Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 7: Mass Graves (2). Number, Dimensions and Contents of the Mass Graves.

Number, Dimensions and Contents of the Mass Graves

Some of the mass graves of Belzec extermination camp were excavated in 1945 by Polish criminal justice authorities. In his book about Belzec, Carlo Mattogno provided partial translations from the related investigation reports, which speak for themselves:
On October 12, 1945, the Regional Investigative Judge of the district court of Zamosc, Czeslaw Godzieszewski, presented an "Account of the diggings in the cemetery of the Belzec extermination camp," in which he set down the findings from the inspection of the Belzec camp he had made that day, aided by 12 workers. In this context, he wrote:    "The opening labeled No. 1 was taken down to a depth of 8 m and a width of 10 m and attained the bottom level of the graves. During the operation, at a depth of about 2 m, we struck the first layer of ash stemming from incinerated human bodies, mixed with sand. This layer was about 1 m thick. The next layer of ash was discovered at a depth of 4 – 6 meters. In the ash removed, some charred remains of human bodies were found, such as hands and arms, women’s hair, as well as human bones not totally burnt. We also recovered pieces of burnt wood. In trench No. 1, the layer of human ash stopped at a depth of 6 meters. The opening labeled No. 2 was taken down to a depth of 6 meters. In this trench, the layer of human ash began at a depth of 1.5 m and continued down to a depth of some 5 m, with occasional breaks. Here, too, the ash contained human hair, part of a human body, pieces of clothing, and remnants of incompletely burnt bones. Openings labeled Nos. 3 and 4 were freed to a depth of 3 meters. In hole No. 4, at a depth of 80 cm, we found a human skull with remnants of skin and hair, as well as two shinbones and a rib. Furthermore, at a level of between one and three meters, these holes yielded human ash mixed with sand and fragments of incompletely burnt human bones. Openings labeled Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were dug to a depth of 2 m, but showed only human ash mixed with sand and human bones, such as jawbones and shinbones. Throughout all the excavations it was observed that the camp cemetery had already been disturbed by wildcat diggings; this is borne out by the fact that the layers of human ash are not uniform but mixed with sand. The recovered human bones; the bodily remains, which where in a state of complete decomposition; and the ash were collected in a common location to await the arrival of the district surgeon. Work was stopped at 17:30 hours."The next day, October 13, 1945, the findings were inspected by the coroner. The subsequent report describes primarily the results of the examination performed by the judge and the coroner:"During the inspection of the area of the extermination camp, particularly during the excavations at the place of the cemetery on October 12, 1945, a large number of human bones were found, such as skulls, parts of skulls, vertebrae, ribs, collarbones, shoulder blades, arm bones, lower legs, wrists, fingers, pelvic bones, thigh bones, lower legs, and foot bones. Some of the bones mentioned are either partly burnt or had not been burnt at all. Except for a few skulls showing rotting scalp and hair, the majority of the bones are free from soft tissue. Among the remains of human bodies recovered on October 12, 1945, we identified two forearms and a lumbar portion of the backbone with some soft tissue and traces of carbonization. The lumbar section belongs to an adult, whereas the forearms come from a child a few years old. From the size of the various bones one can conclude that they belong to persons of different age groups, from two-year-olds up to very old people, as borne out by toothless jaws and numerous dentures. Among the jawbones found there was one partially burnt specimen containing milk teeth as well as incipient permanent teeth, which indicates that it belongs to a person 7 to 8 years of age. No traces of bullet holes or other mechanical wounds were found on the skulls. The long bones show no traces either of gunshot wounds or fractures. Because of the advanced state of decomposition it was very difficult to say to what organs the recovered shapeless portions of soft tissue from human bodies might