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As Belzec death camp memorial opens, Poles pay respect and Jews
By Joe Berkofsky
NEW YORK, June 3 (JTA) — Norbert Dikales, 75, walked down a pathway
goes 30 feet below ground and descended into a nightmare.
For the first time in his life this week, Dikales, of Bethesda, Md.,
visiting the notorious Belzec death camp in Poland, where his parents
most of his family were killed. They were among an estimated 600,000
exterminated there between 1942 and 1943 in the most brutal Nazi
camp outside of Auschwitz.
Dikales went to Belzec to attend the opening ceremony Thursday of a new
million memorial to mark the murders, and he descended into the site on
walkway behind some 400 Israeli army officers.
“I wish my parents could have seen this,” he said in a phone interview
Belzec, his voice breaking.
The ceremony drew about 1,000 people, including Polish President
Kwasniewski, top officials from Israel, Germany and the United States,
several hundred Holocaust survivors and their families.
The opening of the memorial not only opened a new chapter for the
once-ignored site, but — for now — ended a highly charged debate over
The three-hour ceremony, broadcast live on Polish TV, capped a
battle over whether the 600-foot pathway Dikales and others walked down
desecrates the remains of the dead.
The ramp, and the trench dug to construct it, cut through an area
with bone shards and ash, left over from when the Nazis burned their
victims in an attempt to hide the murders of Jews deported from the
region of Galicia.
Opposition to the memorial ramp began in 1998 when builders began test
drilling at the site to determine where the human remains lay so they
be avoided during construction.
Foes said the test drilling couldn’t help but disturb the remains, and
year Rabbi Avi Weiss, president of the New York-based Amcha-The
for Jewish Concerns, went to Belzec to try to block bulldozer operators
from working on the memorial. Weiss said the construction was
yet more Jewish remains.
Even as the memorial opened this week, Weiss, who has a U.S. federal
lawsuit pending against the memorial, vowed to continue his efforts.
“It’s not over,” Weiss told JTA. “There will be serious study and
investigation of the trench, and I intend to continue to speak out to
sure this never happens again.”
At the ceremony, Kwasniewski said, “This whole Jewish universe of
was wiped off the map and buried in this grave,” The Associated Press
The site had been neglected for decades. The remains of the dead were
to the mercy of the elements, trash covered the empty fields and
of nearby towns would use the area as a pedestrian shortcut.
The memorial, a project funded in equal parts by the Polish government
private donations raised by the American Jewish Committee, was meant to
mark and protect the remaining evidence of the killings that took place
there. The building consists of the controversial ramp surrounded by
inscribed with the names of some of the victims of what the AJCommittee
said was the first Nazi gas chamber.
“The monument is the emotional equivalent of the Vietnam memorial” in
Washington, said Barry Jacobs, director of strategic studies for the
Solomon Redner, 74, of Philadelphia, said the memorial and the debate
behind its construction means little compared to the fact that he lost
grandparents and other relatives there.
Redner, who as a child lived and hid in the Jewish ghetto of the city
Lvov, some 50 miles away, said only one thing went through his mind
“For me, it was a cemetery of my family,” he told JTA after the Belzec
Dikales, who was born in Berlin and whose parents sent him on a
Kindertransport to France, brought his wife, two children and a
grandson to the ceremony.
Almost 10,000 children, mostly Jews, from Germany, Austria and
Czechoslovakia were saved in the Kindertransports when Britain granted
entry visas to children between 1938 and 1940.
His brother, Dikales’ only relative to have survived the Holocaust,
recently, but Dikales said he had visited the site a decade ago and
reported that he was “scandalized” by its condition.
“He was so upset, he took back soil in a bottle to bury properly,”
said. “We found little piece of human bones in it.”
Dikales said his family was visibly moved by the ceremony, especially
rabbis and cantors recited Kaddish.
“How can you express the horror of more than half a million people
in one little place?” he said.
http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp? ... tegoryid=2
Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History
Witnesses report that at least 600,000, if not as many as three million people primarily of Jewish faith were murdered in the Belzec camp, located in eastern Poland, between November 1941 and December 1942. Various murder weapons are claimed to have been used: diesel gas chambers; unslaked lime in trains; high voltage; vacuum chambers. According to witnesses, the corpses were finally incinerated on huge pyres without leaving any traces.
For those who know the stories about Treblinka, this all sounds too familiar. The author therefore restricted this study to the aspects, which are different and new compared to Treblinka, but otherwise refers the reader to his Treblinka book. The development of the official image portrait of Belzec is explained and subjected to a thorough critique. In contrast to Treblinka, forensic drillings and excavations were performed in the late 1990s in Belzec, the results of which are explained and critically reviewed. These findings, together with the absurd claims by 'witnesses,' refute the thesis of an extermination camp
Table of Contents
Introduction, p. 7
Chapter I: Literary Origins and Development of the Alleged Methods of Murder, p. 9
1. Birth of an ‘Extermination Camp’, p. 9
2. Extermination by Electricity, p. 11
3. From Electrocution to the "Trains of Death", p. 22
4. The "Soap Factory Using Human Fat” at Bełżec, p. 33
Chapter II: Origins and Development of the Official Historical Version, p. 35
1. The Struggle between Electric Current and Exhaust Gas, p. 35
2. Revisions and Contradictions by Michael Tregenza, p. 41
3. Execution Chambers of the First Extermination Building: Narrative Origins and Recent Developments, p. 44
4. The Number of Victims of the Alleged Gassings, p. 47
Chapter III: Witnesses and Defendants, p. 51
1. The Witnesses Kurt Gerstein and Rudolf Reder, p. 51
2. The Witness Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, p. 52
3. The Bełżec Trial, p. 62
Chapter IV: Bełżec in Polish Archeological Research (1997 to 1999), p. 71
1. The Mass Graves, p. 71
2. Comparison of Research Results with Testimonies and Judicial Findings, p. 74
2.1. Testimonies, p. 74
2.2. First Judicial Findings, p. 74
2.3. The Location of the Mass Graves, p. 75
3. Uncovering the Corpses, p. 76
3.1. The Findings and Claims of Andrzej Kola, p. 76
3.2. The Polish Findings of 1945, p. 79
3.3. Significance of Corpses Present, p. 81
4. Compatibility of Archeological Research Results with the ‘Extermination Camp’ Thesis, p. 82
4.1. Cremation of the Corpses, p. 82
4.2. Capacity of the Graves, p. 85
4.3. Wood Requirements, p. 85
4.4. Duration of the Cremations, p. 86
4.5. The Ash, p. 86
4.6. The Soil Removed from the Graves, p. 87
4.7. Actual Surface Area of the Graves, p. 88
4.8. Density of Corpses in the Graves, p. 90
4.9. Reasons for Cremation, p. 91
5. The Buildings, p. 92
5.1. The Actual Purpose of the Excavations, p. 92
5.2. The Alleged Gas Chambers of the Second Phase of the Camp, p. 93
5.3. The Alleged Gas Chambers of the First Phase of the Camp, p. 94
Chapter V: Documented History of the Bełżec Camp, p. 97
1. Origins and Function of the Bełżec Camp, p. 97
2. The Bełżec Camp in Documents, p. 99
3. Bełżec As Part of the German Policy of Deporting Jews to the East, p. 103
Conclusion, p. 109
Appendix, p. 111
Abbreviations, p. 111
Tables, p. 112
Documents, p. 115
Bibliography, p. 129
Index of Names, p. 133
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