The Crematoria Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau
CARLO MATTOGNO and FRANCO DEANA
This article was compiled in 1993 before the publication of the book by Jean-Claude Pressac entitled, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz: La machinerie du meurte de masse (CNSR Editions, Paris, August 1993) which is purportedly based on the archives of the Auschwitz Zentralbauleitung which are stored in Moscow, and I wrote this article before my research visits into these Moscow archives accompanied by Jürgen Graf in 1995.
While the enormous amount of documentation concerning the crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau which we have found in the Moscow archives will lead to certain modifications of the following article, it nevertheless has seemed to me that despite some unavoidable inexactness herein which is an inevitable result in the wake of this research, it would be unfair to amputate the English version of this work by not granting translation authorization for its inclusion in this anthology.
As for the German text, this new research already indicates that relevant modifications are now in order, such as the elimination of section 5.7 concerning the matter of coke consumption, and of the number of deceased prisoners cremated in 1944, which was based upon documentation mentioned in the David Irving ACTION REPORT of December 1993, but regarding which, I found no traces in the Moscow archives.
I also would now recommend the elimination of the short section 6.2 which contains a critique on "cremation pits," because in the meantime I have discovered that such a procedure can be made to work [or suffice] if done in a determined fashion (although such a procedure is not a real or correct cremation, but is instead a combustion, and to be truthful, is not the procedure described by Auschwitz "eye witnesses").
The study of the 1995 publication of the work entitled Sterbebücher von Auschwitz (K.G. Saur, München, New Providence, London, Paris) in care of the Auschwitz Museum, into which the Sterbebücher [death-books] have been transferred from Moscow, will allow us to establish with greater precision the number of prisoners who died at Auschwitz during 1943. I had estimated that number to be 21,850 for the period from 01 April until 25 October 1943 on the basis of the assumption (which later turned out to be mistaken) that the female prisoners would have been registered in other registers. The 7,800 deaths which I had calculated in this manner as being extra (or rather, that I had overcalculated on this assumption) are, however, partly covered by the deaths in the Zigeunerlager [Gypsy camp] which, as we are now learning, were not registered in the Sterbebücher, but rather, were registered in the Hauptbücher des Zigeunerlagers [main books of the Gypsy camp]. In these registers, for the period of April-October 1943, there appear about 2,550 deaths. About another 350 are registered only with their year of death; and of 850, we do not know even this (their year of death). The maximum number of Gypsies who died in Auschwitz during the above-mentioned period is therefore about 3,750. The total number could [amount to] about 17,800. I am using the conditional "could" because there are still some uncertainties-uncertainties which the continuing study of the Sterbebücher should eventually clarify in a more precise manner. This number essentially agrees however with the deliveries of coke to the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and represents a theoretic average fuel consumption of about 28 kg of coke per cremated corpse.
The Moscow documents allow us to better clarify certain aspects of the stories of the Auschwitz-Birkenau crematoria, but they do not change minimally the argumentative structure and the conclusions which are presented in this article; indeed, they give to it an extra value.
I would take the opportunity to amend the text of typographical and translation errors which appear in the German edition.
IntroductionIf a monstrous extermination of many hundreds of thousands of people took place in gas chambers in Auschwitz and Birkenau during the Second World War, and if the bodies of the victims were disposed of in the cremation facilities in those camps, then the 'murder weapon' - the gas chamber - has an essential counterpart: the cremation oven.
The 'eyewitnesses' have tried to persuade us that the crematoria ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau were satanic contraptions operating above and beyond the realm of physical laws,1 not ordinary cremation facilities subject to the same laws of chemistry, physics and heat engineering as all other such installations. Historians have chosen to trust blindly in these witnesses, and in the process have let themselves get carried away into making entirely erroneous claims.2
Aside from the Revisionists, Jean-Claude Pressac is the only researcher to have approached the historical problem of the cremation of bodies in Auschwitz and Birkenau from a technical perspective. In his book Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers3 he comes to the following conclusions:
· The three double-muffle ovens in Crematorium I of Main Camp Auschwitz had a capacity of 340 cremations in a 24-hour period.4
· The five three-muffle ovens in Crematoria II and III of Birkenau each had a maximum capacity of between 1,000 and 1,500 cremations per 24 hours,5 but their normal capacity was 1,000 to 1,100 cremations each per 24 hours.6
· The two eight-muffle ovens of Crematoria IV and V each had a capacity of 500 cremations per 24 hours.7
Pressac thus puts the total capacity of the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau at 3,540 cremations per day. From a technical perspective this figure is completely unrealistic.8
Among the Revisionists it was particularly Fred A. Leuchter who, in his well-known Leuchter Report,9 turned his attention to the issue of the cremations. Relying primarily on the statements of Ivan Lagacé, the manager and operator of the Bow Valley Crematorium in Calgary, Canada,10 Leuchter arrived at a figure of 156 bodies per day as the total cremation capacity of the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau. This figure is actually far below the actual capacity.
Pressac and Leuchter arrived at conclusions which, though diametrically opposed, are equally unfounded because no serious, fundamental studies have been conducted of the crematoria ovens at Auschwitz and Birkenau, whether by the orthodox historians or by the Revisionists. We intend to close this debilitating gap.
The present study represents an abridged version of a much more extensive work based on years of intensive research. We are deeply indebted to the late engineer H. O. N. of Danzig for his invaluable help in this project.11
1. Modern-Day Cremation
1.1 The Technology of Crematoria Ovens Up To World War OneThe cremation of dead bodies was practised in Europe for more than a thousand years before Homer's time.12 This custom was carried on until 785 AD, when Charlemagne forbade it, on pain of death, in his Decree of Paderborn.13 In the following centuries cremation disappeared entirely from Christian Europe.
The idea of cremation regained some popularity during the French Revolution, but it was the second half of the 19th century before it gradually found general acceptance.14 The trend favoring cremation began to gain momentum in 1849, when the philologist Jakob Grimm gave a memorable lecture "on the cremation of corpses"15 at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. The idea was quickly taken up by eager pioneers, and enthusiastically promoted.16 The first cremation in a crematorium oven in Europe took place on October 9, 1874 in Dresden, in a makeshift oven designed by Friedrich Siemens. After a few cremations this experimental procedure was banned by the Saxon government.17 The first European crematorium was built in Milan in 1875, one year after cremation was recognized as a legal method for the disposal of the dead.18
These first cremation facilities of the 1870s were as yet very unreliable and costly to operate, so that as a rule they were torn down again after just a few cremations. The method of firing generally used was indirect, allowing only hot air but no flame gases to reach the body, and the cremation of one body usually took 5 to 6 hours.19 However, more modern ovens soon prevailed, requiring only one to two hours to cremate a body by means of direct incineration. In these ovens the body was directly exposed to the flames, which were produced either by the incineration of the fuel or by combustion of the fuel gases from the gas generator. Of course there were also ovens which combined the principles of direct cremation by fire and indirect cremation by heated air.
A principle devised by Friedrich Siemens introduced the process of wholly indirect cremation using heated air; this method predominated unchallenged in Germany until 1924. In this new procedure, cremation was performed by means of air heated to 1000°C (1830°F) in a regenerator or recuperator.20 A cremation took 135 minutes on average; the first cremation required 1,500 kg (3,300 lbs) of brown coal, subsequent ones took from 250 to 33 kg (550 to 73 lbs) or less, with the requirements decreasing step by step.21
The Swedish Klingenstierna oven was a distinct improvement over the Siemens oven. Besides a main burner, it had a secondary burner that served mostly to burn off the remaining gases and smoke particles; the combustion air was heated in a recuperator consisting of metal baffles (heat exchanger between the furnace gas and the combustion gas); the body was introduced into the ignition chamber on a small cart that remained there for the entire duration of the cremation cycle. In Germany this system was perfected by E. Dorovius and built by the firm of Gebrüder Beck in Offenbach. The first models, which were installed in the crematoria of Heidelberg (1891) and Jena (1898), still retained the cart for introduction the body, but the model of 1899 (Offenbach crematorium) already did without the cart, and the ignition chamber was replaced by a grating of refractory grilles beneath which two sloping surfaces angled like a funnel channelled the ash into the ash pit.22 This type of recuperator was gradually replaced by one with refractory brick, and the oven took on the typical structure of the German crematoria ovens with coke-fired gas generator.
The oven was a two-story structure: the gas generator and recuperator were in the basement, while the ignition chamber was on the first floor. The solid incineration products from the body collected in the settling chamber, while the gaseous products moved into the side flues of the recuperator and down through them into the waste-gas flue, whence they rose up the stack. The recuperator consisted of fireproof material through which three flues ran: the furnace gases moved downward through the side flues, giving off some of their heat to the refractory brick and thereby heating it, and fresh air moved up through the central flue and to the body, heating up in the process. The fresh air moved into the recuperator through an opening in the lower part of the oven. The remains of the body fell through the refractory grilles onto the ash slope, from which they were scraped into an ash tray which was then removed through the hatch of the settling chamber.23 The first cremation required some 325 kg (715 lbs) of coke fuel, including the amount needed to preheat the oven; the next cremation required from 175 to 150 kg (385 to 330 lbs). Each cremation took two hours.24
In its basic structure, this model represented the type of coke-fired gas generator crematoria oven from which all the ovens of this type that were built in Germany until the 1930s were derived.25
1.2 Technological Progress and Developments in the Inter-War YearsAfter the First World War and the peace dictate of Versailles which forced Germany to give up coal-rich regions as well as to supply coal to the victorious powers, Germany saw itself forced to use the coal reserves left to it as efficiently as possible. For these reasons, German industry endeavored to redesign, in terms of heat engineering, all facilities consuming coal and coal products so as to maximize the return achieved per unit of fuel consumption.
Crematoria ovens and their operation were by no means exempt from this need for the thrifty use of coal. Consequently, a Prussian law dating from September 14, 1911 was amended in 1924; this law had permitted only the wholly indirect cremation of bodies, for aesthetic reasons, but this process required more time and fuel than its alternative.26 The debate about this amendment was accompanied by at times heated arguments among the cremation experts, disputing about which of the two methods was the more economic one.27 This question could be resolved only by means of scientific cremation experiments. The most significant experiments of this period were carried out in 1926 and 1927 in the crematorium of Dessau by the engineer Richard Kessler, who also wrote a detailed scientific report on the subject.28 In the following we shall examine the results of these experiments.
The construction method of the new ovens took into account the decisive factors involved in the optimum use of combustion heat which engineer Kessler had discovered in his experiments, and as a result the degree of effectiveness of the oven increased considerably. The most important technological innovations of that time include the reduction of the horizontal cross-section of the gas generator; more efficient recuperators; the installation of an afterburning grate; an air intake system to allow for more efficient afterburning; and the installation of appropriate measuring instruments.29
In the early 1930s the coke-fuelled ovens with gas generator had reached the pinnacle of technological perfection, yet at the same time their inexorable decline began as they were being increasingly supplanted by significantly more economic heating systems, particularly ones using gas and electricity. From this point on, the existing coke-fuelled ovens were either torn down30 or restructured to accommodate gas heating.31 The new heating systems necessitated additional studies on the structure of the ovens as well as on the phenomenon of cremation per se, and these studies were presented in significant technical publications.32
Even though the first German crematorium had already been built in 1878, cremation was not legally permitted until 1911 and it took until the 1930s before formal legislation on this matter actually appeared. The first real and complete "Cremation Act" was passed on March 15, 1934. Specific guidelines pertaining to the cremation ovens and the cremation process followed soon after.33
As the following table shows, the number of cremations in Germany rose astronomically between the time when the first crematorium was opened, and the beginning of the Second World War:34
|PERIOD||# of Crematoria||# of Cremations||Annual Average|
In 1938, 84,634 cremations were performed in 120 crematoria;35 in 1939 there were 102,112 cremations; in 1940, 108,130; in 1941, 107,103; and in 1942, 114,184.36
1.3 J. A. Topf & Söhne, ErfurtWhere crematoria ovens are concerned, the firm of J. A. Topf & Sons of Erfurt began manufacturing operations at the start of the First World War and was most notably successful as of the early 1920s.37 Their early models pioneered several innovations, particularly a system of muffle heating from outside.38 This prevented the cremation products from entering the muffle, thus allowing for an entirely indirect cremation process.
This cremation oven consisted of the coke generator; the self-contained cremation chamber (muffle); the system of baffles (recuperator) underneath, which served to preheat the air required for the cremation; and the diversion of the carbon monoxide gases around the muffle.39
The coke or wood gases produced in the coke generator rise up, enter the recuperator and escape via the waste-gas flue to the stack, giving off their heat to the firebrick along the way and thus bringing the oven to the point of red heat (1000°C, or about 1830°F). After heating and before the introduction of the coffin the firebrick damper in the generator neck is closed so that the gases pass around the muffle and keep it red-hot from outside. No gases can enter the muffle any longer. The air required for cremation works its way up the recuperator in counter-current to the direction taken by the waste gases in the baffles, and enters the top of the muffle at a very high temperature.
Shortly before exiting the muffle, the saturated combustion air is mixed with preheated air in the recuperator, which ensures an entirely smoke- and odor-free operation. The cremation process takes 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the size of the body.
The Topf oven combines both cremation methods: direct and indirect cremation. All modern aspects, including those of heat engineering, have been taken into account. The advantages of this oven are ease of operation and a good overview of the process from start to finish, low fuel consumption, very rapid cremation, and smoke- and odor-free operation.
The coke consumption for heating the oven and performing the first cremation varied from crematorium to crematorium and ranged from 160 to 260 kg (350 to 570 lbs).40
During the 1920s the firm of J. A. Topf & Sons became Germany's foremost commercial oven manufacturer. Between 1922 and 1927, no less than 18 of the 24 ovens installed in the German crematoria were built by Topf.41 In the early 1930s Topf's commercial supremacy was consolidated.42 By now Topf & Sons had achieved a very advanced technological level. They deserve the credit for designing Germany's first fully functional gas-heated cremation oven (1927, in Dresden), as well as the country's first electric cremation oven, which came into service in Erfurt in 1933. The firm also pioneered improvements in cremation technology such as the afterburning grate and the rotating grate.
