Proof that “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” contains the remains

Roberto Muehlenkamp
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Proof that “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” contains the remains

Post by Roberto Muehlenkamp » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:06 pm

Proof that the Bełżec mass grave numbered “3” in Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological report Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999 (referred to as “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” by the “National Association of Forensic Historians” – hereinafter NAFH - , according to their numbering system) contains the remains of at least 19 bodies

1. Opening statement

The following information is being presented as proof that the Bełżec mass grave numbered “3” in Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological report Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999 (referred to as “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” by NAFH, according to their numbering system) contains the remains of at least 19 bodies.

2. Submission of Proof

2.1 The Aktion Reinhard(t) extermination camps

The largest single Nazi killing operation against European Jewry, known as Aktion Reinhard(t), centered around three camps on Polish soil that were exclusively built for and dedicated to the systematic killing of human beings. According to the most recent data available, these three camps accounted for about 1,394,000 deaths, broken down as follows:

Bełżec: 434,508 deportees (rounded to 435,000) mentioned in the report sent by SS-Sturmbannführer Höfle in Lublin on 11 January 1943 to SS-Obersturmbannführer Heim in Krakow (hereinafter called the "Höfle Report"), see Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, "A New Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during 'Einsatz Reinhardt' 1942", Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15:3 (2001) pp. 468-486 (online, hereinafter "Witte and Tyas"). Sobibór: 170,165 (rounded to 170,000), thereof 101,370 until 31 December 1942 mentioned in the Höfle Report plus 68,795 in 1943, see Jules Schelvis, Sobibor: A History Of A Nazi Death Camp, 2007 by Oxford International Publishers Ltd. in association with the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum (hereinafter "Schelvis 2007"), p. 198. Treblinka: 713,555 until 31 December 1942 mentioned in the Höfle Report, plus 8,000 deportees from Theresienstadt in October 1942, mentioned in Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 1987 (hereinafter "Arad, Reinhard"), pp. 141/142, which I assume not to be included in Höfle’s figure. In 1943 there arrived a recorded 53,149 deportees from the General Government and the Bialystok District (including 2,000 Sinti and Roma) and 14,159 deportees from Saloniki, Macedonia and Thessaloniki (Jacek Andrzej Młynarczyk, Treblinka – Ein Todeslager im Rahmen der "Aktion Reinhard", in: Bogdan Musial (editor), Aktion Reinhardt Der Völkermord an den Juden im Generalgouvernement 1941-1944, pp. 257-281, here pp. 280f.) The total number of recorded deportees to Treblinka was thus 788,863 (rounded to 789,000).

2.2 The Bełżec extermination camp

Evidence to the mass killings at the Bełżec extermination camp includes, without limitation, the following exhibits:

2.2.1 Eyewitness Testimonies and Contemporary German Documents The diary entries of Wilhelm Cornides – English translation on the webpage The Report of Wehrmachts Officer Wilhelm Cornides. Cornides’ diary entries were first published in Germany in Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Jahrgang 7 (1959), Heft 3, pp. 333 ff. (online). Excerpts from the English translation:
6.20 pm. We passed camp Belzec. Before then, we travelled for some time through a tall pine forest. When the woman called, "Now it comes!" one could see a high hedge of fir trees. A strong sweetish odour could be made out distinctly. "But they are stinking already", says the woman. "Oh nonsense, it is only the gas", the railway policeman said laughing.
Meanwhile - we had gone on about 200 metres - the sweetish odour was transformed into a strong smell of something burning. "That is from the crematory", says the policeman. A short distance further on the fence stopped. In front of it, one could see a guard house with an SS post. A double track led into the camp. One track branched off from the main line, the other ran over a turntable from the camp to a row of sheds some 250 metres away. A freight car happened to stand on the table. Several Jews were busy turning the disc. SS guards, rifle under the arm, stood by. One of the sheds was open; one could distinctly see that it was filled to the ceiling with bundles of clothes. As we went on, I looked back one more time. The fence was too high to see anything at all. The woman says that sometimes, while going by, one could see smoke rising from the camp, but I could notice nothing of the sort. My estimate is that the camp measures about 800 by 400 metres." The testimonies of Kurt Gerstein, Heinrich Gley, Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, Franz Stangl and Alfred Schluch, translated excerpts quoted in my blog articles Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (1) and Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (2):

