Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology - Continuation (1)

[Last edited on 23.09.2012 to replace broken link to the extinct RODOH forum in footnote 45.]


Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology - Continuation (2)

This blog is my response to Mattogno’s blog

In Part 1 of my original article[13], I had contested Mattogno’s claim that Prof. Andrzej Kola had been hired to "furnish the 'material proof' of the alleged extermination at Belzec", should therefore have unearthed the corpses buried in the mass graves at Belzec and did not do so due to concerns fitting Mattogno’s conspiracy theories. I pointed out that:

• The stated purpose of the archaeological investigation commissioned to Prof. Kola had been to identify the mass graves in order to avoid their being disturbed during construction of the planned memorial,

• The scope and methods of the investigation permitted by Prof. Kola’s employers accordingly could not include excavating the graves and unearthing the corpses (as this would have been considered an inadmissible disturbance of the dead), but were limited to core drilling, and

• Even the core drilling performed was considered an inadmissible disturbance of the dead by at least one Jewish rabbi.

In his risposta[14], Mattogno acknowledged the stated purpose of the archaeological investigation (identifying mass graves in order to avoid their disturbance by memorial construction works), but claimed that this "official" purpose was mere window-dressing to conceal the actual purpose, which was to "provide material evidence for the alleged exterminations at Bełżec, and thus silence historical revisionists"[15], and that the "official" purpose was a fallback "alibi" in case the investigation did not yield the desired results. He tried to support his claim with the following arguments:

a) An archaeological survey of the entire Belzec camp area to identify mass graves would not have been necessary in order to build a structure inside that area, but checking the part of the area where the structure was meant to be would have been sufficient.

b) Jewish religious beliefs don’t hinder exhumation of corpses, which on the contrary is desirable in order to rebury the corpses in Israeli soil or at least according to Jewish rituals.

c) Prof. Kola’s book about his archaeological work gives no attention to "the problem of the optimal localization for the memorial"[16].

d) Prof. Kola’s archaeological finds have been "touted as ‘material evidence’ for the alleged extermination of Jews at Bełżec" by certain authors[17].

e) The archaeological investigation had not been restricted to the mass graves but also included remains of buildings in the former camp area, which unlike the mass graves were excavated and where Prof. Kola "desperately" endeavored to identify the former gas chambers buildings.

In Part 1 of my response to Mattogno[18] I rebutted these supposed indications of unconfessed ulterior motives behind Prof. Kola’s archaeological investigation with the following arguments:

Regarding a): the memorial, as Mattogno knew, was to cover the entire former camp area, rather than be restricted to a building somewhere on that area, which means that identifying the parts of that area containing human remains in order to avoid their disturbance when building the memorial was a pertinent purpose.

Regarding b): rulings of Jewish rabbinical courts, which Father Patrick Desbois mentions having been informed about by Rabbi Schlesinger[19], established that the burial places of Jewish Holocaust victims should be left intact.

Regarding c): as the memorial was to cover the entire former camp area, there was no "optimum location of the memorial" to be recommended in Prof. Kola’s book.

Regarding d): whatever anyone wrote about the significance of Prof. Kola's investigation results tells us nothing about the reason why this investigation was originally commissioned.

Regarding e): Prof. Kola’s original task was probably expanded upon his finding traces of former camp buildings when searching for the graves, and such expansion didn’t change the archaeologist’s being bound by his employers' religiously motivated concerns about disturbing the dead to keep physical contact with human remains to the minimum indispensable for identifying the areas containing such remains.

Mattogno’s latest production in this context begins with some characteristic bitching, as Mattogno takes issue with introductory remarks in my rejoinder about his response to my original article having taken well over two years to come around and being remarkably extensive for a response by one of the leading "scholars" of "Revisionism" to who he refers to as a nobody he had never heard of before.

The latter remark Mattogno addresses by reinforcing the "nobody" (I guess that's supposed to hurt me – which would mean that Mattogno, apart from having failed to realize how bad it looks on the coryphée of "Revisionism" to be rebutted and exposed by such "nobody", is projecting his own self-importance onto me) and claiming that he is in the habit of responding "to tone" ("a tono") to any "ungifted" one ("un qualunque sprovveduto") who "systematically slanders" him ("mi calunnia sistematicamente") with "false and senseless" accusations ("con accuse false e insensate"). One wonders why, then, Mattogno has failed to respond to almost every criticism he has been subject to on the Holocaust Controversies blog site, much of which postdates my rejoinder[20]. Were the "accusations" in my original article about his Belzec wisdom the only ones he considered "false and senseless"? That would be interesting ...