Even though the electric Topf ovens had no competition in Germany, the company's supremacy in the oven manufacturing field was seriously threatened in those years by the newly developed gas oven of the Volckmann-Ludwig type.43 In technological respects, the firm of Topf responded to the competition posed by the new oven by designing a Model 1934 gas oven.44 In propagandistic terms they responded with rather harsh polemics in the form of a most aggressive article by engineer Kurt Prüfer,45 the man who would design the three- and eight-muffle ovens of Birkenau; the criticism advanced in this article, however, was refuted by Richard Kessler.46
1.4 The Coke Consumption of a Cremation Oven With Coke-Fired GeneratorA cremation oven's fuel consumption depends in the main on the manner of the oven's construction, the cremation process, the frequency of cremations, the state of the bodies, and the operation of the oven. For this reason it is pointless to speak of an oven's fuel consumption without considering at least the following three factors: the oven's construction system, the manner of cremation (direct or indirect), and the frequency with which cremations are carried out.
The procedure involved in indirect cremation is much more fuel-intensive than that of direct cremation, since the former requires that the entire fireproof mass of the recuperator be heated to 1000°C (about 1830°F). The frequency of cremations has a very significant effect on fuel consumption, since the oven's firebrick absorbs most of the heat generated during the first cremations. For this reason fuel consumption is lowest when the oven is operating at thermal equilibrium.
The heat balance of a cremation oven with coke-fired generator is a problem very difficult to resolve in theory, since in practice the performance is affected by variable factors which cannot be predicted by theory and which affect the operation of the oven from case to case.
In the 1920s this problem was discussed by scientists like Fichtl47 and Tilly,48 but the most important contribution to its resolution was Wilhelm Heepke's 1933 article on this subject.49
Heepke's calculations showed that the per-cremation coke consumption of a medium-sized oven at thermal equilibrium amounts to 30 kg (66 lbs) of coke (plus the wooden coffin weighing 40 kg, or 88 lbs). However, Heepke's findings are marred by errors both in approach and in arithmetic, and his conclusions are thus questionable. If one takes his errors into account, one arrives at a coke requirement of 20.5 kg (45.1 lbs). This result is consistent with those of experimental origin. The experiment which R. Kessler conducted with coke fuel on January 5, 1927 indicated the following fuel consumption:
· total consumption: 436.0 kg (960 lbs) coke
· preheating of the oven: 200.0 kg (440 lbs) coke
· 8 successive cremations: 236.0 kg (520 lbs) coke
· consumption for 1 cremation, including preheating 54.5 kg (120.1 lbs) coke
· consumption for 1 cremation without preheating of the oven: 29.5 kg (65.0 lbs) coke
The fuel consumption relating to the eight cremations exclusive of the preheating of the oven still includes the consumption producing the heat that is absorbed by the oven's firebrick up to the point where thermal equilibrium is reached. A calculation to take into account the heat loss caused by radiation and conduction shows that the coke consumption for a cremation in an oven at thermal equilibrium is about 20 kg (44 lbs).
This confirms the correctness of this method of calculation, which can thus also be used to determine the thermal balance of the cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
1.5 The Duration of the Cremation Process With a Coke-Fired GeneratorCremation is a physical and chemical process requiring a certain minimum time that cannot be decreased further.50 This minimum time depends in the main on the chemical composition of the body to be cremated. As special experiments conducted in England in the 1970s showed, the body's protein structure is of great importance. Due to its relatively high nitrogen content, its high ignition temperature and the chemical transformations which the proteins undergo at high temperatures, there is a considerable degree of resistance to combustion, which is amplified further by the fact that the protein substance is submerged, as it were, in body fluid and cannot ignite before this fluid has evaporated. In other words: a cremation carried out under optimum conditions cannot take less time than the time perforce required for this process to take place. Conversely, the duration of the cremation cycle increases, of course, the more that actual conditions are removed from the optimum, regardless whether this discrepancy is due to careless operation of the oven or to a less-than-ideal oven construction system.
Before raising the question of the length of the cremation process (the cremation cycle), we must clarify just exactly what we mean by that. In very general terms, we can say that a cremation is completely finished once the ashes remaining of the body have been removed from the oven. For an oven not equipped with an afterburning grate, the cremation time may be defined as the time between the introduction of the coffin into the muffle and the transfer of the glowing ashes from the ash slope into the ash container, in which they gradually collapse altogether. In an oven equipped with an afterburning grate, such as the generator ovens of Beck and Topf and the Volckmann-Ludwig gas ovens of the 1930s, the end of the cremation process is set as the time at which the glowing ashes are removed from the ash slope or transferred from the bottom of the muffle to the afterburning grate.
Even though it violated the ethical norms set by R. Kessler in 1932, it was common practice in some crematoria to introduce the next body into the muffle while the remnants of the previous still burned on the ash slope, so that one oven actually contained two bodies at the same time, albeit at different stages of the cremation cycle. This process was used in ovens such as the Volckmann-Ludwig type in Stuttgart, which were equipped with a damper in the ash (settling) chamber.
As we have already mentioned, scientific experiments were carried out in England in the 1970s to determine which factors influence the cremation process. The results were announced in July 1975 at the annual conference of the Cremation Society of Great Britain. The experiments were grouped into two series: an introductory series in Ruislip's Breakspear Crematorium and the main series in Hull's Chanterlands Crematorium. The first group of project leaders selected the factors which, in their opinion, would affect the length of the cremation process. The influence of technical factors was equalized by using the same gas-fired oven (Dowson & Mason Twin Reflux Cremator) and the same heater for all experiments.51
On the basis of these experiments it was found that the truly decisive factors, where the time required for a cremation is concerned, are the maximum temperature of the oven and the sex of the deceased. Statisticians graphically summarized the results of the experiments. One of the analysts, Dr. E. W. Jones, commented as follows:51
"From his graph he was able to tell us (we thought this rather interesting) that there is a maximum point, or rather a minimum point, of incineration time below which it is impossible to go, and our statistician defined this as a thermal barrier that, because of the make, the nature of human tissues, you cannot incinerate them at a rate which is below round about 63 minutes. Now some people will come up with readings of 60, 59, 58, they are the lower ends of this scatter of readings, and that this thermal barrier's optimum temperature is round about 800-900°C."The graph shows that the time that most closely approximates the "thermal barrier" is 60 minutes, given a temperature of 800°C (1470°F). If the temperature is increased to 1000°C (1830°F), the time required for cremation increases to 67 minutes, and at 1100°C (2010°F) it drops again, to 65 minutes. At higher temperatures, which were not investigated, the time would presumably decrease further, and at extremely high temperatures it probably drops below the thermal barrier. Dr. Jones stated that if one wanted to decrease the cremation time in this way to 20 or even to 15 minutes, one would have to construct an oven capable of working at 2000°C (3630°F).51
In reality, the cremation process must take place between fairly precise thermal boundaries. At temperatures of over 1100 to 1200°C (2010 to 2190°F) one encounters the phenomenon of "sintering", where the bones of the corpse and the oven refractory begin to soften and to melt together (fuse), and at temperatures under 700 to 600°C (1290 to 1110°F) the body merely chars.52 Dr. E. W. Jones then reports an observation of particular interest to us:51
"Our statistician colleague did some work, he looked into the records of crematoria in Germany during the last war, and it would appear that the authorities there were presented with a similar problem - that they came up against a thermal barrier. They could not design a furnace that reduced the mean incineration time to a very practical effective level. So we started to look at why there is this thermal barrier with human tissues."It was found that the cause of this factor was that the proteins in the human body - when they are heated to 800 to 900°C (1470 to 1650°F) - undergo a chemical transformation. They dissociate and form compounds "that can only be described as a hard crust."51
Naturally the cremation process took longer in ovens operating with a coke-fired gas generator. Regarding the time required for the cremation cycle, the data to be found in contemporaneous literature is almost never entirely reliable, first and foremost because what is meant by "the time required" is very rarely clearly defined, and secondly because one must expect that the data has been distorted for reasons of competition or propaganda.
This is why we shall take data supplied by the technical measuring instruments in the ovens themselves as our objective and incontrovertible starting point. From this perspective, the diagram summarizing the cremations performed by R. Kessler with coke fuel on January 5, 1927 is especially significant. This was a case where one is completely justified in saying that the cremations were carried out under the optimum conditions for an oven with a gas generator, because:
· the construction system of the oven was excellent;
· Kessler had taken every measure necessary to ready the oven in terms of heat engineering;
· the appropriate technical instruments were used to observe the cremation cycle in every phase;
· under the knowledgeable supervision of an expert engineer the operation of the oven went off especially smoothly.
During these experiments the average cremation time was 1 hour and 26 minutes, while the shortest cremation took 1 hour. The average temperature in the muffle was about 870°C (1600°F). We shall return to this point later on. In this context it is important to stress that engineer Kessler was using the method of direct cremation. For comparison we refer to a different series of eight cremations which Kessler performed in the same oven, using briquettes instead of coke fuel. That time the average cremation took 1 hour and 22 minutes. Two weeks later the same experiment, using gas heating for the oven, returned an average cremation time of 1 hour and 12 minutes for each of the eight cremations.53
2. The Topf Cremation Facilities of Auschwitz and BirkenauAs of the late 1930s, Topf & Söhne as well as other manufacturers, especially the firm of H. Kori in Berlin and the Didier-Werke (also in Berlin), began to design cremation ovens for the concentration camps. These ovens were constructed more simply than those for civilian use. The firm of Topf developed six projects for cremation ovens of this type, but the only ones of interest to us here are those installed in the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
2.1 The Coke-Fired Topf Double-Muffle Cremation OvensAs far as we know Topf built four ovens of this type, of which three were installed in Crematorium I, the old crematorium of Main Camp Auschwitz, while the fourth was located in the crematorium of Mauthausen.
Work on building the first oven for Auschwitz began in early July 1940. A September 16, 1940 letter from the Auschwitz Administration reveals that the oven had been "in service for weeks already".54 One can thus assume that the oven was first taken into service around the end of July 1940. According to J.-C. Pressac it was built between June 28 and July 5, 1940, and the first cremation took place on August 15.55
The cost estimate for the second oven is dated November 13, 1940. The firm of Topf delivered the various components of the oven to Auschwitz on December 20 and 21, 1940 and January 17 and 21, 1941,56 so that it was likely constructed in February 1941. J.-C. Pressac claims that this oven was assembled between January 20 and February 22, 1941.57
Construction of the foundation for the third oven began on November 19, 1941 and was completed on December 3;58 work was then discontinued due to a lack of fireproof material. The pertinent invoice issued by Topf is dated December 16, 1941,59 but as the rubber stamp it bears would show, it was not mailed until May 22, 1942. Therefore this oven was no doubt built in June 1942.
The oven for Mauthausen was ordered from the firm of Topf on October 16, 1941, but the SS Office for Construction Management hesitated for a long time before having it built. The components of the oven were shipped to Mauthausen between February 6, 1942 and January 12, 1943,60 but the decision to put it together was not made until late 1944.61 The oven was finally built in January-February 1945, which explains the fact that it is relatively well preserved.
The two Topf double-muffle cremation ovens presently on display in the crematorium of Auschwitz were reconstructed after the War, but in a rather awkward manner, using original parts that had been removed from the ovens by the SS. It is thus entirely pointless to examine these reconstructions in the hopes of gaining an understanding of this type of oven. For this reason our investigation is based wholly on the examination of the oven from Mauthausen, and on the documents available to us relating to the ovens of Auschwitz and that of Mauthausen - all of which were the same model.62
The components of the oven of Mauthausen are also included on Topf's shipment list of January 12, 1943.63 The construction of the double-muffle cremation oven is shown on diagram "Topf D57253", which dates from June 10, 1940 and refers to the first oven built in Auschwitz. The oven is solid brick and sealed with a row of wrought-iron anchors. The dimensions of the Mauthausen oven are virtually identical to those shown on diagram D57253, which correspond to the measurements of the anchor irons itemized on Topf's shipment list of January 17, 1941 with respect to the second oven of Auschwitz. The oven is equipped with two cremation chambers, or muffles.64 The oven's operation is explained in the "Operation Manual for the Coke-Fired Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Oven."65
The crematorium of Auschwitz was originally constructed in accordance with diagram "Topf D50042" of September 25, 1941 which had been drawn up for the construction of the third oven.66 Each oven was equipped with its own forced-air installation; this consisted of an air blower which was operated with a 1.5 hp three-phase AC motor coupled directly to the blower shaft, and an appropriate duct. The square stack originally had an area of 500 x 500 mm (19.7 x 19.7"). The exhaust installation, with a capacity of about 4,000 m3/h (141,200 cu.ft./h) of stack gas, consisted of an exhaust fan powered with a 3 hp three-phase AC motor coupled directly to the blower shaft; an air shutter separated the high and low pressure chambers. The function of this installation is described in the relevant operation manual from the firm of Topf.67
The oven loading system was made up of a carriage via which the body was introduced into the muffle. This conveyance consisted of a carriage which moved on special rails and on which the coffin was introduced, and of a shunting carriage running above it.
On July 19, 1943 the crematorium was taken out of service,68 and the ovens were then dismantled.
After the end of the War the Poles reconstructed ovens 1 and 2, for which purpose they used the original parts which had been removed by the SS and of which many were still in the former coke fuel storage room. The reconstruction was done in a remarkably slipshod manner, and the ovens would not be functional in their present state.
