Reply from Roberto
Who said the water evaporates? My take is that the water seeps into the soil more easily than the less liquid substances. There is a phase of the decomposition process, known as black putrefaction
, during which a large volume of body fluids drain from the body and seep into the surrounding soil
I'm talking about the water in fat, i.e., the fat itself.
Roberto wrote:So you're saying that the water contained in the 14 % fat is also included in the 64 % water?
How do you know?
I'm saying the water content of fat is accounted in the overall water content of a body. The fat content is minus its water content.
I know because the water content of a body consists of all the water in a body; wherever it came from. This water comes from blood, fat and other fluids. Do you think it's only comprised of water from blood and other fluids, but the water in fat is ignored?
Roberto wrote:Maybe so, but my point is that the calorific value of fat is not completely lost when fat breaks down into fatty acids.
I know it's not, but it is reduced.
Don't know. Must be quite a lot for the body to smell like cheese and for the corresponding phase to be called butyric fermentation
Perhaps, yes. Does this acid also seep into the soil, evaporate and whatnot?
Roberto wrote:I didn't say no extra fuel was needed. In Ettling's experiment some extra fuel (that which started the fire) was also present. The point is that, in certain situations, a carcass's or corpse's fat can provide most of the fuel needed for its combustion.
But remember, we are talking about emaciated corpses. Are you saying these skin-and-bones corpses had enough fat on them to successfully cremate themselves?
Even if that had been the most incomprehensibly stupid thing to do, the question would still be rather pointless as evidence shows that what the Nazis did was carbonizing and then crushing the remains instead of completely combusting them. But if the Nazis had gone for the "complete overkill", they might have run into large logistical problems, though not necessarily on the scale dreamed up by MGK. Even with the comparatively low amounts of wood that I considered, the only camp that was probably self-sufficient (in that it could obtain all the wood needed for cremation with its own inmate woodcutter force) was Sobibór. All other camps depended on at least a considerable part of the wood being brought in from outside. Forest superintendent Heinrich May
wrote that he eventually had to "cut down all the trees in some of the forest districts" in order to meet the demands of Chełmno extermination camp. Besides, was it necessarily the Nazis' goal to completely erase all the evidence? They may have been content with destroying the physical evidence so thoroughly that it would be impossible or very difficult to assess the scale of the killing on hand of physical remains found on site, if they were found. Buried in the ground and with vegetation planted on top, they might not have been found but for the robbery diggers who opened the soil at each extermination camp in search of valuables, after the supervisor left behind by the SS had fled from the advancing Soviets.
From the linked Heinrich May's report:
The vehicle in the ditch was about four meters long and two meters high; the rear was closed with an iron bar and padlocked. A peculiar, unpleasant smell was coming from the van and the men.
A nasty odor, like the one I first detected by the truck stuck in the ditch, filled the air. As I learned much later it was an anti-typhoid agent.
I don't understand. What was this odour? Is he suggesting people were being gassed in the van with Zyklon-B?
I saw a grave about 200 meters long (650 feet) and five meters wide (16 feet). The grave was covered with earth that was about two meters high (6.5 feet). A bit further on I saw another grave 50 meters long (164 feet). In the neighboring clearing there was one more grave about 150 meters long (492 feet). 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 (262 feet) 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. 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.
Is he serious? A 200 meter long mass grave with 2 meters of earth over it and next to it a 50 meter and a 150 meter long mass grave, and another one being dug?
Bothmann told me about 250,000 people who had been buried there and another 100,000 would be buried soon.
250,000 buried and another 100,000 to go?
The process went like this: the victims were divided according to their gender and led to some room where they were told to undress before taking a bath. Having taken off their clothes, they were rushed into a small room lit with a small light bulb. In the room they were crowded together tightly. Then the door was locked and the light was switched off. The small building was nothing else but a specially designed gas van. In the vehicle there were cylinders with carbon monoxide, which after opening the vent, filled the inside of the van.
How could they mistake a van for a room?
An old woman and her daughter wanted to commit suicide. She asked for a noose. Bothmann threw her a bra. The daughter lay on the ground and the mother put the loop around her neck. When the mother tightened the loop, the daughter started screaming out of fear.
How do you hang yourself with a bra?
Not just claims. I held such remains in my hands during my trip to Sobibór
. They weren't hard to find, and it's not like I had systematically looked for them let alone done any digging. They just caught my eye. Alan Heath had a similar experience at Chełmno
I never said "just claims," that's why I referenced Sobibor where you've found the remains. The remains are no doubt at all the camps, it's just that we disagree with the numbers. Treblinka should be littered and the soil filled with them.
In the soil, where archaeologists discovered a lot of cremation remains by probing excavations or core drilling. And even whole bodies that had not been extracted from the bottom of the graves, at both Bełżec
. It's a shame that religious fundamentalists are influential enough to prohibit excavation on grounds of their religious beliefs, and the stupid fuss that a New York rabbi made about core drilling has led to this method being banned as well and archaeologists now being restricted to non-invasive geophysical methods, according to Gilead et al
. Very unfortunate from the point of view of archaeology and historical research. In a blog
published after my return from Sobibór in 2008, I wrote the following:
So the mass grave areas are known with what seems to me a degree of precision sufficient to delimit the area where further core drilling and excavation should be done. And new technologies like ground-penetrating radar can further help archaeologists determine where exactly they can expect to find human remains.
