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Shofar FTP Archive File: camps/aktion.reinhard/belzec/Archeological_Report/Tregenza_Conclusions.98


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Subject: Belzec: Archeological Conclusions
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camps/aktion.reinhard/belzec/Archeological_Report/Tregenza_Conclusions.98
Last-Modified: 1999/08/09

"XI. CONCLUSIONS

"* The most significant and unexpected facts to emerge as a result
of the 1997-98 investigations are the large number of mass graves
discovered (33), and the large number of indications of camp
structures of various sizes (65) scattered throughout the area of
the former extermination camp, and the deep cellars beneath some
of the buildings. Several of the camp structures correspond
approximately in position with buildings shown on

                                                         [Page 26]

[text seems to be missing here]

"the undressing and barbers' barracks, workshops, warehouse, and
bunker for the electricity generator; in Camp II, barracks and
kitchen for the Jewish 'death brigade').[1]

"* The two main phases of the camp's gassing operations may be
identified by the arrangement of the mass graves and camp
structures between the graves. Thus, the apparent proliferation of
small wooden structures between the graves of the first phase may
have been temporary barracks for the Jews of the 'death brigade'
employed in digging the mass graves, and shelters for the guards.
Three of the smallest wooden structures arranged at intervals
around the W and S part of the grave field from the first period
suggest watchtowers overlooking the grave digging work. The
structures in the S half of the camp area doubtless date from the
second period. (Fig 8).

"* Graves 12 and 14-20, ranged along the N fence, correspond to
witnesses' statements as [2] being the first to be utilized during
the period February-May 1942. They undoubtedly contain the remains
of the Jews from the Lublin ghetto, deported to Belzec camp
between mid-March - mid-April 1942, and the remains of early
transports from the Lvov ghetto and the transit ghettos at lzbica
and Piaski. In these grave also lie the remains of German Jews
deported from the Reich in April-May to lzbica and Piaski, and
thence to Belzec.

"* Graves 10, 25, 27, 28, 32 and 33, which contain a layer of lime
covering still decomposing human remains, date from the spring of
1942 when the local German civil authorities complained about the
health hazard caused by decomposing corpses in open graves.
Chloride of lime was spread over the six still open mass graves
identified above in an effort to avoid epidemics breaking out.

"* Evidence of the subsequent failed attempt at cremating corpses
in graves may be found in the small graves near the N fence,
Nos. 27, 28 and 32, in which a layer of burnt human remains and
pieces of carbonized wood. The bottom of each of these graves is
lined with a layer of human fat.

"* With the exception of grave 14, the comparatively small size of
the other graves clustered around it near the N corner of the camp
is indicative of the smaller transports of this period which
carried on average 1,500 victims each.[3]

"* Some of the smallest graves (e.g. Nos.: 13, 27, 28, 32 and 33)
could be the execution pits in which the old, sick and infirm Jews
were shot during the first phase, while graves 2, 21 and 23 could
be the execution pits from the second phase. Such small graves
correspond

     "Footnotes
     
     "[1] Sketches and written descriptions of the camp layout
     during the second phase (July-December 1942) by members of
     the former SS-garrison in: ZStL, file No.: AR-Z 252159: The
     Case against Josef Oberhauser et al., pp. 1287-1288: Heinrich
     Gley, 10 May 1961/Munster; pp. 1340-1341: Heinrich Unverhau,
     10 July 1961/Konigslutter; pp. 1360-1361: Hans Girtzig, 18
     July 1961/Berlin; p. 1412: Kurt Frariz, 14 September
     1961/Duesseldorf; pp. 1464-1465: Robert Jiffirs, 11 October
     1961/Frankfurt-am-Main; p. 1507: Karl Schluch, 11 November
     1961/Kleve.
     
     "[2] According to witnesses, the first and largest mass grave
     (No. 14) was dug by members of the Soviet guard unit while
     the camp was under construction. It took six weeks to
     complete the task. OKBZ, file No.: Ds. 1604/45 -- Zamosc.
     Statements by Belzec villagers 1945-46.
     
     "[3] The early transports consisted of 8-15 wagons with an
     average of 100 Jews with their luggage per wagon.

                                                         [Page 27]

"with descriptions given in testimony by former members of the SS-
garrison at their trial in Munich 1963-64.[4]

"* At least a dozen graves still contain today unburnt, partially
mummified or decomposing corpses. Exactly why the SS did not empty
all the graves and destroy their contents is not known; they were
in no hurry to leave the area as the entire SS-garrison was
redistributed to other camps in the Lublin District for at least
five months after the liquidation of Belzec. However, that all the
corpses were not disinterred and destroyed may be due to the
following:

     "a) six of the graves not emptied date from the first phase
     and contain decomposing corpses under a layer of lime; the
     corpses would have been in such an appalling state of
     disintegration that even the SS were reluctant to attempt
     disinterrment;
     
     "b) three of the graves not completely emptied date from the
     second phase and are among the largest in the camp (with the
     exception of grave 14); removal of their entire decomposing
     contents presented a daunting task.