2.2 The Coke-Fired Topf Three-Muffle Cremation OvensJust like the eight-muffle oven, this oven was designed by engineer Prüfer during the last months of 1941. On October 22, 1941 the Central Construction Management of Auschwitz ordered from the firm of Topf, five Topf three-muffle ovens with forced-air blower, for the new crematorium which the Office intended to construct in the Main Camp. These ovens were later installed in Crematorium II of Birkenau. The final bill for this was dated January 27, 1943. The cost per oven was RM 6,378.69 The five three-muffle cremation ovens for Crematorium III were first ordered by the Central Construction Management on September 25, 1942, per telephone, and on September 30 per registered letter.70 On October 28 the firm of Topf sent the Central Construction Management diagram D59394 for the construction of the ovens in Crematoria II and III. This diagram has been lost.71 The final bill for the five three-muffle cremation ovens for Crematorium III of Birkenau is dated May 27, 1943. The cost per oven was RM 7,830.72
The first two three-muffle ovens supplied by Topf went into service in the concentration camp Buchenwald, on August 23 and October 3, 1942.73
The following description of the Topf three-muffle cremation oven is based on direct examinations of the ovens of Buchenwald and on the documents available. Three photographs from SS sources74 confirm that the three-muffle ovens installed in Crematoria II and III of Birkenau were the same model as those in Buchenwald; one of these, however, could also be fired with fuel oil.
Regarding its construction, the three-muffle oven consisted of an oven with two muffles, each with one coke gas generator, and an additional third, central muffle and other technical modifications which we have already set out elsewhere.11
The oven is contained within a solid brick structure with fittings of wrought and cast iron. Each oven's fireproof brickwork weighed some 10,400 kg (22,900 lbs).75 Considering that the fireproof brickwork of the double-muffle cremation oven of the type installed at Auschwitz weighed about 10,000 kg (22,000 lbs), it is clear that the three-muffle oven was a more economical facility, as one can also deduce from the considerably lower price. The third double-muffle oven of Auschwitz cost RM 7,332 and included a forced-air blower and a conveyance, with the appropriate rails, to introduce the body into the muffle. The ovens of Crematorium II of Birkenau cost RM 6,378 each and included a forced-air installation. Considering that two body conveyances and the rails for five ovens cost RM 1,780, the three-muffle oven with the same equipment actually cost less than a double-muffle oven. The unit price for the ovens for Crematorium III, on the other hand, was a little higher (RM 7,380, without the body conveyance), but still much more reasonable.
Crematoria II and III of Birkenau had a large oven room measuring 30 x 11.24 m (98.4 x 36.9'). The five three-muffle cremation ovens were located along the longitudinal axis. Adjoining the oven room was a crematorium wing 10 x 12 m (33 x 39') in size and split into two sections by a dividing wall. The smaller section directly adjoining the oven room was in turn subdivided into three rooms: two engine rooms and a room for one of the three exhaust installations with which the crematorium was equipped. The other section contained the stack, the other two exhaust installations and a garbage incinerator, which is why this room was labelled "garbage incinerator" on the corresponding blueprints.76 The flue gases from the ovens were sucked up by an exhaust installation housed in an adjoining room, and blown into the stack at high velocity.77 In March 1943 the three exhaust blowers of Crematorium II were seriously damaged and had to be dismantled. As a result, the facilities intended for Crematorium III were not installed.
Unlike Crematorium II, Crematorium III was not equipped with the rails via which ovens were loaded; rather, these body conveyances were replaced with litters.78 Such a litter - they were also used in the Topf double-muffle ovens of Mauthausen and in the Kori ovens in other concentration camps - consisted of two parallel metal pipes 3 cm (approx. 1") in diameter and some 350 cm (11.5') in length. A slightly concave metal sheet 190 cm (6.2') long and 38 cm (15") wide was soldered onto their front, where they were to enter the muffle. The two pipes of the litter were soldered onto the oven door at the same distance apart as the guiding rollers, so that they could glide on them easily. In March 1943 it was decided that this system would also be introduced in Crematorium II.79
The operation of the coke-fired three-muffle oven is explained in the corresponding Operation Manual for the Coke-Fired Topf Three-Muffle Cremation Oven,80 which was based on the manual for the double-muffle cremation oven. The only significant difference relates to the heat tolerance of the muffles, which were not to be heated to more than 1000°C (1830°F), whereas the double-muffle oven could be heated to 1100°C (2010°F). This lower heat tolerance is due to the lesser quantity of fireproof brickwork per muffle of this oven type (approximately 2,100 kg, or 4,630 lbs) as compared to that of the double-muffle oven (approximately 3,000 kg, or 6,600 lbs), and probably also to the lesser quality of the materials used.
In Germany, cremation in concentration camps had been regulated at the beginning of World War Two by the "decree regarding cremations in the crematorium of concentration camp Sachsenhausen", which Himmler had issued on February 28, 1940.81 This decree was entirely in accordance with the legal stipulations in effect for civilian crematoria.82 Whether these legal regulations were later modified or rescinded, and/or whether other regulations applied to the concentration camps located in the occupied eastern territories than applied to those in the Reich proper, is not known, but it is certain that the Topf double- and three-muffle cremation ovens were designed along the same norms as the civilian ovens. The Topf cost estimates for these ovens also list carriages or devices for the introduction of coffins into the muffle, which proves that cremation was intended to include the coffin. This is further established by the operating guidelines, which recommended starting the forced-air blower immediately after the introduction of the body, and to leave it on for about 20 minutes. This recommendation is tailor-made for the circumstance that the bodies enter the oven in coffins, since the rapid and intensive combustion of the coffin requires a large quantity of air. In a cremation without a coffin, on the other hand, this stipulation would be completely pointless, because adding a large quantity of cold air during the beginning stage of cremation, where moisture evaporates from the body - a process which robs the oven of a large amount of heat - would only have slowed the cremation process.
The operating instructions also indicate that the ovens were designed for the cremation of one body at a time per muffle, since they specify that the bodies had to be introduced successively.
2.3 The Coke-Fired Topf Eight-Muffle Cremation OvenThis oven, whose construction was probably shown on the missing diagram D59478 from the firm of Topf,83 was designed by engineer Prüfer, presumably in late 1941. In any case it was designed along the lines of the three-muffle oven, whose design diagram bears a lower number, namely D59394.
On December 4, 1941 the Main Office for Budget and Buildings in Berlin ordered from the firm of Topf, "4 double-Topf-4 muffle cremation ovens" for Mogilew in Russia, where POW transit camp 185 was located.84 The order was confirmed on December 9, but only half the oven (four muffles) was shipped to Mogilew on December 30, while the rest remained in Topf's storehouse for the time being. On August 26, in accordance with the suggestion engineer Prüfer had made on the occasion of his visit to Auschwitz on August 19, 1942, the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office ordered that two of the ovens for Mogilew should instead be sent to Auschwitz. However, the Central Construction Management waited two-and-a-half months before requesting a cost estimate for this model of oven. Topf sent the estimate on November 16. The total price of RM 55,200 - RM 13,800 for each oven - included a 6% surcharge because the company had had to revise the drafts and design new models for the ovens' fittings so often.84
The blueprints of Crematorium IV (and Crematorium V, in mirror image) of Birkenau which show the foundations and the vertical cross-section of the "eight-muffle cremation oven", the photos taken by the Poles in 1945 of the ruins of Crematorium V, and the direct examination of these ruins, enable us to reconstruct this model of oven with sufficient accuracy.85
The coke-fired Topf eight-muffle cremation oven consisted of eight ovens with one muffle each, as shown on Topf's diagram 58173. Four ovens together make up each of two groups. Each group consists of two pairs of ovens, set up in mirror image so that the back and two central walls of the muffle are shared. The two oven groups are connected by four generators and set up in pairs along the same lines, so that they ultimately form one single oven with eight muffles which is referred to in the corresponding invoice as the "large-area cremation oven", due to its size (its base covered an area of about 32 m2, or 344 sq.ft.).
The oven is encased in a solid brick structure containing a series of anchor irons. These are clearly visible on the Polish photographs of 1945 and are still present today in the ruins of this crematorium.
The heating grates were also designed to burn wood, as one can see from Topf's invoice of April 5, 1943, where "wood heating" is mentioned. The system for introducing the bodies into the muffles used a litter like that in Crematoria II and III; it was affixed on two simplified rollers bolted to the anchor irons underneath the muffle damper.
The oven was probably not equipped with forced-air blowers, since none are mentioned on the bill of April 5, 1943. The stacks were designed without exhaust systems. The base unit of the Topf eight-muffle cremation oven consisted of two muffles and one generator, and the flue system for the stack gases corresponded to that of the "single-muffle cremation oven" shown on Topf design D58173.
2.4 The Cremation Ovens of the Firm of H. Kori, BerlinWhere the supply of cremation ovens to German concentration camps is concerned, the Berlin manufacturer H. Kori was Topf's major competitor. Kori's coke- or heating oil-fired ovens were installed at Dachau, Mauthausen, Majdanek, Stutthof near Danzig (not to be confused with the Alsatian camp Struthof near Natzweiler), Ravensbrück and Neuengamme, among other places.
Strictly speaking, these ovens have no immediate significance to a study of the crematoria at Auschwitz and Birkenau. However, since we shall eventually use some data from Kori ovens to draw certain conclusions about characteristics also present in the Birkenau ovens, we have also analyzed these Kori ovens in detail. Since these analyses would go beyond the scope of the present study, we shall just briefly refer the reader to the relevant sources.86
3. The Coke Consumption of the Topf Cremation Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau
3.1 Heat Balance of the Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Ovens of Auschwitz and BirkenauIn order to determine the thermal equilibrium of the Topf ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau with sufficient accuracy, one can apply the method of calculation used by engineer Wilhelm Heepke with respect to the Topf double-muffle oven, since structurally speaking this model was the most similar to the civilian ovens. Since this method of calculation is relatively complicated we shall not tax our readers unnecessarily, and refer instead to the detailed calculations we have set out elsewhere.11
At the end of these calculations one arrives at the quantity of coke fuel that is required, in an ideal-case scenario, to keep the double-muffle oven, loaded with two normal bodies (@70 kg, or 154 lbs), at a temperature of 800°C (1470°F) for 60 minutes. In other words, it is the quantity of coke which is required to cremate the two normal bodies under ideal conditions. In this particular case the quantity is 22.7 kg (50.0 lbs).
For two moderately skinny bodies with an assumed weight of 54.5 kg (120 lbs) each, with a 25% protein and a 37.5% fat loss, the requirement is 25.3 kg (55.7 lbs) coke per body; and for two entirely emaciated bodies (called 'Moslems' in concentration camp jargon) weighing 39 kg (86 lbs) each, with a 50% protein and a 75% fat loss, it is 27.8 kg (61.3 lbs) per body.
3.2 Coke Consumption of the Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Oven at GusenPractical experience confirms these findings fully. With respect to the crematorium of Gusen, which was equipped with a Topf double-muffle cremation oven, there is a document which records the number of bodies cremated and the daily consumption of coke for 28 days between September 26 and November 12, 1941.87
First, let us derive the average coke fuel consumption per body from the number of cremations per day. In the period from September 26 to October 15, 1941, ie. in the course of 20 days, 193 cremations were done, and the oven was in service for eleven days. It was not in use for nine days, during which time it cooled off; for this reason the average fuel consumption per body was particularly high: about 47.5 kg (104.7 lbs).
From October 26 to 30, ie. in a five-day period, 129 cremations were done - an average of 26 per day. The oven was in use every day; thus, the average consumption of coke was lower, about 37.2 kg (82.0 lbs) per body.
From October 31 to November 12, 1941, ie. in a 13-day period, 677 cremations were done - an average of 52 per day. The oven was constantly at thermal equilibrium, which is why the average coke consumption dropped to a minimum value of about 30.5 kg (67.2 lbs) per body. During this period the lowest average coke consumption was recorded on November 3. On this day, 42 bodies were cremated, using an average of 27.1kg (59.7 lbs) coke per body. The highest average consumption - 35.7 kg (78.7 lbs) per body - was recorded on November 6.
These figures may be extrapolated with certainty to the Topf double-muffle cremation ovens at Auschwitz. Assuming that the 677 bodies mentioned in the document were all emaciated ('Moslems') - which is highly unlikely - then the average coke consumption for one body would have been 22.7/27.8 x 30.5 kg @25 kg (@55 lbs), while a moderately skinny body would, on average, have required 25.3/27.8 x 30.5 kg @28 kg (@61.5 lbs) of coke fuel.
From this it follows that in continuous operation the Topf double-muffle cremation oven, Auschwitz model, required the following average quantities of coke for the cremation of one body:
· normal body: 25 kg (55 lbs) coke;
· moderately skinny body: 28 kg (61.5 lbs) coke;
· emaciated body ('Moslem'): 30.5 kg (67.2 lbs) coke.
These figures are based on the assumption that the oven was in operation 19 hours per day (one hour for lighting and preheating and 18 hours for cremations). Re-establishing thermal equilibrium - that is, the recovery of the heat lost during the five-hour break - causes a 3% increase in consumption. In other words, if the oven could be in operation 24 hours a day, coke consumption would be lower by 3%.
3.3 Heat Balance of the Topf Three- and Eight-Muffle Cremation OvensIn the November 15, 1942 letter which engineer Kurt Prüfer wrote to Ludwig and Ernst-Wolfgang Topf, the owners of the company Topf, he confirmed that the three-muffle ovens, which he had designed and which were in operation in the crematorium of Buchenwald, in fact surpassed the degree of efficiency he had predicted by one-third.88 The reason for this error is perhaps to be found in the circumstance that Prüfer had designed the three- and eight-muffle ovens "in his spare time", as he himself had written in a December 6, 1941 letter to the company owner.89 The following is probably the most likely explanation: when Prüfer installed three muffles in an oven of about 43 m2 (463 sq.ft.), he based his calculations regarding the heat savings made possible by the reduced heat loss per muffle through conduction and radiation on a consideration of the values applying to the double-muffle oven. This latter had a surface area of about 32 m2 (344 sq.ft.), or 16 m2 (172 sq.ft.) per muffle. Regarding coke consumption, Prüfer had postulated quantities that were not significantly smaller than those for the double-muffle oven, since cost reduction was more important to him than a reduction in fuel consumption. And in fact, the second double-muffle oven that was set up in the crematorium of Auschwitz cost RM 7,753 (RM 3,876.50 per muffle), whereas the price of the three-muffle oven in Crematorium III came to RM 7,830 (RM 2,610 per muffle). The eight-muffle oven cost RM 13,800, ie. only RM 1,700 per muffle.
