Saturday, November 13, 2010

An investigation of Treblinka by a forensic archaeologist ...

... is obviously making "Revisionist" propagandist Thomas Kues nervous.

Kues, as our readers may remember, is the co-author of a book with the instructive title «Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality» and of a preceding pamphet headed Die Akte Sobibor. It seems that it is he who authored that pamphlet's chapter about the Sobibór mass graves, which was commented in the Sobibór section of my blog Mass Graves at Nazi Extermination Camps.

If so, Kues is the author not only of the pathetic conjecture that the corpses found by archaeologist Prof. Kola in the deeper parts of the Sobibór mass graves must have been from inmates executed during or after the revolt on 14 October 1943 (among other nonsense addressed in the Sobibór section of my aforementioned blog), but also and especially of the claim against better knowledge that, when excavating a well nearby the graves, Prof. Kola's team had to stop their works at a depth of 3.60 meters due to an intense ground water stream (meaning that the nearby mass graves couldn't have had the depth of 5 meters and more that Prof. Kola reported). As demonstrated in the aforementioned Sobibór section, the author of this claim purposefully omitted the part of Prof. Kola's description of the well excavation according to which the same was only stopped at the depth of 5.00 to 5.10 meters because of a ground water leak (the first traces of which started appearing at the depth of 3.60 meter but were not strong enough to stop the excavation until a depth of 5.00 to 5.10 meters had been reached), which suggests that it was not impossible to dig graves up to 5 – 5.10 meters deep in other parts of the camp, even if located "not far" from the well, or even deeper than that in dry times when the groundwater level was accordingly lower.

So much for the credibility of Mr. Kues, assuming he is the author of chapter 13 of Die Akte Sobibor. Are you, Mr. Kues?

Anyway, it is this gentleman who, in his recent blog UK Forensic Archeologist Sets Out To Refute Treblinka “Deniers”, takes issue with news that a British forensic archaeologist by the name of Caroline Sturdy Colls is undertaking an investigation of the mass graves of Treblinka extermination camp.

Kues transcribes the following statements from Caroline Sturdy Colls' narration in a film available on a site featuring the archaeologist's presentation:

"Forensic archeology is the collection of evidence for use in a legal case. This can be anything from investigating a single murder to genocide or war crimes.

It’s hard to believe that there has been no systematic search for the six million victims who perished in the Holocaust.

800,000 people were murdered here at Treblinka and their bodies were never found. It’s time we started looking.

I’m a scientist and while I obviously feel the same emotions as everyone else when I read about the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, I need to be able to do my job objectively. So I need to shut out these emotions sometimes, and let the evidence speak for itself.

There are some very vocal Holocaust deniers who use spurious archeology to claim that the Holocaust never happened. That’s why it’s so important that we use the most up-to-date scientific techniques. This can be done, and it should be done."

This is followed by Kues' comments to Caroline Sturdy Colls' statements, which are transcribed and commented hereafter.

1) For any rational observer it is indeed “hard to believe” that there has been “no systematic search” for the bodies of the alleged 6 million holocaust victims. Since it is a given in murder cases that crime investigators do their best to secure technical and forensic evidence, and most importantly the physical remains of the victim, one would think that such a systematic search for bodies – as well as the weapons of crime, the remains of the alleged homicidal gas chambers – would have been appropriate already in connection with the Nuremberg Trials. How come, Ms. Sturdy Colls, that no such elementary technical-forensic investigation was carried out in this case of (alleged) murder of 6 million people?

Caroline Sturdy Colls may be forgiven for not knowing that what Kues' co-authors Mattogno & Graf (Treblinka - Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, p. 84) call "a thorough examination of the grounds as well as a series of excavations" was carried out in the area of Treblinka extermination camp in November 1945 by Judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz, with results that - notwithstanding Mattogno & Graf's attempts to play them down as inconclusive - brought to light telling physical evidence of the scale of mass killing at Treblinka, as pointed out in the Treblinka section of my aforementioned blog and in the earlier blog Polish investigations of the Treblinka killing site were a complete failure …. She may also not be aware of the fact that many Nazi killing sites in the occupied Soviet territories were subject to forensic investigations, the results of which can often be matched with evidence independent of the Soviets, e.g. in the cases mentioned in Dr. Nick Terry's blog Mass Graves in the Polesie and in my blogs Neither the Soviets nor the Poles have found any mass graves with even only a few thousand bodies … and Drobitski Yar.

Kues, however, is aware of these and other forensic investigations (like the one carried out at Bełżec in October 1945 by the Regional Investigative Judge of the district court of Zamosc, Czeslaw Godzieszewski - see the Bełżec section of my blog Mass Graves at Nazi Extermination Camps), and thus should know better than to pick up Caroline Sturdy Colls' statement and hypocritically ask "How come, Ms. Sturdy Colls, that no such elementary technical-forensic investigation was carried out in this case of (alleged) murder of 6 million people?". Not the most pertinent of questions, by the way - a more pertinent one would be what mass crimes of similar dimensions as those of the Nazis, if any, have been subject to as much forensic and archaeological investigation, besides historical research, as the crimes that Kues and his companions deny. Any examples you can provide, Mr. Kues? Preferably of mass crimes whose historical record you presumably accept as accurate, like Stalin's purges and the Gulag labor camps.

