Numbered plates found at Belzec

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Laurentz Dahl
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Numbered plates found at Belzec

Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:59 am)

Andrzej Kola's excavations of some building remains at Belzec brought forth mostly stuff like broken glass, spoons, and medical equipment. At the remains of "Building D", which contained the camp garage.

Kola comments on the finds on p.57-9 of his report:

Particularly interesting is a set of 304 pieces of concrete rings with the diameter of about 6 cm and 1 cm thickness on which 5 number figures had been pressed (inventory number 233198). They were excavated at the area of a stone floor in the western part of the central room in big concentration (site 11 e/98 ). In upper part of these rings small holes were stated, which probably served to hang them up. Their destination[sic] is unknown (fig. 115-117).


Kola makes no further attempt to interpret the use of these objects.

The numbered plates looks like this:

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Image

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So here we have 304 small round plates with an individual 5-digit number on each of them and a small hole in the upper part. As Kola writes, the holes could serve the purpose of hanging them up, but what would be the purpose of hanging up numbered plates like that. Could it have to do with some kind of work organizing?

Of course, the holes could also have a piece of string out through it, enabling for someone to carry the plate around the neck for instance.

Wouldn't, by the way, the individual five digit numbers suggest that there existed a lot more numbered plates than the 304 found by Kola at Building D, possibly several thousands?

Could one possibly interpret those plates as something the arrivals were given at handing over their clothes and personal belongings (so that they would be able to retrieve all or some of their belongings afterwards) before being gassed, if we are to believe the exterminationists, or being showered and desinfected, if we are to believe the revisionists. The hole in the plates together with a spring would then enable the "victims" to carry the object around their necks while naked and taking a shower. This interpretation of course seems less likely in the gassings scenario, since it would mean that the plates would have to been retrieved from thousands of bodies after the gassing - something which would delay the gassing and interring process.

Has anyone seen any similar looking numbered concrete plates by the way?

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Postby David Phillips » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:02 am)

I saw something not dissimilar at the Mauthausen museum. These were of metal and in a display case - I believe they were described as being identity tags, ie with their registration number. They also had a hole in them, perhaps to attach to clothing or to a bunk etc.

Quite who would be at Belzec with these type of numbers is not clear. Perhaps it could date from the days of Belzec as a labor camp?

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:00 am)

Interesting.

There is, as I see it, four possible uses for the plates:

1) Somehow related to work, not used for identification of people or similar

2) Identity tags for prisoner workers during the existence of the Belzec Labor Camp

3) Identity tags used for prisoner workers in "death camp" Belzec 1942-3

4) Used as a kind of receipts, probably hanged around the neck with a string, given to the deportees/victims after leaving personal belongings and valuables and before their delousing/gassing.

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Postby ASMarques » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:35 am)

The odd material (concrete) suggests some sort of local improvisation, perhaps in the aftermath of the construction of concrete buildings. The size of the disks, 6 cm diameter with 1 cm thickness, seems unnecessarily large for purposes of personal identification; they could have been used for purposes of luggage identification, for attachment to suitcases etc.. I also notice a rather odd thing about the images: even though they look solid enough, apparently not a single disk has survived intact; could this be true for all 304 pieces? If so, could this mean anything?

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Postby The Merovingian » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 11:11 am)

1-Some disks appear baked and some others do not.
2-All those whose numbers are identifiable begin with the number "12", which could mean an intent of sequential numbering.
3-The breadth is one cm and the diameter six cm, so it is pretty big to tag workers, as ASMarques has noted above. But it is big enough to resist high temperatures.
4-Rather than strings, one can imagine that nails went through the holes.
5-Even in by an exterminationist viewpoint, it would be pointless to assume that the Jews could have been tagged before they find themselves reduced to ashes.

One hypothesis for the purpose of those disks could be the identification of goods that went through a baking process, and therefore something that had nothing to do with extermination nor resettlement.

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Postby ASMarques » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:10 pm)

The Merovingian wrote:1-Some disks appear baked and some others do not.


That's unclear to me. There is a lot of false color in the images. Note, for instance, piece n. 12816: you can see it in both the first and the third images. It's clearly the same one, yet it blends in with the others in one image and looks much more reddish in the other.

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Postby The Merovingian » 1 decade 2 years ago (Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:50 pm)

ASMarques wrote:That's unclear to me. There is a lot of false color in the images. Note, for instance, piece n. 12816: you can see it in both the first and the third images. It's clearly the same one, yet it blends in with the others in one image and looks much more reddish in the other.

You are correct. There is a lot of false color in the images. Nevertheless there are much darker ones in all cases. One may still raise the hypothesis that some of those disks were baked.