belong. In a hole dug by the local population in a search for gold and valuables, two lower legs belonging to a two-year-old child were discovered. These members are partly decomposed, partly mummified. The area of the cemetery, in particular the wildcat holes, is covered with layers of human ash of varying breadth, which stem from the incineration of human corpses and wood; they are intermingled with sand in varying proportions. The color of the ash varies between light-ash and dark gray; the ash has a heavy consistency and smells of decomposing human bodies. In the ash, charred human bones as well as pieces of charcoal are clearly visible. In the lower strata of the ash the smell of decomposition is more pronounced than in the layers nearer the surface. The hair discovered belongs mainly to women, as shown by their length and by the type of arrangement (braids and buns fixed with hairpins). In addition to natural hair, we encountered ladies’ wigs as well. With this, the inspection was terminated." [5]
The coroner’s report about the inspection of the corpses is followed by an expert opinion not transcribed and translated by Mattogno:
Expert OpinionOn grounds of the postmortem examination made I find that the aforementioned bones and soft tissue parts as well as the ash are predominantly of human origin. A very small part comes from wood. Judging by the huge amount of ash and bones I assert that the same must be from a very large quantity of human bodies. The small soft tissue parts of human bodies that are in the ash and not completely carbonized issue a smell that is caused by the decomposition process of the remains of human soft tissue parts. This smell is also caused by the fact that the soil is soaked by the masses of decomposing human corpses that were burned after having been extracted from the soil. Considering the sandy soil in which the human corpses were burned and the state of decomposition of the body parts found, one has to assume that these corpses were presumably buried about 3 years ago. The human body parts not carbonized and the huge amount of hair proves that some corpses were buried after the time when the corpse burning in the extermination camp was stopped, eventually they may also be corpses that were not extracted from the mass grave during cremation. Due to the fact that the skull bones show no traces of shots, it must be assumed that these people did not die from shooting.[6]Signature: Dr. Mieczyslaw Pietraszkiewicz 
Further complementing the reports partially quoted by Mattogno there is the report of an official inspection of the Belzec site on October 10, 1945, obviously by the same examining judge.[7] The following excerpt illustrates the extent of the mess of human ashes and other partial remains, brought to the surface by robbery diggers, and especially the size of the area covered by that mess:
Along the camp’s northern border, from about the middle until the point where it touches the eastern border, the camp area is churned up and plowed through in a width of about 100 meters. Also a strip along the whole eastern border is dug up and churned up in a width reaching up to the middle of the whole camp area. According to information from the assisting public servants of the citizens’ militia from the militia post in Belzec, the described churning-up of the camp area comes from the neighboring population, which was searching for gold and jewels left behind by the murdered Jews. In the churned-up area there lie huge amounts of scattered human bones, skulls, vertebrae, ribs, shinbones, jawbones, tooth implants made of rubber, hair (mainly female and often braided), furthermore pieces of decomposed human flesh like hands and lower limbs of little children. Furthermore there lie on the whole area described above huge amounts of ashes from the burned victims as well as remains of the burned human bones. From the deeply dug-up holes there comes the smell of decomposing human bodies. All this proves that the camp area along the northern and eastern border is a continuous common grave of the people murdered in the camp.
A photo showing a pit made by robbery diggers can be found in the archives of the Ghetto Fighters House (Image 7.1).[8] Another photo from the same source[9] possibly shows some of the human remains examined by the Polish coroner whose report is quoted by Mattogno (Image 7.2).
Image 7.1