Mattogno’s response to the former remark (about the lateness of his response) is equally amusing: he didn’t know of my existence because he is not a frequent visitor of the Holocaust Controversies blog site. It’s rather strange that Mattogno should so long have been in ignorance of a blog site on which his falsities and poor research have been exposed ever since Sergey Romanov’s March 2006 article about Mattogno/Graf’s mistranslation/misrepresentation of the Soviet protocols about the Topf & Söhne engineers’ interrogations[21] – especially considering his proclaimed habit of responding to anyone who "slanders" him (see previous paragraph). However, Mattogno’s having slept on his tummy for so long fits what we have seen and commented about the sloppiness of his "research".

After further accusing me of slanderous intent because I started commenting his risposta without waiting until whenever there would be an English translation thereof (I’m a bit at loss about what the poet is trying to tell his readers here), Mattogno finally calmed down sufficiently to start addressing my aforementioned rebuttal.

Regarding rebuttal argument a) (the memorial was to cover the entire camp, therefore it made sense to search the entire camp for mass graves), Mattogno shows a satellite photo and a ground photo to demonstrate that the only building structure (struttura edilizia) in the area whose construction could have disturbed the mass graves is "a kind of trench that runs obliquely from the south-western to the north-eastern side, about 180 meters long and about 5 [meters] wide" ("una specie di trincea che corre obliquamente tra il lato sud-ovest e quello nord-est, lunga circa 180 metri e larga circa 5"). He argues that this "trench" only covers about 2.2 % of the camp’s surface, the rest of which is "covered by stones" ("ricoperto di pietre"), and that it would therefore have been sufficient to check for mass graves in the projected area of the "trench" if the purpose of the archaeological investigations have been of an ethical-religious nature as was "officially" stated. The fact that the whole camp area was searched for mass graves is thus supposed to prove that the "official" purpose of the archaeological investigations was a mere pretext.

This argument doesn’t hold water.

First of all, the design and constuction procedure that Mattogno is suggesting here seems somewhat unprofessional: the people in charge of designing and constructing the "trench" are supposed to have planned its location and course without knowing the conditions on site, and only then checked whether said conditions fit their planning. If it turned out that conditions did not fit their planning, they would have had to redo their design, then check again whether conditions on site fit the new layout, then redo the design again if it turned out once more and they did not, and so on until they finally established a location and course for the "trench" that was compatible with site conditions. Is this really how things are done in civil construction design? Wouldn’t it be much cleverer, and much more economic in terms of design, to establish what parts of the area were eligible for making the "trench" before starting to plot the same?

Second, a look at an air photo of the Belzec camp memorial area[22]:

shows that, besides the "trench" (= item 8: The Interstice) there are the museum buildings and a perimeter walkway surrounding the area covered by "stones", and that inside this area there are darker spots marking the location of mass burial pits. It is hard to imagine for whoever has seen construction work in progress how all this could have been made without disturbance of the mass graves if their location had not been known, considering the movement of machines, unloading of construction materials, erection of site office installations and other construction activities inside and around the area for the purpose of leveling soil, excavating, making the perimeter walkway and the wall of the Interstice and putting the "stones" into place. For some reason, as can be seen on at least one of a series of photographs taken of the site during the memorial’s construction[23], the mass grave areas were marked while the memorial was under construction. What were these marks for, if not meant to keep the graves from being disturbed by site installations, building machines, unloading of building material and other construction-related influences?

Third, it’s not like the building of the Interstice had been completely unrelated to the mass graves in the area. In fact both were closely connected insofar the soil excavated from the "trench", which according to religiously motivated protesters contained abundant human remains, seems to have been placed above the graves and sealed together with them[24].

