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March 9, 1999
PO Box 3477
The Disturbing Nature of Your Testimony Must be Acknowledged
You testify that Treblinka was a death camp
Outline of Treblinka. In February of 1987, you were the first witness to testify at the Jerusalem trial of John Demjanjuk, accused of being Ivan the Terrible of the Treblinka death camp. Your testimony was that some 870,000 victims, almost all Jews, were executed in the carbon monoxide gas chambers at Treblinka, and that is why Treblinka is called "The Biggest Cemetery of Polish Jewry." Most of these victims were buried in vast pits, but later the bodies were disinterred and burned in open-air fires. Toward the final stages of the existence of the camp, the bodies went directly from gas chambers to open-air burning, without the intermediate stage of burial. Here is your own statement outlining the nature of the Treblinka death camp, and illustrating incidentally the leading role played by Judge Dov Levin in the questioning of witnesses:
ARAD: Yes, well, within this area initially the Jews who had been burnt in the gas chambers were buried in enormous pits which were dug in this area for burial purposes. Later on, as of 1943 or so, a sort of grill from railroad tracks was built. The corpses were removed and in this area it served as an area for burning the corpses. Number 13 is the pits and in this area, number 20, here too, there were pits initially. They had to bury over 850,000 people, so that they needed to use most of the area, in fact, for enormous pits, ditches.
LEVIN: In other words, all of the people who were brought into the camp and were destroyed in the camp, all of them, there vestiges remained in the camp itself.
ARAD: Yes, this is the biggest cemetery of Polish Jewry. There are 870,000 Jews, as well as thousands of gypsies. They remained in the camp, they were buried in the camp and their remains were then burnt and their ashes scattered.
LEVIN: In other words in this camp only Jews and gypsies were annihilated in this camp.
ARAD: Yes, this camp served solely for the destruction of Jews. In the course of its existence a few hundred Gypsies, a few groups of Gypsies were brought and were exterminated too. No other nations, no peoples from other nations or ethnic groups were brought here. And this applies also to Belzec and Sobibor. They were established expressly for the destruction of Jews and then people were brought from outside of Poland — Jews from outside of Poland were brought as well as I will say later. And that is what it served for. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 241-242)
You testify that the Treblinka photograph was phantom
Aside from the reports of a handful of eyewitnesses, what evidence did you present supporting the existence of the Treblinka death camp?
Photograph of a model. You will recollect that you presented a single photograph. A single photograph of what? I was expecting a photograph of the Treblinka camp itself, but that is not what it turned out to be. It turned out to be a photograph of a model of the camp. According to your testimony, no photograph of the camp itself is in existence. And from this testimony I infer that there exists not a single aerial reconnaissance photograph taken by the Americans or the British or the Soviets or the Germans. Not a photograph of the camp as a whole taken from a nearby road or farm or village. Not a single photograph of any building within the Treblinka complex. Not a single photograph of a scene within any room at Treblinka. Not a single photograph taken by the Soviets when they liberated the camp. Not a single photograph of the remains of the camp taken by any of the Soviet or Jewish organizations for investigating Nazi crimes that were in existence at the time of the liberation of the camp, or that were formed immediately after liberation. Only the one photograph of the model of the camp.
Who is responsible? Who built that model, and who photographed it? It becomes accepted during the trial that everything is attributable to a single Treblinka survivor, Yankel Viernick. He wrote a description of his experience, he drew a chart of Treblinka, he built the model, and he photographed the model. Thus, the testimony is sprinkled with statements such as the following:
BLATMAN: [T]his model was prepared by Yankel Viernick here in Israel?
ARAD: Yes (Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 590)
However, a more careful reading of the court transcript indicates that none of these assumptions is warranted. First, the chart was not drawn by Viernick, but was drawn by someone else "on the basis of Viernick's testimony":
ARAD: Well we have before us the Chart showing the Treblinka Extermination Camp, the camp I earlier called the Treblinka Two. As I said this is a chart, there is no original authenticated map, so this is the earliest chart drawn up on the basis of Vernick's testimony. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 237, emphasis added)
The legend which should accompany the chart appears to be missing, and the model turns out to have been constructed not by Viernick, but only "on the basis of Viernick's testimony," or only "according to his instructions":
TAL: Viernick's map bears certain numbers which refer to a legend which is not here. Would you happen to know whether the legend is available somewhere, because each and every detail is merely numbered on this particular map, would you happen to know if the legend is available?
ARAD: I do not know, Your Honor.
LEVIN: The model of Treblinka at the Kibbutz Lochamei Hagetaot, taf-4, was this constructed on the basis of Viernick's testimony?
ARAD: Yes, to the best of my knowledge, yes, in fact it was drawn up, set up according to his instructions. (Afternoon Session, 18Feb87, p. 468, emphasis added)
And no one knows who took the photograph:
O'CONNOR: As the State Prosecutor, the honorable Mr. Blatman, has indicated — we are looking at photographs taken by a deceased survivor. The photograph of course wasn't taken by a deceased survivor [...] we are not quite certain who took the photographs [....] (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 231)
As the correspondence between chart and model is not close, Blatman is forced to throw in the qualifier "more or less":
BLATMAN: If it please the court, we have before us first of all a photograph of a model prepared by a Holocaust survivor who has meanwhile passed away. And a diagram prepared more or less according to that model and we wish to submit these two exhibits and perhaps to have them marked later on. (Morning Session, 2Feb87, p. 231, emphasis added)
And maybe the chart was prepared from the model not by "Yaakov Vernik" but by the Israeli police — the court transcript never permits us to get to the bottom of the muddle:
BLATMAN: Yes, the big model is a photograph of the original model prepared by the deceased Yaakov Vernik and the chart here submitted now is — was drawn up by the Israeli police, according to that model. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 236)
For purposes of rough-and-ready Israeli justice, at times it does not even seem important to distinguish whether the photograph was of the camp itself, or only of a model of the camp:
BLATMAN: If it please the Court I should like to introduce the photograph of the Treblinka Camp in evidence. (Morning Session, 17Feb99, p. 230)
Summary of the phantom photograph. Allow me to summarize. At the trial of John Demjanjuk for having been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, the greatest trial of a Nazi war criminal in Israel after that of Adolph Eichmann, the chief piece of evidence for the existence of the Treblinka death camp was a photograph. This was a photograph not of the Treblinka death camp itself, but only of a model of the camp. No one knew who took the photograph that was presented at the trial. No one knew who built the model which was no longer in existence. A chart appears to have been drawn from the photograph, but the legend was missing, and the correspondence was not close. Either or both chart and model may have been based on the writing of a single individual — Yankel Viernick. But maybe the chart was drawn by Israeli police from the photograph of the model. No evidence was presented that Yankel Viernick had ever been at Treblinka. Whether or not the chart or the model in fact corresponded to Yankel Viernick's writing was never explored in your testimony. Yankel Viernick, of course, did not testify at the Demjanjuk trial, as he was presumed to be dead, though no evidence of his death was submitted to the court.