Image 7.2

A detailed archaeological investigation, conducted in 1997-1999 by archaeologist Prof. Andrzej Kola of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland, led to the discovery, approximate measurement, and establishment of the contents of 33 mass graves in the Belzec area. Kola’s book about this archaeological investigation[10] contains exemplificative core sample drawings from some of these graves, plans and sections of each grave and a description of each grave and its contents (cremation remains as well as whole corpses in some of the graves), as established by core drilling. Digital copies of the core sample drawings, plans and sections of the mass graves and descriptions of the same are available online[11]. Kola’s finds about the mass graves at Belzec have been the subject of a lengthy discussion between Mattogno and the author of this chapter.[12] The most important claims and arguments presented by Mattogno in this discussion will be addressed in the present chapter.
Descriptions of the Belzec mass graves can also be found in a report prepared by Michael Tregenza, a British researcher who accompanied the Belzec excavations[13], and in a book by another researcher, Robin O’Neil.[14] Tregenza’s descriptions differ from Kola’s as concerns the graves’ measurements and interpretation of their contents, and their graphic detail contrasts with the sober, aseptic descriptions of the mass graves in Kola’s book.
The presence of corpses in wax fat transformation[15] besides cremation remains is mentioned in Kola’s description of the graves numbered 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 20, 25, 27, 28 and 32. Core drilling by Kola’s team came upon corpse layers up to 2 meters thick[16] in the graves’ lower parts. Why these corpses were left in the graves and not cremated by the SS is not known. Tregenza surmised that "perhaps after five months of supervising day and night the gruesome work of exhuming and cremating the hundreds of thousands of rotting remains the SS had simply had enough, and against orders, abandoned the task."[17] A likelier explanation is that the SS simply found it too difficult to extract these corpses from the bottom of the graves, as is mentioned regarding Treblinka extermination camp by survivor eyewitness Oscar Strawczyinski, who wrote that the graves "could never be emptied entirely, because blood mixed with water accumulated at the bottom"[18].
The measurements of the mass graves reported by Kola and his estimates of the graves’ volumes are shown in the Table 7.1. Where the author made assumptions because the graves do not have a rectangular shape or no measurement data were provided, this is pointed out in the notes. Kola’s volume estimates are not identical with the volumes established by multiplying the values for a grave’s length, width and depth in the table, but tend to be smaller, sometimes considerably so, for example in graves nos. 1 (1,500 vs. 2,304 m³), 8 (850 vs. 1,120 m³) and 20 (1,150 vs. 1,430 m³). The total volume of all graves according to Kola’s estimates is 21,310 cubic meters, of which 15,840 cubic meters (line "Subtotals") correspond to graves in which the estimated volume is smaller than the calculated volume in Table 2.1.1. The sum of estimated volumes in these graves (15,840 m³) is about 86.6 % of the sum of calculated volumes in the line "Subtotals" (18,290 m³). This difference is probably due not or not only to the author’s assumptions or the irregular shape of some graves (graves nos. 1, 8 and 20 are regularly shaped rectangles), but also and especially to the sloping of the graves’ walls in order to achieve greater stability in the sandy soil of Belzec, which led to graves being narrower at the bottom than at the top. The deeper a grave, the higher the volume reduction due to sloping is likely to be. For a grave 50 meters long, 25 meters wide and 10 meters deep (50 x 25 x 10 = 12,500 cubic meters), Alex Bay calculated an actual volume (considering the walls’ sloping) of 8,502 cubic meters, i.e. 68 % of the volume calculated by multiplying length, width and depth.[19] The graves at Belzec were not that deep and the volume loss due to sloping was thus probably less. Nevertheless, it seems recommendable to apply at least the percentage mentioned above (actual volume = 86.6 % of volume calculated by multiplying measurements) when estimating the volume of a mass grave based on its length, width and depth.
Matching Kola's maps with his analysis of wartime air photographs, Alex Bay argues that Kola did not discover all of the Nazi mass graves at Belzec.[20] Bay’s demonstration is persuasive enough[21] to at least consider the possibility that the mass grave volume available at Belzec was somewhat higher than what becomes apparent from Kola’s estimates. However, as Bay’s study provides no data that would allow for calculating the size and volume of the additional graves he points out, it will be assumed in the following that the grave volume available for burial at Belzec was as estimated by Kola.
A description of the Sobibor site during postwar examinations by investigating judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz is quoted in Mattogno, Graf & Kues’ book about Sobibor[22]. Łukaszkiewicz mentioned that "in the central part of the area, presumably at the sites used for burial of the ashes, there is a growth of young firs covering some 1,200 square meters" and that diggings "showed the presence of ashes and of bone fragments mixed with ashes below a layer of sand half a meter thick," furthermore that over the whole area of the camp "human bones can be found here and there." He referred to an opinion prepared by the institute of forensic medicine of the Jagiellonian University whereby "the bones sent there for analysis were human bones," and an opinion of the institute of forensic medicine at Cracow indicating that "the sand removed from the diggings is mixed with bone ashes and fat."