Interestingly, Andrzej Kola comments on the building F thusly (p. 59):
Building F (Fig. 75-76)
The relicts of that small building (room) were found in ha 21 are 3. It was originally located in the central part of the camp, at present it is situated just behind the main gate. The relicts were examined in excavation with the size of 2,10 x 2,30 m (excavation 20/99). It was a small brick construction with foundation parts and with a small part of the lowest brick line coming from the outside walls, which have remained till now. The preserved ceiling of the relicts was directed under the present grass bed (fig. 76) The footing was made of concrete, creating the base close to a square with the sizes of about 1,40 x 1,50 m. The thickness of the footing was about 30-40 cm, with the depth of about 30-35 cm. The brick walls of 1/2 brick (12 cm) thick were erected on the foundation before its hardening. One of the bricks stuck in the preserved wall layer has a date of manufacturing "8-40" (i.e. August 1940). In the bottom view the outside sizes of the building were 1,30 x 1,50 m, Obviously they are the relics of a guardhouse located in the central part of the camp, in the zone separating the area of the grave pits and the camp buildings which served for receiving the transports and initial activities before directing the victims to the gas chamber.


Image

So Kola interprets the building as a guardhouse whose outside dimensions are 1,30 x 1,50 m. Then that is a guardhouse of the smallest size. Frankly, to me it looks rather like the foundations of a small chimney or a kiln, like this bigger one in Poland that was a part of an old brickyard in Biedrzychów (Stara cegielnia w Biedrzychowie).

Image

http://ski_park.w.interia.pl/galeria.html

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Postby The Merovingian » 1 decade 2 years ago (Sat Feb 24, 2007 6:01 pm)

Puzzling is also the description of Building H done by professor Kola (Bełżec, p.62):

The exploration of the cultural strata revealed the existence of non-defined construction. Because any traces of brick construction were reported there, one can assume it was made of wood, of a frame-house character. Its sizes are difficult to define. The analysis of the profiles of both excavations showed that the building was deepened in the sandy ground at the depth of about 1,60 m. Its bottom at that depth was horizontal being the bottom of the room and the lower parts of the walls were vertical. Assuming that those walls mark the building range, one can suppose that its size was about 4,80 x 4,80 m. In that case the building had to be buried much in the ground. However the upper parts of the excavation had much bigger range and it is possible, that they mark original overground view of the building, with the sizes reaching 8,00 x 7,00 m. If this interpretation is correct, the sizes given above could concern only the cellar part of the building. The condition of the relicts confirmed only in excavation does not let us give clear interpretation.


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We can see here the results of the excavation. Please note the shape.

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In my opinion, Andrzej Kola understands very well the purpose of the building, but he is just not allowed to give it frankly. I propose personally a clear interpretation for the peculiar foundations of such an odd building. It looks much like a windmill.

Here are the ruins of an old Polish windwill.

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http://www.dwarowery.daa.pl/wilczanka.php

And here is another windmill with such a base in Poland. In this case, it is made of bricks.

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http://www.zalew.org.pl/stegnab.phtml


More ruins of old Windmills in Poland:
Image

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http://www.siedlec.pl/cms_121_5.html

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Mon Feb 26, 2007 1:48 am)

The Merovingian wrote:
So Kola interprets the building as a guardhouse whose outside dimensions are 1,30 x 1,50 m. Then that is a guardhouse of the smallest size. Frankly, to me it looks rather like the foundations of a small chimney or a kiln, like this bigger one in Poland that was a part of an old brickyard in Biedrzychów (Stara cegielnia w Biedrzychowie).


Yes, I also reacted to the small size of this "guard house". Why take the trouble to make a brick building this small for a simple, tiny guard post when you could simply have made it out of wood? Your kiln explanation seems much more reasonable.

Your interpretation building H also seems spot on. Together with the plausible kiln, it implies that the work shops at Belzec were more extensive than is alleged by the few "eyewitnesses"

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Postby David Phillips » 1 decade 2 years ago (Sun May 06, 2007 10:24 am)

One hypothesis for the purpose of those disks could be the identification of goods that went through a baking process, and therefore something that had nothing to do with extermination nor resettlement.


I am reminded of the quote "when you own a hammer everything looks like a nail", nevertheless this might be relevant.

Regulation Governing Implementation of Cremation Act,
August 10, 1938, Art. 13
Each cremation chamber may accommodate only one body at a time. Prior to transferring the coffins into the crematory oven, each coffin shall be fitted with a heatproof plaque clearly engraved with the number of the cremation entered in the cremation register and the name of the crematorium. The ashes of each body shall be collected and placed, together with the plaque, in a durable, permanent, hermetically sealed container which shall be sealed by an authorized official.


In practice rather than a heatproof plaque, it was a plaque of a soft firable clay that was impressed with the number and then baked during the cremation process. I have only seen one such plaque, recently discovered at Buchenwald, it looked rather similar and did not have "Buchenwald" imprinted on it.

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Postby The Merovingian » 1 decade 2 years ago (Sun May 06, 2007 2:10 pm)

David Phillips wrote:In practice rather than a heatproof plaque, it was a plaque of a soft firable clay that was impressed with the number and then baked during the cremation process. I have only seen one such plaque, recently discovered at Buchenwald, it looked rather similar and did not have "Buchenwald" imprinted on it.