You testify that not the slightest physical evidence of Treblinka remains
In the absence of photographs, the impartial observer would expect that considerable physical evidence remains of the Treblinka death camp and of the events conducted on such a gargantuan scale as the executions at Treblinka; however, his expectation would not be supported by a reading of the court transcript. According to your testimony, the Treblinka death camp was totally dismantled and every trace eradicated:
BLATMAN: Now, Dr. Arad, could you tell us something about the setup of the camp. I gather that the camp was obliterated entirely. There are no original maps extent and that all descriptions and all research into the manner in which it were set up are based on evidence and trestimonies by witnesses.
ARAD: Both Treblinka and other camps, once they had fulfilled their task of extermination they were liquidated, disbanded, they were obliterated, they were turned into agricultural land and some greenery was planted. All we do have is survivors' evidence and testimony, especially Yaakov Vernick, who a few months after he escaped from the Treblinka Camp at the time of the revolt — I will come back to that at a later stage — he had prepared a drawing, a sketch or diagram of the Treblinka Camp and he in fact constructed in Israel, at a later stage, a scale model of Treblinka on the basis of the drawing he had brought along. And this is the main source for our information about the camp. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 229-230)
ARAD: At any rate they took apart everything, they dismantled everything, the centers and the buildings that remained, they took away everything that could possible be removed and this continued until November . The area was plowed under and on it a farm set-up and one of the Urkanian guards brought his family there and took up residence as farmer and looked after the whole area. (Afternoon Session, 17Feb87, p. 293)
ARAD: The site of the Treblinka camp — nothing remains of what existed at the time it was in operation. No buildings, no structures, no fences — nothing. (Morning Session, 18Feb87, p. 405)
You testify that no paper trail of Treblinka remains
No photographs, no physical evidence, and then I was astounded to discover that there was no paper trail either — no maps, no charts, no documents:
ARAD: Globocnik writes to Himmler about the conclusion of the operation and this is a report from January 1944. In this report he says: there's another fact to be added, namely that the bills and invoices and receipts of Operation Reinhard should be destroyed as quickly as possible, because other documents connected with this operation have already been destroyed. In other words, all documentation related to the operation, even bills having to do with the transfer of money and property, and objects from the camps — transfer by Globocnik to the authorities of the Reich — must be destroyed so that no vestiges, no trace of the operation of extermination — the extermination operation remain. (Morning Session, 17Feb99, pp. 222-223)
ARAD: Documents about the camp and what went on within them — well part of it was probably done orally, so that there was as little as possible written information. And if there were any documents, they were mostly or completely destroyed in the course of the operation or at the conclusion of the operation and certainly by the time the camps were evacuated and as I mentioned earlier there is a letter by Globocnik to Himmler in January 1944 in which he says that all of the documents were destroyed and that the bills and invoices, the last ones concerning money matters and clothing should also be destroyed. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 224)
No hard documentary evidence, only the testimony of the deceased "Yakovyorek":
BLATMAN: If it please the court as the learned defense counsel said — and as we said earlier — there is in fact no original map of Treblinka or any authorized chart in the usual manner. However, in a certain sense the best evidence is the testimony of Yakovyorek, a survivor of Treblinka who...
LEVIN: He is about to testify?
BLATMAN: No, he is deceased. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 234)
Evidence Must be Gathered
If the Treblinka death camp did exist as described by you in your Demjanjuk testimony, then it must have left not just some hard and direct evidence, but rather it could not have avoided leaving a mountain of hard and direct evidence. Below I outline some of the evidence that must have been left behind and that it is obligatory of all historians of the Jewish Holocaust to seek the discovery of.
Holocaust historians must discover photographs of Treblinka
You offer the generalization that photographs of Treblinka do not exist because the SS was forbidden to take photographs:
ARAD: [T]he S.S. people from Operation Euthanasia took an oath of allegiance and this focused on their promise to keep — to abide by the confidentiallity of this operation — not to take any photographs, not to tell about it to anyone — so that the entire operation remained secret. We have the detailed content, a document, of this oath of allegiance and I believe that later on we can present it. (Morning Session, 17 Feb87, p. 218)
However, photographs might have been taken by the SS in violation of prohibitions, and photographs could have been taken by individuals who were not members of the SS. All manner of forbidden subjects were photographed during the war in violation of prohibitions, and there is no reason why Treblinka should be an exception.