Prüfer had therefore overlooked another economic advantage of these ovens: the possibility for using the clean, hot air contained in the stack gases as combustion air. In the three-muffle oven the two muffles at the sides, which acted like a double-muffle oven, gave off high-temperature stack gases to the center muffle, and these gases contained clean air in sufficient quantities to cremate a body. The combustion of the body provided the center muffle with enough hot air to balance this muffle's heat losses, so that the coke consumption of the three-muffle oven in fact approximated that of the double-muffle oven while permitting the cremation of three instead of only two bodies. For this reason its efficiency was actually one-third greater than that of the double-muffle oven.
Therefore, the coke requirements of the three-muffle oven were as follows:
· normal body: 25 kg x _ = 16.7 kg (36.8 lbs) coke;
· moderately skinny body: 28 kg x _ = 18.7 kg (41.2 lbs) coke;
· emaciated body ('Moslem'): 30.5 kg x _ = 20.3 kg (44.7 lbs) coke.
These figures hold true only if the oven is operated under optimum conditions. By this proviso we mean to say:
Aside from the advantage already mentioned, the discharge of stack gases from the side muffles into the center muffle also involved a disadvantage, namely that the volume of stack gases passing though this muffle was more than twice that passing through a single muffle of the double-muffle oven, so that their velocity also doubled. When the transit velocity of a flammable mixture of gases through a combustion chamber is greater than the ignition speed of that gas mixture, the mixture does not ignite in the chamber. If the ignition temperature is maintained, the mixture ignites outside the chamber, otherwise it exits the facility in a non-combusted state.
To prevent non-combusted gases from entering the atmosphere, modern incineration facilities include afterburn chambers for afterburning the stack gases. An example of this are municipal garbage incineration facilities. In these facilities the stack gases must remain in the afterburn chamber for at least two seconds.90 The most modern electric cremation ovens from BBC Brown Boveri AG require a time of 1.3 to 2.3 seconds in the afterburn channels, which have been preheated to 800°C (1470°F).91 One may thus set the minimum required time for stack gases to remain in the combustion chamber at 1.3 seconds.
Calculations show that the average time spent by the stack gases of each muffle of the double-muffle oven, for a normal body and a cremation time of 60 minutes, was 1.32 seconds, while for the central muffle of the three-muffle oven it was only 0.68 seconds. This means that the heating gases that formed when the body in the central muffle disintegrated did not have sufficient time to burn up in the cremation chamber, and thus escaped in non-combusted form. This lost heat had to be replaced by the gas generator, so that if cremation were to be completed in one hour the coke consumption for each body would have increased by about 15%. To ensure the combustion of the heating gases in the oven, it would have been necessary to increase the volume of the central muffle from 1.5 m3 (53 cu.ft.) to more than 2.20 m3 (77.7 cu.ft.), or to extend the duration of the cremation process from 60 to more than 115 minutes.
A similar disadvantage had already turned up with the first electric Topf oven, which was installed in the crematorium of Erfurt. There,
"[...] the strong draft of 12-24 mm H2O meant that the stack gas velocity was high and the time taken by the stack gases from the muffle to the main flue was therefore quite short. This time was insufficient for the carbon particles to burn up."92To reduce the velocity of the stack gases, the volume of the combustion chamber was increased by adding an incineration chamber at the top of the combustion chamber vault.93 The incineration oven that was intended for cemetery garbage disposal and which was installed above the incineration chambers in the cemeteries of Frankfurt in the late 1930s also had an afterburn chamber above the incineration space, for afterburning the stack gases.94
The eight-muffle oven consisted of four pairs of muffles; while the pairs were not interconnected, the two muffles making up each pair were connected with each other. The stack gases given off by the first muffle to the second contained a certain amount of clean, hot air which sufficed to cremate the body in the second muffle; the excess heat from the first muffle compensated for the heat losses of the second. As a result, the coke consumption of a pair of muffles was about the same as that of one muffle in a double-muffle oven, which means that one such muffle used roughly half as much coke as one muffle of a double-muffle oven.
The coke requirements of the eight-muffle oven thus was as follows:
· normal body: 25/2 = 12.50 kg (27.5 lbs) coke;
· moderately skinny body: 28/2 = 14.00 kg (30.9 lbs) coke;
· emaciated body ('Moslem'): 30.5/2 = 15.25 kg (33.6 lbs) coke.
A comparison with incinerators for the disposal of animal cadavers shows that the coke requirements of the eight-muffle oven correspond to the theoretical minimum level. These incinerators were aggregate ovens and were geared towards strictest economy. Therefore they were the most efficient facilities for the incineration of organic substances and required less coke to cremate a certain weight than did the crematoria for human bodies.
The most important pre-War German designer of facilities of this kind was the engineer H. Kori, whose firm had constructed the first incinerator for the disposal of animal cadavers in late 1892, at the slaughter-house of Nuremberg. By 1924 the firm of Kori had already built 260 ovens of this type, and the technology used in these facilities had been progressively perfected. According to the designer these incinerators could cremate some 1,200 kg (2,640 lbs) of organic matter in 10 to 12 hours, with an average coke consumption equivalent to 20-30% of the weight of the cadavers.95 For a human body weighing 70 kg (154 lbs) this would correspond to a minimum-level consumption of 14 kg (31 lbs) of coke.
4. Time Required for Cremation in the Topf Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau
4.1 The DocumentsThe highly controversial issue of the capacity (number of cremations) of the Topf cremation ovens is addressed in three documents which, however, give quite contradictory data.
A letter sent by Topf to the SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen on November 1, 1940 contained the cost estimate for a "coke-fired Topf double-muffle cremation oven with forced-air installation" and for a "Topf draft-enhancing installation".96 The letter states:97
"Our Herr Prüfer has already informed you that in the oven offered in the previous, two bodies can be cremated per hour."Since the oven at issue is a double-muffle oven of the Auschwitz type, this information of Prüfer's means that one body could be cremated per muffle and per hour. The oven's theoretical capacity was therefore 48 bodies per 24 hours.
The second document is a letter dated July 14, 1941, in which Topf replied to a specific inquiry of the SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen:98
"30 to 36 bodies may be cremated in about 10 hours in the coke-fired Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Oven."Based on this claim, one cremation in one muffle took 33-40 minutes, and the oven's theoretical capacity was 72-86 bodies per 24 hours.
The third document is a letter sent on June 28, 1943 by SS-Sturmbannführer Bischoff, the Chief of the Auschwitz Central Construction Management, to SS-Brigadeführer Kammler, the Chief of the Economic-Administrative Main Office Amtsgruppe C. In this letter he mentions the following 24-hour capacities of the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau:99
· old Crematorium I: 340 persons
· Crematorium II: 1,440 persons
· Crematorium III: 1,440 persons
· Crematorium IV: 768 persons
· Crematorium V: 768 persons
Total: 4,756 persons
Based on this document, the time required for a cremation in the double-muffle oven was about 25 minutes, and 15 minutes in the three- and eight-muffle ovens.
In order to determine to what extent the data provided by these three documents are technologically founded, and in order to estimate the minimum time required for the cremation process in the Topf ovens at Auschwitz, we shall apply two objective test criteria, both of which are based on practical experience: they are the results of the experiments with coke-fired cremation performed by engineer R. Kessler on January 5, 1927, and a list of the cremation in the crematorium of Gusen, a satellite camp of the concentration camp Mauthausen.
4.2 Practical ExperienceAs indicated in Section 1.5, the time required for the cremation process depends in the main on the structure and chemical composition of the human body, but to a significant extent also on the construction and operation of the cremation oven.
Since the cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau were coke-fired, it is appropriate to compare, for a better understanding of the cremation process, the experiment with coke-fired cremation which engineer Richard Kessler performed on January 5, 1927 in the crematorium of Dessau. It goes without saying that to arrive at a realistic assessment, it is necessary to consider the structural differences between the oven Kessler used, which was of the type built by the firm of Gebrüder Beck, and the Topf three-muffle cremation oven in use in Auschwitz, as well as the differences in how the two were operated.
For example, Kessler - be it for legal reasons or out of compliance with professional ethical norms - had to wait until the glowing ash from the cremated body no longer gave off any flames before he transferred it into the ash container. However, as the relevant instructions and regulations state, in the Topf cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau the next body was introduced into the muffle as soon as the remains of the first had dropped through the muffle grating into the ash chamber, where the cremation process then concluded. Thus the main part of the cremation in the Topf ovens was finished at the point where the remains of the first body dropped through the grating and into the afterburn chamber, where they then continued to burn for another 20 minutes. This follows from Topf's guidelines ie. regulations.
Another factor is that Kessler's cremations included a coffin, whereas in Auschwitz the bodies were placed into the muffle naked. The coffin has a negative effect on the time required for cremation since, for the several minutes before it bursts due to the heat, it acts in a sense like a thermal shield for the body, slowing down the vaporization of body fluids. On the other hand there is a positive effect in that the burning coffin then increases the temperature in the muffle and accelerates the vaporization of the water in the body. Furthermore, part of the heat generated by the combustion of the coffin is stored in the firebrick, and released again when the thermal conditions in the muffle require it. One can thus assume that these two processes cancel each other.
Second, the oven built by the firm of Gebrüder Beck and used by Kessler was equipped with all the measuring devices required to monitor the cremation process at every stage, and the cremations were carried out with special attention and under the watchful eye of an experienced engineer, so that this was in effect a case of optimum operation of the oven, whereas in Auschwitz this task was performed by semi-skilled laborers from the Sonderkommando.
In Kessler's case the average time between introducing the body and attaining maximum temperature was 55 minutes. At the point where the maximum heat was attained the body was still in the muffle, as the increase of the muffle temperature to almost 900°C (1650°F) shows. Therefore the duration of the cremation process up to the point where the remains of the body dropped through the grating into the ash chamber was necessarily longer than 55 minutes.
In the eight cremations carried out with briquette fuel on January 12, 1927 the maximum temperature of cremation was achieved after 62 minutes on average.
If one considers these facts, then the duration of the cremation process in the Topf double-muffle cremation oven was probably that cited by engineer Prüfer in his letter of November 1, 1940, namely one hour.
So how is it possible that the July 14, 1941 letter from the firm of Topf claims a cremation time of 33 to 40 minutes? The reason was the accelerated operation of the oven, which had been constructed with an exhaust blower. The fact that this installation could really reduce the cremation time is proven by the experiments that were conducted in 1939 with a Topf oven, albeit with a gas-fired one, in the crematorium of Gera.100 In the coke-fired ovens the exhaust had an even greater effect, but the coke consumption increased by up to 50%.101 This is confirmed by the records of the crematorium in the concentration camp Gusen, which was equipped with an exhaust installation and was able to attain an average cremation time of about 40 minutes.
In the experiments conducted by engineer Kessler on January 5, 1927 the shortest time for the main cremation inside the muffle - 40 minutes - was recorded for the two last cremations. In modern-day cremation ovens the main cremation takes 30 to 40 minutes.102
Finally, for a body introduced into the muffle naked, the minimum time required for the main cremation under optimum conditions - meaning that the combustion chamber is kept at a constant temperature of at least 800°C (1470°F) - is about half an hour. At lower temperatures the process takes longer.
Considering the Topf letter of July 14, 1941, it seems reasonable to say that the cremation of 30 bodies in about 10 hours (=40 minutes per cremation) is the highest rate that can be achieved in practice and with the additional exhaust blower. The cremation of 36 bodies in about 10 hours (33 minutes per cremation) represents the facility's theoretical maximum capacity, which can be attained only for a brief time and under unusually favorable conditions.
According to Topf's operation manuals for the double- and three-muffle oven, the afterburning of the body's remains in the ash chamber took about 20 minutes. If one adds to this time the time required for the main cremation in the muffle - 40 minutes - then we arrive at a total cremation time of 60 minutes, which represents the limit value which Dr. Jones calls the "thermal barrier", in other words, the shortest possible cremation time.
In the three- and eight-muffle ovens of the crematoria of Birkenau, however, which were not equipped with any kind of exhaust installation, the average time required for the main cremation was 60 minutes, plus the additional 20 minutes afterburning in the ash chamber.
While the double-muffle ovens of the Auschwitz crematorium seem to have been originally equipped with an exhaust installation like that at Gusen (which, however, serviced six muffles rather than only two), their capacity was clearly less, as the following sources show:
· Two letters from the SS New Construction Office of Auschwitz, of November 22, 1940103 - at which time the crematorium mentioned had only one Topf oven with two muffles - and of January 8, 1941;104 both letters show that the oven was not adequate to the task of cremating 20 to 30 bodies a day.
· The inscriptions on the lids of two urns - both shown in Pressac's book105 - from which it is clear that the body of inmate Szczesni Wrobel, who passed away on October 19, 1940, was cremated four days later, and that Karl Witalski, who died on March 28, 1941, could not be cremated until five days later.
· The constant maintenance that was required to achieve at least a small measure of efficiency.
For these reasons one can assume that the three double-muffle ovens of the crematorium of Auschwitz took no less than 60 minutes to cremate one body. Clearly these findings do not in any way agree with the data given in the letter of June 28, 1943 where, as the reader will recall, it is claimed that one cremation in the double-muffle oven took 25 minutes and one in the three- and eight-muffle ovens each took 15 minutes. In terms of heat engineering these claims are physically impossible.
Now let us consider whether it would have been possible to cremate several bodies together in one and the same muffle of the Topf ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
4.3 Simultaneous Cremation of More Than One Body in One MuffleIn a cremation oven with coke-fired generator, the critical phase of the cremation process, which can even make or break the normal course of the cremation altogether, is the phase of vaporization of the body's water content. The process of vaporization - and the simultaneous gasification of the organic substances of the body - absorbs a great deal of heat and results in a sharp drop in temperature in the muffle, despite the heat input from the combustion of the coffin and the heating gases coming from the generator.