Fourth, honoring the earth that harbors the victims’ ashes – the idea underlying the memorial, according to Miles Lerman, Chairman Emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council[25] – also implied giving the mass graves a special treatment as concerns protection after the memorial’s completion. The measures adopted to the latter effect are described as follows by Israeli geotechnical consultant A. Klein[26], who also (albeit referring to an estimate of the camp’s death toll superseded by the Höfle message[27]) mentions the special care required as concerns the mass graves during the construction period[28] (emphases mine):

The site reported in this paper was the location of the former death camp (Belzec) in south-east Poland. Within the ground were mass graves (occupying about 50 % of the total area of the site) containing the remains (after burning and crushing of the bodies) of up to 600,000 people. Consequently any construction work on this site needed to be carried out sensitively and sympathetically with respect to the victims. In order to create a new memorial at the camp site it was proposed to place a layer of thin perforated LDPE over the whole site, to protect the mass graves, and to cover the LDPE with a layer of blast fornace slag. During construction of the new memorial it was found that there was a problem with water run-off on top of the perforated LDPE and this water was moving towards the museum at the site. In addition, after the removal of the trees covering the site it was noticed that human bone fragments and ash were working their way out of the mass graves and beginning to move across the site. As a consequence the geotechnical works were significantly amended to include a layer of sand over the whole site and a high strength woven geotextile over the mass graves. A further layer of sand was placed over the geotextile and a ‘herring bone’ drainage system was installed to collect the rainwater that did not penetrate the woven geotextile. A covering of blast fornace slag was then placed across the whole site as originally planned.

Mattogno may want to explain how the desired protection of the mass graves in the Belzec area during and after construction of the memorial could have been achieved without identifying the mass graves.

In his eagerness to get even for my having accused him of intellectual dishonesty (Mattogno responds "a tono" when he feels "slandered", as he declared at the beginning of his piece), the "Revisionist" coryphée lets forth some incoherent mumbling about my "argumentative inconsistency" (what could he be talking about, I wonder) and accuses me of "dishonesty" ("disonestà") and "infantile naiveté" ("infantile ingenuità").

Assuming that the two are not mutually exclusive propositions, it is amusing to be called "naive" by who proposes Mattogno’s simplistic method for protecting the Belzec mass graves against disturbance during and after construction (just check if there’s anything at or by the intended location of the "trench", yeah). The "dishonesty" (furious Mattogno also uses the term "palese menzogna", i.e. "evident lie") is supposed to lie in my having known that the "trench" was "the only artifact" ("l’unico manufatto") to be created in the former camp area (never mind the museum building and the perimeter walkway) and having omitted this important fact when arguing that the memorial was to cover the whole camp area. Actually what I did was to realistically consider the reasonable sequence of activities (first identify what mass graves are on site and then establish the layout of the Intestice) and the impact that movement of machines and other construction activities (related to both the making of "artifacts" and putting the blast furnace slag cover into place) were likely to have on the whole memorial site, besides correctly reasoning that the makers of the memorial would want the mass graves to be protected also and especially after completion of the works. Rejecting Mattogno’s simplistic considerations in favor of more realistic ones is not a lie, of course. But if Mattogno likes to make a fool of himself, that’s fine with me.

Mattogno claims that the recent article by archaeologists Gilead, Haimi and Mazurek about the archaeology of Nazi extermination camp sites[29] fully confirms that the primary motivation of archaeological investigations conducted at Belzec was archaeological and historical. Whence in said article he derived this conclusion he doesn’t reveal, and it is also difficult to discern as the authors write no more than the following about the background of said investigations:

The site was excavated during the years 1997-1999, before turning the entire site of Bełżec into a large-scale memorial. After the excavations had been finished, the site was covered and totally modified to accommodate the monument that was inaugurated in 2004 (Fig. 7). The excavations of Bełżec were carried out by a team headed by A. Kola of the University of Toruń.

Mattogno also invokes the fact that the excavations conducted at Chelmno by Ł. Pawlicka-Nowak of the Konin Museum during the years 1986-1987, 1997-2002 e 2003-2004[30] were not related to the creation of any monument. Why this would support his theories about the reasons behind the archaeological work at Belzec he doesn’t explain.

As concerns Sobibor, Mattogno makes much of the statement on the website of the Sobibor Archaeological Project[31] that the stated objectives of this project include "countering the claims of Holocaust deniers", even though the aforementioned article by the archaeologists behind this project contains rather different statements[32]. What this has got to do with the motivations underlying the earlier investigation at Belzec, carried out by different entities and under different circumstances, Mattogno doesn’t tell.