Table 7.1 Measurements of the Belzec Mass Graves[23]

Photos presumably related to the site inspection conducted by Polish investigators or to robbery digging in the former extermination camp’s area can be found in the Archives of the Ghetto Fighters’ House[24] including those shown in Images 7.3 and 7.4 below.[25]
Image 7.3
Image 7.4

Bone fragments still littered the area around the Sobibor mass graves and memorial when the author visited it on October 14-16, 2008.[26]
Like the area of Belzec extermination camp, the Sobibor area was also subject to an archaeological investigation headed by the same Prof. Andrzej Kola who had conducted the archaeological investigation at Belzec. The location, size and contents of the mass graves surrounding the Sobibor memorial were described as follows in Kola’s report about his archaeological research:
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 x 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. [27]
Kola’s findings about the location and shape of the mass graves are plotted on two maps on pages 122 and 123 of the cited publication, the larger of which is shown below (Image 7.5); numbering of the graves according to the above-quoted description was added by the author.
The mapping of archaeological finds is corroborated by the coincidence of some of these graves with greener areas clearly visible on a satellite photograph of the Sobibor memorial area, as shown in Image 7.6 below.[28]

Image 7.5

Image 7.6

They are also corroborated by air photos published in an article by archaeologists Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek, who are carrying out further investigations on the Sobibor site.[29]
Kola’s descriptions of the mass graves contain the information required to calculate the available burial volume, applying the percentage established above (ca. 86.6 %) to take account of volume loss due to sloping of the grave walls. Grave # 7, which according to the archaeologist’s description was obviously a cremation site or a pit to dump cremation remains but never a burial grave, was not included in the list.
According to Kola’s description, two of the graves in Table 7.2 – nos. 1 and 2 – were mere body-burning graves, never used to bury whole corpses. Assuming that the archaeologist’s findings are correct, this means that only graves 3, 4, 5 and 6, with a total volume (corrected for sloping) of 9,525 cubic meters, were used for burial at Sobibor extermination camp. A look at the annotated satellite image above (Image 7.6) shows that graves nos. 3 and 4 were next to each other, and so were graves nos. 5 and 6. This suggests the possibility that each of these pairs was a single grave during camp times, which would explain why former SS-man Bolender spoke of two graves in his deposition on December 18, 1963 in Hagen.[30]
Table 7.2 Measurements of the Sobibor Mass Graves
Unlike the areas of the other two extermination camps of Aktion Reinhard, the area of Treblinka extermination camp has not yet been subject to an archaeological investigation. The most thorough investigation of the Treblinka site to this day was carried out in November 1945 by Judge Zdzisław Łukaszkiewicz. The thoroughness of this investigation is acknowledged even by Mattogno & Graf (M&G), who provide what they claim to be a complete translation of the report of November 13, 1945 signed by Examining Judge Łukaszkiewicz and State Attorney Maciejewski.[31] M&G also quote parts of Łukaszkiewicz' protocol dated December 29, 1945, which was presented by the Soviets at the Nuremberg Trial as Document USSR-344.[32] The parts of either report referring to a mass graves area are transcribed hereafter.
From the report of November 13, 1945:The largest of the craters produced by explosions (numerous fragments attest to the fact that these explosions were set off by bombs), which is at maximum 6 meters deep and has a diameter of about 25 meters – its walls give recognizable evidence of the presence of a large quantity of ashes as well as human remains – was further excavated in order to discover the depth of the pit in this part of the camp. Numerous human remains were found by these excavations, partially still in a state of decomposition. The soil consists of ashes interspersed with sand, is of a dark gray color and granulous in form. During the excavations, the soil gave off an intense odor of burning and decay. At a depth of 7.5 meters the bottom was reached, which consisted of layers of unmixed sand. At this point the digging was stopped here.From the report of December 29, 1945:With the assistance of an expert land surveyor and witnesses, I made an exact inspection of the terrain. According to the measurements, the area of the camp is approximately 13.45 hectares and had the shape of an irregular quadrilateral. […] In the northwestern section of the area, the surface is covered for about 2 hectares by a mixture of ashes and sand. In this mixture, one finds countless human bones, often still covered with tissue remains, which are in a condition of decomposition. During the inspection, which I made with the assistance of an expert in forensic medicine, it was determined that the ashes are without any doubt of human origin (remains of cremated human bones). The examination of human skulls could discover no trace of« wounding. At a distance of some 100 m, there is now an unpleasant odor of burning and decay.
Mattogno & Graf claimed that Łukaszkiewicz' investigations had failed to produce evidence of mass murder, obviously failing to take into account what a) the depth of the crater in which Łukaszkiewicz' ordered further excavations "to discover the depth of the pit[s][33] in this part of the camp" (7.5 meters!), and b) the size of the area he found to be covered by human ashes and larger partial human remains, which was obviously the burial area or one of the burial areas of the Treblinka extermination camp sector (2 hectares = 20,000 m2), revealed about the enormous amount of burial space that had existed at that camp. The aspect of the Treblinka site and the robbery digging there was also conveyed by Karol Ogrodowczyk, member of a delegation from Warsaw that inspected the site:
The fields are dug up and rummaged through, the pits are about 10 meters deep, bones are lying around and objects of all kinds, shoes, spoons, forks, chandeliers, hair of wigs worn by Jewesses. In the air hangs the stench of decomposing corpses. … The foul smell so numbed me and my colleagues that we vomited and felt an unusual rasping in the throat. (...) Under every tree seekers of gold and gems have dug holes (...) Between the trees cavort local peasants, eager to find treasures. When we ask them 'What are you doing here?' they give no answer.[34]
A number of photos illustrating the above-quoted descriptions of the Treblinka site are included in a collection of photographs put together by the author[35]. Four of these photos – showing, respectively, a moonscape of holes and what seem to be bones (Image 7.7), upturned soil/ash saturated with white shards that are obviously bone fragments (Image 7.8), a close-up of skulls and bones (Image 7.9) and a larger pit in the camp area (Image 7.10) – are reproduced below. Neither of the aforementioned investigations provided information about the number of mass graves and the shape and size of each of them. However, a contemporary map related to Łukaszkiewicz investigation (Image 7.11)[36] shows a 1.8 ha area in the camp’s south-eastern part called the "area of cremation."

