigade"’s activity and not – contrary to what Desbois seems to have assumed, judging by his having called the Lisinitchi forest "the theater for the massacre of more than 90,000 people"[126] – to the Leisinice/Lisinitchi/ Krzywicki woods alone. Interestingly, the number 90,000 was also mentioned by a Schupo (Schutzpolizist = policeman) interrogated by officials of the Soviet Ministry for State Security, who claimed that this number had been given to him by Schallock[127]. The number being much lower than the one originally claimed by Wells (310,000), Chamaides estimate (60-70,000 plus 45-50,000) and the Soviet Extraordinary Commission’s own estimate of 200,000, it is rather unlikely that this witness was subject to any coercion. Pohl estimates the total number burned by Schallock’s 1005 detachment in Eastern Galicia at 100,000. A member of Schallock’s unit testified that Schallock had on a weekly basis reported the number of corpses burned to Berlin, coded as water level reports (Wasserstandsmeldungen)[128] .

Death tolls claimed by witnesses should, if possible, be checked against other evidence. The city of Lemberg/Lvov had a Jewish population of about 160,000 in July-August of 1941, according to the Katzmann Report. The number of survivors is given by various sources as between 200 and 900[129]. Rounding upwards the highest number for good measure, I’ll assume that 159,000 Jews living in Lvov in July-August 1941 lost their lives during the German occupation. The causes of death other than shooting were a) deportation to and gassing at Bełżec, and b) hunger and disease inside the ghetto.

Regarding a), German historian Sara Berger has established the following deportations[130]:
• 15 March to 1 April 1942: 15,000
• 10 to 22/25 August 1942: 38,000 to 50,000
• 18 to 20/21 November 1942: 5,000 to 10,000

So a total of 58,000 to 75,000 Jewish inhabitants of Lvov were deported to Bełżec, leaving 84,000 to 101,000 who died locally. Living conditions among the Jewish inhabitants of Lvov were abysmal, with an estimated 600 dying each month of hunger and disease[131]. If this monthly death toll applied during the about 19 months between the large population movements from 12 November to 8 December 1941 into what was to become the Lvov ghetto[132] and the liquidation of the ghetto (following its transformation into a "Julag" – short for "Judenlager", i.e. "camp for Jews" – in early 1943[133]) in June 1943[134], a total of about 11,000 Jews died of such "natural" causes. This number is probably too high as the ghetto’s population was regularly reduced by deportations and executions, but I will use it nevertheless to establish the minimum number of Lvov Jews killed by shooting. That minimum number is between 159,000 minus 75,000 minus 11,000 = 73,000 and 159,000 minus 58,000 minus 11,000 = 90,000. If one considers the additional mass killings in towns and villages in the Lvov region[135], whose victims were also exhumed and/or burned by the "death brigade", the figure given by Wells in his conversation with Father Desbois must be considered entirely plausible, even arguably conservative.

While the work of the "death brigade" made it impossible to accurately estimate the numbers of victims on hand of their physical remains, its execution was an open secret in the city of Lvov and its surroundings. Adolf Wislovski, interviewed by Father Desbois in August 2005, recalled having heard the shootings and the cries of the victims and occasionally watched the killings from his house, and that it was "hard to breathe" due to the smoke from the fires in which the corpses were burned. He also recalled the shooting when members of the corpse disposal unit tried to escape, having seen lots of bodies the next morning, and that his father was requisitioned to transport the bodies. [136] The driver of Warzok, the last commandant of Janowska concentration camp, recalled in a testimony, given on 10.6.1960, that the stench of the burning corpses lay over the city of Lemberg and mauve and yellow-brown plumes of smoke were in the air[137]. The smoke and stench were such that the local fire brigade was mobilized, leading to the following documentary record dated 23 July 1943: "Janowskastraße: Die Turmwache meldet, daß ein Brand hinter dem Friedhof sichtbar ist. Dort angelangt erklärte die SS-Polizei, daß kein Brand besteht und mahnte zur Rückkehr." ("Janowska Street: The tower watch reports that a fire is visible behind the Jewish cemetery. Upon arrival there the SS-police declares that there is no fire and warns to turn back.").[138]