After briefly musing about the supposed irrelevance of the motives behind Prof. Kola’s archaeological investigation at Belzec (he writes that what matters is what was found and not why the investigation was carried out, thereby suggesting that he’s becoming fed up with defending his own conspiracy theories), Mattogno turns to my rebuttal argument b), the religiously motivated objections to disturbing the remains of Jews murdered by the Nazis.

First he takes issue with my assumption that the Jewish Orthodox rulings that Father Desbois was confronted with by Rabbi Schlesinger "may have been related to the fact that exhuming and duly reburying the remains of millions interred throughout Eastern Europe was an impracticable task", sarcastically remarking that Blobel’s "Aktion 1005" can’t have been good for much if it left millions of dead bodies in mass graves (someone should explain to my funny friend that "remains" are not necessarily whole dead bodies, and acquaint his ignorance with the fact that "Aktion 1005" left a great many mass graves untouched[33]) and that the Einsatzgruppen, according to the related ARC page, killed "only" about 1,200,000 Jews (someone should inform this incompetent "scholar" that the Einsatzgruppen were by no means the only killers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe[34], that Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe did not only include the occupied Soviet territories, and that the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis in the occupied Soviet territories was more than double the Einsatzgruppen’s score[35]).

After thus exposing his ignorance and his sick silliness, Mattogno sees it fit to lecture Rabbi Schlesinger about the permissiveness of exhumation under certain circumstances according to Jewish religious laws, and to this effect quotes a related article by Rabbi Myron S. Geller[36] and four webpages containing photos and/or accounts postwar exhumations of Jews murdered by the Nazis[37].

The article by Rabbi Geller doesn’t help Mattogno’s argument. The author summarizes the applicable halakhah rules as follows:

From the perspective of halakhah, the removal of remains from a grave is generally barred because of concern for the dignity of the dead. Under certain circumstances, remains may be transferred
A. to move the remains to a family burial plot;
B. to move the remains to Eretz Yisrael;
C. for the security of the remains against vandalism or natural catastrophe;
D. for public need; or,
E. if the remains were buried in a plot belonging to someone else.

I don’t see which of the above-mentioned exceptions could have justified disinterring the remains of the victims buried in the Belzec mass graves within the scope of an archaeological investigation connected with preserving the graves on site, but perhaps our self-appointed expert on Jewish religious matters can come up with some creative interpretation.

As to the websites containing photos and/or accounts of postwar exhumation of Jews buried by the Nazis, in all these cases the purpose of exhumation was or included burying the dead in the Jewish cemetery of the location to which they presumably belonged. The exception to the general prohibition thus applying might be that of moving the remains to a "family burial plot", considering the following information from Rabbi Geller’s article (emphases added):

Despite the general prohibition, under certain circumstances the Rabbis permitted or even required exhumation. The Talmud Yerushalmi permits the removal of remains, even from a worthy to an unworthy place, that they may be buried with [Hebrew expression], the ancestors of the deceased. The Taz understands [Hebrew expression] to include not only ancestors but [Hebrew expression], one’s family in general.

The Jewish cemetery of the respective location was probably the place where ancestors and/or family members of the exhumed victims had been buried, thus this exception would apply. But even if that were not so, if the reburials in question had been at odds with the Orthodox rulings referred to Father Desbois by Rabbi Schlesinger, what would this mean? It would mean that either such rulings postdated these reburials or that, like in religious matters everywhere and at all times, there are different views and interpretations within the Jewish religious community, with more restrictive ones being currently entertained by more influential members of that community like Rabbi Schlesinger and his sources.

Besides not helping Mattogno’s argument, at least one of the cases of postwar exhumation and reburial of Jewish victims he mentions may be considered another of Mattogno’s famous shots in his own foot as he refers to sources detrimental to his "Revisionist" creed[38].

The Iasi massacre and the subsequent deportation trains, many of whose occupants perished at or on the way to Podul Iloaei, Targu Frumos and Mircesti[39], Mattogno may blame on the Romanians and/or explain away as one of so many pogroms in history.