The naked corpses were carried on wooden stretchers to pits only a few metres away, measuring 100 x 20 x 12 metres. After a few days the corpses welled up and a short time later they collapsed, so that one could throw a new layer of bodies upon them. Then ten centimetres of sand were spread over the pit, so that a few heads and arms still rose from it here and there.
Then began the general exhumation and burning of the corpses; it should have lasted from November 1942 until March 1943. The burnings were carried out day and night without interruption, first at one and then at two fireplaces. One fireplace allowed for burning about 2,000 corpses within 24 hours. About two weeks after the beginning of the incineration action the second fireplace was erected. Thus on average there were burned about 300,000 bodies at the one fireplace over a period of 5 months and 240,000 bodies at the other fireplace over a period of 4 months. Of course these are only approximate estimates. It should be correct to put the total number of corpses at 500,000.
The incineration of the corpses again dug out was a process so abominable humanly, esthetically and in what concerns the smell, that the phantasy of people who today are used to live under civil conditions probably is not sufficient to imagine this horror.
Through these [doors] Jewish detainees took out the corpses and threw them into large pits. The corpses were burned in these pits. […] From my point of view, the incineration of the corpses at the time was still quite imperfect.
From the inspection site the corpses were taken directly to deep mass graves that had been dug in the vicinity of the extermination installation. When the pits were rather full, the corpses were doused with gasoline – it may have been some other flammable liquid – and were then lit. I could only determine that the corpses burned just partly. Then another layer of earth was thrown over the corpses and then fresh corpses were placed into the same pit.
Wirth was not in his office, they said that he was up in the camp. The man I talked to said that one of the pits had overflown. They had thrown too many bodies inside, and the decomposition had gone too fast, so that the liquid gathering below had pushed the bodies up, to the surface and above, and the corpses had rolled down the hill. I saw some of them. – Oh God, it was awful …
The size of a pit I can only indicate approximately. It should have been about 30 meters long and 20 meters wide. The depth is difficult to estimate because the side walls were at an angle and on the other hand the earth taken out had been piled up at the edge. I think, however, that the pit may have been 5 to 6 meters deep. All in all one could have comfortably placed a house inside this pit. The Höfle Report (see above section 2.1) Jäcklein’s report about "Resettlement from Kolomea to Belzec" dated 14 September 1942, quoted and commented in my blog article Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 5 and Conclusion:
On September 14, 1942, Zugwachtmann der Schutzpolizei (railroad guard of the protection police) Josef Jäcklein wrote a report, “Resettlement from Kolomea to Belzec.” He escorted a train of 51 cars loaded with 8,200 Jews that left Kolomea at 20:50 hours on September 10. The Jews quickly sought ways to escape, ripping the barbed wire from the openings of the cars and opening up holes in the walls, which caused Jäcklein to cable ahead to Stanislau station to have boards and nails ready. On arrival at that station, the train stopped one hour and a half for the repairs. A few stations farther along, the Jews had again ripped out the barbed wire and made new holes, so the train stopped again. Jäcklein relates:
“When the train left, I even noticed that in one car hammers and pliers were being used. Questioning the Jews as to why they still had these tools, they declared that they had been told that they would be able to put them to good use at their next destination.”
Again and again, at every stop, the train had to stop for repairs to the car walls. Finally the train arrived at Lemberg/Lwów, where Jäcklein turned over “9 cars marked L and destined for the forced labor camp at Lemberg” to SS Obersturmführer (senior lieutenant) Schulte, but another 1,000 Jews came on board. When the train moved on, escape attempts resumed. As the escort had expended all their ammunition, they had to use “stones” and “bayonets” to prevent escapes. The transport took place under catastrophic conditions. Jäcklein writes in this respect:
“The ever increasing panic among the Jews, caused by the strong heat, overloading of the cars with up to 220 Jews, the smell of corpses – 2,000 dead were counted when the train was unloaded – made the transport nearly impossible.”
The train arrived at Belzec at 6:45 p.m. the following day and was turned over to the camp authorities at 7:30 p.m.. Unloading the cars took until 10 p.m. Fritz Reuter's notes of 17 March 1942 about a conversation with Hauptsturmführer Höfle on the previous day, quoted and commented in the aforementioned blog article:
"I arranged for a talk with Hstuf. Höfle for Monday, the 16th of March 1942, namely at 17:30 hours. In the course of the discussion the following It would be expedient to divide the transports of Jews arriving in the Lublin district at the station of origin into employable and unemployable Jews. If it is not possible to make this distinction at the departure station, then the transport will have to be divided in Lublin in the manner mentioned above.
All unemployable Jews are to come to Bezec [Belzec], the outermost border station in the Zamosc district.
Hstuf. Höfle is thinking of building a large camp in which the employable Jews can be registered in a file system according to their occupations and requisitioned from there.
Piaski is being made Jew-free and will be the collection point for the Jews coming out of the Reich.
Trawnicki [Trawniki] is not at present occupied by Jews.
H. asks where on the D blin-Trawnicki route 60,000 Jews can be unloaded. Informed of the Jewish transports now departing from here, H. explained that of the 500 Jews arriving in Susiec, those who were unemployable could be sorted out and sent to Bezec. According to a government teletype dated March 4, 1942, a Jewish transport, whose destination was the Trawnicki station, is rolling out of the Protectorate. These Jews are not unloaded in Trawnicki, but have been brought to Izbiza. An inquiry of the Zamosz district, asking to be able to request 200 Jews from there for work, was answered in the affirmative by H.
In conclusion he stated that he could accept 4-5 transports of 1,000 Jews to the terminal station Bezec daily. These Jews would cross the border and never return to the General Government." Goebbels’ diary entry of 27 March 1942, quoted after Prof. Browning’s expert opinion Evidence for the Implementation of the Final Solution:
Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said about 60 percent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 percent can be used for forced labor. The reports by the Oberfeldkommandant of Lwow (Lemberg) in March, April and October 1942, quoted after Prof. Browning’s aforementioned expert opinion and commented in my aforementioned blog article:
The Oberfeldkommandant in Lwow (Lemberg) reported on March 19, 1942:

Within the Jewish population of Lemberg a noticeable unrest has spread in regard to a deportation action that has begun, through which some 30,[000] elderly and other unemployed Jews shall be seized and allegedly transferred to a territory near Lublin. To what extent this evacuation can be equated with a decimation remains to be seen.

5.3.9 The Oberfeldkommandant reported the following month:

The Jewish population displays the deepest depression, which is completely understandable because on the one hand in various locations in the district the well-known actions against the Jews occur again and on the other hand in Lemberg the temporarily interrupted resettlement of Jews resumes; in the meantime it is whispered also among the Jews that the evacuees never reach the resettlement territory that is alleged to them as the destination.

5.3.10 The deportations from Galicia broke off during the months of May, June, and July 1942, but resumed in August. In October the Oberfeldkommandant reported again:

The resettlement actions continue undiminished. The Jews are informed of their fate. Indicative is the statement of a member of the Lwow Jewish council: We all carry our death certificates in our pocket--only the date of death is not yet filled out.
2.2.2 Documentation of Physical Evidence Translations of Polish site investigation reports included in the book Bełżec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research and History by “Revisionist” author Carlo Mattogno (hereinafter “Mattogno, Bełżec”), pp. 79f.:
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 Bełżec extermination camp," in which he set down the findings from the inspection of the Bełżec 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." Expert opinion of coroner Dr. Mieczyslaw Pietraszkiewicz, my translation of a German translation from Polish in BAL (Bundesarchiv Zweigstelle Ludwigsburg, German Federal Archives Ludwigsburg Branch Office) B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VI, fl. 1124. A digital copy of this translation is included Jules Schelvis’ research files published as PDF by the Dutch archives, hereinafter referred to as "Schelvis files", in this case Schelvis file 8, p. 131:
Expert Opinion
On 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.
Signature: Dr. Mieczyslaw Pietraszkiewicz Excerpt from a report report about an official inspection of the Bełżec site on 10 October 1945, obviously by the same examining judge, the German translation from Polish of which is quoted by German public prosecutor Adalbert Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse, pages 143 – 145 (my translation from German)
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 Bełżec, 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. Photograph showing a pit made by robbery diggers in the area of the Bełżec mass graves, available in the online archives of the Ghetto Fighters House:

Brief Description: 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 Photograph possibly showing some of the human remains examined by coroner Dr. Pietraszkiewicz (items and, from the archives mentioned in

Brief Description: The skulls and bones of Belzec camp victims, brought to a bunker on the grounds of the camp. Catalog No.: 10892 Physical evidence mentioned in the article A Monumental Failure at Bełżec, by Rabbi Avi Weiss. Physical evidence shown in the photograph captioned “Remnants” on the webpage Belzec Building Site 2003/2004 Physical evidence documented in air photographs of the Bełżec mass graves area, assessed in Alex Bay, The Reconstruction of Bełżec, 4.6 - Camp II: The Killing and Graves Area Michael Tregenza, Report on the Archeological Investigation at the Site of the Former Nazi Extermination Camp in Bełżec, Poland, 1997-98 online excerpts. Robin O’Neill, Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide Hitler's answer to the Jewish Question, descriptions of the mass graves in Chapter 15 Andrzej Kola (2000) 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 (hereinafter "Kola, Bełżec"). Digital copies of this book are available in the thread Archaeological investigation of Belzec mass graves of the Holocaust Controversies forum. The copies include the drawings of core samples from some of the graves pages on pages 14 to 18 of the book, the plans and sections and descriptions of the mass graves on pages 21 to 40, a map of the mass graves on page 19 and a map on page 70 of the core drillings whereby the graves were identified.