Where might photographs be found? Thus, not only might there have been photographs taken by the S.S. or by guards, but there might have been photographs taken from outside the camp by civilians, from the surrounding roads and farms and villages, in which one should be able to see the camp buildings and guard towers, the hills of earth from the excavation of the vast pits, the pits themselves, the column of black smoke from the 870,000 burning bodies, the pile of hundreds if not thousands of corpses being prepared for each cremation fire. On top of that, there might have been aerial reconnaissance photographs taken by the Americans, the British, the Soviets, and even the Germans themselves. And the liberating Soviet army might have taken some photographs — the Soviets were well aware of the propaganda value of film footage showing their troops conquering or liberating various positions, and had photographers and cameramen accompanying the troops for this purpose. And of course in addition to professional photographers, some Soviet soldiers and officers must have brought along their own private cameras as well. And then there were the various bodies investigating and documenting Nazi war crimes that were either in existence at the time that Treblinka was liberated, or that were created shortly thereafter — surely one of these would have at least photographed what remained of Treblinka at the time of liberation.
Where to begin the search for photographs? The search for photographs could begin in the countryside surrounding Treblinka, and might consist not only of broadcast appeals, but also actually going from door to door and inviting a search for photographs among family memorabilia. In addition to that, photographs could be sought from members of the German armed forces, and from their families. Soviet military or intelligence units could well have photographs. The importance and the urgency of people coming forward with their photographs could be broadcast in the Polish and German and Ukrainian and Russian media. Generous payment could be offered for photographs. If the Treblinka death camp described by yourself in your courtroom testimony did exist, then it is close to a certainty that somewhere will be discovered photographs documenting this existence.
Holocaust historians must discover evidence of the Treblinka camp infrastructure
Buildings leave traces. No matter what happened to the buildings of the Treblinka death camp — whether they were blown up, or burned, or bulldozed, or dismantled and shipped off, or more than one of these — they would leave traces. You testify (Morning Session, 19Feb87, p. 522) that the gas chambers were stone buildings, so embedded in the Treblinka soil today there might be bricks or brick chips or mortar or the remains of foundations. There might be bits of tiling or plaster left in the ground where the buildings used to be. There might be the remains of supportive posts that had been driven into the ground. There might be glass from broken windows and broken light bulbs. There might be pieces of piping or tubing. There might be nails and hinges and latches and doorknobs and eavestroughing. There might be electrical insulators and wires and light switches and lightning arrestors. In the construction and dismantling or demolition of the Treblinka buildings, there would have been a shower of such debris, and that debris would still be in the Treblinka soil. This debris would have survived explosions and fires and bulldozings, as well as the passage of half a century. Buildings do not vanish without a trace. Nothing as big as the Treblinka death camp vanishes without leaving behind its imprint. This imprint is still there, embedded in the earth, waiting for experts to dig it up and identify it and draw inferences from it.
Holocaust historians must discover evidence of the vast Treblinka burial pits
Pits enormous enough to have held close to 870,000 bodies would be detectable to this day. The composition and density and layering of the earth where the pits had been would differ from that of the surrounding land which had never been dug up. The fill lying deep inside such pits would contain things that would normally be found only at the surface — grass, sticks, insects, seeds, pollen. Experts can extract core samples from the Treblinka lands, and from these can make definitive statements as to the location and the dimensions of any pits that had been excavated.
Also, for a long time after the pits had been filled, they would settle. To this day, there might exist depressions where the pits had been. These depressions might be visible as shadows when viewed from the air at dawn or at dusk, and these shadows could be photographed.
Thus, it must be possible today to obtain definitive evidence as to the existence and the dimensions of the burial pits, and from these dimensions to evaluate the claim of 870,000 victims at Treblinka.
Holocaust historians must discover evidence of the 870,000 Treblinka bodies
Some bodies might still remain in Treblinka. However difficult it must have been to bury 870,000 bodies, to disinter and remove every last one of them must have been close to impossible, and so a number of these bodies might still remain in these pits today, probably at the very bottom of them. There are several reasons why removing every last body would have been difficult. First, the pits would have tended to fill with water. Second, whereas gravity alone could have carried the bodies to the bottom of the pit in the first place, gravity would later fight against their removal, and so the mechanics of raising bodies from the bottom of a deep pit would have militated against a complete pit evacuation. Third, the bodies would have decomposed, making the work of removing them both physically difficult and psychologically revolting. Fourth, the deeper that the diggers progressed, the less convinced would they have been that going still deeper was indispensible — in view of manpower and machine shortages toward the end of the war, in view of the difficulty and the repugnance of digging up the bodies, in view of the pit filling with water — how easy it would have been to decide that bodies lying below whatever extreme depth had been reached so far would never be discovered, and to just begin filling the pit with earth. Actually, as the disinterred bodies were being burned, a mountain of ash and charred bone would have begun to accumulate, and the temptation to begin disposing of this ash and charred bone into the pits — even though every last body had not as yet been removed from them — would have grown. Or perhaps some smaller pit was forgotten and never disinterred at all. Or, perhaps some branch of a pit, or some depression within a pit, was overlooked and still contains bodies to this day.
Body parts, or evidence of bodies, might still remain in Treblinka. But even if we accept the implausible conclusion that every last one of 870,000 or so bodies was removed from the pits — still, bodies leave traces. There might still be body parts buried deep underneath the soil. There might be hair. There might be bone or tooth fragments, or bullets, or shell casings resulting from the shootings that sometimes took place at the edges of the pits. There might still remain soil changes from the blood or from bodily fluids that soaked the bottom of these pits.
Thus, the Treblinka burial pits must be located and measured and excavated. If 870,000 bodies once lay in them, the bodies will have left their indelible traces.
Holocaust historians must discover evidence of the incompletely-burned remains of 870,000 Treblinka bodies
Here is some of your testimony outlining the burning of the 870,000 Treblinka bodies:
LEVIN: The crematoria, were they buildings, or what?