The grisly heaps of corpses seen on many photos of Laszlo Karszai’s collection[40] were mostly the work of the Hungarian "Arrow Cross" fascists, and the Jews murdered in the forest of Kerecsend, whose corpses were exhumed and buried at the Jewish cemetery in Eger, may also have been victims of Arrow Cross militia.

The corpses exhumed at Bialystok and buried in the Zabia cemetery in November 1945 [41] were largely of men and women who had fought against the Germans – never mind that these fighters were among the last survivors of a community whose members had mostly been deported to Treblinka or Auschwitz Birkenau[42], two places west of Bialystok (so much for the baseless claim of Mattogno and other "Revisionists" that the Jews who vanished behind the gates of these and other camps were transported to the Nazi-occupied Soviet territories[43]).

But what about the Jews killed on the road from Yurburg to Schmaleninken and exhumed for burial in the local Jewish cemetery in 1958[44]? They were victims of one of the massacres that were the subject of the so-called Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial in 1958[45]. The Lithuanian town of Yurburg, referred in that trial’s judgment by its German name of Georgenburg, was the site of two massacres referred to in the judgment as "Georgenburg (I)" and "Georgenburg (II)". "Georgenburg (I)" took place on 3 July 1941: 322 persons, mostly men but including 5 women and some children, were shot by members of the Gestapo and the SD assisted by Lithuanian auxiliaries and commanded by the later defendants Böhme and Carsten, with the later defendant Hersmann also taking part in the shooting. The following quote is from a partial translation[46] of the court’s findings of fact regarding this massacre:

In this action, 322 Jews were killed, among them were 5 women and some children who did not want to be separated from their parents.
The accused Boehme and Hersmann reported, as they did in every instance, the number of those executed and the place of the execution to the leader of the Einsatzgruppe A, Dr. Stahlecker, and to the RSHA, which reported itself in the Incidents Report SSSR Nr. 19 of 11.July 1941 (source 9i, page 1): "Together with SD-district Tilsit, the Gestapo Tilsit carried out another "Grossaktionen" (larger actions). In Georgenburg (Yurburg), 322 persons, among them 5 women, were shot on July 3rd."
After finishing the execution, a joint meal was held, a so called "Sakuska," which had been ordered by the accused Carsten by order of the accused Boehme. This meal was paid by the witness Gerke by order of the accused Boehme, with the money that was taken from the Jews before their execution.
Directly after he came back to Georgenburg, the accused Carsten told his good friend Os. (witness) on the same evening, without any emotions about that execution. He introduced the discussion with the words: "This morning we have bumped off the Jews of Georgenburg."
After the killings of all the Jewish women and children, a sign was posted at the entrance of Georgenburg with the inscription: "This Place is without Jews. ("Judenrein").

The later killing of the town’s Jewish women and children was the massacre "Georgenburg (II)". The court’s findings of fact regarding this massacre were translated as follows[47]:

One day in July/August 1941 - again it is impossible to determine the exact day - at least 100 (among them a few old men, one rabbi and the others merely women and children) were shot to death in an exposed place in the forest, at a distance from the Schalleningken - Georgenburg road about 30-80 kms. from the German border and about 9 kms. from the Lithuanian town Georgenburg. The execution was carried out at the general order of the accused Bohme, issued to those under his command in the framework of the Stahlecker order.
The accused Carsten, commander of the border patrol at the border town of Schmalleningken (at a scope of 4:1) had already arrested the Jews earlier by means of the Lithuanian Ordnungspolizei, by virtue of a general power of attorney on behalf of the accused Bohme in the framework of a "cleansing order". While the Jewish men were already shot on July 3, 1941, the Jewish women and children were held under arrest together with some old people by Lithuanian assistant policemen, among them the Lithuanian assistant policeman Urbanas.
The prisoners were led along on a 9 kms. march at night, at the command of the accused Carsten by his Gestapo officers and Lithuanian assistant policemen, to the site of the killing. There were women with little babies among them. Before the start of the march the women were told they were about to join their husbands and that they should take all their valuables along with them. At the site of the killing there was a 5m by 6m.(16 ft by 20 ft.) hole. The victims were forced to hand over the valuables and undress, i.e. - the men to keep on their underpants only and the women their skirts and underpants.
After that the rabbi prayed with his flock and then they were shot, in the early morning hours, by the Lithuanian assistant policemen, who were drunk, at the command of the accused Carsten.
There are no further details as to how the killing was carried out. The accused Carsten reported the killing and the number of people killed to the Gestapo in Tilsit and from there to the main department of defense of the Reich and Dr. Stahlecker.
There was no particular mention of this incident of killing in the report of the head of security police and security service (SD) submitted in the Russian region.
Next day the accused Carsten traveled together with his close friend, the customs officer Oselies, who appears as witness, from Schmalleningken to Georgenburg. On the way he stopped near this forest clearing and went on foot with witness Oselies to the mass grave. Here he gave him a description of the killing of the day before.
Later on the accused Carsten brought chlorine plaster [lime], which was thrown over the mass grave, as the odor of decay started to be evident.