2.3 The Bełżec mass graves

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 establishing of the contents of 33 mass graves in the Bełżec area. Prof. Kola’s book about this archaeological investigation (Kola, Bełżec, exhibit 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.

Descriptions of the Bełżec mass graves can also be found in a report prepared by Michael Tregenza, a British researcher who accompanied the Bełżec excavations (exhibit, and in a book by another researcher, Robin O’Neill (exhibit 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 Prof. Kola’s book.

The presence of corpses in wax fat transformation besides cremation remains is mentioned in Prof. Kola’s description of the graves numbered 1, 3, 4, 10, 13, 20, 25, 27, 28 and 32. 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". Core drilling by Prof. Kola’s team came upon corpse layers up to 2 meters thick (Kola, Bełżec, page 20) in the graves’ lower parts. Why these corpses were left in the graves and not cremated by the SS is not known. Tregenza (exhibit 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". 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" (Cymlich, Israel and Strawczynski, Oskar, Escaping Hell in Treblinka. Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Survivors’ Memoirs Project: New York, 2007, page 169.)

The measurements of the mass graves reported by Prof. Kola and his estimates of the graves’ volumes are shown in the following table. Where I made assumptions because the graves do not have a rectangular shape or no measurement data were provided, this is pointed out in the notes:

Table 2.3.1 Measurements of the Bełżec Mass Graves

(1) In grave # 4 drilling was given up at 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 Prof. 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.

Prof. 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 Prof. 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 my 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 Bełżec, 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 (The Reconstruction of Treblinka (hereinafter "Bay, Treblinka"), Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued)) 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. The graves at Bełżec 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 Prof. Kola's maps with his analysis of wartime air photographs, Alex Bay argues that Prof. Kola did not discover all of the Nazi mass graves at Bełżec (exhibit Bay’s demonstration is persuasive enough to at least consider the possibility that the mass grave volume available at Bełżec was somewhat higher than what becomes apparent from Prof. 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 Bełżec was as estimated by Prof. Kola.

The 21,310 cubic meters of mass grave volume that Prof. Kola’s estimates add up to include graves that must be assumed to have been used only to dump cremation remains but never to bury whole bodies, because of their small volume (< 150 m³) or because they are expressly referred to as crematory graves by Prof. Kola (grave # 2). I assumed that graves nos. 2, 11, 21, 28, 30, 31 and 33, with a total estimated volume of 640 m³, were mere crematory graves. The grave volume available for burying corpses is thus considered to have been 21,310 – 640 = 20,670 cubic meters.

“Revisionist” author Carlon Mattogno claimed that the mass graves identified by Prof. Kola at Bełżec were way too small to take in the bodies of all the camp’s victims. He wrote the following (Mattogno, Bełżec, page 85):
On the basis of experimental data, the maximum capacity of a mass grave can be set at 8 corpses per cubic meter, assuming that one third of them are children.260 Hence, the alleged 600,000 corpses at Bełżec would have required a total volume of (600,000÷8=) 75,000 cubic meters. The average depth of the graves identified by Professor Kola is 3.90 meters. Assuming a layer of earth 0.3 m thick to cover the graves, the available depth would be 3.60 meters.261 It follows that the burial of 600,000 corpses would have required an effective area of (75,000÷3.6 =) approx. 20,800 square meters. On the other hand, the surface area of the graves identified by Kola is 5,919 square meters and their volume 21,310 cubic meters, theoretically sufficient to inter (21,310×8=) 170,480 corpses – but then where would the other (600,000 – 170,480 =) 429,520 corpses have been put?
The reference for the "experimental data", according to which "the maximum capacity of a mass grave can be set at 8 corpses per cubic meter, assuming that one third of them are children", is Mattogno & Graf’s Treblinka book (Carlo Mattogno and Jürgen Graf, Treblinka – Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, hereinafter “M&G, Treblinka), where one reads that "On the basis of his investigations of the mass graves of Hamburg (Anglo-American terror-bombardment of July 1943), Katyn (Soviet mass murder of Polish officers, 1940) and Bergen-Belsen (mass dying from typhus in spring 1945), John Ball came to the conclusion that one could assume a maximum of six bodies per cubic meter in a mass grave", and that "in order to take into account the hypothetical existence of children as comprising one-third of the victims, we assume a density of a maximum of 8 bodies per cubic meter" (M&G, Treblinka, page 137). Readers had to wait until Mattogno’s response to my criticism (Carlo Mattogno on Belzec Archaeological Research - Part 4 (1), hereinafter “Bełżec Research 4(1)”) for an explanation of how this "maximum" was calculated (Carlo Mattogno, BEŁŻEC E LE CONTROVERSIE OLOCAUSTICHE DI ROBERTO MUEHLENKAMP, hereinafter "Mattogno, Controversie", pp. 14, English translation: Bełżec or the Holocaust Controversy of Roberto Muehlenkamp, hereinafter "Mattogno, Controversy". Quotes are from the English translation.):
Above I have presented the experimental data. As for the percentage of children, according to demographer Jakob Leszczynski[40], the percentage of children aged 14 or under among the Jewish population of Poland in 1931 amounted to 29.6%, that is little less than 1/3.