ARAD: The crematoria were like open grills, like an enormous bonfire, on which the corpses were built, but this was after February and March 1943. Until then they were buried in the enormous ditches that I mentioned. (Morning Session 17Feb87, p. 247)
ARAD: [...] it was in August, it was in summer, the Jewish prisoners at the time were busy burning the corpses and the work started at four in the morning and came to a close at midday, first and foremost so that the Germans who were supervising them would not have to be exposed to burning midday sun. (Afternoon Session, 17Feb87, pp. 287-288)
ARAD: Now, Himmler had a different idea about the blurring and obliterating of traces and messages. Already in the spring of 1942 when the first withdrawals of the German troops on the eastern fron took place, and certain regions of the Soviet Union were liberated, and the atrocities performed by the Germans became evident, the atrocities performed on Jews mainly, but also on the local population — when this became known and public knowledge, Himmler instituted a special unit under Sturmbandfuehrer S.S. Globl whose job it was to open up all thepits, all these hundreds of thousands of corpses of Jews who, whether it was at Babi Yar, whether it was in Kiev, whether it was in Riga or whether it was in Vilna, open upall these mass graves and burn the corpses.
He further instructed that also in the extermination camps all corpses henceforth were to be incinerated.
And when he found out that Treblinka and Belzec and Sobibor this practice was already instituted earlier. In Treblinka, when in February he found out this had not yet been instituted, he instructed the commander — it was Floss — a German — Fluss put in charge of the incinerating of the corpses. I would say that at the time of the liquidation of the camp was dependent on the incineration of the corpses there. For at the time of Himmler's visits, in February 1943, already knew that Operation Reinhardt had in fact come to an end, and Auschwitz-Birkenau was taking over with its four huge crematoria and there was in fact no longer any need for these three camps.
And in spring of 1943 instructed the commanders to start closing down these camps, but this was contingent upon the all corpses being incinerated and burned. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 266-267)
The residue of burning must be found. Burning 870,000 bodies creates a mountain of ash from the wood and a mountain of unburned bone from the bodies. In a real crematorium where high temperatures can be produced for the necessary duration, each cadaver leaves behind some three to nine pounds of bone. An open-air fire will not achieve the same high temperatures as a crematorium, and so in the same interval of time, and even in a longer interval of time, will leave behind a great deal more residue. If we assume a very conservative, and mathematically convenient, ten pounds of unburned residue per Treblinka victim, then that yields a total of 8.7 million pounds of residue, which equals 3.9 million kilograms. That is a lot of residue. Where could the Nazis have put it all? Saying that they "scattered" it, as you do say, is not adequate — how does one "scatter" 8.7 million pounds of unburned bone? Is it conceivable that 8.7 million pounds of charred bone could remain hidden today from investigators who tried to find it? As the most convenient location to dispose of the residue would have been the bottoms of the freshly-emptied burial pits, the 8.7 million pounds of charred bone might still exist in Treblinka, and thus could testify to the 870,000 Jews killed there.
An outdoor fire must not be called a crematorium. To call open-air burning cremation invites the conclusion that there is no appreciable difference between high-temperature cremation in a furnace and lower-temperature burning in the open air, and invites the conclusion also that the residue will be comparable in each case. But because the temperature is lower in open-air burning, and because the residue is greater, I tend to avoid calling open-air burning "cremation" and I protest vigorously against calling an open-air fire a "crematorium."
Evidence must be found of the fuel used in burning. To burn 870,000 bodies in the open air would require a vast amount of fuel. If it takes a boxcar full of wood to reduce 100 bodies to ash in open-air fires, then 8,700 boxcars of wood would have been required. Or if 100 bodies require not just one boxcar of wood, but two or three, then the total number of boxcars of wood required would rise from 8,700 to 17,400 or 25,100, and the possibility that so much wood had been cut and shipped without it leaving a trace within documents or within human memory approaches the incredible. Wood freshly cut, furthermore, contains much water, and burns inefficiently while producing much smoke. Thus, as Himmler's decision to burn the bodies was implemented rapidly, we must conclude either that the Nazis had been maintaining a stockpile of seasoned wood equivalent in volume to thousands or tens of thousands of boxcars, or else that they suddenly conscripted armies of woodcutters to denude entire forests, and quickly burned the wood while it was still green.
The burning of bodies accomplishes nothing. What is gained by the burning of 870,000 bodies? Such a burning amounts to replacing an enormous volume of bodies with a somewhat less enormous volume of ash and charred bone from the incomplete combustion of the bodies, but where the ash and bone are as fully inculpatory as were the bodies themselves. Your story of the burning of Treblinka bodies is based on the premise that Himmler labored under the delusion that the discovery of a body could lead to a murder charge, whereas the discovery of ten pounds of human bone could not.
Also, even though the bodies themselves might no longer exist, the number of people who can testify to their having existed is expanded as a result of the disinterment and burning — the number of people who had to labor deep in the pits must have been large, the smell of the opened pits must have blanketed the entire region, the number of people who built the pyres must have been large, the pyres themselves must have been visible from a distance, the black column of smoke from the burning bodies must have been visible for miles, the transport of fuel into Treblinka must have become known to hundreds of workers. In anticipation of all this, it must have been plain to all Nazi officials who contemplated the burning of bodies that it would be ineffective, that even while expending scarce resources to cover up some of the inculpatory evidence, the result would be to produce inculpatory evidence of another kind. It must have been evident to the entire Nazi hierarchy that their only hope lay in winning the war, or at least in achieving some sort of draw or stalemate, rather than planning to lose while praying that when the Allies marched into Treblinka, they wouldn't notice the embarrassing mountain of 8.7 million pounds of unburned bone, or wouldn't talk to any of the hundreds — if not thousands — of people who had watched either from near or from afar the 870,000 Jews being murdered.
Another reason to dig up the burial pits. Thus, it is imperative that the Treblinka burial pits be investigated and dug up today not only to verify that the pits themselves existed, and not only to measure their dimensions, and not only to search for bodies and body parts, but also to search for ashes and unburned bone and teeth.
A layer of ash. In addition to the ash left at the base of the fire, there will be ash that flies up into the air from the heat of the fire, and then settles back to earth, thus blanketing the entire region. Perhaps there are areas near the site of the burning that have not been ploughed since the time of the burning, and where this ash will be detectable as a layer in the soil to this day.