2) Ms. Sturdy Colls should also ask herself how it is possible that no-one has managed to locate the remains of 800,000 people allegedly buried within the area of a mere few hectares? [2]

As soon as Caroline Sturdy Colls informs herself about Polish forensic investigations in 1945 (assuming that she is currently concerned with this project, for the film is dated 2008 and may thus refer to an endeavor not pursued at the moment), she will probably realize that actually a significant part of the remains of those murdered at Treblinka - human ashes as well as bones and skulls and even soft tissue remains covering an area of about 2 ha. and buried to a depth of 7.5 meters in a crater excavated to establish the depth of the grave pits, as described by Judge Łukaszkiewicz and partially visible on photographs taken in the context of his investigation - was discovered in November 1945. The attempts of Kues' associates to explain away this physical evidence as not signaling an enormous number of cremated corpses and thus large-scale mass murder are pathetically feeble (see also, in this context, the blog Gold Rush in Treblinka). And it's not like anyone had ever tried but failed to locate and quantify as many human remains as possible at Treblinka. The investigation in November 1945 was stopped because of "the present rainfall and the necessity of a rapid conclusion of the judicial preliminary investigations", besides the assumption that "no mass grave(s)" (obviously in the sense of pits filled with whole human bodies, as opposed to pits filled with ashes and larger partial human remains that were found) "are any longer to be found" because of the Nazis' attempts to destroy or conceal the traces of their crimes, as described by witnesses, and the shape that the area was found to be in when investigated (see the judge's statement of 13 November 1945, as quoted by Mattogno & Graf, Treblinka, p. 86). Apparently the judge expected no significant enhancement of forensic knowledge from digging up ashes, bones, skulls and other partial human remains that could hardly be quantified in a manner allowing for reliable conclusions about the dimensions of the crime, and thus contented himself with the physical corroborations of a quantification based on more reliable indicators, namely documentary and eyewitness evidence about the number of people deported to Treblinka.

3) If Ms. Sturdy Colls had bothered to actually read the holocaust revisionist literature on the Aktion Reinhardt camps published in the last ten years she would know that its critique of the orthodox holocaust historiography concerning the alleged “extermination centers” of Bełżec [3] and Sobibór [4] is based on the surveys conducted at these sites by the renowned Polish archeology professor Andrzej Kola. While Kola pays lipservice to the holocaust credo, his published results leaves no doubt that the orthodox historiographical picture of these camps is untenable, that the alleged gas chamber buildings never existed, and that the number of people who perished and are buried at these sites is much smaller than claimed by holocaust historians. The results of Kola’s research at Sobibór indeed proved so embarrassing to the defenders of the officially sanctioned historiography that the article in which they were presented (in 2001) has never been officially translated. It was only through the study on Sobibór which I co-authored with Jürgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno that the non-Polish-speaking world finally learned about them in 2010. It is most revealing that the leading mainstream expert on Sobibór, Jules Schelvis (who currently is appearing as a joint plaintiff (Nebenkläger) at the Demjanjuk Trial in Munich), in all the revised editions of his – otherwise very thorough – Sobibór. A History of a Nazi Death Camp to have come out since 2001 [5] does not mention with so much as a word the research of Prof. Kola – this despite the fact that Schelvis, who maintains contact with several Polish holocaust museums and institutes [6], cannot possibly be unaware of it. Surely Ms. Sturdy Colls is not suggesting that Prof. Kola’s research is “spurious archeology”, or that he is somehow in league with evil “Holocaust Deniers”?

While I don't intend to keep her from doing so, I think I can save Caroline Sturdy Colls the unpleasantness of wading through the nonsense of Carlo Mattogno's attempt to present Prof. Andrzej Kola's archaeological investigations at Bełżec as supporting "Revisionist" claims that the place was not an extermination camp but a transit camp. She is kindly invited to read the blogs of my debate with Mattogno about the subject, especially the ones concerning the human remains found in and the capacity of the mass graves:

Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 3

Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (1)

Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (3)

Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1)

As concerns Sobibór, what I wrote in the the Sobibór section of my blog Mass Graves at Nazi Extermination Camps should be sufficient to expose Kues' conjecture that "The results of Kola’s research at Sobibór indeed proved so embarrassing to the defenders of the officially sanctioned historiography that the article in which they were presented (in 2001) has never been officially translated", as well as his utterances in the same vein regarding Schelvis' book, as nothing better than a crank's wishful thinking. And I would like to point out that said crank is being somewhat less than truthful when he claims that "It was only through the study on Sobibór which I co-authored with Jürgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno that the non-Polish-speaking world finally learned about them [the results of Prof. Kola's archaeological investigation at Sobibór in 2001] in 2010". Readers of the HC blog site learned about Prof. Kola's investigation results - at least as concerns the mass graves - as early as October 2008, through my blog Mass Graves at Sobibor – 10th Update (which may have been what prompted Kues and his associates to get themselves a copy of Prof. Kola's Sobibór report).

