Open Air Incinerations in Auschwitz: Rumor or Reality?
Two Studies on the Ground Water Level in Auschwitz and its Consequences in History
Many former inmates as well as guards of the former National Socialist concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau claim that hundred thousands of corpses of murdered inmates were burned in ditches some 6 to 10 ft. deep. However, almost every book about Auschwitz points out that the entire grounds in and around the camp were swampy in those days.
Since the 1970s, Holocaust revisionists have therefore claimed that the incineration of corpses in deep ditches would have been impossible due to the high ground water table in this swampy area, which would have quickly filled any deep ditch. After this argument spread widely with the so-called Leuchter Report in 1988, it was argued that the ground water level during the operation of the camp was significantly lowered with the help of a sophisticated system of drainage ditches, thus allowing the open air incineration of corpses in deep ditches as attested to by various witnesses.
In May 2002, the controversy around Auschwitz focused even more on these open air incinerations, since a German mainstream journalist argued that most of the victims of the claimed mass murders of Auschwitz were supposedly disposed of using these open air incineration ditches. Until recently, the effects of the ground water, and the questions arising from this matter, have not been investigated. Due to the availability of much-improved source materials after the end of the Cold War, this matter can now be investigated.
The following two studies have thoroughly examined the existing primary documentary sources dealing with the ground water table in Auschwitz during World War II. As a result, the correctness of eyewitness accounts claiming incinerations in deep ditches must be called into question. The documents do not allow for any different interpretation: in the Birkenau area, the ground water table was about 0.30 to 1.20 m beneath the surface.
Ground Water in the Area of the POW camp Birkenau
By Dipl.-Ing. Michael Gärtner, Dipl.-Ing. Werner Rademacher
1. Preliminary remarks about the Birkenau Camp
The camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is today generally referred to as "concentration and extermination camp", was originally designated as a "prisoner of war camp" at the end of 1941 by the German authorities. The construction section BIa was finished in March 1942 and was occupied mostly by Soviet prisoners of war until August 1942. The designation of the camp remained the same, though it subsequently had more the character of a concentration camp, meaning that it was mainly filled with criminal and political prisoners, including Jews, rather than prisoners of war. The camp also bore the name "KL Auschwitz II". "KL" was the official German abbreviation for concentration camp.
A drawing of ours showing the camp’s state of construction in April/May 1942 is shown in Illustration 1. This drawing as well as many others are included in a study of ours about the history of the Auschwitz camp currently in preparation. In the literature, maps of the Birkenau camp are very often false, since in almost all cases the final state of construction of late 1944 is shown, even if this map is used to refer to events that took place in earlier years. This leads to wrong assumptions and conclusions about events of the camp’s history.
2. What Events Are Reported?
2.1. BUNKER 1
According to witness testimony there was an old farmhouse to the north of the Birkenau camp which as of May 1942 was allegedly used as gas chamber for the killing of human beings, cf. Illustration 3. In its vicinity, the accounts state, there were mass graves which later were allegedly also used to burn corpses. It must be noted that there are no indications of where this Bunker 1 allegedly stood. The witness Benroubi testified:
"They [the Sonderkommando men] put them [the corpses] in front of graves about 20m long, 3m wide and 2.50m.
There were about ten graves ready to receive the martyrs. Parallel to these open graves there were some that had been covered with earth and these extended over about 300 meters […]"
Witness Buki stated :
"We took the trolleys to a grave about 40 meters long and I think about 6 meters wide [240 m2], which was about 100 meters away from the house."
Witness Garbarz said:
"We saw big rectangles traced on the ground twenty or thirty meters wide by fifty or 60 meters long. In one of these rectangles the ground was stained red."
The witness indicates that he understood the rectangles to be grave plots. Later on he adds, regarding the depth of the pit, that it was approximately 1.5 m deep.
There is no documentary evidence to corroborate these claims. Even J.-C. Pressac questions some of these witness statements, which furthermore are quite contradictory with respect to the number and size of the pits as well.
2.2. BUNKER 2
[...] http://www.vho.org/tr/2003/1/GaertnerRa ... r3-12.html