Holocaust historians must discover evidence of Treblinka garbage and sewage
Your testimony paints the picture of Jews travelling loaded down with their valuables and their household goods, and these being confiscated at Treblinka and sorted there:
ARAD: And they [a special crew] were put in charge of the possessions because these people, after all arrived, they had been given the order, told, that they were going East and told to take along certain personal belongings, as well as certain household goods. Now all these possessions had to be sifted and sorted. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 250-251)
ARAD: Well, the large amount of property beginning with clothing and personal effects including money, gold watches, earings, other valuables, all of this, in keeping with the instructions of Brigadefueher August Frank, one of the heads of the main administrative authority of the SS, he issued orders as to how this should be divided up. (Afternoon Session, 17Feb87, p. 276)
The volume of valuables that Jewish prisoners brought with them to Treblinka that was confiscated and shipped to Germany numbers in the "thousands of carloads" in the first of your statements below, and numbers "1500 carloads" in the second:
ARAD: The money and gold was supposed to be transferred ultimately to the Third Reich's national bank, to a given account in Berlin to be used by the government of the Third Reich. Now we're speaking here of vast quantities. Thousands of carloads set out from Treblinka with possessions and valuables of those put to their death. (Afternoon Session, 17Feb87, p. 276, emphasis added)
ARAD: We have testimony of several Jews within the Treblinka camp who kept a record of the number of cars and they estimated aboput 1500 carloads of personal effects and possessions to be sent out of the camp. This included all sorts of possessions. We also have the testimony of a railway station supervisor at Treblinka, Chepetsky, a Pole who also quotes the number of carloads and his estimate is similar to the one cited by the Jews who kept a record and testified. (Afternoon Session, 17Feb87, pp. 277-278, emphasis added)
The Treblinka garbage dump must be discovered. However, not everything that the prisoners brought with them to Treblinka could have been of such value as to justify shipping to Germany. Among these "household goods" and "personal effects and possessions" there must have been items of small value to others, and even of no value to others. Thus, if half of the belongings that Treblinka prisoners brought with them was valuable enough to ship to Germany, then the other half might be viewed by the Treblinka personnel as largely garbage, and would have to be disposed of. Thus, if 1,500 carloads were shipped back to Germany, that would leave 1,500 carloads to be largely junked. Or, if only a quarter or a tenth of all belongings were valuable enough to ship to Germany, then 4,500 carloads or 13,500 carloads of belongings would be left behind to be disposed of at Treblinka. Where to put this mountain of garbage, and where to put all the other garbage generated during the life of the camp? Obviously, Treblinka being out in the country, it could readily treat its garbage the way garbage is treated the world over — pile it up and set it on fire. There is no practical alternative. What else to do with a volume equalling thousands of boxcars of dilapidated suitcases, worn-through shoes, threadbare clothing, mangled eyeglasses, shattered phonograph records, tin cans and broken bottles and kitchen bones? Obviously, Treblinka must have had a garbage dump, and that garbage dump is likely to still be there. Or did the Nazis, losing the war, retreating before the Soviet offensive, muster their dwindling resources to tidy up after themselves, and take with them even their own garbage?
The Treblinka sewage facilities must be discovered. If soldiers are not provided with sanitation, the army will be decimated by disease. Every successful army is aware of this, and any army unaware of this cannot be successful. Thus, either Treblinka had sewers to carry sewage away, or else it held the sewage locally in pits. If sewers, then their remains must still be lying underground, and these remains can be dug up, and from these remains experts will be able to estimate the number of people such sewers might have serviced. And if pits, then we might expect that upon the closing of the camp, the pits would have been merely abandoned as they stood, or at best covered over with earth. To imagine Himmler ordering sewage pits to be emptied so that not even this trace would remain that a large number of people had been at Treblinka is not plausible. Again, experts will be able to examine the remains of any such pits, will be able to infer what they once contained, and will be able to estimate the number of individuals that they serviced. And even if any sewage held in pits had been dug up and transported elsewhere, evidence that a pit had existed there and later filled in would still remain.
Holocaust historians must discover Treblinka documents
Paper evidence of Treblinka. Somewhere there might exist plans or blueprints of the buildings of the Treblinka death camp, or maps showing the layout of these buildings. Perhaps someone with an artistic bent sketched the Treblinka death camp, either from inside the camp, or from the outside. Treblinka personnel may have written letters alluding to their duties or outlining their observations. Polish villagers living around Treblinka may have written such letters as well. Either buried in German or Soviet archives, or in the family papers of German or Soviet soldiers or Polish civilians, such paper evidence of the existence of the Treblinka death camp may have survived. Or, shipping thousands of boxcars of wood to Treblinka could not have happened without letters being written and documents trading hands.
Holocaust historians must gather such evidence not only for Treblinka, but also for Sobibor, Belzec, and Babyn Yar
You assert in your testimony that the same total absence of physical evidence applies not only to Treblinka, but to Sobibor, Belzec, and Babyn Yar as well — that in all four of these cases, bodies have been dug up and burned, and buildings removed, such as not to leave the slightest trace:
LEVIN: The camps of Belzec and Sobibor, were they also destroyed, or does anything remain of these camps?
ARAD: Sobibor and Belzec were totally eliminated, same innihilation. Sobibor was almost an exact duplicate of this and Belzec, the first camp was somewhat different. But, on the basis of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka were built and along the same lines — all three of them were utterly eradicated. Now, afterwards the government of Poland decided to establish monuments but there are no remains of the camp as such. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 242-243)
ARAD: Himmler instituted a special unit under Sturmbandfuehrer S.S. Globl whose job it was to open up all thepits, all these hundreds of thousands of corpses of Jews who, whether it was at Babi Yar, whether it was in Kiev, whether it was in Riga or whether it was in Vilna, open upall these mass graves and burn the corpses. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 267)
My call for substantiation, therefore, extends to all four sites: Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Babyn Yar.