"* Perhaps after five months of supervising day and night the
gruesome work of exhuming and cremating the hundreds of thousands
of rotting remains the SS had simply had enough, and against
orders, abandoned the task.[5] The opened and partly emptied
graves were refilled with the fragments of burnt human bones and
pieces of carbonized wood from the bone mill, mixed with sand.

"* From the wealth of evidence uncovered by the 1997-98
investigations it is obvious that the camp SS did not by any means
erase all traces of the extermination camp, as hitherto believed.
The majority of the wooden barracks were burnt down and the
carbonized wood broken up into fragments; solid structures were
demolished and the bricks, stones and concrete or cement broken
into pieces and buried. Solidly constructed cellars beneath
certain buildings were used as refuse pits into which were thrown
items of glass and metal which could not be completely destroyed
by fire. The cellars were then simply filled in with soil. Other
articles of glass and metal were buried among the remains of burnt
down wooden barracks. At the Ramp, the wooden support posts and
planks retaining the sandy soil of the two platforms -- the
negative images of which were uncovered during the 1997
investigation -- were also removed and most likely burnt.

"* It has long been thought that only one railway siding existed at
the Ramp and that it was later extended further into the camp to
accommodate the longer transports of the second phase. However,
the construction of such an extension would not have been possible
due to the forested and uneven terrain at the SW end of the camp.
Luftwaffe aerial photographs of Belzec taken in 1940 and 1944
clearly show that two parallel tracks existed on the camp area.
Witnesses also mention the existence of two tracks during the
second phase. [6] It is

     "Footnotes
     
     "[4] For descriptions of an execution pit and method of
     shooting see: ZStL, file No.: AR-Z 252/59: The Case Against
     Josef Oberhauser et al., p. 1554: Heinrich Gley, 24 November
     1961/Muenster; p. 1484: Robert Juehrs, 12 October
     1961/Frankfurt-am-Main. Both Gley and ldhrs were assigned to
     execution duty. It is not conceivable that only one such
     execution pit existed in the camp, as these witnesses state.
     
     "[5] SS-Oberscharfuehrer Heinrich Gley, who supervised the
     daytime shift at the cremation pyres, has testified about the
     cremations: 'The whole procedure during the burning of the
     exhumed corpses was so inhuman, so unaesthetic, and the
     stench so horrifying that people today who are used to living
     everyday lives cannot possibly stretch their imaginations far
     enough to recreate these horrors'. ZStL, file No.: AR-Z
     252159: The Case Against Josef Oberhauser et al., p. 1699:
     Heinrich Gley, 7 January 1963/Munich.
     
     "[6] Air Photo Library, National Archives, Washington DC, USA.
     Film Roll No.: TU GX 933 F7 SK, exposure 089, dated 26 May
     1940; film roll No.: GX 8095 33 SK, exposure 155, dated 15
     May 1944. ZStL, file No.: AR- Z 252/59: The Case Against
     Josef Oberhauser et al., p. 1681: Josef Oberhauser, 12
     December 1961/Munich. Diary of Wilhelm Cornides, entry on 31
     August 1942 in: Vierteljahreshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte No. 7,
     pp. 333-336, Munich 1959. Cornides was a Wehrmacht NCO who
     travelled through Belzec on a passenger train on 31 August
     1942.


                                                         [Page 28]

"also apparent from the large amounts of engine oil and grease
found on the trackbeds in 1997 that locomotives entered the camp
and did not always remain outside the camp gate -- having shunted
the wagons from behind -- as stated by many witnesses.

"* The number of watchtowers around the camp perimeter was probably
larger than claimed by witnesses. The original number of three
towers at the corners (with the exception of the NW corner by the
main gate) and one in the camp itself, must have been increased
during the reorganization/rebuilding of the camp in June-July
1942, prior to the increased extermination activity which began on
1 August, and the employment of 1,000 'work Jews' in the camp.
Evidence of three small wooden structures at 55 m. intervals along
the E fence indicate the probable position of such additional
watchtowers.

"* In the autumn of 1942 there was increased partisan activity in
the Belzec area which necessitated extra security precautions by
the camp SS and Soviet guard unit. 7 One such measure was the
construction of a concrete bunker at the SE corner of the camp, on
the highest point of the terrain. It would also have been logical
and effective to have had a watchtower above the bunker, affording
a clear all-round view and field of fire over the entire camp area
and its environs.

"* A comparison of Figs. 7 and 8 confirm that during its first
phase Belzec was a temporary, experimental camp where the
procedures and logistics of mass extermination by gas and the
burial of corpses were tried and tested, initially on the Jews of
the Lublin ghetto, before being applied at the Sobibor and
Treblinka extermination camps. It can also be seen that the
original camp structures and mass graves of the first phase were
concentrated along the N fence, leaving the majority of the camp
area empty and unused but ready for utilization and expansion at a
later date. The primitive, experimental gassing barrack and
undressing barracks were also temporary structures, replaced later
by bigger and more solidly constructed buildings to accommodate
the increased number of victims."(Tregenza, pp 26-28)

                             Work Cited

Tregenza, Michael. Report on the Archeological Investigation at the
   Site of the Former NAZI Extermination Camp in Belzec, Poland, 1997-98.
   Lublin, 1998


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