The temperature of the muffle must not drop below 700-600°C (1300-1100°F), otherwise carbonization of the body results. Air is a low heat vector, and so the temperature in the muffle drops very quickly at even the slightest withdrawal of heat.106
Since Crematoria II and III are where the greatest number of bodies were cremated, it is the model installed there - namely, the Topf three-muffle oven - which we shall focus on in our examination of the question whether several bodies could be simultaneously cremated in one and the same muffle.
Since the cremations proceeded with the aid of natural draft, we shall consider the cremation of a load of two normal bodies per muffle, under normal conditions. Therefore we shall proceed on the assumption of a time of 60 minutes until the maximum temperature is reached during the main cremation, and a vaporization time of 30 minutes. The theoretical maximum capacity of the oven is 144 bodies in 24 hours, and that of one of the two entire crematoria is 720 bodies.
The necessary prerequisite for a cremation to proceed normally is that the temperature does not drop below 600°C (1100°F); otherwise, as already mentioned, the body carbonizes. We thus postulate a starting temperature of 800°C (1470°F), which drops rapidly during vaporization and stabilizes at 600°C (1100°F).
Calculations show that the heat lost in 30 minutes due to the vaporization of the water from the bodies comes to about 237,000 kcal while the heat available at the same time amounts to some 115,000 kcal. This means a heat deficit of roughly 40,700 kcal per muffle. The heat given off at 600°C (1100°F) by the walls of each muffle comes to about 900 kcal per minute; if this heat input remained constant, the walls of each muffle would give off some 27,600 kcal in 30 minutes, making for a remaining heat deficit of 13,000 kcal. In practice, however, the heat given off by the walls comes to only about 70 kcal per minute, which means that thermal equilibrium would be reached at considerably below 600°C (1100°F); as a result, it would be impossible to carry out an economically effective cremation, whether from the perspective of fuel consumption or from that of the time required. Of course this goes all the more for the simultaneous cremation of three or even more bodies per muffle.
The practical experience of the cremations at Gusen confirm these considerations fully. From October 31 to November 12, 1941 the Topf double-muffle oven there was in enhanced operation and cremated 677 bodies; the average coke requirement was 30.5 kg (67.2 lbs) per cremation, and the average cremation time was about 40 minutes. These cremations were carried out under the supervision of Topf's fitter, August Willing, who remained at Gusen until November 9.107
That was precisely the time where all the prerequisites for the simultaneous cremation of two or more bodies per muffle were in fact met: there was a large number of bodies that needed to be disposed of, as well as the presence of an undisputed expert on the cremation oven. Under these conditions two or more bodies would no doubt have been cremated at the same time if doing so had allowed for a greater cremation capacity.
But an analysis of the record of cremations and coke consumption shows that even if this was in fact done, it brought no advantages. On November 8 and 9, for example, 72 bodies were cremated in 1,470 minutes, and a total of 2,100 kg (4,630 lbs) of coke were used in the process, in other words 29.1 kg (64.1 lbs) per body. This means that 72/2 = 36 loads of one body each were processed per muffle, with a cremation time of about 41 minutes per body.
Now let us assume hypothetically that two bodies at a time had been introduced into each muffle. In this case it would have meant 72/4 = 18 loads per muffle, while the time for cremation per two-body load was about 82 minutes. The coke consumption for four bodies comes to 2,100/18 = 116.66 kg (257.25 lbs), in other words 116.66/4 = 29.1 kg (64.1 lbs) per body. The same considerations apply for all other cremation days.
Therefore, if two bodies had been cremated in each muffle at the same time, both the time required and the coke consumption doubled for each cycle, meaning that the end result remained the same.
4.4 Working Capacity of the Cremation Ovens of Auschwitz and BirkenauNow let us draw the obvious conclusions about the capacity of the Topf cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau.
First of all one must bear in mind that the coke-fired generator ovens cannot remain in operation 24 hours a day because in that case coke cinders would form and adhere to the firing grate, thus obstructing the inflow of combustion air. For this reason Topf's operation manual for the double- and three-muffle ovens stated:80
"Every evening the generator grate must be cleansed of the coke cinders and the ash must be removed."One can assume four hours down-time for cleaning the firing grates of the ovens in Birkenau. In fact the firing grates could be cleaned only after the fuel contained in the generators had burned up completely, which under certain circumstances could take quite some time.108 And finally, after the cleaning was finished, the firing mechanism had to be re-lit, and only after the coke was again fully ignited could the next cycle of cremations begin.109
Therefore, given the capacity of one body per hour and 20 hours' operation per day, the actual maximum capacity of the Topf cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau per 24 hours was as follows:
|CREMATORIUM||# Muffles||Capacity||Capacity With Children, cf. 4.5|
|Total||52||1,040 bodies/day||1,248 bodies/day|
4.5 Working Capacity of the Cremation Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau, Presuming the Alleged Mass Gassings to be a FactIf we proceed on the premise that the alleged mass gassings in Auschwitz and Birkenau did in fact take place, then the bodies to be cremated would have included a certain number of children, which would have meant a higher capacity of the cremation ovens and a lower fuel requirement, since due to their lower body mass two or even more children could have been cremated in one muffle at one and the same time. It is thus necessary to find out how high the percentage of children's and teenagers' bodies would have been, and by how much the working capacity of the cremation ovens would have increased as a result.
Of the 70,870 Jews deported to Auschwitz from France, whose ages are known, 42,310 were allegedly gassed following the "selection" process. Of these 42,310, 10,147 were children and teenagers up to 17 years of age.110 We will assume for the moment that all of the children and teenagers under 17 were gassed. This would constitute 23.98% of those allegedly gassed. If one considers the higher reproductive rate of the Eastern Jews,111 then one can postulate an average of 33% of gassed children and teenagers. In other words, one of every three of the hypothetical gassing victims would have belonged to this age group. The 10,147 children and teenagers mentioned were broken down by age as follows:
|AGE GROUP||Percentage||Weight [kg]112|
|under 6 years||1,893 = 4.47%||13.5|
|from 7 to 12 years||4,129 = 9.76%||26|
|from 13 to 17 years||4,125 = 9.75%||53|
Therefore the average body weight of these children and teenagers would have been about 35 kg (77 lbs). Since the number of people in this age group was one-third of the total number, ie. equivalent to one-half of the number of adults, the weight of 4 adults and 2 children/teens was equal to that of 5 adults @ 70 kg (154 lbs); consequently, the capacity of the ovens would have increased by a factor of 1.2. The last column of the previous table shows the resultant numeric increase in the daily capacity of the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau. In this case the coke requirements of the crematoria would have decreased by 1/6, to about 13.6 kg (30.0 lbs) per body.
Calculation of the thermal balance and the capacity of the cremation ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau thus allows us to state definitively, with respect to the letter of June 28, 1943:
· The cremation of 4,756 bodies per day (about 3.8 times more than the theoretically possible maximum capacity) is physically impossible;
· The average consumption of coke fuel, per cremation, of 16,200/4,756 = 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs, about one-quarter of the minimum requirement) is equally physically impossible.
Thus, this document is a fabrication.
5. The Number of Cremations in the Ovens of Auschwitz and Birkenau
5.1 The Death BooksThe cremation registers of the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau have been lost, so that it is not possible to determine the exact number of bodies cremated (and thus the number of people who died in the camp).
The death books or registers which do still exist today provide only incomplete information about the number of inmates, who were registered in various different ways in the camp. The following picture emerges:
· The Book of the Dead [Totenbuch]113 of the Soviet prisoners-of-war covers the period from October 7, 1941 to February 28, 1942 and records 8,320 deaths.
· The Mortuary Book [Leichenhallenbuch]114 from the mortuary of Block 28 in the Main Camp covers the period from October 7, 1941 to August 31, 1943 and records 22,902 deaths.
· The Death Books [Sterbebücher] contain the death certificates of the inmates registered and deceased in Auschwitz and Birkenau, including those recorded in the Mortuary Book but excluding those from the Book of the Dead. Some volumes of the Death Books are missing, but 46 volumes are still known and cover the time from August 4, 1941 to December 31, 1943.115 Each volume contains 1,500 pages, but only rarely were all of the pages used. The certificates are numbered consecutively and begin with the number 1 each year. The 46 volumes record 67,283 deaths (2,988 in 1941; 36,796 in 1942; 27,499 in 1943).116 13 volumes are missing from the series: one for 1941, six for 1942, and another six for 1943. Each volume could have contained a maximum of 1,500 death certificates. Of course this does not mean that we do not know the exact number of deaths for 1942 or 1943: the last death certificate for 1942 is numbered 45,616, the last for 1943 is #36,991. As for the year 1941, the missing volume covers the period from November 23 to December 31. Since the average mortality rate in November was about 45 per day and 673 inmates died in December,117 one can assume with a high degree of certainty that this Death Book contained some 1,030 death certificates. Thus, the deaths registered in the Death Books indicate the following totals:
1941: 4,018; 1942: 45,616; 1943: 36,991; TOTAL: 86,625
When we add the 8,320 deaths listed in the Book of the Dead (Soviet prisoners-of-war), we arrive at a total of 94,945 dead for the period from August 4, 1941 to December 31, 1943. Some 1,900 prisoners probably died in 1940,118 and about 6,300 from January to August 1941.119 Thus, one can estimate about 103,000 deaths for the time from the establishment of the camp until January 31, 1943.
The Death Books record, for the very most part, the names of deceased male inmates, and only a small number of deceased female inmates. These latter were probably registered separately, with the reason for their imprisonment being recorded. One can assume with certainty that the mortality rate in the Women's Camp was much greater than that in the Men's Camp, and it is very likely that these deaths were recorded in other registers. This follows, for one thing, from the fact that according to a September 30, 1943 document of the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, 1,441 male and 938 female inmates, a total of 2,380 persons, died in August of that year in Auschwitz and Birkenau.120 However, Death Book No. 18, covering the time from July 29 to August 29, 1943, lists the names of only 1,494 deceased, in other words, practically only the dead from the Main Camp. Since all camps were required to neatly register all deaths and to report the monthly statistics to the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, there is no doubt that the 938 deceased female prisoners were wholly or largely recorded in other registers. The number of deaths in the Women's Camp is known with reasonable accuracy only for the year 1943: it was about 19,000.121 No reliable data are available for 1942, but in any case the mortality rate was alarmingly high, for of the 27,904 female inmates registered between March 26 and December 31 only 5,367 still remained in the camp on January 1, 1943.122 Of the 932 Jewesses interned in 1942 for political reasons, 720 had died by the end of the year,123 in other words 77%. For the first three months of 1944 the total mortality rate of the camp was about 10% of the average total population,124 which means that no less than 20,000 prisoners can have died.125 These figures indicate a total of about 142,000 deaths. No reliable data exist for the subsequent time up to the liberation of the camp in late January 1945. Conservative estimates point to a total of about 160,000 to 170,000 deceased registered inmates.
Because the available documents record only the number of deaths among the registered inmates, these documents do not in and of themselves permit a reliable estimate of the total number of dead, since the champions of the extermination hypothesis postulate that the gassing victims were never registered to begin with. The extermination theory claims that the bodies of the gassees were also cremated. For this reason we must now investigate whether the cremation facilities of Auschwitz and Birkenau would have been capable of cremating the bodies of all the dead - the established, documented dead who had succumbed to natural causes, as well as the hypothetical victims murdered in the gas chambers.
The first step is to determine the number of bodies allegedly cremated in Auschwitz and Birkenau within the framework of the extermination theory.
5.2 The Number of Cremations According to Jean-Claude PressacIn his opus Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers J.-C. Pressac gives the following numbers of bodies cremated in Auschwitz and Birkenau:
|PLACE OF CREMATION||Number||Ref.|
|10,000 bodies cremated
400,000 bodies cremated
350,000 bodies cremated
6,000 bodies cremated
15,000 bodies cremated
157,000 bodies cremated
|Total:||938,000 bodies cremated|
These figures refer exclusively to the alleged gassing victims and do not include the inmates who died of natural causes, whom Pressac ignores.
In his book Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, la Machinerie du meurtre de masse, Pressac reduces the number of alleged gassing victims to 630,000, magically making no less than 308,000 gassees vanish. In the German translation of this book, published by Piper-Verlag in April 1994 under the title Die Krematorien von Auschwitz, the number of "gassees" is again drastically reduced by another magic stroke of the pen, this time to 470,000-550,000 (p. 202). So now some 400,000 gassees have vanished without a trace, compared with the data given in the first book.
In the French original the total number of victims shrinks to 775,000 or, rounded up, to 800,000,130 while in the German translation it shrinks to 631,000-711,000 (p. 202). The number of bodies cremated in the open air in 1942 is similarly reduced by Pressac in his second tome, from 107,000 to 50,000;131 he does not give any numbers for 1944 this time, so that we will stay with his old figure of 50,000. Therefore, according to Pressac, about 100,000 of the total 630,000 gas chamber victims were cremated in the open air and 530,000 in the crematoria. Almost all of these victims were allegedly murdered and cremated in Birkenau, since according to Pressac there were only "very few" ("très peu") gassings in Auschwitz.132
Before examining the credibility of these claims we must point out one thing. J.-C. Pressac arrives at his figure of 630,000 gassees on the basis of conclusions drawn by F. Piper,133 the Head of the Auschwitz Museum, but he modifies these conclusions significantly in several respects. We are able to show that these modifications are based partly on arithmetical errors and partly on incorrect assumptions held by Pressac. These were probably caused by the circumstance that Pressac constantly strives to bring the number of Auschwitz victims into line with his imaginary crematoria capacities. For reasons of space we shall dispense with a detailed proof of our claim, and shall use Pressac's figures in the following.