Everything urges, and nothing prevents, the gathering of the above evidence
I urge you to use your full influence to initiate a search for the evidence outlined above. The present heavy reliance on eyewitness testimony will no longer do — surely we have all learned by now that a handful of people can always be found who can be induced to tell the most preposterous tales. Hard physical and documentary evidence is what is called for today. The time has come to balance an overabundance of oral history with a modicum of forensic science.
Jews have an overpowering motive to gather the evidence. The story of the Jewish Holocaust has been widely disseminated, and yet the argument that the story is in part a fabrication is gaining ground. Thus, Jews have a powerful motive to discover physical evidence of Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Babyn Yar — the motive of demonstrating to the world that they are people of integrity, that they have an abiding committment to truth, that they are not corruptors of history, and that the reparations and sympathy that they have won for themselves have been deserved.
Jews have the means to gather the evidence. The Jewish Holocaust has become possibly a multi-billion dollar industry, such that the funding needed to substantiate the story on which the industry depends can easily be gathered.
Organizations exist which facilitate such evidence-gathering. According to your own testimony, organizations motivated toward gathering such evidence have long existed:
ARAD: The evidence and the testimonies which were collected over a number of years, both in Israel and Yad Vashem and other institutions, evidence immediately collected in 1944, in Poland by Jewish historical institutions and committees, which were set up immediately the place was liberated, in order to preserve such evidence, as well as the Nazi War Crimes, Comissia which the Polish Government set up in 1945. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 251-252)
And relations between such organizations on Polish and Israeli soil have been cordial, as evidenced by the cooperation of Polish authorities with Demjanjuk prosecutors during the trial (despite their lack of cooperation with the Demjanjuk defense), and as evidenced also in your own testimony:
ARAD: Between Yad Veshem and the Polish Commission for the Investigation of Nazi German War Crimes there has been over many years a cooperation and collaboration which is expressed in an exchange of material in reciprocal visits of research personnel as well as scientific discussions on subjects concerned with the period of the Holocaust. This Commission has been collecting material
BLATMAN: This commission has been collecting material. It was set up by virtue of a law passed by the Polish government.
BLATMAN: It is also a commission which by virtue of its stand affirms the authenticity of documents. (Morning Session, 19Feb87, pp. 596-597)
Let's get the evidence now! In short, the substantiation by means of hard forensic evidence of your testimony concerning the Treblinka death camp in particular, and of other zero-hard-evidence scenes of mass execution in general, bears an overpowering urgency for Jews, and such substantiation is readily within their reach, both in the matter of financing, and in the matter of having available institutions capable of implementing or of expediting such investigation.
Why hasn't this been done already? And while taking the first steps toward substantiation of the above central Holocaust stories, the question must concurrently be asked, what has kept such a substantiation from being conducted over the course of the past half century? Why have not historians of the Holocaust risen with one voice and demanded that it be done? Why am I — a layman in the field of Holocaust studies — instructing you — one of the world's leading experts on the Holocaust — as to the many fundamental and obvious steps that need to be taken to render your incredible Treblinka testimony credible, that need to be taken to transform the myth of Treblinka into the history of Treblinka?
Incongruities Must be Explained
In addition to gathering the physical and documentary evidence that I have urged above, another important step that Holocaust historians must take is to remove from their accounts certain incongruities which stand in the way of the accounts being credited.
Holocaust historians must explain the Treblinka gas chambers
In your Demjanjuk testimony, you offer that the Treblinka gas chambers were an improvement over simply shooting victims at the edge of their own burial pits because the gas chambers were "quicker," "more efficient," "simpler," "more effective," "easier," "more convenient," and words to that effect. Also, you testify that the gas chambers afforded more secrecy, and that they avoided the emotional strain on the Treblinka personnel of having to shoot people:
ARAD: Now, the Eisatzgruppe method in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union by individual killing, the Germans found that it was too slow and not effective enough, and they were looking for a quicker and more efficient way; the individual killing was too lengthy, too cumbersome. It coundn't be kept secret. People ran away; the local population got a hear of it and in fact were witness to such shootings, and the secret could not be kept. Finally, and at last the Jews got to hear about it; therefore, they were looking for simpler and more effective way, and they came up with the idea of putting them to death by gassing them. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 200-201, emphasis added).
ARAD: In other words, the idea of gassing people, had already been instituted, they had gained a certain experience in it, and when the S.S. commanders such as Heydrich and Eichmann were looking for a simpler and a more efficient, more quicker way for mass killings, they had the two-year long experience of the Euthanasia Operations. Already in September, 1941, the Auschwitz concentration camp has a first attempt to make to gas groups of Russian prisoners and in this way we have commandant Hersz's evidence in the matter who spoke about the gassing — mass gassing — who says well, at longlast, we have found a convenient way for mass murder. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 202. emphasis added)
ARAD: Among these people there were some difficulties when it came to going on day inand day out with shooting individuals, shooting human beings, and the Germans sought an easier and more efficient, more speedy manner of carrying out this mass extermination, for which reason the general direction was to use gas. But we have several documents which attest to the fact that among the reasons for using gas, just one of the reasons, not the single reason, there was the matter of stepping up the pace of extermination, greater secrecy, but also psychological difficulties which emerged among certain Germans in the Einsatzgruppen. This, too, is mentioned as one of the reasons for seeking the gas solution. (Morning Session, 18Feb87, pp. 420-421, emphasis added)
ARAD: Instead of using a bullet which had to strike each and every victim, if you can find a technique, a means of putting a thousand people to be killed in ten gas chambers all at once, to lock them in there and to have within half an hour you take out the corpses of the victims, that was the direction that the Germans aspired to reach. (Morning Session, 18Feb87, p. 421)
However, despite your testimony above, one has no more than to read your own description of the gas chamber executions to realize that they were the opposite of speedy and efficient:
ARAD: Now from the gas chambers the corpses of those killed in the gas chambers, they had been in the gas chambers twenty minutes or thirty minutes, and there is a small peephole through which it was possible to see whether the people were no longer moving or making any sounds. As soon as this operation was over the corpses are removed. There are doorways on the side in the direction of the ramp. The corpses are then taken out and, as I said, initially they wer buried and later on, at a later date, they were burnt. This entire process, from the time the train reached the station the people disembarked until the corpses were removed, the entire process took no more than an hour, an hour and a half, two hours. It all took place very speedily. Meanwhile Jewish prisoners, as inmates, were cleaning out the cars, taking out the corpses of those who died en route, or those who were sick and were taken to the Lazaret. This was done at the same time, so that the clean train may return, so that 20 additional cars may be brought in. So that in the course of a day, using this system of operation at certain periods, at the height of the period, as many as 12 to 15 thousand Jews a day were killed in this camp. This was the process of extermination. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, p. 247)
ARAD: There was a special gang from among the Jewish prisoners whose job it was to remove the corpses after the twenty, thirty minutes of gassing in the chambers. Their job was to remove the corpses, as I said, from the gas chambers, clean them up, clean up the chambers so that they would be ready for the next bunch of prisoners. The bottleneck, in fact, at the camp were the gas chambers. In the earlier stages these very small gas chambers, so the cleaning out of these gas chambers to receive the next lot was performed very quickly so as to avoid this kind of bottleneck.