Based on scientific tables on weight increase, the medium weight of children aged 17 and under is approximately 35 kg[41]. If for a normal adult a medium weight of 70 kg is assumed, the medium weight of 3 persons (two adults and a child) is ([70 + 70 + 35] : 3 =) 58.3 kg. Therefore 6 adult corpses, weighing (70 x 6 =) 420 kg, are equivalent to (420 : 58.3 =) 7.20 corpses of adults and children in the relationship of 2:1. According to other tables, the medium weight of children aged 14 and under is approximately 25.4 kg, which in turn gives us a medium weight of 55.1 kg and a density of (420 : 55.1 =) 7.6 corpses per cubic meter. The figure of 8 corpses per cubic meter which I have assumed for my calculations is thus rounded off upward.
So Mattogno expects his readers to believe that Jewish adults deported to Bełżec weighed 70 kg on average and Jewish children aged 14 and under weighed 25.4 kg on average.

According to Brocca’s table (German webpage Gewichtstabelle nach Brocca), 70 kg is the ideal weight of a male 1.78 meters high or a female 1.82 meters high. It is also the normal weight of an adult person 1.70 meters high. Mattogno’s readers are thus asked to believe that Jewish adults in starving Polish ghettos in the early 1940s were 1.70 meters high on average and had a normal weight, or a lower ideal weight.

The height of the average German adult in the 1940s can be safely assumed to have been no more than 1.68 meters (see the sources mentioned in the blog Mattogno, Graf & Kues on the Aktion Reinhard(t) Mass Graves (3), hereinafter “AR Mass Graves 3”, note 99). According to anthropological sources referred to by Charles Provan (Charles D. Provan, Kurt Gerstein and the Capacity of the Gas Chamber at Bełżec, hereinafter "Provan, Capacity"), the Jews of Poland were about three inches shorter than the average German. 1.68 meters equal 66 inches, so if the Jews of Poland were about three inches smaller than the average German, according to Provan's source Dr. von Verschuer, their average height was 63 inches or 1.60 meters.

Besides being considerably smaller than would correspond to the average weight postulated by Mattogno, the Jews of Eastern Poland, where most deportees to Bełżec extermination camp came from, were ill-fed and even starving (Provan, Capacity, referring to Shonfeld, The Holocaust Victims Accuse, pg. 43ff.; Wells, The Death Brigade, pg. 49.). According to the Body Measurement Index table (German webpage Gewichtstabelle nach BMI), a person with a height of 1.60 meters is underweight at 38 to 48 kg. Assuming that the average weight of adult Jews in Polish ghettos at the time was in between the upper and the lower value of what the BMI table considers underweight, it would be (38+48) ÷ 2 = 43 kg. According to Mattogno's "other tables", the weight of an adult is 2.76 times that of a child up to 14. This relation would mean a weight of 43 ÷ 2.76 = 15.6 kg for ill-fed or starving children in Polish ghettos. Rounding up the latter value, a group of two adults and one child 14 years and younger from a Jewish ghetto in Poland would thus weigh (43+43+16)/3 = 34 kg on average, instead of the 55.1 kg calculated by Mattogno. The average weight of deportees to Bełżec was probably even lower as children made up a higher proportion of deportees from Galicia, at least 42.1 % (see my blog Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology: My Response to Carlo Mattogno (4,1), hereinafter “Bełżec Response 4 (1)”) According to Mattogno's formula, 420 ÷ 34 = 12.4 (12) corpses with this average weight could fit into 1 cubic meter of grave space.