5.3 Operation of the Crematoria of BirkenauThe following table shows from when until when the crematoria of Birkenau existed:
|Location||Time in Existence||Days|
|March 15, 1943 - November 27, 1944
June 25, 1943 - November 27, 1944
March 22, 1943 - October 7, 1944
April 4, 1943 - January 18, 1945
However, the Topf cremation ovens of Birkenau suffered constantly from defects which interrupted their activity frequently, and sometimes for long periods of time. In 1943 Crematorium II was in service from March 15 to 24 and from July 18 to December 31.134 Crematorium III was in service from June 25 to December 31, and Crematorium IV from March 22 to May 10.135 As for Crematorium V, it was most likely in service at least until Crematorium III was put into operation, in other words for less than three months, from April 4 to June 24.136
Thus the following picture emerges of the service and down-time periods of the four crematoria of Birkenau in 1943:
|Location||Time Period||Existence||In Service||Out of Service|
|March 15 - Dec. 31
June 25 - Dec. 31
March 22 - Dec. 31
April 4 - Dec. 31
Furthermore, from October 21, 1943 to January 27, 1944, in other words for 98 days, several ovens of Crematoria II and III were probably out of service due to repairs on 20 oven doors.137
The data available for 1944 are less complete. On April 3 an order was issued for the "repair of 20 oven doors" for the ovens of Crematoria II and III. These repairs were completed on October 17, ie. 196 days later.138 Between June 20 and July 20 a further "two large and five small oven doors" were repaired.139 In 1943 Crematorium IV sustained irreparable damage, and Crematorium V was also seriously damaged. In early June 1944 there was an attempt to repair them, as the order of June 1 to "repair 30 oven doors" in these crematoria shows.138 The repairs were completed on June 6, and that very same day another order was issued for "repairs" to Crematoria II through V. These repairs were completed on September 6.138 However, if we take Pressac's word, Crematorium IV was used as dormitory from late May 1944 on, for the prisoners making up the Sonderkommando.140 One can thus assume that Crematorium IV was not in service at all in 1944, whereas Crematorium V was functional from early June until January 18, 1945, ie. for 230 days.
Thus, the service times for the cremation ovens of Birkenau for the year 1944 and for January 1945 may be summarized as follows; however, this does not take into account the down-time of individual ovens as mentioned in the previous:
|Location||Time Period||Days||In Service||Out of Service|
|Jan. 1 - Nov. 27/44
Jan. 1 - Nov. 27/44
Jan. 1/44 - Jan. 18/45
The inactivity of individual ovens in Crematoria II and III which resulted from the repairs to oven doors amounted to about 60 days out-of-order. We have arrived at this figure as follows:
· A three-muffle oven had 10 oven doors;
· 20 oven doors were being repaired for 294 days, and a further 7 doors were being repaired for 30 days, which equals 10 oven doors out of service for 600 days;
· The two crematoria together had a total of 10 ovens.
Now we can calculate the total number of days on which the crematoria of Birkenau were in service:
|Location||Days in Service||Location||Days in Service|
522 - 60 = 462
|Crematoria II and III together:||971||Crematoria IV and V together:||359|
According to Danuta Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, the last gassing took place on October 30, 1944. Therefore, Crematoria II and III could have been used to murder people for (971 - 28 - 28 =) 915 days, and Crematoria IV and V for (359 - 80 =) 279 days.
Between mid-March 1943 and January 18, 1945 the bodies of at least 75,000 registered inmates were cremated in the crematoria of Birkenau. If we assume that the extent to which the various crematoria were used for this task was proportional to the number of days they were in service and to the number of muffles available in the four crematoria every day, then it follows that some 85% of the 75,000 bodies (ie. about 63,750 bodies) were cremated in Crematoria II and III and the remaining 15% (about 11,250 bodies) were cremated in Crematoria IV and V. This corresponds to about 212 days at maximum operation time (20 hours a day) for Crematoria II and III and about 70 days for Crematoria IV and V. So if the crematoria had been constantly in use during their entire time in service, they could have processed a maximum additional number of bodies:
Crematoria II & III (915 - 212) days x 360 bodies/day = 253,080 bodies
Crematoria IV & V (279 - 70) days x 192 bodies/day = 40,128 bodiesThis means that no more than a total of 293,208 bodies of gassing victims could have been cremated, in other words fewer than half the number Pressac claims.
Thus, the cremation of all those bodies of gassing victims which according to Pressac were cremated in the crematoria of Birkenau was technically impossible, if only for reasons of the time available.
5.4 Durability of the Firebrick of the Cremation Ovens at Auschwitz and BirkenauAs a result of the thermal stresses it is subject to, the fireproof brick of a cremation oven inevitably wears out, and eventually this becomes a serious hazard. In the civilian cremation ovens that had been constructed in the usual manner and with the building materials normally used in the 1930s, the lifespan of the fireproof brick was about 2,000 cremations, but the firm of Topf had managed to extend its durability to 3,000 cremations.141
In the cremation ovens in the concentration camps the problem of wear and tear on the fireproof brick was greater, not only because of the lesser mass of this fireproof material and its lower quality but also because of the greater rate of use of the facility, and also due to its operation by untrained personnel whose hostile attitude to their work may very well have been reflected in the care they took in performing that work.
The very real impact of these factors is demonstrated by the case of the Topf double-muffle cremation oven at Gusen. This oven went into service on January 29, 1941142 but was already damaged only eight months later. On September 24 the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen requested the firm of Topf to "immediately dispatch one of your oven specialists to repair the cremation oven in the labor camp Gusen."143 Topf sent the fitter August Willing, who had been the one to install the oven. Willing arrived in Gusen on October 11 and went to work the next day. From the relevant "receipts for special billing re. day-rate jobs" we know that this work took from October 12 to November 9, 1941. In 68 work hours in the week of October 16 to 22 he replaced the fireproof brick of the oven ("dismantling the oven, and rebuilding inside"). In 52 work hours the following week he finished lining the outside brickwork and performed a test cremation. Willing remained at Gusen until November 9 to tune the oven properly and to supervise its operation.144
From February to October 1941, in a period of 273 days, 3,179 inmates died in the Gusen camp;145 this means that about 1,600 cremations were done in each muffle. This would confirm the average lifespan of the firebrick in a muffle as being about 2,000 cremations. But even assuming that the ovens had been used to the absolute limit of their capacity, the firebrick could not have lasted for more than 3,000 cremations.
Thus, the 46 muffles in the cremation ovens of Birkenau could have cremated a maximum of (46 x 3,000 =) 138,000 bodies. After that they would have had to be dismantled so the firebrick could be replaced.
If Pressac were correct in his assumption that these ovens served for the cremation of not only the 100,000 registered inmates who died of natural causes and are proven to have been cremated here, but also for the cremation of an additional 530,000 gassing victims, then the brickwork of the muffles would have had to be replaced (630,000 / 138,000 =) approximately five times. For Crematoria II and III alone this would have required 320,000 kg (705,600 lbs) of fireproof material - not to mention the inevitable damage done to the fireproof inner lining of the generators - and if we take the time needed by August Willing in Gusen as guideline, the work would have taken about 9,000 man-hours to complete.
All this would have generated an immense number of documents, yet the extensive correspondence between the firm of Topf and the SS Construction Office contains no trace of such paperwork. There are not even any indirect references or other clues that would hint at such a mammoth task - with one single exception: a letter from the firm of Topf to the SS Construction Office, dated December 9, 1941, which indicates that the Construction Office had ordered "one wagonload of firebrick" from Topf. This material, which was enough "for the new construction of one oven", was to be used "as replacement material for repair work."146
Taking into consideration this restoration of the fireproof brick of two muffles, the six muffles of the Auschwitz I (the Main Camp) were able to cremate a total of 24,000 bodies.
From all this it follows that the ovens of Auschwitz I and Birkenau (Auschwitz II) together were able to cremate about (138,000 + 24,000 =) 162,000 bodies. This figure agrees quite well with the number of known, deceased registered inmates.
Thus, the cremation of the supposed gassing victims was physically impossible in technological respects as well.
5.5 The Number of Cremations in 1943: the SS EstimateA memo of March 17, 1943, issued by the Crematorium Management "on the basis of data from the firm of Topf & Söhne",147 sets out the estimated coke requirements for the four crematoria of Birkenau, and thus contributes an unspoken estimate of the number of bodies to be cremated.
Since the memo provides for a daily operation time of 12 hours, the number of bodies can be calculated on the basis of coke consumption.
The 5,600 kg (12,350 lbs) coke fuel allocated per day for Crematoria II and III correspond to the cremation requirements for (5,600 / 20.3 =) 276 emaciated bodies, while the 2,240 kg (4,940 lbs) of coke intended for Crematoria IV and V correspond to the requirements for (2,240 / 15.25 =) 146 bodies, which totals 422 bodies. However, since a work-day of 12 hours is being assumed, and the ovens will be out of service - and thus cooling off - for the remaining 12 hours, the coke requirement given in the memo also included the fuel needed to bring the oven back up to operating temperature.
From October 26 to 30, 1941, the oven at Gusen cremated 129 bodies; an average of 37.2 kg (82.0 lbs) coke was used per cremation, and the oven was in operation 9 hours a day. With a daily operation time of 12 hours, about 35 kg (77 lbs) coke would have been needed per cremation, which corresponds to about 23.3 kg (51.4 lbs) for the three-muffle oven and to 17.5 kg (38.5 lbs) for the eight-muffle oven. Therefore, Crematoria II and III could have cremated about 240 bodies a day, and Crematoria IV and V about 130 - a total of some 370 bodies.
The estimate given in the memo thus indicates that a daily average of 370 emaciated adult bodies were expected for cremation.
As already mentioned, this memo dates from March 17, 1943. An earlier version of it, containing miscalculations, was dated March 12.148 This shows that the memo was based on the mortality rate prevailing in Auschwitz and Birkenau in March 1943. The Death Books from 1943 show that 7,362 inmates died between February 17 and March 18, an average of 245 per day. In March 1943 2,189 female inmates died in the Women's Camp, ie. 73 per day. The average daily mortality rate therefore comes to about 320.
However, this mortality rate also includes the Auschwitz Main Camp, where there were three Topf double-muffle ovens. These served to cremate the bodies from the Main Camp and are not mentioned in the memo in question. Between March 1 and 17, 447 inmates, or 26 per day, died in the Main Camp.149 This means that the average daily mortality rate in Birkenau was about 290. This number approximates 80% of the estimate that clearly formed the basis for the memo, which means that the latter reflects the actual mortality rate plus a 20% safety margin. This margin corresponds to 80 bodies a day.
According to Danuta Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, a total of 24,150 people were gassed in Birkenau in March 1943 - an average of about 780 per day. The first transport of Greek Jews arrived in Auschwitz on March 20. By June 28 another 13 transports arrived, with a total of 34,923 deportees, of which 26,453 were allegedly gassed. Again from the Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, it appears that 20,444 people were gassed in April, an average of about 680 per day.
If these alleged gassings had in fact taken place, the average mortality rate of the Birkenau camp would have skyrocketed to some 1,070 per day.
This proves that the estimate in the memo related only to the cremation of bodies of registered inmates, and that the SS anticipated no cremations of gassing victims.
5.6 The Number of Cremations in 1943: Coke Fuel ConsumptionThe archives of the Auschwitz Museum contain hundreds of receipts documenting deliveries of coke fuel to the crematoria.150 A member of the museum staff has compiled a per-month list of the quantities specified on each of these receipts. We have in our possession a list of the coke deliveries for the time from February 16, 1942 to October 25, 1943.151
By means of a calculation J.-C. Pressac has shown that these deliveries are complete as listed.152 For 1943 they were as follows:
|MONTH||Coke [metric tons]||Month||Coke [metric tons]|
Furthermore, a total of 96 m3 (3,390 cu.ft.) of wood was delivered in the months of September and October.
Crematorium II was put into service in about mid-March, Crematorium IV on March 22.
Between March 15 and 31, 1943, about 3,900 inmates died in the Men's Camp in Auschwitz and Birkenau (886 of them in the Main Camp), and about 1,200 in the Women's Camp. Added to this are about 358 deaths in the Main Camp between March 1 and 14, 1943. This means that there were about 5,500 deaths, of which 1,250 were cremated in Auschwitz and the remaining 4,250 in Birkenau.
If we postulate the maximum fuel consumption, as for emaciated bodies, the total coke consumption would have been:
1,250 x 30.5 kg = 38,125 kg (84,066 lbs) for Crematorium I;This leaves (144,500 - 117,000 =) 27,500 kg (60,600 lbs). The initial seasoning (heating to dry the ovens) was done largely with wood, and not until the end were small amounts of coke used.154 The third, electrically fired Topf cremation oven in the crematorium of Erfurt was dried out with 750 kg (1,650 lbs) wood.155 About 2,100 kg (4,630 lbs) of coke were needed to season the five three-muffle ovens of Crematorium III, and about 900 kg (1,980 lbs) for the eight-muffle oven of Crematorium IV, a total of some 3,000 kg (about 6,600 lbs). If we add a maximum of 15% for the last stage of the drying process, we arrive at a total requirement of about 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs).
4,250 x 18.5 kg153 = 78,625 kg (173,368 lbs) for Crematoria II and IV;
a total of 116,750 kg, rounded up to 117,000 kg (258,000 lbs).
Since the total number of cremated bodies was approximately 5,500, the average coke consumption was some 26.3 kg (60.0 lbs) per body.
Now let us examine the hypothesis of the mass gassings.
According to the Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, 13,826 people were gassed between March 15 and March 31, 1943. Since, as J.-C. Pressac confirms, the "burning pits" were no longer used once Crematorium II came into service,156 the 144,500 kg (318,600 lbs) of coke delivered to the crematoria would in this case have had to suffice for the cremation of 19,300 bodies. This allows 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) per body, which is physically impossible.
The matter becomes even more impossible when one considers that at least 120,500 kg (265,700 lbs) were needed to cremate the deceased registered inmates. The remaining 26,000 kg (57,300 lbs) of coke would then have had to suffice for the cremation of the gassing victims, meaning that there would have been only (26,000 / 13,800 =) about 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs) of fuel per body!
The conclusion is obvious: the quantities of coke used by the crematoria of Auschwitz and Birkenau in March 1943 prove that only the bodies of the deceased registered inmates could be cremated, and that therefore no mass murders can have taken place.
The Death Books record some 14,050 deaths for the period from April 1 to October 25, 1943. About 7,800 female prisoners died during that same time,157 so that the total comes to about 21,850 dead.
