Archive/File: people/e/erichsen.hugo/cremation-of-the-dead Last-Modified: 1998/05/25 "[the Belgian government] dispatched Colonel Creteur to examine into the grievances, and, if possible, remove them. One's hair stands on end when one reads the report of the colonel on the condition of the Sedan battle-field. The only way to remedy the evil was to destroy the dangerous cadavers by cremation, which was a difficult task, under the circumstances, but which was nevertheless accomplished by the ingenious Creteur. The colonel's report is full of horrible facts. The bodies of German soldiers in a trench at Laid-Trou were covered so little by earth that carnivorous animals had already devoured part of the hands and faces. Rain-water had caused 30 large pits, containing the remains of Bavarians, to cave in, and had laid bare the bodies. Between Belan and Bazailles, the owners of a field had leveled the elevation of a Bavarian grave. Relics of the dead protruded from the ground. The bodies were covered only by a thin layer of earth, in which corn flourished luxuriantly. Wild bears, foxes, and dogs, relishing the human flesh, helped to scratch away the soil over the remains, as did the numerous crows upon the pit in which the horses had been buried. Dogs, having once feasted on this fare, would not eat anything else. Creteur at first could not obtain men to carry out his plans, as every one who attempted to open the trenches contracted phlyctaena, an eruption of the skin. Finally, by promising good pay, he enlisted 27 workmen, whom he endeavored to protect by saturating their clothing and moistening the graves with a solution of carbolic acid. But this only intensified the phlyctaena. He then determined to cover the graves with a layer of chloride of lime, and to pour diluted muriatic acid upon them subsequently. By this means he succeeded in laying bare the topmost layer of the corpses. He then had large quantities of coal tar poured into the pit, which trickled down among the bodies to the bottom, thoroughly covering the remains. He then had more chloride of lime heaped upon the corpses, and finally had bundles of hay, previously saturated with kerosene, thrown burning into the pit. Creteur declares that from 200 to 300 bodies were consumed within 50 to 60 minutes. The smoke, impregnated with the smell of the carbolic acid that was formed by the combination of the chloride of lime and coal tar, was not offensive, and proved entirely harmless to the workmen. About one-fourth of all the contents remained in the pits, consisting of calcined bones and a dry mass. These were again covered with chloride of lime, and then the trenches were closed. In this way, 45,855 human and equine bodies were disposed of." (Erichsen, 137-138) Work Cited Erichsen, Hugo. Cremation of the Dead. Detroit, 1887 This information was provided by John C.Zimmerman, an ssociate professor at the University of Nevada,Las Vegas. He is presently completing a major work on Holocaust denial.
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