Now the next job was to transport the corpses from the gas chambers to these pits and to do this as quickly as possible. This was done, once again, running all the time under a hail of blows. They tried different ways of getting the corpses from the gas chambers to the pits. They were constantly looking for ways of rationalizing and streamlining this process, of speeding it up.
A further work gang, they were called the Dentisten. These were put in charge of trying to extract from these corpses, the corpses that were piling up as they were being taken out of the gas chambers, being dragged out of the gas chambers, this work gang of Dentisten so to speak, was to inspect the mouths and intimate parts of these corpses to see whether any gold was hidden in them. Once the gold teeth had been plucked out and any hidden gold discovered, they took it out and then they dragged the corpses over to the grills and arranged them in rows, piled them neatly, stacked them up. Then they covered with earth and a second pit was then prepared.
The gang in charge of this job was the grave digger gang. These are the work gangs which I wanted to describe here. (Morning Session, 17Feb87, pp. 260-261, emphasis added)
Gassing requires an infrastructure. Specifically, the gas chambers were the opposite of speedy and efficient because shooting victims at the edge of a pit requires no infrastructure beyond firearms and ammunition, whereas gassing does require an infrastructure — gassing necessitates the building and the maintenance of the gas chambers, which includes supplying them with engines whose exhaust is toxic enough to kill the victims, and with fuel to feed the engines. Thus, gassing is subject to interruptions in case of a breakdown of an engine, or in case of an unavailability of fuel.
Gassing is slower than shooting. One hundred people can be machine-gunned in perhaps under a minute. According to your testimony, gassing them takes 20 to 30 minutes.
Gassing requires a clean-up of the gas chambers. You testify that the gas chambers had to be cleaned out after each gassing — obviously a step that uses time and labor, and that is avoided in the alternative of shooting.
Gassing obligates the executioners to transport the bodies to the burial pits. Whereas in the case of shooting, the victims walk to the edge of the burial pit, using gas chambers introduces the task of having to move the bodies from the gas chambers to the burial pits, across the fields, sometimes through rain or snow, sometimes sinking in mud or stumbling over stones or slipping on ice or struggling through snow drifts. This is a vast amount of labor, and constitutes the introduction of a substantial delay.
And just how were the bodies transported from gas chamber to burial pit? You mention two methods. One was having stretcher-bearers carry each corpse on its own stretcher. The other was attaching straps to the corpses and dragging them. However, each of these requires strength, and each would quickly exhaust the workers, especially when these had not been adequately nourished and were subjected to constant abuse.
Below are five of your statements that touch on the method of moving bodies from gas chambers to burial pits:
ARAD: Well, the Jewish inmates who were forced to work in this inferno called the Extermination Area — in my book I referred to them as the work details, in other words, the ones — there were the [illegible]ommando, the group who led — who took the corpses out, the corpses from the gas chambers and brought them to the pits. The Germans dubbed this group of Jews who were forced to extract the gold teeth and to look on the corpses — they called them, they used the term — the cynical term — "dentisten". And there was a group which cleaned the pipe in the gas chambers.... In other words it was a role which was another part of the arduous and tormenting task that was involved in taking the corpses out of the gas chambers. (Morning Session, 18Feb87, p. 367)
ARAD: The Jews who were forced to carry out this job had to do so while running so that they could move the corpses as quickly as possible out of the gas chambers so that more Jews could be put inside. (Afternoon Session, 18Feb87, p. 497)
O'CONNOR: [W]as there ever any indication that their German masters wanted them to remain in a bent-over position as they were running from the rampa up to the pit [...]? [...] Being in a bent-over or submissive position as they're running with the stretchers with the bodies on them.