While the corpses burned by Schallock’s Kommando 1005 and its "death brigade" were mostly of Jews, they also included non-Jewish victims of Nazi crimes. The most prominent of these are mentioned in Wells’ book:
We know at once that these are not the bodies of Jews. It is clear that these had been very important people; we could tell by their clothes and their jewelry. Some of them had been buried in tuxedos, others in very fine conservative clothes. When we pull out the first two corpses, two gold watches with heavy chains and a gold Waterman pen fall out. The pen has a gold band round it about half an inch wide, with the owner's name engraved on it.
The grave is only about four feet deep, so that after half an hour all the bodies are out and loaded on the heavily insulated truck that we had come with. I don't know how many corpses there are exactly, but there appear to be about thirty. A few minutes later the place is returned to its former appearance- we leave it spic and span. After we are counted, we climb back onto the truck, and, about 11:30 P.M., we are back in our tents.
The next day, those who worked last night have the day off. The others unload the insulated truck and put the bodies on the pyre. The inmates, inquisitive as to who these bodies were, start to pull out documents from their pockets. The documents show that among these dead are Professor Kazimicrz Bartel, internationally known mathematician and former Prime Minister of Poland; Dr. Ostrowski, Professor Stozek, T. Boy Zelenski, and others. There are thirty-eight bodies – the very cream of Poland's social and intellectual life. [139]

Three of the above mentioned are among the 38 Lvov professors, family members and guests murdered in the Wulka hills according to Polish historian Józef Krętosz[140]: Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Ostrowski, Chief of the Institute of Surgery, Uniwersytet Jana Kazimierza, Prof. Dr. Włodzimierz Stożek, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics, Politechnika Lwowska (PL), and Prof. Dr. Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, writer and gynecologist, Chief of the Institute of French Literature. Prof. Dr. Kazimierz Bartel, former Prime Minister of Poland, former Rector of PL and Chairman of the Department of Geometry at PL, was also killed but is not listed among those murdered in the Wulka hills, leaving open the question what document(s) pertaining to him it was that Wells found and why such document or documents were there.

Non-Jewish victims of mass killings in this area may also have included Italian prisoners of war[141]. The aforementioned Adolf Wislovski recalled having witnessed the shooting of such prisoners, remembering that they "were in uniform with their little plumed hats"[142] In his "devastating" article, Mattogno quotes the part of Wislovski’s account that includes this detail, then bluntly dismisses it as having no proof value, after referring to the finds of an Italian investigatory commission, quoted in the Italian edition of Desbois’ book, which "cast doubt upon the alleged mass executions", and to an article by Erika Lorenzon which refers to the mentioned commission’s conclusions and to a minority opinion by overruled members of the commission whereby the massacre could not be completely disproven, "although there are still reasonable grounds for doubt which make it impossible to consider the matter proven". Pohl addressed the matter as follows (my translation) [143]:
Also subject to much attention after the war was the fate of Italian prisoners of war, which the Wehrmacht had interned since 1943 in Stalags 325 and 328 in Eastern Galicia. Since 1944 there were Soviet claims whereby 2,000 of these prisoners had been shot in the Lemberg citadel, in a Stalag or in the Lesienice forest. In 1987 the Italian government decided to examine these claims and sent a commission to Lemberg and to the archives. This commission concluded that such shootings had not taken place. In the meantime, however, the commission’s report has been strongly criticized, and Soviet authorities have handed over new evidence.

Pohl’s book was published in 1997, which raises the question how the criticism of the commission’s results, mentioned by Pohl, could have failed to reach Mattogno’s attention until 2009 (when the original Italian version of his article appeared), or until 2015 (when the English translation thereof was published.