Image 7.7[37]
Image 7.8[38]

Image 7.9[39]
Image 7.10[40]

This must have been the area covered by ashes and larger human remains that was described by Łukaszkiewicz in his report of December 29, 1945, where its size is rounded upwards to the nearest full hectare and its location is wrongly (maybe due to a misreading of the map) given as being the northwestern part of the camp.
Image 7.11

On a copy of an air photo of the (by then long dismantled) Treblinka extermination camp taken in September 1944[41], the author has highlighted an area with the aspect of what he would expect the "area of cremation" to look like on an air photo, considering Łukaszkiewicz description (Image 7.12). The soil in this area is thoroughly churned up – so thoroughly that, according to Alex Bay, it is no longer possible to make out the shapes of individual mass graves.[42] In the camp’s former "reception" area/sorting yard, on the other hand, Peter Laponder, author of a model of Treblinka[43] and three maps of the camp[44] identified several mass graves on the September 1944 photograph (Image 7.13).[45]
According to Peter Laponder, arrow "1" in Image 7.13 shows the position of the high earth mound between the camp’s sorting yard and the "death camp" extermination sector, arrow "2" shows the position of the "Lazarett" (where sick and infirm people arriving at Treblinka, who would otherwise slow down the march of the other arrivals to the gas chambers, were shot and their bodies burned inside a pit) and arrows "3" shows "In all probability the Pits for Corpses which were used during the first phase of Treblinka."
Image 7.12

