Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 8: Burning of the Corpses (6). Why Cremation?

Why Cremation?

In his Belzec book Mattogno provided the following explanation for the human cremation remains discovered at Belzec extermination camp:
The cremation of the bodies of the dead constitutes in and of itself neither proof nor evidence in favor of the official theses, because this was the practice in all concentration camps and had a well-established hygienic function. In the area of the Belzec camp, Kola’s findings show that, along a line linking grave 3 and grave 10, about two-thirds of the length of the camp,284 the groundwater level was at a depth of 4.80 meters.285 In the area below, toward the railroad, this level was obviously at a smaller depth; in the area of grave 1, it was 4.10 meters.286 It is probable that the cremation had to do with the danger of contamination of the ground water, as I have discussed elsewhere.287 Fundamentally, however, one cannot exclude the explanation adopted by the official historiography, while giving it a different interpretation. If the Soviets had discovered mass graves full of corpses dead of disease or malnutrition, then they would certainly have exploited them for propaganda against the Germans, as the latter did in Katyn and Vinnytsya against the Soviets.[264]
If, as Mattogno claims, the cremation was related to avoiding contamination of the ground water (this was actually the reason why cremation replaced burial as the body disposal method at Sobibor starting October 1942, see section 1 of this chapter), then why were the mass graves dug as deep as the ground water level in the first place, although for "several thousands, perhaps even some tens of thousands" of dead bodies[265] one really didn’t need pits that deep? The pits near Treblinka I labor camp, regarding which Mattogno conceded "circa 6,800" corpses in a feeble attempt to explain away the Wehrmacht local commander of Ostrow’s complaint about the unbearable stench from the corpses of the "not adequately" buried Jews at Treblinka[266] were only as deep as or not much deeper than the proverbial 6 feet below ground, besides having a much smaller overall area than the mass graves at Belzec.[267]
The major concentration camps run by the SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt may have had cremation ovens, but Belzec was not one of those concentration camps. Smaller sub-camps of the major concentration camps usually had no cremation facilities, and there are also few reported cases of open-air cremation from these camps that the author is aware of, like the bungled last-minute cremation attempt at Ohrdruf concentration camp shortly before US troops reached the area.[268] The same goes for prisoner-of-war camps and labor camps, with some exceptions like the camp Klooga in Estonia (where a similar bungled attempt to cremate the bodies of about 2,500 inmates massacred in September 1944 took place as the Red Army was approaching)[269], the Jewish labor camps in the Lublin area liquidated in the course of Aktion Erntefest ("Operation Harvest Festival"the largest single Nazi massacre of Jews, in which an estimated 42-45,000 people were shot between November 3-7, 1943)[270], and the Janowska and Maly Trostinets camps, which also functioned as places of mass extermination.[271] If, as Mattogno surmises, concern about the Soviets using for propaganda purposes "mass graves full of corpses dead of disease or malnutrition" (as opposed to victims of mass shooting or gassing) was a reason for cremating the bodies of camp inmates in open pyres, then why were the corpses of Soviet prisoners of war at a number of camps in the occupied Soviet territories, where there were tens of thousands of them, victims of executions, starvation or exposure[272], not removed by incineration? Why were the mass graves found by the Soviets or Poles at Treblinka I labor camp not removed by incineration? Why would the Germans at Belzec (and for that matter at Sobibor, Treblinka II and Chełmno) make an effort they obviously didn’t consider necessary at Treblinka I, in the face of considerations that according to Mattogno’s thesis would have been exactly the same?[273] At many a Nazi massacre site in the occupied Soviet territories the bodies were not destroyed for lack of time or because the graves could not be found by the Aktion 1005 disposal squads.[274] But neither of these problems existed at Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Chełmno.
Unsurprisingly Mattogno skipped this issue in his response to the author.[275] Unless the author missed something, the question why the victims were cremated is neither addressed in MGK’s Sobibor book or in Mattogno’s Chełmno book.

[264] Mattogno, Bełżec, p.91. 
[265] Ibid.
[266] Mattogno, ‘Controversie’, p.55; Mattogno, ‘Controversy’; for discussion of this claim see Muehlenkamp, ‘Belzec Response 4 (4)’.
[267] See Chapter 7
[269] USHMM, photograph query ‘Klooga’, Graphic images!
[270] Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp.368-69; Golczewski, ‘Polen’, p.478.
[271] Janowska: testimonies of Heinrich Chamaides on 21.9.1944 and of Moische Korn on 13.9.1944. Klee/ Dreßen (eds), Gott mit uns, pp.225-229, Sandkühler, Endlösung in Galizien, p.183; Maly Trostinec: Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pp.768-774.
[272] Gerlach (Kalkulierte Morde, p.856) lists a number of POW camps in present-day Belarus with death tolls ranging from about 10,000 to over 100,000. According to Gerlach, a total of at least 633,000 Soviet POWs perished at these camps – more than the number of deportees killed at Belzec and Sobibor combined. Even if the Belarusian sources used by Gerlach to establish this figure exaggerated the death toll of these POW camps by a factor of two, it would still be almost twice as high as that of Sobibor extermination camp.
[274] Hilberg, Destruction of Europan Jews, 1985, p.153; Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pp.773-74.
[275] As pointed out in Muehlenkamp, "Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (5,2)’,

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