Now to Mattogno’s reference weight based on "experimental data" (6 adults a 70 kg per cubic meter = 420 kg per cubic meter). Alex Bay calculated the space that would be occupied by a human being having the measurements of proportions of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Vetruvian Man", and concluded that 91,000 corpes with the proportions of the "Vetruvian Man" and an assumed height of 68 inches (1.73 meters) could have fit into 8,502 cubic meters of grave space - 10.7 (11) per cubic meter (Bay, Treblinka, Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued)). The ideal weight of a person 1.73 meters high would be 66 kg for men and 62 kg for women. Taking the lower value, 10.7 human bodies with the measurements and weight of an ideal adult person 1.73 meters high would have a weight of 10.7 x 62 = 663.40 kg, instead of Mattogno's 420 kg. Using the former value as a reference, the unrealistically high weights assumed by Mattogno for an adult+adult+child group, i.e. (70+70+25,4) ÷ 3 = 55.13 kg, would mean 663.40 ÷ 55.13 = 12.03 (12) corpses per cubic meter. With the more realistic weights for malnourished Polish ghetto Jews mentioned above, the average would be 663.4 ÷ 34 = 19.51 (20) corpses per cubic meter (for further details see AR Mass Graves 3, note 105).

With this calculated concentration for an adult+adult+child group weighing as much as half-starved Polish ghetto Jews can realistically (even somewhat optimistically) be expected to have weighed, the number that could be buried at one time in the space estimated by Prof. Kola for the 33 graves he found was 19.51 x 21,310 = 415,758. This is close to the total number of victims of Bełżec extermination that is now accepted by historiography, the 434,508 mentioned in the Höfle Report.

The Bełżec mass graves were not filled all at once but during a period of about eight months between the arrival of the first transports in mid-March 1942 and early December of that year, when the last load of deportees was murdered at Bełżec. This means that mass grave space must thus have been "recovered" due to bodies in the graves' lower layers losing volume through the effects of quicklime and decomposition.

There is evidence suggesting that the mass graves at Bełżec were filled to or even beyond the rim, the upper layer being covered with further layers of bodies or with sand after the corpses had sufficiently matted down due to decomposition. In his report dated 4 May 1945 Kurt Gerstein wrote the following (exhibit
The naked corpses were carried on wooden stretchers to pits only a few metres away, measuring 100 x 20 x 12 metres. After a few days the corpses welled up and a short time later they collapsed, so that one could throw a new layer of bodies upon them. Then ten centimetres of sand were spread over the pit, so that a few heads and arms still rose from it here and there.
Despite the obviously exaggerated statement about the depth of the pits, Gerstein’s description is interesting in its reference to a procedure, that of filling the graves to the rim and then adding further bodies when the collapse due to decomposition of those already inside the grave freed some space at the top, which was probably at the root of the following ghastly phenomenon at Bełżec described by the later commander of Treblinka, Franz Stangl (Kogon, Langbein, Rückerl et al, Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, 1986 Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH Frankfurt am Main, hereinafter "Kogon et al, Massentötungen", page 169; my translation from German):
Wirth was not in his office, they said that he was up in the camp. The man I talked to said that one of the pits had overflown. They had thrown too many bodies inside, and the decomposition had gone too fast, so that the liquid gathering below had pushed the bodies up, to the surface and above, and the corpses had rolled down the hill. I saw some of them. – Oh God, it was awful …
A human body’s changes in the course of the decomposition process can be studied by observing the decomposition of an animal with a very similar organism, the pig (Australian Museum webpage Stages of Decomposition):

At the stage of putrefaction, the corpse or carcass bloats up. This bloating, which in Bełżec and other camps of Aktion Reinhard(t) led to the phenomenon described for Bełżec by Franz Stangl, is due to the formation of gasses inside the body, such as methane, hydrogen sulphide, cadaverine and putrescine.

At the stage of black putrefaction, the bloated corpse collapses, and a large volume of body fluids drain from the body and seep into the surrounding soil.

At the stage of butyric fermentation, the body loses the remaining flesh and dries out. At this stage the body issues a cheesy smell due to the formation of butyric acid.

Finally, at the stage of dry decay, the body is reduced to just bone and hair.