ARAD: The main concern of the Germans was to evacuate the corpses as quickly as possible. In other words, it had to be done while running. Now, what I was just asked, whether they were stooped as they ran along, I do not think so, and I don't think that was their concern. They wanted it to be as rapid as possible, but between the ramp of the gas chambers and the pits where the corpses were buried, they stopped at an additional place. There was the dentists, where the gold teeth were extracted from the corpses and there the Jews were not permitted to place the corpse on the ground so that they may rest from the load but rather they had to keep holding the corpses while this work was being done on the corpses themselves. (Afternoon Session, 18Feb87, pp. 497-498)
ARAD: I said yesterday that the Germans used several methods, they began by using stretchers and later on they tried to tie several corpses of victims with straps and to drag them along the ground, they tried whatever method they could in order to do it as rapidly as possible and they kept changing methods from time-to-time. (Afternoon Session, 18Feb87, p. 499)
Two non-credible details. Two details from your testimony above are not credible: that the stretcher-bearers were obligated to run continuously, and that during the pause to remove gold teeth, the stretcher-bearers were not allowed to put the stretches down and rest. These details are not credible because the exertion required to carry a stretcher is so great, and the number of trips so numerous, that the stretcher-bearers would only be able to endure the work by conserving their strength at every opportunity — that is, by walking at a measured pace instead of running, and by placing the stretcher on the ground and resting while gold teeth were extracted. To imagine otherwise is to imagine Nazis so implausibly hell-bent on torturing the stretcher-bearers that they compromise the higher goal of disposing of the bodies. Also, stretcher-bearers weakened by inanition and abuse forced to carry their loads across fields at a run are bound to stumble and even fall, whose effect would be to drop the stretcher and introduce a delay that might lower efficiency in comparison to careful walking.
The Treblinka gas chambers did not promote secrecy. You testified that one of the reasons for the gas chambers was that they permitted executions to be conducted in secret. However, given that vast pits have to be dug and kept uncovered as they are slowly filled with bodies, and given a continuous stream of workers carrying bodies on stretchers, or else dragging bodies through the fields by means of straps, the stream of workers extending across the fields from gas chambers to burial pits, and other workers simultaneously streaming back toward the gas chambers with their empty stretchers or unused straps, and given that this continuous stream of traffic is visible from surrounding roads and farms and villages, then in fact gas chambers fail to achieve the goal of secrecy, and everybody in the region is as fully aware that executions are being conducted at Treblinka as they would be if executions were by shooting at the edge of the pits.
The Treblinka gas chambers did not protect Treblinka staff from emotionally-traumatic experiences. You testified that another of the reasons for the gas chambers was that they protected the executioners from the harrowing experience of being forced to shoot prisoners. This reason too does not stand up to scrutiny. First, it is always possible to find in any population a handful of individuals who may be described as psychopathic or sadistic and to whom shooting people all day long is not emotionally trying. Second, you testify as to the presence of a number of tasks and scenes which demonstrate that use of gas chambers offers no protection from emotional trauma. For example, you describe prisoners being abused and tortured from the moment that they disembarked from trains to the moment that they were locked inside the gas chambers — that they were continuously whipped, bitten by dogs, beaten with iron rods, stabbed with bayonets. And after that, there would be the emotionally-searing tasks of loading naked corpses soiled by vomit, urine, feces, and blood onto stretchers and carrying them across the fields and of mopping out the gas chambers after each gassing. All of these would be traumatic experiences for the Treblinka personnel required to participate in them, or required to witness them, and would all demonstrate that the gas chambers failed to render executions antiseptic or impersonal.
It's time for an incongruity purge. The four further examples of incongruities, or incongruity categories, immediately above, then, suggest that a thoughtful reading of your Treblinka testimony is able to bring to light an abundance of incongruities. In fact, it might be said that the more one reads your testimony, the more is the feeling that it contains some statements that don't make sense replaced with the feeling that it contains little but statements that don't make sense. It follows that your Treblinka testimony is in need of a thorough purging of incongruities before it will be capable of creating the appearance of truth.
From your own personal point of view, the urgency of discovering the above absent evidence, and of resolving the above incongruities, cannot be overemphasized. Consider, for example, that you appear to have dedicated your academic career to documenting the Jewish Holocaust of which Treblinka constitutes a significant part, and yet when given the opportunity to testify concerning Treblinka at the Demjanjuk trial, your testimony not only failed to convince, but it even invited a conclusion opposite to the one that you intended. Yes, any objective observer who reads your testimony is likely to come away with the impression that the Treblinka death camp — in which 870,000 Jews were gassed, buried, disinterred, and cremated — simply did not exist.
A more indulgent observer may allow that the Treblinka story as you tell it is either false, or else true but so poorly told that it appears to be false. In either case, you are at fault, and some remedial action is called for. If the Treblinka story is false, then you must withdraw it. If the Treblinka story is true but poorly told, you must add to it the missing evidence, and remove from it the troubling incongruities, so as to render it credible. Inaction and silence on your part can only invite the conclusion that the Treblinka story is false and that you lack the courage and integrity to withdraw it.
In sum, history may judge not only that you failed to win acceptance for the Treblinka story, and not only that you succeeded in implanting the suspicion that the Treblinka death camp did not exist, but that you were uniquely qualified — one might say that you were chosen by the hand of fate — to implant the suspicion that the Treblinka death camp did not exist. The reason that you were so uniquely empowered is that had some Nazi or some Neo-Nazi or some Holocaust denier — or even some neutral person — tried to convince the world that the Treblinka death camp did not exist, he would have been disbelieved. He would have been suspected of exaggerating, twisting the facts, omitting significant details, slanting the arguments. But, on the other hand, hearing the Treblinka story from yourself — the very head of Israel's Yad Vashem for the previous fifteen years — the world was able to safely assume that it was hearing the most sympathetic and credible version of the Treblinka story in existence, and so if this version of the Treblinka story suggested that Treblinka did not exist, then it was indeed plausible that it did not exist.
Look into the future, then, and see the place that you may assume in history. You may be credited with the role of accomplishing what no other man was able to accomplish, which is to debunk — unintentionally and unwittingly as it happens — the myth of Treblinka. And you may also be remembered for having been honored as the first witness in the Jewish attempt to hang a Ukrainian for crimes that he did not commit, for crimes that did not even take place, and at a location that did not even exist.
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This completely blows the Treblinka legend out of the the water big time.
I was a bit confused on some of the names mentioned in the narative. Who is Levin and Blathard ?
In the past 2 weeks, I have had the opportunity to share the truth behind the Holocaust to some very educated folks.
They were amazed at what I shared with them about Treblinka. But the thanks goes to this forum and the first rate contributors who allow the truth to be shared and told.
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