Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sonderkommando Kulmhof in German Documents - Body Disposal

Author: Hans Metzner
Mass Killing Unit of Warthegau

Sonderkommando Lange in German Documents:

Sonderkommando Kulmhof in German Documents:
Part III: Body Disposal (Appendix)
Part V: Funding

Mass Graves

The mass murder machinery in Kulmhof was enabled by deception and brute force. The victims were put on transport to Kulmhof with the claim of "resettlement", and threats and violence were unleashed when this was not suffice. They were then tricked into undressing in the Kulmhof palace under the impression of the welcome speech of a German official allegedly for hygienic reasons. Once the victims were trapped in the cold basement of the palace, only in underwear or fully naked, it was an ease to force the defenceless victims into the rear of the gas vans. The death agony lasted between 5 - 15 minutes.

While the mass gassing behind doors made the actual killing comparable pleasant for the German personnel - which was, as a matter of fact, the main reason for its implementation -, they still had to cope with the dead bodies. The first Kulmhof commandant Herbert Lange followed the seemingly proven and tested method of his mobile Sonderkommando to bury the victims in mass graves in a nearby forest. The so called forest camp ("Waldlager") was to be served as burial site of the Jews killed at extermination site in Kulmhof, located about 4 km north-northeast of the village along the road to Warthbrücken/Kolo in an area known as Rzuchow forest according to the name of the village to its south (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Google Earth close up of the body disposal site of Kulmhof extermination camp (forest camp)

In the beginning of the camp's operation (December 1941), the work of digging the graves and unloading the gas van was still done by the Polish prisoners from Fort VII. [1] Because of the increasing number of victims brought to Kulmhof, at latest in early January 1942, the Polish prisoners were replaced by a detail of 30 - 40 Jewish prisoners, who had to bury the corpses in the forest camp. [2] Three to four Jewish prisoners had to unload the gas van, two had to throw them into the mass grave, two had to stack them in the mass grave according to the instructions of a German Sonderkommando member [3] , the remaining Jewish prisoners were employed in enlarging and digging new mass graves. Hand borrows, shovels and rakes were obtained from the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (Document 87). Later, the work was also assisted by an excavator. [4]

Before the corpses were buried, two Polish prisoners had to extract gold teeth and to search the orifices of the bodies for hidden valuables. [5] To increase the packing density in the trenches, the layers of corpses were arranged in such way that the feet of one corpse met the head of the neighbouring corpse. Children bodies were placed in free space between the adults. The mass graves was finally covered with a layer of 1 - 2  m of soil. [6]

Figure 1 shows the approximate location of the mass graves in the forest camp. The smallest one at the top was dug first and filled in December 1941 and January 1942 (no. 1). The next was the long neighbouring trench to the East (no. 2), followed by two long trenches in the largest clearing in the Western part of the area (nos. 3 and 4). [7] A series of 11 pits (each measuring in average about 15 x 9 m) containing human cremation remains is further located next to trench 4. The surface area of the burial trenches from archaeological research is compiled in Table 1. [8] Also included in the table are the highly reliable estimations of the forester Heinrich May from February 1945, who likely took  measurements of the mass graves when he was ordered to work on concealing the site in Spring 1942. [9]

Table 1: Surface size of the mass graves in the forest camp according to archaeological findings (*) and the testimony of the forester Heinrich May (†).

mass grave
no.
length*
[m]
length†
[m]
width*
[m]
1 62 50 5 - 8
2 254 200 4 - 10
3 174 150 8
4 182 under preparation 10


In contrast to the war-time testimony of the German forester, most witnesses of the SS and police Sonderkommando grossly underestimated the length, especially of the long trenches after the war. [10] The mass graves were up to 5 - 6 m deep  [11] and narrowing down with a width of about 1.5 m at the bottom (in case of mass grave no. 1). [12]

Chlorinated Lime

At least since 16 January 1942, the desinfection agent chlorinated lime (a mixture of calcium hypochlorite, calcium chloride and calcium hydroxide) was poured on the layers of corpses. [13] The local resident Henryk Kruszcyski remembered that "[f]rom the beginning of the camp's existence in Chelmno, from the Kolo railway station, chlorine was brought into the camp in 500 kg barrels...the SS men were smelling of chlorine". [14] In the first few months of the camps existence, the chlorinated lime was possibly obtained by the Sonderkommando through the health authorities after the typhus epidemic in the camp in January 1942 (see also Document 18 in Sonderkommando Kulmhof in German Documents - Origin and Foundation).

Since March 1942, after the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration took over the financial and material exploitation of the extermination of the Jews of Warthegau, bills for chlorinated lime could be forwarded to the Ghetto Administration and the Sonderkommando could request chlorinated lime directly from the Ghetto without bothering about its accounting. On 9 March 1942, the Ghetto Administration was about to receive barrels with 800 kg of chlorinated lime (Document 38). Since the bill was paid from the "special account 12300" and not from the regular Ghetto accounts, it is likely that the delivery was meant for the Sonderkommando, which incidentally showed up in Litzmannstadt on 11 March 1942 to deposit money on the special account. [15] The matter is more obvious for the next payment of chlorinated lime. On 12 March 1942, the Inspector of the Health Service among the Envoy of the Reich Commissary for the Consolidation of German Folk ordered 1,641 kg of chlorinated lime, which were billed on 31 March 1942, paid from the special account of the Ghetto Administration and to be unloaded in Warthbrücken (Document 39), the nearest train station to Kulmhof.

Until early June 1942, about 100,000 people had been killed and buried in the mass graves in Rzuchow forest (see Sonderkommando Kulmhof in German Documents - The Extermination of 100,000 Jews). But the corpses did not rest in peace in the ground. As the decomposition of the organic tissue advanced, body fluids and gas broke up the mass graves and befouled the environment. The forester Heinrich May described his experience as follows: [16]
"When I returned to that place with Bothmann in the summer of 1942, in the period when the wooden fences were being put up, I saw the graves; an unbearable, strong, sweetish odor wafted up above the whole place. I had to cover my nose and I left the place as soon as possible. Bothmann showed me large round heaps of earth on the long graves, above which one could still see clouds of vapor."

The issue of the stench from decomposing corpses became eminent around 23 May 1942, when "the Sonderkommando" requested from the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration to prepare 50 barrels of "chlorinated lime for the special action" (Document 40). The bill was supposed to address the "Gestapo", but as usual in such case it was paid by the Ghetto Administration itself. Around 26 - 28 May 1942, Sonderkommando Kulmhof (concealed in the bills as "Geheime Staatspolizei S") [17] picked up 16,934 kg of chlorinated lime in Litzmannstadt (documents 41 - 43) to encounter the stench in the forest camp, perhaps also to attempt the dissolution of the corpses.

About a month later, Kulmhof received another 13,000 kg of chlorinated lime (Document 50) and 4,520 kg more few days later (Documents 51 and 54). Thus, in the 40 days period of 28 May - 4 July 1942, the Sonderkommando obtained about 34 tons of chlorinated lime (Table 2). The material was transported on trucks from Litzmannstadt to Kulmhof. The commandant Hans Bothmann declined a transport by train as not possible "for certain reasons" in a phone call to the Ghetto Administration on 6 July 1942 (Document 52; the note of Bothmann's nebulous and evasive wording might suggest this was not due to a transport stop during the Summer offensive).

