II. LOCATION/INVESTIGATION OF MASS GRAVES
Grave No. 1. Located only 5 m. S of BM 2007. At 3.90 m. below ground level a layer of dark grey (burnt) sand was found in which were mixed pieces of carbonized wood and fragments of human bones – among them an incisor tooth. This was the first indication of the presence of a mass grave. Beneath this deep layer lay a several centimetres thick layer of foul-smelling water under which were found unburnt corpses compressed by the weight of soil to a layer only 20 cm thick. The drill core brought to the surface putrid pieces of human remains, including pieces of skull with skin and tufts of hair still attached, and unidentifiable lumps of greyish, fatty human tissue. The bottom of the grave was lined with a layer of evil smelling black (i.e. burnt) human fat, resembling black soap. As no evidence of fabric was brought to the surface, it may be assumed that the corpses are naked. The state of preservation of the corpses is due to the fact that they lay virtually hermetically sealed between the layer of water above, the layer of solidified fat below, underneath which the natural, dry and compressed sand through which no air could penetrate, resulted in their partial mummification. The dimensions of Grave No. 1 were determined as 40 m. x 11 m. and over 5 m. deep.
Grave No. 2. A small grave 70 m. E of BM 2007 and close to the S fence, contained at the depth of only 30 cm. a layer of pieces of carbonized wood beneath which at depth 1.50 m. there was a layer of unburnt human corpses. Dimensions of the grave: l5 m. x 5 m. x 2 m. deep.
Grave No. 3. This was the first mass grave the location of which was positively identified from a Luftwaffe aerial photograph taken in 1944, in which it appears as a T-shaped white patch and seems to be the biggest grave in the camp. The presence of graves in this part of the camp was also discernible at ground level by soil subsidence and different vegetation on the areas of subsidence.
Upon investigation, however, it was found that the T-shape consisted of three separate graves (labelled 3, 5 and 6 on Fig. 4) with Grave No. 3 forming the stem of the ‘T’. It easured 20 m. x 15 m. and is at least 5 m. deep. After drilling through a 4.90 m. deep layer of dark grey sand mixed with pieces of carbonized wood and fragments of burnt human bones, a foul odour was released. The drill core brought to the surface pieces of skulls with skin and tufts of hair still attached, lumps of greyish human fat, and fragments of unburnt human bones. The bottom layer consisted of putrid, waxy human fat.
Grave No. 4. Located immediately adjacent to the N side of BM 2007, measures 20 m. x 8 m. and is 5 m. deep. At depth 1.20 m., burnt pieces of human bones were found. Beneath this, a layer of water signalled the presence of corpses at the next level. From below the water layer the drill core brought to the surface pieces of unburnt human bones, including pieces of skulls with skin and hair still adhering and lumps of foul smelling greasy fat, indicating the presence of unburnt corpses
Grave No. 5. Formed the left-hand bar of the T-shaped arrangement of graves 3, 5 and 6 (see Fig. 4), in which were found pieces of burnt human bones in a layer 2.60 m. – 3.80 m. deep. Near the W end of the grave the bones were so densely packed together that the drill could not penetrate further. Dimensions: 35 m. x 15 m. and at least 5 m. deep.
Grave No. 6. Forms the right-hand bar of the T-shaped arrangement of graves and measures 33 m. x 14 m. and is more than 5 m. deep. At depth 0.4 m. – 2.60 m. there is a layer of carbonized wood and fragments of burnt human bones. At the E end of the grave the ground is covered with grey sand containing a mixture of crushed pieces of burnt and unburnt pieces of human bones. A few silver birch trees stand between Graves 5 and 6.
Additional test soundings were made in the vicinity of the four symbolic tombs near the E fence in an area where the Luftwaffe aerial photograph also indicated the presence of mass
 Air Photo Library, National Archives, Washington DC, USA. Film Roll No.: GX 8095 33 SK, exposure 155, dated 15 May 1944.
 It was because several of the mass graves located and investigated in October 1997 were found to be deeper than 5 m. that the length of the drills in the 1998 investigation was increased from 5 m. to 6 m. graves. The location of three graves was confirmed in the area of symbolic tombs 1, 3) and 4. Their dimensions and depths were not determined at this time. (Tregenza, pp. 13-15)
Tregenza, Michael. Report on the Archeological Investigation at the Site of the Former NAZI Extermination Camp in Belzec, Poland, 1997-98. Lublin, 1998
Grave No. 7. Initially located in October – 1997 in the vicinity of symbolic tomb No. 4. Dimensions determined as 30 m. x 14 m. The symbolic tomb lay just to the right (S) of the grave. Carbonized pieces of wood and fragments of burnt human bones mixed with dark grey ash were found to a depth of 5 m.