The coke deliveries for this period totalled 497 metric tons; this means that an average of 22.7 kg (50.0 lbs) of coke was available per body.
The 96 m3 (3,390 cu.ft.) of wood that were delivered in September and October correspond to about 43 metric tons. If we set the calorific value of one kilogram of wood equal to that of half a kilogram of coke, then 43 metric tons of wood correspond to 21.5 metric tons of coke. On the basis of this relationship we can equate the calorific value of the coke and wood supplied with a total of (497 + 21.5 =) 518.5 metric tons of coke. This makes for 23.5 kg (51.8 lbs) per body - a quantity comparable with that for March (26.5 kg, or 58.4 lbs). Since the 96 m3 of wood were delivered in September and October, when only Crematoria II and III were in operation, these two crematoria incinerated (21,500 / 20.3 =) about 1,060 bodies with this wood.
In the 208 days from April 1 to October 25 the crematoria were in operation for the following times, and cremated the following numbers of bodies of deceased registered inmates:
|TIME PERIOD||Days||Crematoria||Deaths||Total Deaths|
|April 1 - June 24/43
June 25 - July 17/43
July 18 - Oct. 25/43
Postulating the corresponding figure for emaciated bodies, this indicates approximately the following coke consumption:
|Cremations||Coke/Body [kg]||Total Coke [kg]|
This is the theoretical minimum requirement and is based on the assumption that the muffles were always in operation for 19 out of 24 hours a day. However, since an average of 24 muffles were available each day, and since the average daily mortality rate was about 105, they would have been in operation only about 4 hours a day, and as a result the coke consumption per cremation would have been greater, and would have approximated the actual quantities delivered even more closely.
Now let us look at the alleged mass gassings. According to the Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, the following numbers of people were murdered in the gas chambers in the portion of 1943 that is in question:
|MONTH, 1943||Number of Victims|
If these claims were true, it would mean that during the time specified, (102,968 + 21,850 =) 124,818 (or, rounded off, 124,800) persons had been cremated using (497 + 21.5 =) 518.5 metric tons of coke. This makes for (518,500 / 124,800 =) approximately 4.1 kg (9.1 lbs) of coke per body, which is clearly impossible.
J.-C. Pressac writes that 165,000 to 215,000 bodies had been cremated in the ovens of Birkenau from April to October 1943, which puts the per-body fuel consumption at 3 to 2.3 kg (6.6 to 5.1 lbs).
Since the minimum coke requirement for the cremation of the bodies of the 21,850 registered inmates was 420,000 kg (926,000 lbs), the bodies of the alleged 102,968 gassing victims would have had to be cremated with the remaining 98,500 kg (217,200 lbs) of coke. This leaves 0.95 kg (2.1 lbs) coke per body!
On the other hand, these 98,500 kg (217,200 lbs) - if one deducts from them the 4,200 kg (9,260 lbs) needed for the initial heating-up of the ovens in Crematoria II and III - would theoretically have allowed for the cremation of about 6,800 bodies of gassing victims.
All this points to a plain and simple conclusion: the coke deliveries from March to October 1943 prove indisputably that only the bodies of the inmates who had died of natural causes could be cremated in the crematoria. Therefore, no mass murders took place in Auschwitz and Birkenau in the time from March to October 1943!
6. The "Burning Pits" of Birkenau
6.1 The Chief Witness, Filip MüllerThe foremost "witness" for this mode of body disposal is Filip Müller, who speaks of five pits located in the northern yard of Crematorium V. His account is quite long-winded; we shall quote the most important points:158
"The two pits [that had been dug] were 40 to 50 metres long, about 8 metres wide and 2 metres deep. However, this particular place of torment was not yet ready for use by any means. Once the rough work was finished, there followed the realization of the refinements thought up by the arch-exterminator's [Otto Moll's] warped ingenuity.After this work was finished, Moll climbs into the pit to test the incline of the drain channel with a bucket of water. The incline turns out to be inadequate. It is made steeper, and in the next test the water runs along the channel and flows into a container placed at its end.159 Müller continues:160
"Together with his assistant, Eckardt, he climbed down into the pit and marked out a 25 centimetres by 30 centimetres wide strip, running lengthways down the middle from end to end. By digging a channel which sloped slightly to either side from the centre point, it would be possible to catch the fat exuding from the corpses as they were burning in the pit, in two collecting pans at either end of the channel."
"As it began to grow light, the fire was lit in two of the pits in which about 2,500 dead bodies lay piled one on top of the other. Two hours later all that could be discerned in the white-hot flames were countless charred and scorched shapes, their blackish-phosphorescent hue a sign that they were in an advanced stage of cremation. At this point the fire had to be kept going from outside because the pyre which at first protruded about half a metre above the edge of pit had, in the meantime, gone below this level. While in the crematorium ovens, once corpses were thoroughly alight, it was possible to maintain a lasting red heat with the help of fans, in the pits the fire would burn only as long as the air could circulate freely in between the bodies. As the heap of bodies settled, no air was able to get in from outside. This meant that we stokers had to constantly pour oil or wood alcohol on the burning corpses, in addition to human fat, large quantities of which had collected and was boiling in the two collecting pans on either side of the pit. The sizzling fat was scooped out with buckets on a long curved rod and poured all over the pit causing flames to leap up amid much crackling and hissing. Dense smoke and fumes rose incessantly. The air reeked of oil, fat, benzol and burnt flesh. [...]The cremation took five to six hours:161
"Some twenty-five bearers were employed in clearing the gas chamber and removing the corpses to the pits. [...] About fifteen stokers had to place the fuel in the pit and to light and maintain the fire by constantly stoking in between the corpses and pouring oil, wood alcohol and liquid human fat over them. There were approximately thirty-five men in the ash team. Some had to dig the ashes from the pits and remove them to the ash depot. The others were busy pulverizing the ashes. [...]
"In order to prepare the third pit for cremation old railway sleepers, wooden beams, planks, and sawdust were arranged in layers and covered with a layer of dry fir branches. Then the bearers laid about 400 corpses face upwards in four long rows on top of the fuel. The next layer again consisted of fuel covered, as before, with fir branches. Then followed another layer of corpses. This sequence was repeated once more until, in the end, there were some 1,200 dead bodies in three layers. Meanwhile the stokers had soaked pieces of material and rags in oil and wood alcohol and stuffed them in between the fuel in many places."
"In the meantime [the fire] had gone out [in the two other pits]. The process of incineration took five to six hours. What was left barely filled a third of the pit."
6.2 The Method of Scooping the Human FatThe flashpoint of animal fats is 184°C (363°F).162 This means that in the presence of fire or embers, animal fats - and human fat also belongs in this category - ignites at 184°C (363°F). Therefore burning wood would inevitably ignite any fat exuding from the corpses. This effect is familiar to anyone who has ever barbecued and had fat drip from his steak into the charcoal: the entire grill is quickly ablaze.
Thus, the set-up described by Filip Müller is outrageous and addlepated nonsense and would not allow for any scooping of the fat whatsoever.163
6.3 Open-Air Cremations That Actually Did Take PlaceJohn C. Ball demonstrates in the present volume that the air photos taken of Auschwitz by the Allies show no traces of mass incinerations in pits. Aside from the above arguments, we have also explained other reasons that would show the mass incinerations alleged to have taken place in open pits to be impossible.11
However, this is by no means to say that no incinerations were carried out in Birkenau in the open air - on pyres or in rudimentary open ovens.
One may assume with certainty that in late 1941, when the mortality rate in Auschwitz rose to frightening proportions, many bodies were taken to Birkenau and buried there in mass graves. According to the Mortuary Book and the Book of the Dead, 1,358 inmates and 3,726 Soviet prisoners-of-war died in November 1941, a total of 5,084 people, 169 per day on average. At that time the crematorium of the Main Camp had only two ovens, whose maximum capacity together was 84 bodies per day and which, on top of everything else, had sustained some damage.164 The coke deliveries to the crematorium also prove that only a portion of the deceased inmates could be cremated. From November 1, 1941 to January 31, 1942 the crematorium received 93.6 metric tons of coke, which would have sufficed for 3,000 bodies at the very most; however, a total of 9,355 inmates died during that period. In the following months the crematorium could just barely handle the cremation of the people who died in the Main Camp. On March 1, 1942 the Soviet prisoners-of-war were taken to Birkenau.165 On August 6 the inmates of the Women's Camp, which had been opened on March 26, were also transferred there.166 From March 1, 1942 to February 28, 1943 14,515 male inmates died in the Main Camp and were registered in the Mortuary Book, and several thousand female inmates also died, but during this same time only 373.5 metric tons of coke were supplied to the crematorium, which would have sufficed for the cremation of at most some 12,200 bodies. All the bodies of inmates who died in Birkenau were buried in mass graves.
In the following months the mortality rate rose sharply due to the dreadful typhus epidemic that had broken out in acute form in July 1942. As a consequence of this epidemic the Head of the camp, Commandant Rudolf Höß, ordered the camp "completely closed off" on July 23, 1942.167
In other words, the bodies buried in the mass graves also included many thousands of typhus victims, which made the sanitary conditions in Birkenau even more catastrophic. It is easy to believe Pery Broad when he writes - albeit with propagandistic embellishments - that the body toxins of the buried had contaminated the ground water in the entire area, which resulted in the massive death of fish in the lakes surrounding Birkenau, particularly in Harmense.168 And in fact the pollution by body toxins - pollution not only of the ground water but also of the soil and the air169 - had been one of the main arguments of the proponents of cremation in the late 19th century!170
The SS in Auschwitz countered this dreadful sanitary problem for the long term by planning the four crematoria of Birkenau (one of which - the one that was to become Crematorium II - had already been planned in October 1941, but for the Main Camp) and by the efficient installation of disinfection and delousing facilities (the Central Sauna), and for the short term by exhuming and burning the bodies.
The decision to construct the crematoria of Birkenau was made on August 19, 1942,171 at a time when the mortality rate averaged 270 inmates a day due to the typhus epidemic, and this with an average camp population of some 22,000 male and 10,000 female inmates (in August 1942). On the occasion of his inspection of the camp on July 17 and 18, 1942, Himmler had ordered that POW camp Birkenau's initial, intended capacity of 125,000 be increased to 200,000. Under these circumstances it is clear that the 550-per-day capacity of the Birkenau crematoria (for which the memo of March 17, 1943 provides for a daily operation time of 12 hours) was by no means exaggerated in view of potential future epidemics among a three- or four-fold greater camp population.
Little is known about the opening of the mass graves and the incineration of the bodies contained therein. On September 17, 1942, SS-Untersturmführer Walter Dejaco, who together with his colleague Hössler had accompanied Camp Commandant Rudolf Höß to Litzmannstadt (Lodz), drew up a "travel report" in which he mentioned that the purpose of the trip had been the "visual inspection of the special facility, and discussions with SS-Standartenführer Blobel about the implementation of such a facility." This 'special facility' was almost certainly a means for incinerating bodies in the open air. Dejaco also reported that the construction materials ordered from the Ostdeutsche Baustoffwerke in Posen via "special order by Staf. Blobel" had to be delivered to Auschwitz immediately; and that the firm of Schriever & Co. in Hannover had to supply a "ball grinder for substances".172 This was most likely a device for grinding up the residue left after incineration.
According to Danuta Czech's Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, the incineration of the exhumed bodies began on September 21,173 which seems quite credible, and ended in November. It is not known how these bodies were burned; possibly it was done in set-ups such as those described by J.-C. Pressac,174 but probably in less rudimentary ones and most definitely not in 'burning pits'. The mass graves were almost certainly located to the southwest of the "temporary earth basin", about 650 ft. west of what was to become Sector BIII of Birkenau, since the air photos from 1944 - specifically those from May 31 - show traces of four huge, parallel pits in that area. (See the chapter by J. C. Ball, this volume.)
The majority of the inmates who died between September 23, 1942 and the opening of the crematoria were also incinerated in the open air.
However, if traces of mass cremations of human beings are in fact found in the vicinity of the former camp Birkenau, this does not in any way mean that the camp was the site of mass murders, and the "Hydrokop" Report175 has no evidential value whatsoever.
*Translator of the Author's Note: Russ Granata.
1. We shall restrict ourselves to giving a single representative example: the eyewitness Dr. Miklos Nyiszli sets the daily cremation capacity of the crematoria of Birkenau at 20,000! M. Nyiszli, Boncolóorvósa voltam az Auschwitz-i krematóriumban, Világ, 1946, p. 38.
2. As late as 1992 Franciszek Piper, historian at the Auschwitz Museum, claimed that the "factual capacity" of the four Birkenau crematoria had been "up to 8,000 bodies per day". He based his assertion on the eyewitness testimony of Alter Feinsilber alias Stanislaw Jankowski alias Kaskowiak alias Alter Szmul Fajnzylberg: F. Piper, Auschwitz. Wieviele Juden, Polen, Zigeuner... wurden umgebracht. Cracow: Universitas, 1992, p. 21.
3. Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, New York: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989.
4. ibid., pp. 131, 158, 244.
5. ibid., pp. 179, 475.
6. ibid., p. 244.
7. ibid., pp. 244, 384.
8. Werner Wegner has devoted considerably more care to this problem than Pressac has, but the results of his study, which was published in very brief summary form, are even less well-founded in technical respects than the French historian's. Wegner writes that in the Birkenau crematoria it was possible to cremate three bodies in one muffle in half an hour, which would have amounted to a capacity of 6,624 bodies per 24-hour period: W. Wegner, "Keine Vergasungen in Auschwitz? Zur Kritik des Leuchter-Gutachtens", in: U. Backes, E. Jesse, R. Zitelmann (eds.), Schatten der Vergangenheit. Impulse zur Historisierung des Nationalsozialismus, Frankfurt/M., Berlin: Ullstein-Propyläen, 1990, p. 460.
9. Fred A. Leuchter, An Engineering Report on the Alleged Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, Poland, Toronto: Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 1988.