TABLE 2: Compilation of bills/deliveries of chlorinated lime for Sonderkommando Kulmhof.

date amount [kg]
09/03/1942 800
31/03/1942 1,641
21/05/1942 356
26/05/1942 6,574
28/05/1942 10,360
26/06/1942 13,000
01/07/1942 2,780
04/07/1942 1,740


Open Air Incineration

The application of large amounts of chlorinated lime on the mass graves could not (dis)solve the problem of the increasing decomposition of about 100,000 corpses in the area. Already in May - June, but before 19 June 1942, it was decided to open the trenches and to burn the rotten corpses. On this day, the Ghetto Administration delivered 2,000 kg of cement to the "Geheime Staatspolizei S" (Document 47) and "6,448 kg of iron beams and railway rails" the week later (Document 60). The material was meant for the construction of makeshift incineration furnaces in the forest camp.

The onset of open air cremation in the forest camp was no later than mid-July 1942 according to the war-time diary of the Polish journalist Stanislaw Rubach. [18] However, it is likely that some cremation activity (not noticed by Rubach's sources) occurred before this (cf. here). There is evidence that more simple cremation methods were tried in the beginning [19] and it seems reasonable to presume that the Sonderkommando performed some preliminary trials before planning solid incineration furnaces and ordering the material since the second half of June 1942.

The construction of the incineration furnaces in the forest camp was carried out by the police Sonderkommando member Johannes Runge, who was "a bricklayer by profession". [20] The fireclay bricks were provided by the company C. Freudenreich in Warthbrücken (about 60,000 according to the contemporary notes of Stanislaw Rubach). [21] 16 tons of cement (Documents 44-50, 53-54, 57-59 and 61; summary in Table 3) and at least 11.7 tons of iron beams for the grating, possibly up to 30 tons, were obtained from the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (Documents 53, 60 and 64). The iron beams were taken from demolition sites of the Ghetto (APL/221/31305, p. 393).

TABLE 3: Compilation of deliveries of cement to Sonderkommando Kulmhof.
 
date amount [kg]
19/06/1942 2,000
22/06/1942 1,500
29/06/1942 1,250
07/07/1942 5,000
21/07/1942 5,000
01/09/1942 1,250

According to testimonial evidence, contemporary sources and post-war archaeological investigations, the incineration furnaces were about 5 m deep pits with a diameter of about 11 m at the top (narrowing down to ~ 1 m at the bottom) lined with fireclay bricks, equipped with concrete shafts for air supply and the removal of the ash as well as a grating made of iron beams and railway rails. [22] At least four such furnaces were built throughout Summer 1942, which remains are nowadays characterized by their similar size and traces of bricks and concrete (red squares 1 - 4 in Figure 2). Considering the dates of the cement deliveries in Table 3, it appears that one of the furnaces was built in June, two in July and the last in August/September 1942. Older ovens were apparently shut down when they were burnt out since only up to two furnaces were simultaneously in operation. [23]

Figure 2: Google Earth close-up of the large clearing in the forest camp with the presumed cremation sites of 1942 in red. Structures with concrete and brick traces enumerated as nos. 1 - 4. No. 5 might have been a more primitive incineration pit.

The cremation was fuelled with brushwood, chopped wood, gasoline [24] and waste wood from the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (Document 66). The Jewish working detail was greatly expanded for the clearing of the mass graves and cremation activities. [25] In addition, a narrow gauge railway was installed for transporting the corpses from the mass graves to the cremation site. [26] The material for the narrow gauge railway may have been provided by the Police Construction Office Litzmannstadt, which later in May 1943 loaned such also to the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (APL/221/31308p. 54-56).

Several, rather weak accounts from the 1945 Polish investigation reported chimneys of the "crematoria" in the forest camp. [27] Only the later testimony of the police Sonderkommando member Franz Schalling can be considered sufficiently competent. [28] However, chimneys at the incineration furnaces have not been mentioned by any other on-site observer and so their existence remains questionable.

Aktion 1005

On 6 February 1942, Martin Luther of the German Foreign Office forwarded to the Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller "an anonymous letter sent to the Foreign Office concerning alleged incidents in course of the solution of the Jewish question in the Warthegau". In his reply to Luther two weeks later, Müller acknowledged atrocities or misconduct against Jews in the Warthegau with his remark that "in a place where wood is chopped splinters must fall". The "measures" were, however, exaggerated "with the aim to evoke pity and with the hope to end it" as "the Jew tries to escape his well-deserved fate" (Document 37).

The "anonymous letter" has not been preserved and its actual content is unknown. Possibly, it  reported atrocities against the Jews during their deportation, but it could also have featured details on the mass extermination in Kulmhof, which had just been leaked through by local underground activists like Stanislaw Kaszynski [29] and escaped Jewish prisoners. In any case, what is most striking in Müller's reply to Luther is the add-on "Secret State Affair (1005)" to the file and reference number of the document. The term was to become the bureaucratic code for the systematic unearthing and disposal of the mass graves in the annexed and occupied territories under the command of Paul Blobel (see also Holocaust Controversies' postings on Aktion 1005 and Hoffmann, Das kann man nicht erzählen: "Aktion 1005", wie die Nazis die Spuren ihrer Massenmorde in Osteuropa beseitigten).

Until mid-January 1942 Blobel was the commander of the Einsatzgruppe C Sonderkommando 4a [30] , but was replaced and called back apparently for health reasons. After a prolonged holiday and some time at the RSHA in Berlin, around June 1942, he was put in charge of the task to wipe out the traces of the Nazi atrocities in the East. [31] It is not entirely clear when exactly Blobel established his headquarters in Litzmannstadt and started to visit Kulmhof; in August 1942 as in his own account [32] or already in July. His team in Kulmhof included three former members of Sonderkommando 4a: his driver Julius Bauer, Wilhelm Tempel and Franz Halle. [33] The presence of Blobel's Sonderkommando 1005 in Litzmannstadt is demonstrated by the men's shopping trips to the Ghetto in the period October 1942 - April 1943 (Documents 67 - 69, 79, 82).

In the second half of July 1942, the "SS Sonderkommando Blobel" obtained a portable flame thrower unit from the SS-Cavalry at the Waffen-SS training camp Heidelager/Debica (Document 55), and probably thermite grenades as well. While Sonderkommando Kulmhof had already started the incineration of corpses "independent of Blobel's activity" [34] , his own Sonderkommando used the mass graves in Kulmhof as test site for finding a more convenient and rapid method of body disposal. The treatment of the corpses with the flame thrower did not yield a satisfactory result though. [35] Blobel's staff also tried to burn out the Northern part of mass grave no. 2 in Figure 2 with thermite grenades. As a result of the violent thermal reaction, the nearby trees caught fire and about 2 hectares of the forest camp were burnt. [36] The reports on the blasting of corpses might be a reference to this thermite trial as well. [37] The aisle of destruction caused by the forest fire is pictured in an aerial photo of January 1945 (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Aerial photograph of the forest camp of January 1945 (courtesy of Patrick Montague). Encircled in orange the area burnt by the forest fire after Blobel's trial to destroy the corpses in mass grave no. 2 with thermite grenades in summer 1942. Also visible are the three clearings of the mass grave and cremation site.