The four phases described above take place in the open air respectively 4 to 10 days, 10 to 20 days, 20 to 50 days and 50 to 365 days after death. If the corpses are buried, these processes take four times longer (webpage How long does it bring for a human body to completely disintegrate after it's be embalm?; see also Alan Gunn, Essential Forensic Biology, 2009 John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex, UK, p. 30: "Buried corpses decay approximately four times slower than those left on the surface, and the deeper they are buried, the slower they decay (Dent et al., 2004)."). However, in the open Bełżec mass graves the corpses – at least those in the upper layers – were still in contact with air, so decomposition must have been faster than with bodies buried underground, if not necessarily as fast as with bodies lying in the open. Forensic anthropologist Arpad A. Vass and his colleagues have "worked out a simple formula, which describes the soft tissue decomposition process for persons lying on the ground. The formula is y=1285/x (where y is the number of days it takes to become skeletonized or mummified and x is the average temperature in Centigrade during the decomposition process). So, if the average temperature is 10 °C, then 1285/10 = 128.5 days for someone to become skeletonized" (Arpad A. Vass, Beyond the grave – understanding human decomposition) According to Vass's formula, the time to skeletonization at Bełżec in the late spring, summer and autumn of 1942, at temperatures presumably ranging between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, would have been 43 to 64 days for bodies exposed to air and insects, as bodies lying in open mass graves can be expected to have been. The time until the bodies were reduced to less than half their original volume and weight through loss of fluids and other factors would be even lower.

Modeling the effects of corpse decomposition on the amount of grave space available at Bełżec should ideally be done on the basis of a day-by-day or at least month-by-month breakdown of the 434,508 deportees delivered at that camp according to the Höfle Report. Unfortunately no such breakdown is available. The next best thing is a table in Appendix A of Arad’s study on the Reinhard(t) camps (Arad, Reinhard, pp. 383-389) that adds up to a higher number (513,142, according to my summation) and allows for a day-by-day breakdown of this number, albeit with certain assumptions and the inaccuracies inevitably resulting from such assumptions. Based on this table, I modeled a scenario of mass grave space management at Bełżec taking into account the loss of body volume due to decomposition, the results being that even 513,142 dead bodies could have been buried in 20,670 cubic meters of burial space considering decomposition-related grave space economy, and that it was therefore also possible to bury the much lower number of documented deportees to Bełżec (434,508) in the same burial space (Bełżec Response 4 (1)) The model assumed a density of 14.8 non-decomposed corpses per cubic meter (as calculated in Bełżec Research 4(1), based on Provan, Capacity) which means that with the density calculated above (19.51 per cubic meter) the saving of burial space due to decomposition would be even higher. While of reduced relevance to demonstrating sufficiency of the burial space estimated by Prof. Kola for the number of corpses corresponding to the Höfle Report (as the concentration of 19.51 bodies per cubic meter established above means that 415,758 out of 434,508 bodies could have been buried in all Bełżec mass graves and 403,272 could have been buried in the 20,670 cubic meters of the burial graves alone even if all bodies had been buried at the same time or maintained their original mass and weight), the model shows what significant contribution the decomposition process could have made – and probably did make – to the SS' management of the burial space they had available Bełżec.

In conclusion, there is no reason to assume that the volume of the mass graves at Bełżec estimated by Prof. Kola was not sufficient to take in the corpses of the 434,508 Jewish deportees to Bełżec mentioned in the Höfle Report. Assuming that the mass graves identified by Prof. Andrzej Kola are indeed the only mass graves in the Bełżec area, the density at which corpses were buried in these mass graves was at least 14.8 (15), but probably 19.51 (20) per cubic meter. The much lower density considered by Mattogno (based on rather unrealistic assumptions, as shown above) only stands a chance of accuracy under the assumption that there are further mass graves in the area not identified by Prof. Kola (see exhibit

2.4 The Bełżec mass grave numbered “3” by Prof. Andrzej Kola

A plan and section and a description of the mass grave mass grave numbered “3” can be found in Kola, Bełżec, pp. 22-23 (digital copy in my post of 08/04/10 11:26:18 on the thread Archaeological investigation of Belzec mass graves). The description reads as follows (emphasis added):
The grave pit No 3 (Fig. 20)
Situated in the southern part of ha XVI, basing on 9 deep drills. (No 283-287, 331-333, 335) In bottom view it had a shape close to a square with the size of 16,00 x 15,00 m, and the depth of over 5,00 m. Underground at the depth of 4,80 m. The contents of the pit is mixed - from about 20 cm from the top to the depth of about 4,00 m crematory contents with charcoal appears; a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation below. The drills were stopped at the depth of ca 4,00 m. The remains of crematory character were scattered around the pit. The volume of the pit is about 960 m3.
It follows from the description of this grave that the same contains crematory remains mixed with charcoal from a depth of about 20 cm to a depth of about 4 meters, and that below these crematory remains there is a layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation. The grave is over 5 meters deep, and the description suggests that the layer of bodies in wax-fat transformation covers the distance between the end of the cremation remains layers and the bottom of the grave and is thus at least one meter thick. This understanding is supported by Prof. Kola’s earlier description of the mass graves’ contents in general, which explains why wax-fat transformation of corpses occurred at the bottom of the graves (Kola, Bełżec, pp. 19-20):
Deposition of corpses in the water-bearing layers or in very damp structure of the ground just above that layer, with the difficulty of air penetration, because of the depth, caused the changes of the deposited bodies into wax-fat mass. In some graves the layer of corpses reached the thickness of ca 2,00m. Most often the layers of corpses were covered with burnt bone remains mixed with charcoal.
Assuming that the layer of corpses at the grave’s bottom was as extensive as the grave’s surface area, one can calculate the volume of the corpse layer as being the product of the grave’s area (16 x 15 m = 240 m²) and the thickness of the corpse layer, i.e. at least 240 m³.