In connection with his disingenuous attempt to make believe that the Lisinitchi Forest and the Krzywicki woods were two different places[144], Mattogno remarks that Wells’ book doesn’t mention "any bodies of Italian soldiers" – which is true but quite pointless, as Desbois doesn’t claim that it does[145]. However, Heinrich Chamaides[146]expressly mentioned in his testimony that among the corpses burned in what is called the "Ligakovsk [?]" forest in the German translation of his testimony there had been clad and unclad ones, and that from the clothing of the latter he had recognized that those shot were Russian and Italian prisoners or civilians. This means that, unless Chamaides testimony was published in one of the Polish newspaper articles that Adolf Wislovski collected[147], there are two testimonies independent of each other suggesting that Italian prisoners were indeed executed by the Germans in the Lisinitchi Forest[148]. Given that executions of Italian prisoners was not exactly a practice alien to the German armed forces[149], the accuracy of Chamaides and Wislovski’s accounts in this respect would thus be a distinct possibility.


[85] »Gott mit uns« Der deutsche Vernichtungskrieg im Osten 1939 – 1945. Edited by Ernst Klee and Willi Dressen, 1989 S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The translations of Korn’s and Chamaides’ testimonies are transcribed on pp. 225-229 of this document collection.
[86] See the Wikipedia page "Leon Weliczker Wells" ([link]).
[87] Leon Weliczker Wells, The Janowska Road, first published in 1963 by The Macmillan Company. A second edition with the title The Death Brigade was published in 1978 by Holocaust Library, New York. Quotes in this article are from the second edition.
[88] See the Wikipedia page "Janowska concentration camp" ([link]).
[89] See Nizkor transcripts of Session 22 part 2 ([link]), part 3 ([link]), Session 23, part 1 ([link]), part 2 ([link]), part 3 ([link]), part 4 ([link]). A part of the testimony can be viewed on Youtube under [link].
[90]Holocaust by Bullets, p. 115.
[91] In his deposition at the Eichmann Trial, Weliczker Wells mentioned that he had had two brothers and four sisters and that he was the only survivor not only of the immediate family "but of the whole family including all cousins, uncles, which counted all of 76 members" (Nizkor transcript of Session 22 part 2, [link]).
[92] In what he may have thought was a touch of humor, Mattogno’s translator Carlos Porter rendered this question as "Whatcha doin', Baby?".
[93] The Death Brigade, p. 162.
[94] As above, p. 146.
[95] As above, pp. 194-95.
[96] As above, pp. 206-07.
[97] Wells did provide total numbers, however, in his depositions before the Soviet Extraordinary Commission and at the Eichmann trial. The former he told that that his unit had burned more than 310,000 bodies, thereof 170,000 in the immediate vicinity of the camp and another 140,000 or more in the Lysynychi area of eastern Lvov (see the Wikipedia page mentioned in note 88). At the Eichmann trial, when asked if he could give the court an approximate number of the bodies burned by his brigade, his answer was "A few hundred thousand". See Nizkor transcription of Session, part 3 ([link]). Both numbers are considerably higher than those given by Chamaides (as note 85), who estimated that his unit had burned about 60-70,000 bodies in an area he called the "valley of death" and 45-50,000 in a wood area referred to as the "Ligakovsk [?]" forest in the German translation of his testimony. The Soviet Extraordinary Commission must have considered Chamaides’ lower estimates more credible. In the Indictment on Count Three at the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals (transcribed i.a. under [link]), it is stated that in the "Ganov camp" (meaning the Janowska concentration camp in Lvov, from whose inmates the "death brigade" was formed) "200,000 peaceful citizens were exterminated".
[98] The Death Brigade, p. 140.
[99] As above, p. 143.
[100] As above, p. 158.
[101]As above, p. 157.
[102]As above, p. 165.
[103]As above, p. 167.
[104] As above, p. 168.
[105] As above, p. 173.
[106] As above, pp. 173-74.
[107] As above, p. 175.
[108] As above, p. 179.