After his failed attempts to destroy the corpses inside the mass graves, Blobel must have realized that the body disposal has to follow the tedious practice of Sonderkommando Kulmhof to take out the corpses from the trenches and incinerate them with wood and gasoline on pyres constructed on iron beams in pits. [38]

Bone Crushing 

The method of burning corpses on pyres does not yield fine ash, but leaves behind the bed ash with bones or fragments of bones. The practice would have been sufficient from a hygienic point of view. But the Nazis had the complete removal of traces of their mass murder in mind. The pulverization of corpses requires a further mechanical treatment of the cremation remains. Perhaps at the order of Blobel as he had to care especially about this point (provided he had been already in Kulmhof at the time), Sonderkommando Kulmhof enquired the Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration for a "bone mill", who on 16 July 1942 requested from the Elderly of the Jews if such exists in the Ghetto (Document 56). [39]

The Ghetto could not supply a suitable mill. Quite possibly, the request to the Eldery of the Jews two weeks later to provide a 50 Liter container "to grind brittle material to a powder" has to be seen in this context as well (APL/278/38, p. 535). The head of Ghetto Administration Hans Biebow did not, however, want to disappoint the SS and used his Bremian contacts to purchase an "excelsior mill 4 b with transition piece and magnet plus various grinding disks" and "rotating current motor" from the (trading?) company Hermann Brüggemann in Bremen, invoiced on 2 October 1942 (Document 65). The device was a disc mill manufactured by Friedrich Krupp Grusonwerk in Magdeburg (Figure 4). The "various" discs 60 cm in diameter were worn out after some weeks and 3 new pairs were ordered in January and February 1943 (Documents 74 and 77).
Figure 4: Schematic representation of an excelsior mill of the Friedrich Krupp Grusonwerk (from Lueger, Lexikon der gesamten Technik und ihrer Hilfswissenschaften, vol. 3, 1906, p. 523-524.
The Sonderkommando could not or did not want use the motor supplied by Brüggemann. Bothmann refused to give iron coupons to the Ghetto Administration for a used mill and a motor he never received (Document 71). Instead, they loaned compressors from the company Dr. Kiesgen & Co in Cologne, which were sent back as damaged on 17 December 1942 (Documents 81; the bill from Kiesgen mentions only two loaned compressors, but the related bill from Georg Labonte mentioned that 3 compressors were unloaded and 1 compressor was loaded up). The use of compressors for the bone mill is confirmed by the account of the SS Sonderkommmando member Walter Burmeister. [40] The Sonderkommando also purchased a Diesel engine from Motoren-Heyne in Leipzig (Documents 70 and 75). The motor driven mill was located in a hut near the cremation sites. [41]

Some of the pulverized ash was buried in the pits and trenches in the forest camp according to the archaeological findings, [42] the rest was filled into bags and transported away at night. The bags may have been emptied into rivers, but it was also talked among Sonderkommando members that the bone meal would be used as fertilizer. [43] According to Walter Piller, the bags with bone meal from the later unearthing operations and Kulmhof extermination camp in 1944 were dumped into rivers or sent as fertilizer to Fort VII in Posen. [44]

In the Summer of 1942, the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höß was faced with the same problem of fouling mass graves. Ten thousands of Jews and Russian POWs had been buried in trenches in Birkenau and the accelerated decomposition caused by the warm climate polluted the environment. After Heinrich Himmler's visit to Auschwitz on 17 July 1942, Blobel showed up in Auschwitz to order the complete removal of the mass graves. [45]

On 16 September 1942, a delegation from Auschwitz - the commandant Rudolf Höß, the person in charge of clearing the mass graves Franz Hößler and the central construction office member Walther Dejaco - visited Kulmhof extermination camp "to inspect the experimental site of field ovens Aktion Reinhard" (Document 62). [46] After the "inspection of the special facility", the Auschwitz delegation discussed "with SS-Standartenführer Blobel...the execution of such a facility" in  Auschwitz. Blobel ordered "construction material", apparently cement and bricks, "from the Ostdeutsche Baustoffwerke Company of Posen...for the Auschwitz concentration camp" as well as reserved a "ball mill...for grinding substances for the Auschwitz concentration camp" from the company Schriever & Co. in Hannover (Document 63). Meanwhile, the architect Dejaco took measurements of the incineration furnace in the forest camp. [47]

Eventually, the SS did not construct Kulmhof's open air oven in Auschwitz and the ball mill was not used either, as far as it is known. The corpses were burnt on pyres in trenches and the Jewish prisoners crushed the bone fragments physically with rammers. The ball mill was placed at the disposal of the Security Police Lublin, possibly to be used in the extermination camps in the Generalgouvernment, and apparently sent back to Blobel in early 1943 (Document 76). The Litzmannstadt Ghetto Administration paid the ball mill from the special account and the seemingly too incriminating correspondence of the transaction was handed over to the Gestapo, as "for certain reasons I [Biebow] don't want to keep this file in my administration" (Document 78).

On 7 April 1943, Blobel blew up the Kulmhof palace [48] and left Litzmannstadt shortly after 9 April 1943 (Documents 80 and 82) to organize the clearing of the mass graves in the occupied East. His Sonderkommando carried along from Kulmhof the knowledge how to dispose mass graves - and a transmission belt, which had been promised to the Ghetto Litzmannstadt and which absence urged Biebow to write down a complaint with the most incriminating remark for the Ghetto Administration that "thanks to us...the Gestapo managed to carry out the operation outside in K[ulmhof] so smoothly" (Document 83 and 85). Blobel seems to have transferred the transmission belt, the ball mill and the Diesel engine to the next Aktion 1005 site in Lemberg (Figure 5). [49]
 
Figure 5: Ball mill in Lemberg (Soviet investigation, September 1944?), source

The gruesome activity in the forest camp also reached Hermann Göring's intelligence service in Litzmannstadt, who reported that "from a reliable source, the Forschungsstelle has now learned that the police guards there later re-exhumed the Jews buried in a little wood near Kulmhof and had to burn them in specially constructed furnaces" (Document 88) - albeit about a year after the operation had started and several weeks after its end.


Footnotes

Archive abbreviations: APL = Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi; AIPN = Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej; AZIH =  Archiwum Zydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego; BArch = Bundesarchiv; YVA = Yad Vashem Archives


[1] Interview of Henryk Mania of 27 August 1962, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 114 ff.: 'Initially the Poles of the Sonderkommando dug the graves in the form of trenches, where corpses were buried'; interrogation of Kurt Möbius of 8 November 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 199: 'The vans were full of corpses (men, women and children), which were taken out by the Polish workers and placed in the mass grave.'; interrogation of Andrzej Miszczak of 14 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 51-53, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 139 - 144: 'At first, the Poles mentioned earlier dug a mass grave in the forest'; cf. Montague, Chelmno and the Holocaust, p. 60; the role of the 30 Jews picked up by SS officers from Posen on 5 December 1942 in Warthbrücken/Kolo according to a report by Uszer Taube, AZIH Ring. I/394, English translation in Jürgen Matthäus, Jewish Responses to Persecution: 1941–1942, p. 443 ff., remains unclear.

[2] Report 'Die Vorfälle in Kulmhof' of February/March 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1117 (Ring 1/413): 'The Jews earlier taken were performing the task of grave-workers.'; account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118: 'Then we were counted and eight of us were chosen to be the pit-workers. We took pickaxes and spades in our hands and started working.'; interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 121: 'In the woods there was a trench serving as a mass grave for the murdered Jews. We were ordered to dig the trench further. In order to do so, we were given shovels and pickaxes.'; interrogation of Kurt Möbius of 8 November 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 199: 'Later, when more transports were coming to Kulmhof, the Polish workers were no longer employed in the forest camp, but in the palace. The unloading of the gas van and the burying was done by Jewish prisoners instead, who were imprisoned in the basement of the palace.'; interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B 162/3249, p. 151 - 152; interrogation of Gustav Laabs of 29 November 1960, BArch B 162/3246, p. 48; interrogation of Harry Maas of 29 July 1960, BArch B 162/3245, p. 77; interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 179; examination of Henryk Mania of 14 April 1964, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 123 ff.