This being so, and the given the willingness on the part of at least one of the archaeologists involved (Yoram Haimi, director of the Sobibor Archaeological Project
) to do a thorough professional job, the only hindrances standing in the way of documenting in detail what's inside the Sobibor mass graves and thus hitting "Revisionists" where it hurts most are "holy ground" considerations on the part of the Polish government, and eventually also religiously motivated objections against "disturbing the dead".
I hope that these hindrances will soon be overcome. Historical and archaeological knowledge would greatly benefit from it, and I can think of no better way to honor the memory of the people murdered at Sobibor than documenting their remains in as much detail as possible.
Yes, very unfortunate. It's not whether remains are found, it's the amount of them. In Treblinka, the soil should be overflowing with them. I'll be convinced when/if they dig it up and the soil is indeed filled with tonnes of remains.
Roberto wrote:We're talking about dry skin, and muscle tissue apparently doesn't burn that bad if one can keep this charcoal patina from forming.
I don't see how dry skin would burn any better than dry muscle tissue. It's both organic material made from pretty much the same stuff. The only way to prevent the patina from forming is with a constant supply of fuel (wood, fat). In other words, you burn it to a crisp and then some! This means corpses will not burn on their own (unless they have a lot of fat).
Not according to Mr. Norbert Fuhrmann, Sales Manager of Air Burners LLC. He wrote me the following
Dear Mr. Muehlenkamp,
Thank you for your message regarding the Swine Report. It was not written by us, but by the USDA, so we really cannot comment on any discrepancies in its contents. Since this report was published, we have gained much more experience with carcass disposal and the use of our machines, usually fireboxes. A good rule of thumb is that you need roughly in tons the same amount of wood waste as the weight of the carcasses for bovines, pigs, horses, sheep, etc. For 5 tons of carcasses you need 4-5 tons of wood waste. Bones have a BTU of about the same as brown coal (ca. 11,000 BTU per pound). If you were to incinerate a lot of bones, much less wood waste would be needed. You could substitute coal for wood waste, but you would use wood to get the fire going in the pit. Of course, in terms of weight, the amount of coal would no longer be 1:1, as the hot coals would stay in the fire box for a long period of time.
What kind of bones are we talking about? Bones used for bone meal? They are boiled and dried for several months. I don't see how something with that high of a heating value often gets left behind in cremations. Even in the report by Heinrich May:
The remaining long bones were pulled out and ground in a motor grinder placed in a wooden barrack.
It is obvious bones do not burn well, unless they are dried for several months.
Roberto wrote:No, you have to do something more than just hold a match to it. But then, I said nothing to the contrary. Where does the human body contain leather, by the way?
It doesn't. I'm just comparing leather to dry skin, which I think is similar.
Roberto wrote:That's not exactly true. The point is that when a cremation oven has been heated for a sufficiently long time, fat from the corpses will provide most of the fuel required for cremation.
Yes, when we are cremating obese people. See the e-mail I received from the cremation company.
Roberto wrote:So if you are burning a lot of bodies on a continues basis, the average coal consumption per body will be much lower than if you heat up the crematorium for just one body (not necessarily as low as 3.5 kg per body, but certainly much lower). An engineer of Topf & Söhne even designed a corpse incineration system that was supposed to work on this basis, presumably after having observed how things were done at AB. In this system the corpses themselves were meant to provide most of the fuel for their own combustion as soon as the oven had been sufficiently heated up (the heating up itself would require much external fuel, of course).
Unless they were obese, I don't think so. This must have been some magical oven the Nazis invented or the technology used by them has since long been lost. I think every cremation service on the world would be happy to hear about an oven where the corpses burn on their own.
That may be so but, as I said before
, it shouldn't make much of a difference for calculating the impact of water and fat loss on fuel requirements whether one considers 0.56 kg of per kg of corpse the amount required to cremate (or at least completely carbonize) a human being with a heating value of 403.881 kCal/kg or a human being with a heating value of 1,525.16 kCal/kg, provided that one knows how the lower value is made up.
Not on your part, no, since you're so sure about the amounts the Nazis supposedly used, guessing by comparing the Lothes and Profe experiment, but MGK would come to a different conclusion.
As for your invitation to RODOH; what difference does it really make communication-wise, other than it being a kind of gesture of courtesy? Give me a good reason and I'll register.
"Rollo the ganger" also made some good points, I think:
1. Decomposition is a calorie consuming process. The calories come from the decomposing material and thus depletes its caloric content. Quantifying that depletion without a systematic analysis is well nigh impossible.
2. Not all proteins are the same. Different proteins means different caloric values.
3. Unless immersed in salt or a hyper hydrophillic soil the minimum moisture content of a corpse in a soil can only be the moisture content of the soil itself. More than likely it will be higher. A good average value for moisture content of soils in temperate areas is around 25%.