4) I really hope that Ms. Sturdy Colls is indeed able to do her job objectively, despite her à priori conclusion that 800,000 people were murdered at Treblinka. In this she should heed the words of the archeologists Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek:

“It is generally agreed that one of the challenges facing the historical archaeologist is the artifact/text dichotomy. […] If contradictions are apparent and real, we are talking about spaces between or within artifact and text, about dissonances, that may reveal additional aspects hitherto unknown […]. However, to establish if in a given case dissonances exist, the nature and quality of the evidence, of both the archaeological and the historical data, should be reexamined carefully.“[7]

Or in plain English: If established historiography is contradicted by hard archeological evidence it needs to be reexamined and then discarded or rewritten. Even if Ms. Sturdy Colls’ future results would happen to support the revisionist transit camp hypothesis rather than the orthodox “death camp” hypothesis it is her scientific duty to present them openly and without falsifications. A word of caution though: Ms. Sturdy Colls should be careful not to publicly announce any “inconvenient” results until she is safely returned to the UK, as Poland punishes “Holocaust Denial” with up to 3 years in prison.[8] Perhaps better then to proceed as Professor Kola: Pay the necessary lipservice and let the results speak for themselves.

Blah, blah, blah. It is extremely improbable (to put it politely) that Caroline Sturdy Colls' future results will vindicate the "transit camp" story that Kues et al try to sell their readers. Not because there are laws against Holocaust Denial in some countries and the ideologically motivated propaganda that calls itself "Revisionism" (and has nothing to do with revisionism) is held in contempt also in countries where there are no restrictions to free speech (Mr. Kues is invited to sign my Petition to the German Legislator, by the way), but because all known eyewitness, documentary and physical evidence (the latter including the results of "Revisionist" Richard Krege's attempt to demonstrate that there are no mass graves compatible with large-scale mas murder at Treblinka, see the Treblinka section of my aforementioned blog) points to Treblinka having been an extermination camp, whereas there is not a shred of evidence suggesting otherwise, even though documentary and eyewitness evidence to the resettlement of about 1.5 million people (roughly the number that entered the Nazi extermination camps including Chełmno) should be so plentiful as to make Kues' feeble musings about «Evidence for the Presence of "Gassed" Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories» completely superfluous.

Kues seems to labor under the strange conviction that an archaeologist is unable to conduct an objective archaeological investigation if he or she accepts as accurate known eyewitness and documentary evidence about the place or the events that are the subject of his or her archaeological investigation. Maybe this means that the archaeologists who explored the ruins of Roman Pompeji were not objective because they accepted as essentially accurate Roman documentation of the city's existence and Plinius the Elder's account of the city's destruction in 79 A.D., and that the results of archaeological investigations regarding the city or its destruction must therefore be treated with suspicion or dismissed as unscientific - at least according to the strange reasoning of Mr. Kues.

In 2007-2008 the abovementioned three archeologists (Gilead, Haimi and Mazurek) attempted to do what Kola had not been able to do: to find the alleged gas chamber building at Sobibór. To their help they had experts in geophysics, high resolution metal detection, a magnetic gradiometer, a terrain conductivity meter, ground penetrating radar, aerial photography, and GPS mapping devices – exactly the “most up-to-date scientific techniques” which Ms. Sturdy Colls is talking about. Despite the fact that the team from the outset “knew roughly where the gas chamber was located“, and that the area they had to investigate amounted to less than 3 hectares, they had to conclude in 2009 that “the location of the gas chambers is a complex issue that has to be solved, an important objective for future archaeological research at Sobibór“! [9] In the August 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest Yoram Haimi put it even more bluntly: “we’re still looking for the gas chambers.” [10] Another word of caution: It is easy to make a fool of oneself if one clings to scientifically indefensible dogmas!

Has Mr. Kues all of a sudden become an archaeological expert, or whence does he derive the petulant claim that Yoram Haimi should already have discovered the remains of the Sobibór gas chamber building with the means at his disposal and within the (relatively short) times he was allowed by Polish authorities to work in the area?

Actually I wonder if the bigmouthed Mr. Kues knows anything at all about the conditions, requirements and difficulties of archaeological investigation.

I can only wish Ms. Sturdy Colls good luck in her work, which is precisely the kind of effort that we holocaust revisionists welcome.

Revisionists in the proper sense of the term may welcome archaeological work, but "Revisionist" propagandists like Kues fear it like vampires fear the cross, I dare say. Why else would they ramble away, with insinuations against the objectivity of an archaeological investigation, already while the same is under way?

In the meantime I advise her to read Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf’s study Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp?,[11] especially the chapters on previous forensic examinations and the alleged mass burials and cremations (pp. 77-110, 137-157).

I for my part wouldn't advise Caroline Sturdy Colls to waste her time on Mattogno & Graf's screed - unless of course she has the leisure and the sense of humor to laugh at the often self-damaging nonsense that the coryphées of "Revisionism" produced therein, much of which has been exposed as such on this blog site.

The thing can be downloaded for free on this page.

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