[3] Account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118: 'After another five minutes 'the Whip' (the SS commandant) ordered the four 'pit-workers' to unlock the door. A strong smell of gas belched out from the inside. Having waited another five minutes, 'the Whip' yelled: 'Ihr Juden, geht tefilin legen' which meant, 'throw the corpses out...two others pulled them closer towards the hole and then threw them into it. In the hole there were another two 'pit-workers' who arranged the bodies according to the SS-man's instructions.'; interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 121: 'After three- four minutes had passed, three Jews went into the van. These were Neumuller from Kolo, Chaim from Babiak, and one more whose name I cannot remember. They threw out the corpses from the vehicle onto the ground...Two Jews passed the corpses to two 'Ukrainians'...'; interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 179: 'A Jewish working detail of 6 to 8 Jews had to pull out the corpses of the gas vans and throw them into the mass grave.'

[4] Manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'Parallel to the grave, a motorized excavator with a conveyor belt was digging another grave. The conveyor belt was also used to cover up the graves.'

[5] Examination of Henryk Mania of 14 April 1964, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 123 ff.: 'In the first period, which I mentioned, when I drove into the woods to bury the corpses, I personally controlled the corpses with my colleagues Polubinski, Skrzypczynski, Maliczak and the others.'; account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118: 'After they were thrown out from the van, two German civilians searched the bodies for valuables. They tore off necklaces, took off rings, pulled out gold teeth. They even looked into the rectum and female genital organs.'; interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 121: 'The 'Ukrainians' pulled out gold teeth from the corpses' mouth, tore off little sacks with money from their necks, pulled off wedding rings, watches, and so on. The corpses were searched over very precisely. The 'Ukrainians' were looking for gold and valuables even in women's reproductive organs and anuses. They did not use rubber gloves. The valuables found were placed in a special suitcase. It was not the SS-men who searched through the corpses. They just attentively watched the Ukrainians doing it.'

[6] Account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118: 'The gassed people were thrown out of the vehicle and piled like rubbish. They were grabbed either by their legs or hair. Above the grave, there were two men throwing the bodies into it. Inside the hole there were another two men putting the corpses in layers, faces down, in the way that one person's legs met another person's head. A special SS-man was supervising the process. If there was any tiny space left, it was filled with a child’s body. A gendarme standing above the grave with a pine branch decided where to put the heads, legs, children, belongings, etc. This awful event was accompanied by fierce shouts: 'Du Sakrament'. One layer consisted of 180-200 corpses'; interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 121: 'They were placed very tightly in layers facing down; in such a way that someone's head touched someone else's feet. They had not been stripped of their underwear...Four to five corpses were placed on the first layer on the bottom; on the last, upper layer there were as many as 30 bodies. Then the bodies were buried under a 1-meter thick layer of earth.'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'The grave was covered with earth that was about two meters high.'

[7] Interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 179, English translation from Montague, Chelmno and the Holocaust, p. 92: 'In the first clearing, there were two mass graves about 30 meters long, ten meters wide, and three meters deep. In the second clearing, there was a mass grave about 30 meters long, ten meters wide, and three meters deep. In the third clearing there was a mass grave about 12 meters long, ten meters wide, and three meters deep. When I started my duty in Chelmno, the mass grave in the third clearing had already been filled with corpses. The mass grave in the second clearing was half filled with corpses. The other mass graves had only been prepared and were filled with corpses later.'

[8] Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 59 - 63

[9] Manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'After a few days the commandant of the special unit, SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Bothmann, turned up at my house to talk over the concealment works. I noticed Bothmann was wearing a 1st Class Medal for War Merit (Kriegsverdienstkreuz I Klasse mit Schwertern). I went with Bothmann to district 77, and I was terrified entering that place for the first time. In one of the clearings, enlarged by cutting down some of the trees, I saw a grave about 200 meters long and five meters wide. The grave was covered with earth that was about two meters high. A bit further on I saw another grave 50 meters long. In the neighboring clearing there was one more grave about 150 meters long. About three-quarters of the length of the grave was covered up. From my side it was still open. I did not have enough courage to go there and look into it. Soon after, an enclosed truck appeared, which was moving backwards and then stopped right in front of the open part of the grave. The gendarme opened the van and I saw a pile of naked bodies. I was standing about 80 meters from the van. A group of half naked forced laborers, supervised by one of the gendarmes, hurried to throw the corpses into the grave. Bothmann told me that the bodies had to be positioned precisely; otherwise not enough of them would fit into the grave.'

[10] e.g. testimony of Jakob Wildermuth in reference 6; only the gas van driver Gustav Laabs arrived to a fairly decent estimation of 75 - 100 m for mass graves 3 and 4 in his interrogation of 29 November 1960, BArch B 162/3246, p. 52.

[11] Interview of Henryk Mania of 27 August 1962, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 114 ff.; interrogation of Alois Häfele of 7 December 1960, BArch B 162/3246, p. 119; interrogation of Kurt Möbius of 8 November 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 198; interrogation of Gustav Laabs of 29 November 1960, BArch B 162/3246, p. 52; interrogation of Aleksander Kaminski of 5 July 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 3, p. 10;interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16; interrogation of Jan Gibaszek of 13 July 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 4, p. 22; account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118

[12] Account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 101 - 118, cf. interrogation of Michal Podchlebnik of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 14 - 16

[13] Account of Szlama Winer of 1942, AZIH, ARG I 1115 (Ring. I/412), English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 116: 'On Friday, January 16, we woke up at five in the morning...As of Friday, chloride was poured on the graves due to the strong, foul odor from the decomposing bodies.'; interrogation of Alois Häfele of 20 December 1960 BArch B 162/3246, p. 134: 'I was once inthe forest camp, in the year of 1942, because we had to bring chlorinated lime or pick up chlothes.'; interrogation of Walter Bock of 20 June 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 101: 'In the forest camp I have seen a 30-40 m long, closed mass grave, from which the smell of chlorinated lime and corpses was emerging.'; interrogation of Jan Gibaszek of 13 July 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 4, p. 22: 'The corpses were poured with some powder which name I can not recall and filled with sand.'

[14] Interrogation of Henryk Kruszcyski of 9 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 17

[15] APL/221/29665, p. 225

[16] Manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.; cf. interrogation of Andrzej Miszczak of 14 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 51-53, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 139 - 144; Helena Krol of 14 June 1945, [AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 55-56; interrogation of Czeslaw Urbaniak of 5 July 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 3, p. 11

[17] The identity to Sonderkommando Kulmhof is established in APL/221/29665, p. 100, APL/221/29669, p. 168 and APL/221/29675, p. 195 as well as Document 53 and 54.

[18] Diary of Stanislaw Rubach for period 1 - 12 August 1942, AIPN, GK 165/271, volume 8, p. 104, cf. Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 175 - 192.

[19] Examination of Henryk Mania 14 April 1964, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 123 ff.: '...since the burning corpses on a stake was very tedious, the Gestapo ordered to build a crematory oven in the forest camp.'; interrogation of Franz Schalling of 9 March 1961, Rückerl, NS Vernichtungslager, p. 273-274: 'the corpses from the mass graves were stacked in these pits, poured with some powder and set to fire'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff., here quoting from the German in YVA M.21.1/477, p. 16: 'After various trials, cremation of the bodies was performed in pits about three meters deep and four meters in diameter, reinforced with stones on the sides.'