A more cautious approach consists in assuming that the grave narrows towards the bottom in the same measure as the Treblinka mass grave considered by Alex Bay (Treblinka, Appendix D - Ash Disposal and Burial Pits (Continued)). This grave, with an area of 50 x 25 = 1,250 m² and a depth of 10 meters, was assumed by Bay to have a bottom area of only 13.45 by 38.45 meters = 517.15 m², due to the sloping of the sides required to stabilize the grave’s walls. Although it seems unlikely that a grave only half as deep would narrow towards the bottom in the same measure, it will be assumed for good measure that it does. The bottom area of Bełżec grave no. 3 would thus be (240 x 517.15 ÷ 1,250 =) 99.29 m². The minimum volume of the corpse layer would accordingly be 99.29 m³.

The minimum number of corpses in this corpse layer can be calculated by multiplying the minimum corpse layer volume calculated above with the density at which corpses were buried in the Bełżec mass graves according to section 2.3. Such calculation is on the conservative side insofar as it considers the corpses’ mass at the moment of death, rather than the reduced mass resulting from their partial decomposition.

Assuming a likely density of 19.51 corpses per cubic meter, the corpse layer contains at least (19.51 corpses/ m³ x 99.29 m³ =) 1,937 corpses.

Assuming a density of 14.8 corpses per cubic meter, the corpse layer contains at least (14.8 corpses/ m³ x 99.29 m³ =) 1,469 corpses.

Even assuming an improbably low density of 8 corpses per cubic meters, the corpse layer contains at least (8 corpses/ m³ x 99.29 m³ =) 794 corpses.

Even the lowest estimate exceeds the minimum of 19 corpses required to meet the NAFH requirements by a factor of almost 42. It should be pointed out that, if there were no more than 19 corpses left at the bottom of grave no. 3, the finding of such corpses by core drilling would have been much less probable.

Therefore there can be no room for reasonable doubt that the Bełżec mass grave no. 3 contained at the very least 19 corpses in wax-fat transformation at the time of Prof. Kola’s archaeological investigation in 1997-1999. As there was never any excavation of this grave and removal of the corpses, the corpses found by Prof. Kola are still in the grave at the present moment.

3. Closing statement

The preceding information was presented as proof that the Bełżec mass grave numbered “3” in Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological report Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999 (referred to as “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” by NAFH, according to their numbering system) contains the remains of at least 19 bodies, in my attempt to lay claim to “The National Association of Forensic Historians TM N.A.F.H. Crime Scene Investigation Challenge TM” $1,000.00 reward for said grave.

Michael Shermer is requested to, within 60 days from today, 1 March 2011, explicitly and legally certify that he endorses said posted proof.

Michael Shermer can explicitly and legally endorse said posted proof by contacting, via email, Greg Gerdes, “president” of “The National Association of Forensic Historians TM”, (Contact information can be found at the bottom of their website) and state the endorsement to Greg Gerdes, by posting the endorsement on the Skeptics Society Forum, or by stating the endorsement in writing in any other way he may consider appropriate.
The suggested text of the endorsement is the following:

«I, Michael Shermer, acting as sole appointed arbiter of “The National Association of Forensic Historians TM N.A.F.H. Crime Scene Investigation Challenge TM”, in accordance with skeptical standards, do hereby explicitly and legally certify that I categorically endorse the information in Roberto Muehlenkamp’s’s thread «Proof that “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” contains the remains» as proof, according to my own, Skeptic Magazine’s and the Skeptics Society’s standards of proof, that the Bełżec mass grave numbered “3” in Prof. Andrzej Kola’s archaeological report Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999 (referred to as “alleged Bełżec grave # 3/3” by NAFH, according to their numbering system) contains the remains of at least 19 bodies.»

However, Mr. Shermer is free to use any other wording having the same meaning as concerns his endorsement of proof submitted as meeting his, Skeptic Magazine's and the Skeptics Society's standards of proof.