Grave No. 8. Of similar dimensions to grave No. 7, but a 12 m. long arm of this grave projects 20 m. to the SW. Contains burnt pieces of human bones and fragments of arbonized wood.
Grave No. 9. Located immediately behind symbolic tomb No. 1, next to the NE fence, measures 10 m. square and contains burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand.
Note: the surface soil around graves 7, 8 and 9 consists of a thin layer of grey sand containing a large quantity of crushed pieces of burnt human bones.
Grave No. 10. One of the largest mass graves in the camp, lies 15 m. N of the monument/mausoleum and measures 25 m. x 20 m. At depth 4 m. a 80 cm thick layer of human fat was found below which lay unburnt human remains and pieces of unburnt large human bones. The drill core brought to the surface several lumps of foul smelling fatty tissue still in a state of decomposition, mixed with greasy lime.
Grave No. 11. A smaller grave than any hither-to discovered (with the exception of grave No. 2), measures 11 m. x 9 m., located immediately adjacent to the NE corner of the monument/mausoleum. A few fragments of burnt human bones mixed with innumerable small pieces of carbonized wood were found at a depth of only 1.90 m.
Grave No. 12. Located immediately to the N of grave No. 10 , is an L-shaped grave with the foot, measuring 20 m., lying to the W and the stem, 28 m. in length, pointing N. A mall number of pieces of unburnt human bones were found at depth 3 m. mixed with grey sand and innumerable small fragments of carbonized wood. This layer extended to a depth of 4.40 m
Grave No. 13. The smallest grave discovered in the camp, measuring only 5 m. x 5m. and 4.80 m. deep. Located next to the W fence, it contains a mixture of burnt human remains and pieces of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand.
Grave No. 14. The largest grave in the camp, it extends beyond the N fence into the area of the adjacent sawmill. The section within the fence is an irregular zig-zag on the S side easuring 65 m. x 30 m. at its widest point E – W, and 8 m. at its narrowest.
Contains burnt pieces of human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey, sandy soil to a depth of 3.10 m. Originally, grave No. 14 could have measured ca. 70 m. x 30 m.
Grave No. 15. Another small grave, measuring 12 m. x 7 m. Situated adjacent to the S side of grave No. 14 it contains a mixture of pieces of burnt human bones, fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand.
Grave No. 16. Also located adjacent to grave No. 14 and immediately E of grave No. 15. Measuring 20 m. x 8 m. it contains a mixture of burnt fragments of human bones and carbonized wood to a depth of 4.10 m.
Grave No. 17. Situated next to and S of graves 12 and 16, measures 16m. x 8 m. and is 3.50 m. deep. Contains a mixture of pieces of burnt human bones, carbonized wood and grey sand.
Grave No. 18. Lies next to the S edge of grave No. 15 and measures 15 m. x 10 m. and contains the same mixture of burnt pieces of human bones, carbonized wood and grey sand.
Grave No. 19. Located within the area formed by graves 14, 15, 18 and 20, and close to the SW corner of grave 14. Measuring 14 m. x 8 m. it contains the mixture of grey sand, burnt pieces of human bones and carbonized wood to a depth of 3.50 m.
Grave No. 20. In the form of a long trench at the W end of grave No. 14 and is the last one at the N end of the group of 18 graves along the N fence. In the same manner as its neighbour, grave No. 14, it also extends beyond the N fence into the area of the adjacent sawmill. The section within the fence measures 28 m. x 10 m. and reaches a depth of 5 m. At depth 4 m. there was found a dental bridge with four false teeth (2 amalgam and 2 white plastic). Originally, grave No. 20 could have measured 30-35 m. x 10 m.
Grave No. 21. One of the smallest graves, measures only 7 m. sq. Situated in the forested S part of the memorial area, midway between graves 5 and 7, it is also unexpectedly shallow, being only 1.70 m. deep and contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand.