[20] Interrogation of Karl Heinl of 27 January 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 52 & 54: 'I heard that Runge constructed an incineration furnace in the forest camp...I have seen from the edge of the forest that a Jewish working detail threw corpses into an incerination furnace...He [Runge] was a bricklayer by profession'; interrogation of Walter Bock of 20 June 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 104: 'Further I have seen a furnace, built into the ground, inside was coal and ash. Shrubs were driven next to it. The furnace was apparently the one built by Revieroberwachtmeister Runge according to reports from comrades.'; interrogation of Gustav Laabs of 2 December 1960, BArch B162/3246, p. 58: 'Johannes Runge, forest camp, built the incineration furnace and supervised the incineration of corpses.' interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B162/3249, p. 153: 'In the course of Summer 1942, when the corpses in the mass graves were already in the state of decomposing, a big incineration furnace placed deep in the ground was built under the supervision of Polizeioberwachtmeister Runge in the forest camp.'

[21] AIPN, GK 165/271, volume 8, p. 68-77 & 104, cf. Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 175 - 19.

[22] Archaeological findings in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 59 - 63 on measures, fireclay bricks and concrete shafts; interrogation of Friedrich Maderholz of 20 Juli 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 113 on diameter and deep stone lined pit; interrogation of Karl Heinl of 27 January 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 52 on deep stone lined pit; interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B 162/3249, p. 153 on deep brick lined pit with gratings from railyway rails; interrogation of Gustav Laabs of 1 December 1960, BArch B162/3246, p. 51 on railway rails; deposition of Walter Piller of 19 May 1945, YVA O.53 12.1, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 169 - 193 on size, fireclay bricks, grating and shaft, refering to the furnaces of the 2nd period in 1944.

[23] Interrogation of Theodor Malzmüller of 27 June 1960, BArch B 162/3245, p. 57 on two furnaces in operation; interrogation of Fritz Ismer of 9 November 1960, BArch B 162/3246, p. 76 on two idle and one in operation; interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 181 on two in operation, which were shut down, then a bigger one in operation; interrogation of Friedrich Maderholz of 20 Juli 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 113 on one furnace in operation, then another smaller one; interrogation of Rozalia Peham of 26 June 1945, Chelmno Witnesses Speak, p. 163 - 167, interrogation of Andrzej Miszczak of 14 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 51-53, cf. Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 139 - 144; interrogation of Helena Krol of 14 June 1945, [AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 55-56; interrogation of Czeslaw Urbaniak of 5 July 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 3, p. 11, all on two 'crematoriums'.

[24] Interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B 162/3249, p. 153: 'For the cremation large amounts of wood and brushwood were used.'; interrogation of Theodor Malzmüller of 27 June 1960, BArch B 162/3245, p. 57: 'The cremation was done with wood and brushwood.'; interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 181: '...were cremated with wood and the addition of gasoline.'; interrogation of Karl Heinl of 27 January 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 52: 'There were still remains of wood visible [in the incineration furnace].'; interrogation of Walter Bock of 20 June 1961, BArch B162/3248, p. 113; interrogation of Gustav Laabs of 1 December 1960, BArch B162/3246, p. 51: 'The cremation was carried out with wood.'; manuscript of Rudolf Höß of November 1946, DVD Digitale Bibliothek 101, Der 1. Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess, p. 40167: '...cremated with wood and gasoline residues.'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'I requested the fuel wood from the State Forestry Office (Landesforstamt) where I was ordered to give it to Bothmann. First, I provided him with a large quantity of poles and gnarled wood. Later I also had to provide some thicker wood. Finally, the demand was so great that I had to cut down all the trees in some of the forest districts.'; interrogation of Rozalia Peham of 26 June 1945, Chelmno Witnesses Speak, p. 163 - 167: 'Between the layers there was a layer of wood. The formed pile was sprayed with gasoline.'; diary of 1 - 7 August 1942 of Stanislaw Rubach, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 8, p. 68-77 & 104 , cf. Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 175 - 192.

[25] Interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 181; interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B 162/3249, p. 153; interrogation of Janina Malolepsza of 19 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 85 - 86 on 200 - 300 prisoners; interrogation of Helena Krol of 14 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 55-56 on 380 prisoners; diary of 25 September 1942 of Stanislaw Rubach, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 8, p. 68-77 & 104 , cf. Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 175 - 192 on 250 prisoners.

[26] Interrogation of Fritz Ismer of 9 November 1960, BArch B162/3246, p. 77: '...I have seen that Strohmeier was working at the construction of the narrow gauge railway for transporting the corpses from the mass graves to the incineration furnace.'; interrogation of Friedrich Maderholz of 20 July 1961, BArch B162/3248, p. 113: '...transported with a narrow gauge railway to a incineration furnace located at the clearing...'

[27] See references in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 45

[28] Interrogation of Franz Schalling of 9 March 1961, Rückerl, NS Vernichtungslager, p. 273-274

[29] Montague, Chelmno and the Holocaust, p. 213 - 218

[30] Ereignismeldung 156 of 16 January 1942, Mallmann et al., Deutsche Berichte aus dem Osten 1942 - 1943. Dokumente der Einsatzgruppen in der Sowjetunion III, p. 83

[31] Affidavit of Blobel of 18 June 1947, http://www.ns-archiv.de/einsatzgruppen/blobel/eidesstattliche-erklaerung-2.php; examination of Blobel at the NMT trial case 9, p.1618, quoted from Stephen Tyas, 'We don't know what we have': British Intelligence and decoded radio messages about Sonderkommando 1005, 1942-1944, presented at the International Conference 15 - 16 June 2009 in Paris on Operation 1005: Nazi attempts to erase the evidence of mass murder in Eastern and Central Europe, 1942-1944: 'After the death of Heydrich, which was at the end of June 1942, I was assigned by Obergruppenfuehrer Mueller, who was chief of Office-IV, to deliver the order about burning of the places of execution to the Commanders of the Security Police in the east.'

[32] Examination of Blobel at the NMT trial case 9, p.1618, quoted from Stephen Tyas, 'We don't know what we have": British Intelligence and decoded radio messages about Sonderkommando 1005, 1942-1944, presented at the International Conference 15 - 16 June 2009 in Paris on Operation 1005: Nazi attempts to erase the evidence of mass murder in Eastern and Central Europe, 1942-1944: 'In August 42 Obergruppenfuehrer Mueller ordered me to go to Litzmannstadt, and to report to the State Police Office there...'

[33] Interrogation of Julius Bauer of 12 November 1964, BArch B 162/5858, p. 1840: 'At the time of these trials, Blobel requested other people for his work, like Kriminaloberassistent Tempel and Kriminalassistent Halle.'

[34] Interrogation of Julius Bauer of 12 November 1964, BArch B 162/5858, p. 1840.

[35] Interrogation of Fritz Ismer of 1 August 1961, Hamburger Staatsarchiv, Strafsache 141 Js 204/60, Band 4, Bl. 1419 ff, cited from Hoffmann, Das kann man nicht erzählen, p. 81: 'Blobel brought a flame device, consisting of a pot with a long pipe...he tried to ignite the the corpses with his flame device...I observed the flames were not strong. After looking at the site used for the test I concluded the attempt had failed.'; interrogation of Julius Bauer of 12 November 1964, BArch B 162/5858, p. 1840: 'The incineration trials with the burner were fruitless.'

[36] Interrogation of Kurt Möbius of 21 November 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 157: '...that on one of the last days of my stay in Kulmhof a higher SS leader appeared, SS-Standartenführer or higher...They tried to open the mass graves and burn the corpses by thermite.'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'The use of thermite bombs caused fires, which consumed part of the forest hiding the graves. The charred remains could not be removed however, because then the graves would be visible from the road.'; extent of damage estimated from aerial photograph of January 1945.