You must be speaking of that.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Mon May 07, 2007 12:33 am)

They do indeed look very similar! I think even the dimensions (including thickness) may be similar, judging by the photo below in my post from Feb 23 2007 8:59.

Could there have existed a small, perhaps primitive, crematorium at Belzec? As pointed out by revisionists, no ovens seems to have been delivered to any of the Reinhardt camps.

There is of course the possibility that the plates were used for some other purpose.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Mon May 07, 2007 5:42 am)

> Merovingian: does the Buchenwald book give any dimensions for the plate?

The hole in the Belzec plate seems to be of the same size as that in the object from Buchenwald. Obiously a nail was driven through it and into the coffin or whatever was used to contain the corpse.

It seems hard to fit the idea of corpses in marked coffins cremated at Belzec, even if we assume that the number of Jews cremated were in the thousands or possibly low ten thousands, but of course the real camp may have looked quite different from the orthodox picture.

The question is, if the plates were not put into the same use as the similar object from Buchenwald, what activity at Belzec could have warranted its use? Some form of production? Were they used to tag deportees or their luggage?

Quite an interesting thread we have here by the way - evidence of structures (definitely a windmill and possibly a kiln) present at Belzec camp grounds not recounted by any eye witnesses, as well as hundreds of numbered plates remarkably similar to fireclay plaques found in Buchenwald and used there in the crematorium for identification of individual cremations.

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Postby Laurentz Dahl » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue May 08, 2007 5:59 am)

I found the following passage in an online text by Polish archaeologist Lucja Nowak about the excavations at Chelm (found on the website of the Konin Regional Museum of which the Chelmno Museum established in 1987 is a part):

The northern segment of the grave may probably be linked to different attempts to remove the corpses, burn them inside the graves or in primitive furnaces-hearths as well as to the process of crushing bones. In the other segment, bones ground into bonemeal can already be found. During one of the traverse probing surveys we found a fragment of a smoked concrete pipe. This may suggest that in some part of the grave, perhaps in the initial phase, corpses were burned. South of the grave a round aluminum badge with no. 1280 and a hole for hanging the badge was found. According to the accounts of the employed workers, in the period between 1962-1964 when the cemetery was being tidied, 6 similar badges were found near the "wloclawska" grave. They were later handed over to the Town Council in Dabie, which further handed them over to a newly-established Museum in Chelmno. Interesting is the fact that the badges have the same diameter, while the numbers on most of them form a sequence: 3276, 3277, 3378, 3280, 3281, 2521. In the Chelmno estate grounds, near the granary, a smaller badge with number 1104 was found. It is unknown which group of prisoners had to wear such badges. Significantly greater quantities (over 300) of such numbered badges made of concrete were found during archeological research in Belzec; their function, however, has not been explained there either. Perhaps an answer to this question lies in the organization of labor camps for Jews.


http://www.muzeum.com.pl/en/chelmno.htm

So Nowak stipulates that the badges found at Chelmno, and by inference also those at Belzec, were worn by slave workers as identification tags.

Some questions arise:

Why would the Germans bother to identify with numbers slave workers who were selected from transports of Jews who were to be sent en masse to the gas chambers (or gas vans as alleged for Chelmno) - prisoners who allegedly were killed daily for any reason whatever?

In the case of Belzec, why use concrete plates as identification tags? Wouldn't a patch or something similar affixed to the prisoner's clothes be more practical (and easier to make)?

"Perhaps an answer to this question lies in the organization of labor camps for Jews" - but the pure extermination camps where not part of the ordinary labor camps and the prisoners were not used for any industrial purpose.

If the badges were used as identification tags for prisoner workers in Belzec and Chelmno, there is no reason why they should not have been utilized in Treblinka and Sobibor too, since the two latter camps were allegedly built and organized using Belzec as a model. However, no eye witness testimony from the Reinhardt camps, not one, mentions the use of such identity tags. According to the witnesses, the Arbeitsjuden were divided into several kommandos, who were identified with colored armbands or letters on their caps. There exist many accounts of these ways of identificating groups of prisoner workers at the Reinhardt camps, but none mentioning badges, either of concrete or aluminum, used as identification tags.

Note the indirect connection of the "badges" to the cremation of corpses (they were found in a grave in which traces of incineration are claimed to have been found) in the text by Nowak quoted above.

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Postby Haldan » 1 decade 2 years ago (Tue May 08, 2007 7:50 am)

Laurentz Dahl wrote:In the case of Belzec, why use concrete plates as identification tags? Wouldn't a patch or something similar affixed to the prisoner's clothes be more practical (and easier to make)?


Or how about this one, seeing as the Germans are portrayed as such ghastly beasts; hot-iron branding? Just a thought...

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