Monday, October 27, 2008

Mass Graves at Sobibor – 10th Update

Original article

1st update

2nd update

3rd update

4th update

5th update

6th update

7th update

8th update

9th update

Regarding Greg Gerdes' latest antics on the "CODOH Revisionist Forum" and the VNN thread Archeological Investigations of Treblinka (insofar as they concern my humble person), see my VNN posts # 1525, # 1536, # 1614, # 1615, # 1629 and # 1634. Gerdes is possibly identical with this illustrious "White" specimen, which would certainly fit the fellow’s behavior.

Part of these posts is related to my visits between 14 and 16 October 2008 to the area of former Sobibor extermination camp, where I was supposed to meet Gerdes, his sister-in-spirit "Eireann Goddess" (EG) and the lady’s attorney and personal bodyguards on 15.10.2008 at 10 hours local time. I showed up, they did not. Not a big surprise for who has come across as many bigmouthed "Revisionist" windbags as I have.

But the reason for my going to Sobibor was not, or not only, an expected confrontation with this scum of mankind. I had booked the trip in the hope that there would be excavations by the Sobibor Archaeological Project at this time, and when this hope did not materialize, I decided that it would nevertheless be worthwhile to familiarize myself with the location and see what the mass grave areas identified in 2001 by Prof. Andrzej Kola and partially visible on air and satellite photographs, which are the subject of this article, looked like from ground perspective. I also wanted to check the accuracy of information on the Wikipedia page about Sobibor, referred to in this article's 3rd Update, that "close to the burial pits, bone fragments still litter the area".

What I found on site is recorded in the photographs and stills from video films available on the HC forum's thread My Trip to Sobibor. [Updated on 03.03.2012 to replace broken link - RM.]

The bone fragments I came upon in some parts of the area around the "ash mountain" memorial, especially by the path leading to the memorial and in places where soil had been dug up by wild animals or by robbery diggers, confirmed the Wikipedia information quoted above. I therefore inserted a footnote reference to the aforementioned RODOH thread on the Wikipedia page. Below are some of the photos of bone fragments I took at Sobibor.

Some of the bone fragments I found show clear signs of having been burned. Particularly interesting are the bone fragments white on the outside and black on the inside, of which the photo series above shows two. I presume that these colors show different stages of calcination, the white being the more advanced stage.

Besides bone fragments, I also found lumps of a white-gray substance with a chalk-like consistency that I couldn't identify, which are shown in the photos below:

On the RODOH thread Can I come too?, where my finds are also being discussed, the poster "nexgen586" (post # 652) has speculated that these lumps might consist of lime, either unslaked lime used in body disposal or slaked lime used for construction.

Of no less interest than certain objects lying around there is the aspect of the area itself, namely the holes or budges suggesting abnormal earth movement and the obvious contrast in vegetation growth between various parts of the area. I have tried to convey both in some of my photographs and video film stills, for instance the following:

This is what the soil in the more barren parts of the area around the "ash mountain" looks like:

And this is the aspect of the soil in one of the greener areas:

At this point I felt tempted to dig a deep hole and see if I came upon further bone fragments or other remains. I didn't do so because I didn't have the required permission, but I think this is definitely what should be done, in the context of current endeavors by the Sobibor Archaeological Project and its competitors at University of Hartford to document this Nazi extermination camp and fight Holocaust denial by archaeological means.

For what can be a more effective means to fight "Revisionism" than bringing the contents of the mass graves to the surface, having the human cremation remains analyzed by a forensic expert to certify that they are human remains, quantifying them as precisely as possible, and thoroughly documenting with reports, photographs and video clips every step of the process, ever single core sample, every layer of human ashes and every human bone, bone fragment and tooth that is found?

And what can be less effective in this context than an archaeological reconstruction of the Sobibor extermination camp that does not include a detailed and thorough investigation and documentation of the contents of the Sobibor mass graves?

As I already said in my previous update, the former would be a deadly blow to "Revisionism". The latter, on the other hand, would be much hard work not worth the effort.