[37] Interrogation of Julius Bauer of 12 November 1964, BArch B 162/5858, p. 1840: '...I confirm that Blobel tried to dispose the corpses by blasting, which showed no sufficient result either'; manuscript of Rudolf Höß of November 1946, DVD Digitale Bibliothek 101, Der 1. Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess, p. 40167: 'He tried to destroy the corpses by blasting, but this succeeded only very incompletely.'

[38] Interrogation of Julius Bauer of 12 November 1964, BArch B 162/5858, p. 1840: '...if I described in my previous testimony that Blobel's incineration trials with the burner were ceased because they turned out as fruitless and that he got the idea to incinerate the corpses on pyres from Bootmann [sic!], then this does not necessarily show an exchange of experiences; Blobel could have seen that Bootmann used pyres.'

[39] The remark 'the Sonderkommando Kulmhof is interested in this mill' at the bottom of the document was not included in the letter to the Elderly of the Jews (as Patrick Montague, Chelmno and the Holocaust, p. 243 has wondered), but it is an additional comment, presumably from Otto Luchterhand or Friedrich Ribbe of the Ghetto Administration, on the copy of the letter for their own files. So far, I could not locate the document in the files of the Ghetto Administration. It was introduced as evidence at the trial of Hans Biebow, who did not deny its authenticity but seems to have disputed its relevance as it was authored by Luchterhand and Ribbe: 'The letter is neither dictated nor signed by me. Probably the question is whether the Gestapo or the ghetto have a bone mill. There was an inquiry from us, since it is stated that the Sonderkommando in Chelmno is interested in this mill', Lewinski, Proces Hansa Biebowa, p. 172.

[40] Interrogation of Walter Burmeister of 24 March 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 85: 'At [Blobel's] order, a compressor was ordered and another part, I believe, a bone mill and were brought to the forest camp. I was involved in this transport. The bone mill was a piece of 5000 kg, which was carried with a large 5 ton trailer. The compressor, or rather the 2-3 thereof, which were also brought at Blobel's order, were aggregates used in road construction for jackhammer. These compressors were later returned.'

[41] Interrogation of Friedrich Maderholz of 20 July 1961, BArch B162/3248, p.113: 'There was a motor driven bone mill in the forest camp, in which the bone residues from the the incineration furnace were grinded to powder.'; interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 181: 'The remaining bones were grinded with a bone mill driven by a gasoline engine.'; interrogation of Georg Heukelbach of 30 November 1961, BArch B162/3247, p. 219: 'I remember that I have seen the bone mill when I was performing guard duty at the forest camp in the night. it was located under a roofing near the incineration oven. I remember that there was a big funnel to fill in the bone residues.'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'The remaining long bones were pulled out and ground in a motor grinder placed in a wooden barrack.'

[42] Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 59 - 63.

[43] Interrogation of Jakob Wildermuth of 14 December 1961, BArch B 162/3247, p. 181: 'The bone meal was filled into bags, which was transported away from time to time. I don't know where it was brought, but it was talked about that the bone meal should be used a fertilizer.'; interrogation of Georg Heukelbach of 30 November 1961, BArch B162/3247, p. 219: 'I further remember that there were some bags filled with bone meal at the bone mill.'; interrogation of Friedrich Maderholz of 20 July 1961, BArch B162/3248, p. 115: '...the bone meal produced by the grinding of bones in the bone mill was filled into bags by the Jews and was transported away with trucks after some time.'; interrogation of Josef Islinger of 26 February 1962, BArch B162/3249, p. 153: 'I have once seen some filled bags near a wooden hut in the forest camp. I don't know what was inside. Possibly the residues of the bones.'; manuscript of Heinrich May of February 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 154 ff.: 'During my last visit to the graveyard, when juniper seeds were being sown, Bothmann showed me the bone grinder. In the barracks there were a few full sacks.'; interrogation of Walter Bock of 20 June 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 104: 'It was spoken that a bone mill was to be erected in the forest camp to provide the farmers with bone meal as fertilizer.'

[44] Deposition of Walter Piller of 19 May 1945, YVA O.53 12.1, English translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses speak, p. 169 - 193: 'The ashes were ground on metal sheets into powder and some of it was used as a fertilizer in the VII Fort in Posen'; interrogation of Walter Piller of 20 November 1945, Pawlicka-Nowak, Swiadectwa Zaglady, p. 97 ff.: '...part of the ash sent was to Posen to fertilize vegetable gardens belonging to the concentration camp.'

[45] Manuscript of Rudolf Höß of November 1946, DVD Digitale Bibliothek 101, Der 1. Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess, p. 40167: 'Shortly after the visit of the Reichsführer, Standartenführer Blobel from Eichmann's office arrived and transmitted the RFSS-order to open all mass graves and incinerate the corpses. Further, the ashes were to be disposed as well, so that it would be not possible to conclude on the number of burnt corpses.'; interrogation of Hans Aumeier of 25 July 1945, PRO WO.208/4661, quoted from http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Aumeier/250745.html: 'As the camp commandant informed me, the Reichsarzt-SS from Berlin ordered to exhume and burn all buried prisoners. For this purpose, some Standartenführer Blomb or Plobel was in Auschwitz, who gave the instructions for the cremation on pyres and pits.'; interrogation of Julius Bauer of 4/5 July 1963, Hamburger Staatsarchiv, Strafsache 141 Js 204/60, Band 13, Bl. 4935- 4954 (courtesy of Jens Hoffmann): 'We travelled a lot in Summer 1942. We were in Litzmannstadt, Kulmhof, Berlin (RSHA), Warsaw, Lublin, Amsterdam and Auschwitz.'

[46] Manuscript of Rudolf Höß of November 1946, DVD Digitale Bibliothek 101, Der 1. Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess, p. 40167: 'I drove with Hössler to Kulmhof for the inspection. Blobel had constructed various makeshift ovens and cremated with wood and gasoline residues.'

[47] Examination of Walther Dejaco of 20 January 1972, Landesgericht für Strafsachen Wien, 20 Vr 3806/64 Hv 35/71, 3. Verhandlungstag, p. 58: 'I had the order to measure the size of the charcoal stack. Why is the sketch missing? The size of the charcoal stack was like this: it was circular, 4 to 6 m in diameter, with earth banking at the side.'

[48] Interrogation of Andrzej Miszczak of 14 June 1945, AIPN GK 165/271, volume 1, p. 51-53, english translation in Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno witnesses Speak, p. 139 - 144: 'On April 7, 1943 the palace was blown up in order to obliterate the traces of their crimes.'; interrogation of Walter Burmeister of 24 March 1961, BArch B 162/3248, p. 86: 'the palace was blown up, i.e. Standartenführer Blobel tried to blow it up, but despite a lot of preparations he was only partially successfull with this.'

[49] Testimony of Moishe Korn of 13 September 1944, Klee, Gott mit uns, p. 228: 'The machine for crushing the bones was constructed as follows: On a platform with the dimensions 4 x 2 m, there was a diesel engine on the right front, which drove with a belt a disc placed on the axis of a drum, in which cast-iron balls were rolling.'

___________
updated 18/10/2017 (linguistic corrections)

29 comments:

J Kelly said...

Thanks for adding this to Skeptics.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

That's one hell of an article, Hans. Congratulations!

Hans Metzner said...

Roberto, I am indebted to you for helping with the translation of the documents!

Thinker said...