Thus the Jewish community of Yurburg/Georgenburg was completely wiped out – first the men and some of the women and children on 3 July 1941, then the remaining women and children on a date in July or August 1941 that could no longer be established exactly. After that a sign was posted at the entrance of the town, stating that the same had been cleansed of Jews.

How does Mattogno explain this wiping out of an entire Jewish community, one of many such cases proven by German documents, depositions before West German courts and other evidence? Will he also tell his readers that these actions "show a very severe German attitude toward the Jews" but "do not confirm the alleged extermination policy"[48]? Or will he lamely and baselessly claim that the defendants told their criminally corrupt interrogators what those interrogators wanted to hear in order to get a more lenient sentence[49]?

Following this excursion to another of Mattogno’s self-damaging references, I return to his attempt to demonstrate that the ethical-religious considerations "officially" stated to be at the origin of the Belzec archaeological investigation led by Prof. Kola were a mere pretext for an investigation actually conducted in order to "furnish the ‘material proof’ of the alleged extermination at Belzec"[50].

In Part 1 of my original article[51], I had referred to and partially quoted the protests of a Jewish cleric, Rabbi Weiss, against what he considered to be a desecration of the Jewish remains buried at Belzec[52]. Rabbi Weiss complained that "despite assurances by museum officials [of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum] that 'we are being careful in construction not to disturb any human remains,'", and despite former museum chairman Miles Lerman’s statement in his foreword to Prof. Kola’s book that archaeological research in the Belzec area was meant to ensure the protection of the graves, "countless violations" had occurred, already during the archaeological investigations by drilling into layers of bodies in wax-fat transformation and later during the construction of the memorial, when visiting rabbis had seen or been told about bone fragments all over the site. I had referred to these complaints in order to emphasize the constraints under which Prof. Kola had been forced to conduct his archaeological investigation and further clarify that excavating the graves and unearthing corpses had been out of the question for reasons unrelated to Mattogno’s conspiracy conjectures.

In his risposta, Mattogno preferred to simply ignore Rabbi Weiss’ complaints. But when I mentioned them again in Part 1 of my rejoinder and pointed out Mattogno’s omission[53], he decided to try using Rabbi Weiss to his advantage. Thus in his latest piece readers are treated to translated quotes from Weiss’ A Monumental Failure at Belzec (ironically such that had already been included in my original article) and another article by the same author[54], in which Weiss laments his "disagreeing publicly with my cherished friend Rabbi Irving Greenberg as well as the American Jewish Committee, whose noble work under the leadership of David Harris has been exemplary". Mattogno doesn’t quote this, and neither does he quote Weiss’ complaints about the approach taken by his fellow rabbis Schudrich and Schlesinger. He only points out the aforementioned complaints about desecration of the dead through archaeological core drilling and the construction of the "trench".

Considering that, as shown above and earlier in this article as well as in my rejoinder[55], Rabbi Weiss’ concerns of "desecration" were obviously not shared at the time by other leading figures of the Jewish religious community, a reasonable person might conclude that there were differences in the Jewish religious community as to the interpretation of rules governing burial places and the exceptions of such rules, or at most that the archaeological research and subsequent construction work at Belzec were indeed what Rabbi Weiss called them – a "monumental failure" under the aspect of respecting the dead and their burial places according to Jewish religious beliefs[56], a blunder due to insufficient care and diligence. Not being a reasonable person but a paranoid believer in sinister machinations (especially Jewish ones), Mattogno claims that this rabbi’s stand against his fellow religious leaders, which he had previously preferred to ignore, is "an ulterior confirmation of the fact that the museum project was a simple excuse" ("Una ulteriore conferma del fatto che il progetto museale era un semplice pretesto").