Unlike at least one of the pits in the "death camp" sector, excavated during Judge Łukaszkiewicz’ investigation in November 1945, the early burial pits identified by Laponder and shown in his map of Treblinka before October 1942[46] don’t seem to have been excavated by investigators, with the possible exception of the one that later became the body disposal pit of the "Lazarett". Łukaszkiewicz mentioned having ordered digging in a bomb crater 4 to 5 meters deep at the location where according to the witness Rajzman the "camp hospital" had stood and a mass grave was supposed to be, and found numerous coins as well as broken pieces of various containers but no human remains.
Image 7.13
If indeed Łukaszkiewicz’s workers had been digging in the mass grave by the "Lazarett", the reported absence of "human remains" (a term that, as the previously quoted excerpt from his report of November 13, 1945 shows, Łukaszkiewicz used only for human remains larger than ashes) must have been due to the fact that the pit was completely cleared of human remains at some time during the camp's dismantlement and subsequently used merely as a pit for discarding objects that the SS considered useless. An archaeological investigation such as has been conducted at Belzec and Sobibor could provide further information to help remove this uncertainty.        
Archaeological investigations conducted in the burial areas of Chelmno extermination camp in 2003/04 led to the identification of four mass graves, which are described in detail in a report about these and other investigations by archaeologist Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak.[47] The graves’ measurements are the following:
First grave: Length 62 meters, width 5 to 8 meters, depth not stated.
Second grave: Length 254 meters, width 4 to 10 meters, depth 3 meters.
Third grave: Length 174 meters, width 8 meters, depth not stated.
Fourth grave: Length 182 meters, width 10 meters, depth not stated.
Assuming that all graves were as deep as the second grave was determined to be, i.e. 3 meters, and that the average width of the irregularly shaped first and second graves was the medium of their largest and smallest width, one can thus calculate the area and volume of these graves as follows:
Table 7.3 Measurements of the Chełmno Mass Graves

Due to the comparatively small depth of the graves, it doesn’t seem necessary to apply a correction factor to take account of volume loss from sloped walls, as was done regarding the mass graves of Sobibor.
Besides these four graves archaeologists found a line of 11 pits referred to as the "fifth grave" in the aforementioned report. These pits, covering a distance of 161 meters and located 2-3 meters from one another, are 9 to 15.5 meters long, 7.5 to 8.5 meters wide and, according to a post-war judicial investigation referred to by Pawlicka-Nowak, 4 meters deep. They are considered to have been used only for dumping cremation remains but not for burying whole corpses.[48]