It should be added that thoroughly documenting the contents of the mass graves is probably easier, in terms of archaeological work, than identifying the remains of the gas chamber building or other structures or objects in the camp. For in the former respect archaeologists can take advantage of the work done in 2001 by Prof. Andrzej Kola. In an article recently brought to my knowledge, written in 2001 for a bulletin of the Rada ochrony pamieci walk i meczenstwa ("Council for Protection of the Memory of Fighting and Martyrdom", a semi-official Polish entity that is in charge of memorials), Prof. Kola described the location and essential features of the mass graves, and also plotted them on two maps attached to the article. These are the maps:

And this is an English translation of the text describing the mass graves, which I recently obtained from a Polish lady living in Portugal:

Grave no 1 is located in the north - eastern part of hectare 17, just west from the memorial to victims. The site was excavated by 27 drills. Horizontally, it measures 20 x 20 m and is up to 4.30 m deep. It was a body burning grave.

Grave no 2 is located in the western part of the hectare 17, south from the memorial. It was excavated by 28 drills. Horizontally its shape is irregular, measuring at least 20 x 25 m – with its longer side in NS position – and with depth up to 4 metres. It was a body burning grave.

Grave no 3 is located in the south- western part of hectare 11 and north - western part of hectare 17. It was excavated by 17 drills. Horizontally, it's irregular, measuring around 20 x 12 m - with its longer side in NS position. The biggest part of the grave is located under north - western part of the memorial. It’s up to 5.80 m deep. In bottom layers, the grave is bony, with human remains in wax- fat transformation. The upper layers are a mixture of burnt body remains with layers of lime stone, sand and charcoal. The northern part of the grave is located near to northern part of the grave no 4. The more precise location of the graves requires additional research.

Grave no 4. It’s a grave with significant size, located in southern part of hectare 11, as well as northern and central parts of hectare 18. It was excavated by 78 drills. Horizontally, in NS position, it measures 70 x 20-25 m with the depth of around 5m. In bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax- fat transformation. The upper layers are a mixture of burnt body remains with layers of lime stone, sand and charcoal.


Grave no 5. It’s not a very vast grave, located in the north-western part of hectare 18. It was excavated by 7 drills. Horizontally, it's irregular, measuring at least 10 – 12 m, with its depth up to 4.90 m. In its bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax-fat transformation. In the upper layers – burnt body remains.

Grave no 6. It’s located in the central part of hectare 18, south from grave no 5. It was excavated by 22 drills. Horizontally, it’s irregular, measuring at least 15 x 25 m, with its depth up to 3.05 m. In its bottom layers the grave is bony, with human remains in wax-fat transformation. The upper layers - burnt body remains.

Grave no 7. Location of body burning activity, measuring at least 10 x 3 m, with its depth up to 0.90 m, in the central part of hectare 18, around 10-12 m south from the southern side of grave 4. The vast majority of burnt body remains were found in 6 drills. Around, vast ground transformation of an uncertain genesis. Only because of the burnt body remains found, the structure was thought of as a grave. In order to state the function of the place more accurately, further archaeological research needs to be conducted.

Comparing the above description with the second of the maps shown above, I noticed some mistakes in the mention of geographical directions, namely confusions between "north-eastern" and "north-western". These mistakes, as the translator confirmed, are in Prof. Kola's original text. By reading the respective geographical directions correctly, I managed to pinpoint the graves described on the map, as follows:

The mass graves visible on air and satellite photographs, shown before in this article, are pointed out below according to Prof. Kola's numbering sequence (graves 2, 6, 3 and 4), as are the graves not clearly distinguishable from satellite perspective (graves 1, 5 and 7):

So the mass grave areas are known with what seems to me a degree of precision sufficient to delimit the area where further core drilling and excavation should be done. And new technologies like ground-penetrating radar can further help archaeologists determine where exactly they can expect to find human remains.

This being so, and the given the willingness on the part of at least one of the archaeologists involved (Yoram Haimi, director of the Sobibor Archaeological Project) to do a thorough professional job, the only hindrances standing in the way of documenting in detail what's inside the Sobibor mass graves and thus hitting "Revisionists" where it hurts most are "holy ground" considerations on the part of the Polish government, and eventually also religiously motivated objections against "disturbing the dead".

I hope that these hindrances will soon be overcome. Historical and archaeological knowledge would greatly benefit from it, and I can think of no better way to honor the memory of the people murdered at Sobibor than documenting their remains in as much detail as possible.

PS, 01.11.2008

Gerdes' panicky reaction to this update and other Gerdian nonsense on the "CODOH Revisionist Forum" are discussed in my VNN posts # 1650, # 1651 and # 1662.

Update, 10.06.2012

One of the clips I shot at Sobibór on 14.10.2008 is now available on YouTube.

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