This unconvincing remark (I’m being polite) is Mattogno’s last shot. He doesn’t go back to his earlier arguments c), d) and e). Regarding the last of these, I had explained in my rejoinder[57] why Mattogno’s contentions stood no chance even if the purpose of Prof. Kola’s archaeological investigation should eventually have become a primarily archaeological and historical one:

This doesn't validate Mattogno’s conjectures and insinuations, however. For independently of whether identifying the mass grave areas was Prof. Kola's only task or he was eventually also commissioned to attempt an archaeological reconstruction of the camp’s buildings, the archaeologist was bound by his employers' religiously motivated concerns about disturbing the dead to keep physical contact with human remains to the minimum indispensable for identifying the areas containing such remains, as I pointed out in Part 1 of the original blog.

I’d say that my friend Charlie lost again.


[13] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Introduction and Part 1
[14] See note 2.
[15] English translation, chapter 1 - "Nature and Purpose of Kola’s Archaeological Investigation".
[16] As above.
[17] As above.
[18] Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (1)
[19] Father Patrick Desbois, The Holocaust by Bullets, translated by Catherine Spencer, 2008 Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pages 129/130.
[20]Blogs with label "Mattogno", also mentioned on the Wikipedia page about Mattogno.
[21] Sergey Romanov, Carlo Mattogno and interrogations of Topf engineers.
[22] Copied from Barbara Buntman, "Tourism and Tragedy. The Memorial at Belzec, Poland", in: International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol. 14, No. 5, September 2008, pp. 422-488
[23] ARC page Belzec Building Site 2003/2004.
[24] Joe Berkovsky, Memorial project in Poland sparks a lawsuit from Holocaust survivor: "The soil excavated from the trench will be placed atop the camp´s mass graves some distance away, covered with an impermeable material and topped with gravel to contain any possible remains, AJCommittee officials said."; Berkovsky, Lawsuit Over Belzec Memorial Withdrawn: "As part of the construction work, he added, any body parts that get unearthed will be re-buried in the mass graves and sealed, Rabbi Baker said."
Emphases in the above quotes are mine.
[25] In the foreword of the English language edition of the book Belzec. The Nazi Camp for Jews in the Light of Archaeological Sources. Excavations 1997-1999 by Prof. Andrzej Kola (hereinafter "Kola, Belzec"), Lerman wrote the following: "In the selected project, the entire area of the camp becomes the memorial. The artists are of the opinion that the most appropriate way of commemorating the victims is to honour the earth that harbours their ashes. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a more meaningful symbol."
[26] A. Klein, "Covering the mass graves at the Belzec Death Camp, Poland; geotechnical perspectives", in: Geotechnical and Environmental Aspects of Waste Disposal Sites – Sarsby & Felton (eds), 2007 Taylor & Francis Group, London, pp. 149 ff.; p. 155 (online preview).
[27] This is discussed in detail in section 4,1 of my rejoinder.
[28] See also Buntman, as above, note 40: "At Belzec site 'work was carried out in order to avoid even the smallest disturbance of the mass graves', which are now permanently protected with layers of 'geo-textile covering, gravel and sand' (Andrew Baker, e-mail, 18 December 2006)".
[29] "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres", by Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek, in: Present Pasts, Vol 1 (2009)
[30] These investigations succeeded in establishing the location and size of the Chelmno mass graves as well as the quality of their contents, as mentioned in my blog Archaeological Research at Chelmno. A book of Mattogno’s about Chelmno touted in another of his blogs apparently addresses these archaeological finds. I expect the respective chapter to contain similarly pathetic attempts to explain away inconvenient physical evidence as Mattogno made regarding Belzec and Treblinka, and accordingly look forward to an English translation of that book.
[31] Under Sobibor