[5] Mattogno, Bełżec, p.79ff. Mattogno argued that the coroner’s "insistence, in the description, on single bones as if they were unique pieces leaves us wondering about the value one should attribute to the "very large" quantity of corpses conjectured by the coroner" – a conspiracy theory oblivious of the fact that the coroner was obviously interested in what the remains examined revealed about the victims’ age and sex, especially the presence of children among the victims. For the German translations from Polish of the excavation protocol dd. 12 October 1945 and coroner Dr. Mieczyslaw Pietraszkiewicz’s report and opinion of 13 October 1945, which were partially transcribed and translated by Mattogno, see BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VI, f. 1121 ff.
[6] German translation from Polish in BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VI, f. 1124.
[7] Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager, pp.143 -5.
[8] (icon "Archives" on lower left). Pits dug on the grounds of the Belzec camp by Poles scavenging for valuables that had belonged to the camp's victims. Catalog No.: 10891. Direct link:
[9] The skulls and bones of Belzec camp victims, brought to a bunker on the grounds of the camp. Catalog  No.: 10892. Direct link: .
[10] Andrzej Kola, Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999, Warsaw-Washington: The Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2000.
[11] See the thread ‘Archaeological investigation of Belzec mass graves’ ( of the Holocaust Controversies forum ( The core sample drawings are on pages 14 to 18 of the book, the plans and sections and descriptions of the mass graves on pages 21 to 40. Page 19 includes a map of the graves and on page 70 there is a map of the core drillings whereby the graves were identified.
[13] Michael Tregenza, ‘Report on the Archeological Investigation at the Site of the Former Nazi Extermination Camp in Belzec, Poland, 1997-98’, Lublin, 1998. Excerpts are available on the Nizkor website under
[14] Robin O’Neil, Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide Hitler’s answer to the Jewish Question, (2004) Descriptions of the mass graves are in Chapter 15 ( ).
[15] Wax-fat transformation, as explained on the Australian Museum’s related webpage (, is as state in which grave wax, also known as adipocere, "accumulates on those parts of the body that contain fat - the cheeks, breasts, abdomen and buttocks. It is the product of a chemical reaction in which fats react with water and hydrogen in the presence of bacterial enzymes, breaking down into fatty acids and soaps. Adipocere is resistant to bacteria and can protect a corpse, slowing further decomposition".
[16] Kola, Bełżec, p.20. 
[18] Cymlich and Strawczynski, Escaping Hell in Treblinka, p.169.
[19] Alex Bay, ‘The Reconstruction of Treblinka (, ‘Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued)’.
[20] Alex Bay, ‘The Reconstruction of Belzec’, ‘4.6 - Camp II: The Killing and Graves Area’.
[21] See the discussion in Muehlenkamp, Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology - Continuation (2)’
[22]MGK, Sobibór, pp.107-8. MGK’s source is Z. Łukaszkiewicz, ‘Obóz zaglady w Sobiborze’, in: Biuletyn Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Niemieckich w Polsce, III, Posen 1947, p.49.
[23]  (1) In grave # 4 drilling was given up at the depth of 2.30 m, because of a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation. The volume estimate refers only to the part filled with cremation remains, while the total volume of the grave was not estimated.
(2) The pit was in shape close to a high trapezoid with the base sizes 13.00 and 14.00 m and the height of about 27 m. Length in table is the medium of base sizes.
(3) The grave was very deep (the drills in particular places were stopped at the depth of 4.25 to 5.20 m, because of bodies in wax-fat transformation and underground waters presence). Depth in the table is the maximum depth.
(4) The grave has the shape of an irregular trapezoid, with edges 6.00, 16.00, 11.00, 5.00 and 18.00 m. Area was calculated according to the trapezoid formula (A = ((a+b)÷2) x h), assuming that a = 6 m, b = 5 m and h = 18 m.
(5) In bottom views the grave has a shape of trapezoid with the base of 12.50 and 11.00 m and the height of 17.00 m, with the depth reaching up to 4.80 m.
(6) A vast grave basin of irregular shape. Length came to 37 m, approximate width about 10 m.
(7) In the bottom view the grave has a shape close to a flattened triangle with the base of about 9.00 m and the height of 15.00 m. Height was halved for calculation.
(8) Length and width of this grave are not given by Kola, figures in table are this writer's guess based on plan and section.
(9) The grave is lengthened and has the shape of an irregular rectangle with the size of about 25.00 x 9.00 m and the maximum depth of about 4.50 m.
(10) Only graves in which Volume estimated < Volume calculated
[24] As note 8, the term to be inserted in the search engine being "Sobibor". 
[25] Image 7.3: Brief Description: Pits in the woods near the Sobibor extermination camp, in which victims were buried. Catalog No.: 11683. Direct link: Image 7.4: Brief Description: The woods of Sobibor, photographed after the war. Catalog No.: 11681. Direct link:
[26] See the thread ‘My Trip to Sobibor’,, which contains numerous photos and film stills showing such bone fragments as well as the aspect of the area around the memorial. 
[27] Andrzej Kola, ‘Badania archeologiczne terenu byłego obozu zagłady Żydów w Sobiborze w 2001 r’ (‘Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibór in 2001’,  Przeszłość i Pamięć. Biuletyn Rady Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa Nr. 4/21 z 2001 r, pp.115-123; descriptions of mass graves on pages 116/117. Translated into English by Katarzyna Piotrowska. The translation is available on the thread ‘Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001’,
[28] The satellite photograph on which the author wrote the numbers of the graves is an enlargement of a Google satellite map available under, as it looked in October 2008; see Muehlenkamp, ‘Mass Graves at Sobibor – 10th Update’ - Graves 2, 3, 4 and 6, and to a lesser extent also grave 1, can be distinguished as areas where vegetation grows more strongly than in their surroundings. John Hunter and Margaret Cox, Forensic Archaeology, New York: Routledge, 2005, p. 34, write that "The disturbance created by a grave, although relatively insignificant in volumetric terms in the context of a wider landscape, can induce various strong visual effects and can be long-term (…). These can include color change (i.e. from stressed vegetation), enhanced or inhibited flowering, shadows from increased or stunted growth with the presence of a low sun (e.g. winter months or summer mornings or evenings), and spreads of subsurface material in plough soil according to the timing of the agricultural cycle". The wording suggests that this can but need not always happen, which means that, while the visibility of such changes on air or satellite photography signals the presence of graves, the non-visibility thereof does not necessarily signal their absence. 
[29] Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek‘Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres’ in Present Pasts, I, 2009.
[30] Quoted in Schelvis, Sobibor, pp.110-1. In his deposition in Hagen on 18.12.1963 (StA.Do Sob 35-116), Bolender mentioned that the second grave started being used when it was not yet completely finished because the first grave was completely full. The second grave’s not having been completely finished may be the explanation for grave # 6 being considerably less deep than grave # 5 (3.05 m vs. 4.90 m). Another former SS-man, Hubert Gomerski, mentioned that there had been three huge pits, of which the third was no longer used to bury corpses as the camp’s body disposal method was changed from burial to cremation (depositions of Hubert Gomerki in Butzbach prison, 24.2.1964, BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VII, f. 1254-8 and on 30.11.1965 in the main proceedings of the trial against Kurt Bolender et al. in Hagen, StA Dortmund XI 1965, f. 709, 712). It is possible that graves nos. 1 and 2 identified by Kola are parts of said third pit, which Gomerski referred to as "die obere Grube", the upper pit, presumably by reference to the map drawn by former SS-man Erich Bauer and used at the Hagen trial. The map is in Urteil LG Hagen v. 20.12.1966, 11 Ks 1/62, JuNSV XXV Lfd. Nr 642.
[31] Protokol czynnosci wykomanych w terenie w toku dochodzenia sadowego w sprawie obozu smierci w Treblince, AIPN NTN 69, pp.97-98; cf. M&G, Treblinka, pp.84-86. 
[32] Ibid., p.87.
[33] The German text of M&G, Treblinka, p.107 reads: "um die Tiefe der Gruben in diesem Lagerteil zu ermitteln" - "to discover the depth of the pits in this part of the camp". Łukaszkiewicz obviously assumed that the crater had been blown into one of the pits used to bury the corpses in "this part of the camp" – his earlier mention of searching for the gas chamber building shows that he was in the former extermination sector of Treblinka – and that, by digging below the bottom of the crater to the bottom of this pit, he would establish how deep the burial pits in the extermination sector had been.
[34] Piotr Głuchowski and Marcin Kowalski, Gorączka złota w Treblince’, Duży Format Nr. 1/760,  7.1.2008, attachment to Gazeta Wyborcza, pp.2-4.
[35] ‘Photographic documentation of Nazi crimes’:, photos numbered 1.1.79, 1.1.84, 1.1.85, 1.3.1 to 1.3.7, 2.7.1 and 2.7.2.
[37] Heaps of ashes on the grounds of the Treblinka camp. Catalog No.: 11337. Direct link:
[38] A heap of ashes in the Treblinka camp. Catalog No.: 11341. Direct link:
[39] Ibid. Brief Description: Human skeletal remains in the Treblinka camp. Catalog No.: 11338. Direct link:
[42] Bay, Treblinka, ‘Reconstruction of the Death Camp’.
[45] Peter Laponder, RECONSTRUCTING THE RECEPTION CAMP – SORTING YARD AREA - 29 PIT FOR CORPSES, part of the considerations underlying the making of the model, sent to the author as attachment to a private message on 28 November 2006.
[46] ‘Treblinka Extermination Camp Pre-October 1942, see note 44.
[47] Łucja Pawlicka-Nowak, Archaeological Research, available on the website of the Museum of the former Extermination Camp in Chełmno-on-Ner,
[48] See Muehlenkamp, ‘Chełmno Graves’.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please read our Comments Policy