I got to admit that your documentation here is impressive. The people at CODOH should definitely take consider this.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

From what I know of the people at CODOH, they'll find an easy pretext for ignoring all evidence regarding Chelmno that goes against their articles of faith, and ending any discussion about such evidence: they'll pull their "show us (all) the corpses/human remains" act, whereupon the moderator (who is identical with a certain prominent poster) will "disapprove" any opposition post claiming that the opposition poster is "dodging" because he doesn't comply with that "show us" demand.

Which demand, needless to say, is highly unrealistic and accordingly unreasonable. Add up the corpses you see on all WWII pictures showing corpses that you can get hold of, and you'll probably end up with something like 10,000 photographed corpses at most, which according to CODOH "logic" would mean that WWII claimed just that many lives.

Applied to Stalin's crimes said "logic" wouldn't even leave all of the 4,143 Polish corpses unearthed by the Germans at Katyn on Stalin's head, for the photos included in the "Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Katyn" show something like 10 % of those corpses. But don't expect CODOH "Revisionists", especially the prominent poster mentioned above, to think that far.

Last time I put together an overview of my posts censored by the CODOH "moderator", the count stood at 111. Since then it has grown to 152. And it will keep on growing every time I post on CODOH. So much for "open debate" at a venue that claims to offer and promote just that.

What makes the moderator's censoring posts even funnier is his slogan, which is something like "only lies need to be shielded from debate, truth welcomes it". He obviously considers "Revisionism" to be a pack of lies that must be shielded from debate.

Thinker said...

You are talking about Hannover, right? Or is the moderator a different person?
In any case, I am going to have to agree with you on Hannover. He sees "Jewish supremacists" that only exist in his head every where he goes. I just find it entertaining how he accuses you of being a "Zionist" and "Jew" with out any proof. There are plenty of revisionists I have seen that more calm and more rational than him, such as Jansson and Werd, with whom you have evidently had alot of experience with. Jansson doesn't seem to be a hateful bigot, despite that he may be wrong about something things, which from my experience at looking at the debates, is not exclusive to
the revisionist side.

On the other hand, I am inclined to disagree with you on Chelmno. From my own observation, all the proof we have for it being an extermination camp is essentially these documents and eye witness testimonies. So there is my quibble about it.

On a side note, I do find Lisciotto's rants against you, true or not, entertaining.

Hans Metzner said...

Thinker,

It were certainly a good start if "Revisionists" would finally start considering the full range and depth of evidence on Kulmhof extermination camp.

Though I am not too enthusiastic that it will make a difference to most of them, as in my experience their conviction is usually not only fuelled by lack of historical knowledge but also lack of reasonable methodology. If somebody believes that numerous corroborating evidence from different types of sources does not make a point over something supported by almost nothing in comparison, then this series won't make a difference either.

BTW, the next posting will be on the funding and plundering of Sonderkommando Kulmhof, which stands also in stark contrast to the Revisionist resettlement hypothesis.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«There are plenty of revisionists I have seen that more calm and more rational than him, such as Jansson and Werd, with whom you have evidently had alot of experience with. Jansson doesn't seem to be a hateful bigot, despite that he may be wrong about something things, which from my experience at looking at the debates, is not exclusive to the revisionist side.»

Discussing with Jansson and other less primitive "Revisionists" (especially Wilfried Heink, may he rest in peace, and Jason Myers, a former "Revisionist" who posted as "Wahrheitseeker" and is now a HC blogger) was usually interesting, even challenging. I haven't come across other "Revisionists" that were similarly knowledgeable and articulate - and at the same time less hateful.

«On the other hand, I am inclined to disagree with you on Chelmno. From my own observation, all the proof we have for it being an extermination camp is essentially these documents and eye witness testimonies. So there is my quibble about it.»

Why the "quibble"? The eyewitness and documentary evidence showing that Chelmno was an extermination camp is pretty clear-cut. There is also archaeological evidence. That body of evidence is at least as much as you have regarding most mass crimes in history. Actually there's more regarding Chelmno than regarding, say, any Soviet mass crimes other than the Katyn massacre, and perhaps also the Vinnitsa massacre. And what is more, the Chelmno evidence has been examined by the judicial authorities of a democratic state applying defendant-friendly procedural rules (the German Federal Republic). What mass crimes other than NS crimes have been subject to objective judicial investigation/examination? None that happened before or at the same time, as far as I know. And very few (e.g. Bosnia and Rwanda) afterwards. Last but not least, there's no evidence whatsoever supporting the notion that Chelmno was anything other than an extermination camp, namely that it was a transit camp through which deportees were sent to what Korherr called the "Russian East".

As to Lisciotto's defamatory rants against me and other HC bloggers in the wake of these events, they are water off a duck's back. I hope for you that you don't take them seriously (Mattogno, Graf and Kues made fools of themselves on account of that). Apart from the former being a "Revisionist" (of the primitive sort), and the latter accepting the established historical record, there's little if any difference between "Hannover" and Lisciotto, actually. Both are compulsive liars with obvious psychopathic traits. I can only feel sorry for them.

Sergey Romanov said...

From my own experience I think Heink was both primitive and hateful.

Thinker said...

All right, I will accept the evidence that Chelmno was an extermination camp.

Hannover should not be taken seriously by either side of the debate. He is always so abnoxious that it is unbelievable that he claims that he wants the truth, when all he does is yell at the his opponents. However, I have myself dealt with many similar people on the Holocaust believer side who refuse to address my arguements and this one believer on YouTube tried to accuse me of being a "Jew hater" and "Nazi" when he realized he couldn't withstand the power of my arguements. Its kinda of sad to watch.

On the other hand, not every single thing Hannover says is pure manure. At times, he does show glimmers of light and actually does at times expose some deliberate twisting on the side of the believers.

As for Lisciotto, I honestly cannot tell who is really telling the truth here. Its a real mess.

Thinker said...

I don't believe that is the case. There are certainly revisionists that are open minded, from what I have seen over at CODOH, RODOH and other forums. Those like Hannover give them a bad name.

Thinker said...

Excuse me for my grammar mistakes. I was typing this on a phone.

Hans Metzner said...

Revisionists have to ask themselves how a camp

- consisting of nothing but a rotten mansion (the so called palace), a church, a granary and a forest area full of mass graves and cremation sites

- receiving about 100,000 Jews unfit for work until Summer 1942

- without any outgoing transports of Jews (dead-end, except for those few who managed to escape and reported on the mass murder)

- with no housing, infrastructure, hygienic installations for anyone beyond the German Sonderkommando and its working details

- sending the hand luggage and personal items back to Litzmannstadt, where most of the Jews came from anyway (logistic absurdity, unless part of the "resettlement" deception)

- taking all the money and valuables of the Jews, just paying action of transporting them to Kulmhof, but then transfering the 2/3 surplus to a black bank account in Posen instead of financing the survival of the alleged resettled Jews

- described by more than 100 witnesses as extermination site

- without any witness describing the resettlement of the Jews, not even by those perpetrators who denied knowledge of the mass killings and had all the reason to come up with a plausible alternative

- which stands in contrast to the well documented transfer of fit Jews from Litzmannstadt to the Generalgouvernement and counties of the Warthegau

can be anything else than an extermination camp.

Sergey Romanov said...

> As for Lisciotto, I honestly cannot tell who is really telling the truth here

Well, that tells me everything I needed to know about you.

That you cannot decide who is more credible, the three people (tested throughout the years) who witnessed all this (me, Nick, Roberto) or a psycho (quite obvious from the texts he wrote) who created dozens of fake blogs and online personas (not to mention tried to falsify the history of the website) shows you are not able to weigh evidence properly.