Grave No. 22. Also situated in the forested S part of the memorial area, in the shape of an inverted ‘L’, close to the NE corner of grave No. 6. Measuring 27 m. on the long (E) side and 10 m. on the S side, it contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand to a depth of 3.60 m.
Grave No. 23. Also one of the smaller graves, measuring 10 m. x 7 m., and located between graves 6 and 21. Contains burnt human remains to a depth of 4.20 m.
Grave No. 24. A narrow trench near the N fence and next to the E corner of grave No. 14. Contains burnt human remains to a depth of 4.80 m.
Grave No. 25. Located immediately to the E of graves 12 and 14, measures 14 m. x 8 m. and contains a mixture of burnt human remains, including corpses and skeletons, to a depth of 3 m. Below this level there is a 1 m. deep layer of waxy fat and greasy lime.
A foul odour was released when the drill penetrated the layer of corpses and the drill core withdrew lumps of decaying fatty tissue and large pieces of bone.
Grave No. 26. Another small grave, 9 m. x 9 m., and located immediately next to the E edge of grave No. 25. Contains a mixture of burnt human remains to a depth of 4.20 m.
Note: the soil above and around graves 25 and 26 is covered with a layer of innumerable small fragments of burnt human bones and small pieces of carbonized wood.
Grave No. 27. One of the smaller graves, measures 10 m. x 4 m., and situated close to the N end of grave No. 25. Contains burnt and unburnt human remains. The top layer consists of burnt human bones and carbonized wood beneath which there is a layer of grey,
waxy lime. The bottom of the grave contains not completely decomposed human remains mixed with putrid smelling greasy human fat. (Cf. graves 10 and 25).
Grave No. 28. One of the smallest graves, measuring only 6 m. x 6 m. Located between grave 27 and the N fence, it also contains burnt human remains beneath which there is a layer of grey, greasy lime. The bottom of the grave, at depth 4.90 m, is lined with putrid smelling greasy human fat. (Cf. graves 10, 25 and 27).
Grave No. 29. Measures 30 m. x 10 m. in the form of a big trench. Located just to the NE of grave 26, its E corner is immediately in front of symbolic tomb No. 1 and contains pieces of burnt human bones mixed with fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand.
Note: the ground between this grave and grave 26 to the NE is covered with a layer of innumerable fragments of burnt and crushed human bones mixed with grey sand. Graves 12, 15, 16, 19, 24-26 and 29 lie partly beneath the six grass-topped tiers bearing the urns intended for the ‘Eternal Flames’
Grave No. 30. Located in the N angle between graves 26 and 29, measures 10 m. x 4 m. Contains pieces of burnt human bones and fragments of carbonized wood mixed with grey sand to a depth of 3.80 m
Grave No. 31. Similar in size to grave No. 30, measures 10 m. x 6 m. Situated next to the N fence between graves 28 and 29, this grave also contains a mixture of burnt pieces of human bones, fragments of carbonized wood and grey sand.
Grave No. 32. Situated close to the N corner of the memorial site between graves 9 and 13. Measuring 15 m. x 5 m. it contains the mixture of pieces of burnt human bones and carbonized wood mixed with grey sand beneath which there is a layer of grey, greasy lime
and a foul smelling layer of human fat containing decomposing human remains: the drill core brought to the surface pieces of skull with skin and tufts of hair still attached. At the bottom of the grave, at depth 4.10 m., lie a large number of unburnt human bones. (Cf. graves 10, 25, 27 and 28). The path to the small gate near the N corner of the memorial area passes over the S end of the grave.
Grave No. 33. A small, shallow grave measuring only 5 m. x 5 m. and 2.80 m. deep. Located in the extreme NE corner of the memorial site, it contains tiny fragments of burnt human bones mixed with small pieces of carbonized wood and grey sand.” (Tregenza, pp. 17-19)
* 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 the undressing and barbers’ barracks, workshops, warehouse, and bunker for the electricity generator; in Camp II, barracks and kitchen for the Jewish ‘death brigade’).
* 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  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.
* 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
 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.
 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.
 The early transports consisted of 8-15 wagons with an average of 100 Jews with their luggage per wagon.
with descriptions given in testimony by former members of the SS- garrison at their trial in Munich 1963-64.
* 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. 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.  It is
 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.
 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.
 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.
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)
Tregenza, Michael. Report on the Archeological Investigation at the Site of the Former NAZI Extermination Camp in Belzec, Poland, 1997-98. Lublin, 1998