[109] As above, pp. 179-180. The claim that "clothed bodies burn more slowly, as do those in an advanced state of decay" is counterintuitive (as clothing contributes flammable material to the burning corpses and bodies in an advance state of decay have lost most of their water and thus burn better) and thus in all probability a mistake in Wells’ account, like the incoherent dates and the claim, on p. 146, that each corpse dragged up from a mass grave "weighed 150 to 200 pounds" (an improbably high weight for small-statured and malnourished Jews from ghettos in eastern Poland). See the blogs ""Alleged" Mass Graves and other Mattogno Fantasies (Part 4, Section 1)" ([link]) and "Mattogno’s Cremation Encyclopedia (Part 2, Section 3)" ([link]).
[110] As above, p. 181.
[111] As above, p. 185.
[112] As above, p. 186.
[113] Regarding Schallock’s "Kommando 1005", see Dieter Pohl, Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944, R. Oldenbourg Verlag München 1997, pp. 379-381; Thomas Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, 1996 Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachfolger GmbH, Bonn, pp. 277-280; Jens Hoffmann, "Das kann man nicht erzählen.»Aktion 1005« - Wie die Nazis die Spuren ihrer Massenmorde in Osteuropa beseitigten, 2008 KKV konkret Hamburg, pp. 91-105. Rauch’s postwar fate is described on pp. 297 – 305 of The Death Brigade and in Hoffmann, as before, note 19 on pp. 92-93. Regarding Schallock’s postwar fate see Hoffmann, as before, and Pohl, as before, p. 420.
[114] The Death Brigade, pp. 190-91.
[115] As above, pp. 193-94.
[116] As above, pp. 195-96.
[117] This action took place while moving into the newly created ghetto the majority of those among Lemberg’s Jews who were still living outside that ghetto. The only accesses to the new ghetto were beneath two railway bridges. Jews who had an especially poor or weak aspect were selected, brought by truck to the forest at Lesienice and shot there. Several thousand Jews, including a large number of women, were killed in this action (Pohl, as above, p. 160). SS-Gruppenführer Fritz Katzmann, Commander of the German SS and Police in the District of Galicia, referred to this operation as follows in the report dated 30 June 1943 that is known as the Katzmann Report (Nuremberg Document 018-L, IMT Volume XXXVII, pp. 391-431, [link]): "Bei dieser Umsiedlung der Juden in ein bestimmtes Stadtviertel wurden mehrere Schleusen errichtet, an denen von vorneherein bei der Durchschleusung das gesamte arbeitsscheue und asoziale jüd. Gesindel erfasst und sonderbehandelt wurde." ("During this resettlement of the Jews to a certain quarter of the city there were erected gates, at which during the transfer all the work-shy and asocial Jewish scum was caught and specially treated.")
[118] Despite their "know how", and presumably because the "iron grates" employed in the mentioned experiment were less stable (and perhaps also less properly arranged, with too long spans between supports) than the railway rails used at the Aktion Reinhard(t) camps and the grates employed at Dresden after the Allied air attacks on 13/14 February 1945, the "death brigade" didn’t manage to burn bodies at the pace that was achieved at these places – see the blogs "Mattogno’s Cremation Encyclopedia (Part 3, Section 1)" ([link]) and "Mattogno’s Cremation Encyclopedia (Part 3, Section 2)" ([link]). Another time-consuming factor in comparison to the AR camps was the absence of excavators to extract the bodies from the graves. Unlike their "colleagues" at Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka, the members of the "death brigade" had to extract all bodies from the graves by manual labor.
[119] The Death Brigade, p. 197.
[120] As above, pp. 204-05.
[121] As above, pp. 206-07.
[122] Wells calls him Hauptsturmführer Warzog. The man’s name was Friedrich Warzok (Pohl, Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, p. 333).
[123] As above, pp. 210-11.
[124] As note 85.
[125] Endlösung in Galizien, p. 280. As Hoffmann points out (Das kann man nicht erzählen …, note 17 on p. 92) there are various designations ("forest of Lesienice", "the Lyczakow forest on the eastern edge of Lemberg", the "Krzywicki woods") for the forest area in which much of the body-burning took place. Wells himself called it the Lysynychi area of eastern Lvov in his testimony before the Soviet Extraordinary Commission (see note 97) and the Krzywicki woods in his book, obviously meaning the same area. This doesn’t keep Mattogno from claiming, in his "devastating" article, that the Krzywicki woods were a place different from what Desbois call the Lisinitchi Forest.