Hans Metzner said...

Also, before the person in question decided to go after authors of Holocaust Controversies, he performed similar stalking and smearing attacks on people completley unrelated to HC, members of a gun forum. He is evidently a trouble maker who was looking for a new victims at the time he targeted HC.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«All right, I will accept the evidence that Chelmno was an extermination camp.»

That's good.

«Hannover should not be taken seriously by either side of the debate. He is always so abnoxious that it is unbelievable that he claims that he wants the truth, when all he does is yell at the his opponents.»

If he only yelled that wouldn't be so bad. The most obnoxious thing about "Hannover" is that he censors every opposition post that is too inconvenient for his taste, i.e. too likely to place "Revisionists" (especially himself) in an uncomfortable argumentative situation, and then performs victory dances (on CODOH and/or through his alter-ego "Lily" on the RODOH forum) as if he had "won" the debate by superior arguments.

«However, I have myself dealt with many similar people on the Holocaust believer side who refuse to address my arguements and this one believer on YouTube tried to accuse me of being a "Jew hater" and "Nazi" when he realized he couldn't withstand the power of my arguements. Its kinda of sad to watch.»

I'm sure that there are emotional and inarticulate people on both sides who resort to ad hominem because they cannot present proper arguments. Inability to present proper arguments is more understandable on the "Revisionist" side, which has little to go by, than on the side that accepts the established historical record. A debater on the latter side has plenty of evidence to choose from and could easily corner his "Revisionist" opponent if he has made himself familiar with the relevant evidence and is articulate enough to duly present such evidence and related arguments. Which means that the behavior you describe, if coming from a non-"Revisionist", is sadder to watch that it would be if coming from a "Revisionist".

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«On the other hand, not every single thing Hannover says is pure manure. At times, he does show glimmers of light and actually does at times expose some deliberate twisting on the side of the believers.»

When does he do that?

When he makes a fuss based on secondary or tertiary sources about the Auschwitz "ash pond", and then fails to provide a primary source (like an eyewitness testimony or a contemporary document) about human cremation remains having been dumped into that pond, after being confronted with the accounts of two witnesses who, independently of each other, recalled that cremation remains were dumped into the Vistula river?

Or when he censors posts that would confront him with inconvenient questions, such as why Rudolf Höss brazenly told his Polish interrogators (who are supposed to have coerced him into being compliant) that the death toll of Auschwitz-Birkenau was in the order of one million, and that much higher estimates, which the Poles would have wanted Höss to confirm, were products of fantasy?

Or when he yells "fake" at every photograph captioned as showing victims of NS crimes, and then fails to provide any evidence of fakery? What is more, he yells "fake" at every photograph showing victims of mass violence unless captioned as showing victims of a crime committed by people he doesn't like or indifferent to his ideological beliefs. This can lead to situations that would be comical if the subject matter were not so horrible. Not long ago I showed another CODOH poster (or better, tried to show, as the post was censored) a fairly large number of photographs on which dead bodies obviously related to mass violence can be seen, just to bring home the point that one cannot reasonably expect photographs to prove any large-scale mass dying and/or mass killing by themselves, due to the obvious limitations of the camera eye (in order to photographically document just 10,000 corpses, for instance, you need at least 50 different photographs, assuming that you can show 200 corpses on every photo, which is a rather generous assumption to say the least). I omitted the captions and informed the (intended) other poster about that, and also about some of these photos being captioned as showing victims of Nazi crimes while others are not. In the "disapproval" notification he sent me in his capacity as CODOH moderator, "Hannover" yelled "fakes" at the whole lot and thereby unwittingly also proclaimed photos from the German "Amtliches Material über den Massenmord von Katyn" (which according to "Revisionists" is the standard that all documentation of a mass crime must meet in order to prove such crime) to be "fakes".

It's easy to point out inaccuracies, even deliberate ones, in certain low-quality secondary or tertiary sources, especially such that have a journalistic character and are not based on much if any research. About as easy as pointing out that, notwithstanding claims to the contrary in press and secret service reports prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. It's much more difficult to argue against the actual evidence and its assessment by thorough researchers. The latter is what the historical record is made of, the former is not.

It's also easy to make a fuss about this-and-that implausible detail in the testimony of this-and-that eyewitness. Such implausible details one is likely to find in the testimony of everyone who had traumatic experiences, including for example people who lived through the Dresden bombing and told stories about it that were downright preposterous (which doesn't mean that these people were lying - they firmly believed in what they recalled having seen or heard).

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«As for Lisciotto, I honestly cannot tell who is really telling the truth here. Its a real mess.»

So you think that someone whose behavior suggests a compulsively lying psychopath has the same chances of being right as researchers whose work is acknowledged and even quoted by scholarly and other reputable sources, which obviously don't take Lisciotto's accusations seriously?

If so, I can only underline what Sergey wrote.

Lisciotto even opened a forum in which alter-egos of his did nothing other than produce defamatory stuff about certain HC bloggers (like the ludicrous claim that my father was an SS-officer who happened to have the same surname). We on the other hand don't usually talk about Lisciotto at all. If we're doing it know, that's just because you happened to bring up his name and rants.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

«I don't believe that is the case. There are certainly revisionists that are open minded, from what I have seen over at CODOH, RODOH and other forums. Those like Hannover give them a bad name.»

Who are the open-minded CODOH "Revisionist" posters active at present, in your opinion?

Thinker said...

Fine, if you want me to assume Lisciotto is indeed a liar, then I surrender.

Sergey Romanov said...

"But I'm doing it only because of peer pressure, not the evidence you guys have presented. Because deep down I think you might indeed be the comic book villains that guy, whose style I find sober and factual and not at all psychotic, alleges you are. Haha."

Thinker said...

Wow looks like someone is hysterical. Putting thoughts into my mind is the best thing you can do, it seems.

Sergey Romanov said...

Dude you are transparent.

Thinker said...

Really? Transparent? I have to admit that you have some good sense of humor.

Sergey Romanov said...

Well, re-read your statement above carefully. I will even quote it for you.

"Fine, if you want me to assume Lisciotto is indeed a liar, then I surrender."

J Kelly said...

@Thinker:
"There are plenty of revisionists I have seen that more calm and more rational.....Werd, with whom you have evidently had alot of experience with."

"Calm" and "rational" are not the words I'd use to describe werd.

J Kelly said...

Thinker, I'd like to invite you here:
http://www.skepticforum.com/viewforum.php?f=39

Reading your comments I think we would welcome you there.

J Kelly said...

Thinker, let me invite you here:
http://www.skepticforum.com/viewforum.php?f=39

You seem like a rational sort.

Nathan said...

- It's also easy to make a fuss about this-and-that implausible detail in the testimony of this-and-that eyewitness. Such implausible details one is likely to find in the testimony of everyone who had traumatic experiences, including for example people who lived through the Dresden bombing and told stories about it that were downright preposterous (which doesn't mean that these people were lying - they firmly believed in what they recalled having seen or heard).-

To add to Roberto's excellent point, I would say that while not making them automatically true, "Implausible details" would indicate that the person giving the testimony or account is doing so honestly, from a sincere effort to describe their own unique experiences in their own words. "Mistakes" happen because they're talking spontaneously and struggling to describe what happened to them. It's "clean" and "perfect" accounts that you need to be suspicious of. That would suggest that the person giving the testimony was coached before hand or reading from a script, like the Malmedy trial defendants who were all coached by their defense attorneys into falsely talking about how they were "tortured".