[32] See note 29. Gilead et al make clear that they consider mass murder at Sobibor a proven fact that need not be proven by archaeology, and their position regarding "Revisionism" is the following: "Being acquainted with the terrain of Sobibór and other extermination centres, and also being familiar with writings of revisionists, we take a more reserved position regarding the role of historical archaeology in substantiating the extermination in general and gas chambers in particular. Knowing that the evidence of the extermination centres was obliterated by the perpetrators, we assume that remains of gas chambers, even if preserved in situ, are in an extremely bad state of preservation. If the standing gas chambers of Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau are currently denied as such, there is a minimal chance, if at all, that future exposure of poorly preserved remains of gas chambers will assert any truth in the face of a revisionists’ lie. The archaeology of extermination centres is not and cannot be an instrument to show deniers how wrong they are. We think that documentation of detail is intrinsically important even without the need to refute lies, but we believe that, paraphrasing Evans (2002:237), professors of geography, and archaeologists as well, should not waste time debating with people who think that the earth is flat."
[33] See for instance Dr. Nick Terry’s article Mass Graves in the Polesie and my article Neither the Soviets nor the Poles have found any mass graves with even only a few thousand bodies ….
[34] See Jonathan Harrison’s Perpetrators series.
[35] See the post after my article One might think that ….
[36] Rabbi Myron S. Geller, Exhuming the dead.
[37] The Holocaust Revealed includes a report about the exhumation in September 1945 for forensic purposes and burial in the Jewish cemetery of 311 Jews killed in connection with a a wartime pogrom in the Romanian city of Iasi. The THHP page Photographs Documenting the Holocaust in Hungary contains photos of murdered Jews exhumed and buried in the Jewish cemetery of Eger. The Yizkor page At The Seventh Kilometer on the Road from Yurburg to Smaleninken is about the exhumation for burial in a Jewish cemetery of Jews murdered by the Nazis on the road between Yurburg, Lithuania and the German border town of Schmaleninken. The Bialystok Memorial Book mentions the exhumation, also for reburial in a Jewish cemetery, of resistance fighters killed during the revolt of the last surviving Jews of the Bialystok ghetto.
[38] For further examples see my blog Animal Carcass Burning Experiments by Dr. Lothes and Dr. Profé.
[39] The Holocaust Revealed; graphic photos of the deportations from Iasi can be seen on the USHMM website (query Iasi > Photographs).
[40] Photographs Documenting the Holocaust in Hungary
[41] Bialystok Memorial Book
[42] Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, pp. 396-397; online copy; Dr. Nick Terry’s post of 11 Mar 2006, 01:01 on the Camps and Transports reference thread of the Axis History Forum.
[43] Discussed i.a. in section 5,2 of my rejoinder; deafening silence from Mattogno.
[44] At The Seventh Kilometer on the Road from Yurburg to Smaleninken
[45] Landmark Trial Pushed Germany to Tackle Nazi Past (interview by Deutsche Welle with German historian Dieter Pohl); transcription of the judgment on the THHP website; partial translation from the judgment.
[46] As above.
[47] As above.
[48] Carlo Mattogno, Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History [large PDF](hereafter "Mattogno, Belzec"), page 99; this deplorable remark is discussed in Part 5 of my original article and section 5,2 of my rejoinder.
[49] Such "arguments" are discussed in my blog Jürgen Graf on Criminal Justice and Nazi Crimes and in Jonathan Harrison’s Denier Legalism series.
[50] Mattogno, Belzec, p. 90.
[51] Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Introduction and Part 1.
[52] Avi Weiss, A Monumental Failure at Belzec.
[53] Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (1)
[54] Avi Weiss, A Tribute That Desecrates Rather Than Sanctifies.
[55] As note 53.
[56] It is possible that, although Rabbi Weiss’ position did not prevail at Belzec, the row he kicked up led to other religious leaders eventually taking a more cautious and restrictive approach as concerns archaeological core drilling. In their article "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres", Gilead et al write: "That Kola was allowed to drill mass graves is considered by Orthodox Jews as ‘a monumental failure’ (Weiss, 2003). As it stands now, it seems that mass graves at the Nazi extermination centres will not be excavated in the foreseeable future. Information regarding their location and extension will be obtained by remote imagery and non-invasive geophysical methods that are standard tools of forensic archaeology (Cheetham et al., 2007: 196-206).". If they are right about excavation now being out of the question, I would consider this a most unfortunate development (see my blog Mass Graves at Sobibor – 10th Update.
[57] As note 53.

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