[126] Holocaust by Bullets, p. 111.
[127] Pohl, Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, note 159 on p. 381.
[128] As above, p. 381 and note 160 on the same page.
[129] See the Wikipedia page "Lwów Ghetto" ([link]). Wells, who estimated the city’s Jewish population as 150,000 on the date of the German attack, testified at the Eichmann trial that two weeks after liberation 212 Jewish men, not all from the city, were registered in Lvov, see Nizkor transcript of Session 23, part 3 ([link]).
[130] Sara Berger, Experten der Vernichtung. Das T4-Reinhardt-Netzwerk in den Lagern Belzec, Sobibor und Treblinka, 2013, Hamburger Edition, pp. 416-422. Berger’s totals for Bełżec are higher than those that become apparent from the Höfle telegram (see under [link] and [link]), so some of her numbers for individual deportations may also be a bit on the high side.
[131] Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, p. 207.
[132] Pohl, Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, pp. 159-60.
[133] As above, p. 248; Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, p. 225.
[134] Pohl, as above, pp. 258-59; Sandkühler, as above, pp. 227-28.
[135] Pohl, as above, pp. 67-71, 110-116 (mass shootings in 1941), 223-229 (shootings in connection with deportations between July and December 1942) and 246-265 (mass shootings and liquidation of ghettos in 1943). These pages contain accounts of mass shootings throughout the Galicia district, including Lvov and the Lvov region.
[136] Holocaust by Bullets, pp. 116-120. The interview is transcribed under [link].
[137] Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, p. 278 and note 429 on p. 522.
[138] As above, pp. 278-79 and not 430 on p. 530.
[139] The Death Brigade, p. 197.
[140] As quoted on the Wikipedia page "Massacre of Lwów professors" ([link]). The source given is: Józef Krętosz (2012), "Likwidacja kadry naukowej Lwowa w lipcu 1941 roku", in: Niezwykła więź Kresów Wschodnich i Zachodnich, ed. by Krystyna Heska-Kwaśniewicz, Alicja Ratuszna & Ewa Żurawska, Uniwersytet Śląski, pp. 13–21.
[141] So-called "military internees", a designation given to about 600,000 members of the Italian armed forces captured by the Germans after Italy switch sides in September 1943. See the page "Italian Military Internees" of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial Site ([link]) and the German Wikipedia page "Militärinternierte" ([link]).
[142] Holocaust by Bullets, p. 113; see also Wislovski’s interview on pp. 116-120 (as note 136). Plumed hats or helmets were worn by the Bersaglieri elite infantry, see the German Wikipedia page "Bersaglieri" ([link]).
[143] Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, pp. 113f.
[144] See note 125.
[145] Mattogno must have wrongly concluded otherwise from the fact that Desbois’ first mention of Wells’ book (Holocaust by Bullets, p. 111) follows his first mention of Adolf Wislovski, who told him that he "kept Polish newspaper articles that talked about the commando charged with the cremation of bodies" and that he and a friend had climbed a tree and from there seen "the execution of Italian soldiers".
[146] As note 85.
[147] See note 145.
[148] The main difference between the testimonies is that according to Wislovski the prisoners undressed before being shot, whereas according to Chamaides they were killed and buried in their uniforms. These differences can be explained by assuming that the former procedure (having the prisoners undress, presumably under the pretext that they were to undergo a delousing procedure as they seemed unaware of their impending fate) was adopted in some executions whereas in others the prisoners were shot in uniform, depending on what was considered expedient by the executioners in each case.
[149] Gerhard Schreiber, "Deutsche Kriegsverbrechen gegenüber Italienern", in: Wolfram Wette/Gerd R. Ueberschär (editors), Kriegsverbrechen im 20. Jahrhundert, pp. 222 to 234, transcribed on the reference thread "German War Crimes against Italians" ([link]). Schreiber mentions that Italians killed by German forces acting under orders included thousands of Italian soldiers shot when or after laying down their weapons as well as many of the about 46,000 military internees who perished in German captivity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please read our Comments Policy