10. Barbara Kulaszka (ed.), Did Six Million Really Die? Report on the Evidence in the Canadian "False News" Trial of Ernst Zündel - 1988, Toronto: Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 1992, p. 267.
11. Our main publication consists of two volumes: 1) Auschwitz: Die Einäscherungsöfen; 2) Auschwitz: Die Gaskammern. It is presently (June 1994) being printed by Edizioni di Ar, Italy. Distributor: Libreria Ar, via F. La Francesca 26, 84100 Salerno, Italy.
12. Carl Schuchhardt, "Die Anfänge der Leichenverbrennung", in: Sitzungsberichte der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 1920, p. 8.
13. Max Pauly, Die Feuerbestattung, Leipzig: Verlagsbuchhandlung J. J. Weber, 1904, p. 8.
14. B. Reber, "Un crématoire du temps de la révolution française", in: Société de crémation de Genève, Bulletin VIII, Geneva: Imprimerie Centrale, 1908, pp. 26-29.
15. The lecture titled "Über das Verbrennen von Leichen" ["On The Cremation Of Corpses"] was published that same year.
16. For the beginnings of modern cremation, the reader is referred to the two works already cited, as well as to: F. Küchenmeister, Über Leichenverbrennung, lecture given on April 8, 1874 for the Neustädter Gymnasial-Stipendienfond, Erlangen: Verlag von Ferdinand Enke, 1874; P. de Pietra Santa, La crémation des morts en France et à l'étranger, Paris: Librairie J.-B. Baillière et Fils, 1874; P. de Pietra Santa, Modern Cremation, Publication de la Société Française d'Hygiéne. Paris: au bureau de la Société, 1889; Rudolph Müller, "Über Leichenverbrennung", offprint from: Medizinische Jahrbücher, v. 199, issue 1, Vienna, 1883; Henry Tompson, Die moderne Leichenverbrennung, Berlin: Fischers Medizinische Buchhandlung, 1899; K. Weigt, Almanach der Feuerbestattung, Hannover: self-pub. by author, 1909.
17. M. Pauly, op. cit. (Note 13), p. 18.
18. G. Pini, La crémation en Italie et à l'étranger de 1774 jusqu'à nos jours, Milan: Ulrich Hoepli Editeur Libraire, 1885, pp. 16, 30, 130f. An extremely precise description of the facility is provided by Wegmann-Ercolani in their small publication Über Leichenverbrennung als rationellste Bestattungsart, Zurich: Cäsar Schmidt, 1874, pp. 30-33.
19. G. Pini, op. cit. (Note 18), p. 132. Unless otherwise noted, the following information is taken from this work (pp. 128-171). - Cf. also: Malachia de Cristoforis, Etude pratique sur la crémation, Milan: Imprimerie Treves Frères, 1890, pp. 36-136; P. de Pietra Santa, M. de Nansouty, "La crémation", in: Le génie civil, nos. 8-12, 1881; Luigi Maccone, Storia documentata sulla cremazione presso i popoli antichi e moderni con speciale riferimento alla igiene, Bergamo: Istituto Italiano d'Arti grafiche, 1932, pp. 102-124; Fritz Schumacher, Die Feuerbestattung, Leipzig: J. M. Gebhardt's Verlag, 1939, pp. 18-32.
20. F. Küchenmeister, Die Feuerbestattung. Unter allen zur Zeit ausführbaren Bestattungsarten die beste Sanitätspolizei des Bodens und der sicherste Cordon gegen Epidemien, Stuttgart: Verlag von Ferdinand Enke, 1875, pp. 70f.
21. Wilhelm Heepke, Die Leichenverbrennungsanstalten (die Krematorien), Halle a.S.: Verlag von Carl Marhold, 1905, p. 20. This work contains a very detailed description of the Siemens, Klingenstierna and Schneider ovens, with extraordinarily precise diagrams (pp. 41-58). For these ovens, cf. the publications cited in this work, as well as: Karl von Engerth, Fortschritte der Feuerbestattung in Deutschland. Vortrag gehalten in der Hauptversammlung des Vereins der Freunde der Feuerbestattung "Die Flamme" in Wien am 19. Februar 1892, Vienna: Verlag von Moritz Perles, 1892; Karl von Engerth, Die Feuerbestattung, Vienna: self-pub. by author, 1897; Hermann Ortloff, Gleichberechtigung der Feuer- und Erdbestattung, Leipzig: Felix Dietrich, 1907. In the appendix: the cremation system of Richard Schneider, formerly Dresden, now Berlin, pp. 60-73.
22. W. Heepke, op. cit. (Note 21), p. 45-55.
23. E. Beutinger, Handbuch der Feuerbestattung, Leipzig: Carl Scholtze, 1911, pp. 107-110. This work contains a very interesting chapter and precise technical drawings to the cremation ovens (pp. 94-127). The following information was taken from this source. The data re. fuel consumption and the time required for cremation are from Heepke, op. cit. (Note 21), Table on p. 20.
24. W. Heepke, op. cit. (Note 21), p. 20.
25. Robert Nagel, Wege und Ziele der modernen Feuerbestattung, Stuttgart: Verlag Wilhelm Ruppmann, 1922, pp. 37f.; E. Beutinger, op. cit. (Note 23), pp. 117-121.
26. Engineer H. Kori, "Bau und Betrieb von Krematorien. 1. Neue Wege und Ziele", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 8, 1924, pp. 115-119; H. Kori, "Bau und Betrieb von Krematorien. 2. Gutachten der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Brennstoffersparnis", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 8, 1924, pp. 119f.
27. Corporate pub., "Bau und Betrieb der Krematorien", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 7, 1925, pp. 107f.; "Bau und Betrieb der Krematorien. Erwiderung auf den Einspruch des Verbandes der Preußischen Feuerbestattungsvereine vom 9. Oktober 1925 gegen den Erlaß des Herrn Ministers des Innern - II T 2015 - vom 24. Oktober 1924", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 1, 1926, pp. 9-12; Corporate pub., "Betr. Ofenanlage in Krematorien", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 3, 1927, p. 51; Chief Engineer H. Tilly, "Über die Wirtschaftlichkeit von Anlagen zur Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 9, 1926, pp. 143ff.; Chief Engineer A. Peters, "Die Wirtschaftlichkeit von Anlagen zur Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen", Die Wärmewirtschaft, no. 11, 1926, pp. 176ff.
28. Richard Kessler, "Rationelle Wärmewirtschaft in den Krematorien nach Maßgabe der Versuche im Dessauer Krematorium", Die Wärmewirtschaft, nos. 8-11, 1927. Abbrev. version: "Rationelle Wärme-Wirtschaft in Krematorien unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Leuchtgasfeuerung", V. Jahrbuch des Verbandes der Feuerbestattungs-Vereine Deutscher Sprache 1930, Königsberg, 1930. It is also worth mentioning the experiments which engineer Hans Keller performed in 1927 in the crematorium of Biel, Switzerland, with an oven with coke-fired gas generator: Hans Keller, "Mitteilungen über Versuche am Ofen des Krematoriums in Biel", in: Bieler Feuerbestattungs-Genossenschaft in Biel (Schweiz) (ed.), Jahres-Bericht pro 1927-28. Cf. also: Hans Keller, "Versuche an einem Feuerbestattungsofen", offprint from Archiv für Wärmewirtschaft und Dampfkesselwesen, yr. 10, issue 6, 1929.
29. Friedrich Hellwig, "Vom Bau und Betrieb der Krematorien", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 54, issue 24, 1931, p. 372; Chief Engineer Peters, "Winke für den Betrieb von Einäscherungsanlagen", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 2, 1930, no. 4, pp. 56f.
30. For example, the old coke oven of the crematorium at Dortmund was dismantled in 1937/38 and replaced with two new ovens of the Volckmann-Ludwig system: Hermann Kämper, "Der Umbau der Leichenverbrennungsöfen und die Einrichtung von Leichenkühlräumen auf dem Hauptfriedhof der Stadt Dortmund", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 64, issue 12, 1941, pp. 171-176.
31. Engineer Dr. Repky, "Der Umbau koksgefeuerter Krematoriumsöfen auf Leuchtgasbeheizung", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 55, no. 42, 1932, pp. 506-509.
32. Of the most important technical articles, we would cite: Friedrich Hellwig, op. cit. (Note 29), in abbreviated form: "Vom Bau und Betrieb der Krematorien", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 4, no. 1, 1932, pp. 8-14; Paul Schläpfer, "Über den Bau und den Betrieb von Krematoriumsöfen", separate reprint from Jahresbericht des Verbandes Schweizerischer Feuerbestattungsvereine, Zurich, 1937; P. Schläpfer, "Betrachtungen über den Betrieb von Einäscherungsöfen", Schweizerischer Verein von Gas- und Wasserfachmännern, Monatsbulletin, yr. XVIII, no. 7, Zurich, July 1938; Richard Kessler, "Entwicklung und Zukunftswege der Einäscherungstechnik", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 3, no. 6, 1931, pp. 83-89; R. Kessler, "Die wärmewirtschaftliche Ausnutzung der Abgase bei Einäscherungsöfen", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 5, no. 2, 1935, pp. 21-26; Viktor Quehl, "Feuerbestattung und Einäscherungsöfen", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 59, no. 38, 1936, pp. 559ff.
33. "Betriebsordnung für Feuerbestattungsanlagen" of Nov. 5, 1935, as well as the "Verordnung zur Durchführung des Feuerbestattungsgesetzes" of August 10, 1938, reprinted in: Fritz Schumacher, op. cit. (Note 19), pp. 116-121; Veröffentlichungen des Großdeutschen Verbandes der Feuerbestattungsvereine, no. 5, self-pub. by the organization, Königsberg/Prussia, 1932. These guidelines were also published in Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 5, no. 6, 1933, pp. 87-92; Richtlinien für den Bau und Betrieb von Öfen zur Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen, aufgestellt vom Großdeutschen Verbande der Feuerbestattungsvereine e.V., Berlin: Verlag der Verlagsabteilung des Großdeutschen Verbandes der Feuerbestattungsvereine e.V., 1937.
34. Die Feuerbestattung, yr. XI, 1939, pp. 8f.
35. ibid., yr. XII, 1940, p. 14.
36. ibid., yr. XVI, 1944, p. 17.
37. Phoenix. Blätter für fakultative Feuerbestattung und verwandte Gebiete, Vienna, no. 10, 1915, p. 296; ibid., no. 4, 1916, pp. 97ff.
38. Imperial Patent Office. Patent No. 218581. Class 24d. Issued on February 8, 1910. Max J. Kergel in Beuthen, O.-S. Leichenverbrennungsofen mit Rekuperator. Patented in the German Reich as of October 4, 1908.
39. Balduin Reichenwallner, Tod und Bestattung, Munich: Katakomben-Verlag / Balduin Reichenwallner, 1926, pp. 28f.
40. Öfen für Krematorien System Topf. J. A. Topf & Söhne Erfurt. Maschinenfabrik und feuerungstechnisches Baugeschäft, publicity leaflet pub. 1926.
41. IV. Jahrbuch des Verbandes der Feuerungsbestattungs-Vereine Deutscher Sprache 1928. Pub. on the occasion of the 22nd Association Conference on July 4-8 in Bremen, by the Association Board, Königsberg/Prussia, 1928, p. 84.
42. F. Hellwig, op. cit. (Note 29), p. 370.
43. Re. the electric Topf oven, see: Konrad Weiss, "Der erste deutsche elektrisch beheizte Einäscherungsofen im Krematorium Erfurt", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 57, no. 37, Sept. 15, 1934, pp. 453-457; "Elektrisch betriebener Topf-Einäscherungsofen D.R.P. angem.", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 7, no. 6, 1935, pp. 88ff.; Konrad Weiss, "Die Entwicklung des elektrisch beheizten Einäscherungsofens im Krematorium Erfurt", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 60, no. 11, 1937, pp. 159-162; Fritz Schumacher, op. cit. (Note 19), pp. 28ff.; Rudolf Jakobskötter, "Die Entwicklung der elektrischen Einäscherung bis zu dem neuen elektrisch beheizten Heißlufteinäscherungsofen in Erfurt", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 64, no. 43, 1941, pp. 579-587.
The first European cremation oven with electric heating came into service in Biel, Switzerland, on Aug. 31, 1933; cf. Hans Keller, "Der elektrische Einäscherungsofen im Krematorium Biel", in: Bieler Feuerbestattungs-Genossenschaft in Biel (ed.), Jahresbericht pro 1933, Biel, 1934; Hans Keller, Der elektrische Ofen im Krematorium Biel, Biel: Graphische Anstalt Schühler A.G., 1935. This experimental oven was gradually perfected by the firm of BBC Brown Boveri, which did not have a large market in Germany; cf. G. Keller, Die Elektrizität im Dienste der Feuerbestattung, Baden (Switzerland): Aktiengesellschaft Brown, Boveri & Cie, special offprint from the Brown Boveri "Mitteilungen", no. 6/7, 1942.
Re. the Volckmann-Ludwig oven, cf.: accredited engineer Volckmann, "Ein neues Einäscherungsverfahren", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 3, no. 4, 1931; Volckmann, "Der neue Einäscherungsofen System Volckmann-Ludwig", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 3, no. 4, 1931; Volckmann, "Das Volckmann-Ludwig-Verfahren und die Kesslerschen Richtlinien", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 6, no. 8, 1934; H. Wolfer, "Der neue 'Volckmann-Ludwig'-Einäscherungsofen im Stuttgarter Krematorium", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 55, no. 13, 1932.
44. Hugo Etzbach, Der technische Vorgang bei einer Feuerbestattung, Cologne: Druck Johannes Friese, 1935, pp. 3ff. Re. the gas-fired Topf oven cf. also: F. Schumacher, op. cit. (Note 19), pp. 25ff.
45. Kurt Prüfer, "'Ein neues Einäscherungsverfahren.' Eine Entgegnung", Die Flamme, yr. 40, 1931, pp. 5f.; for the polemics in company correspondence, cf. also: Weimar State Archives, 2/555a.
46. Richard Kessler, "Der neue Einäscherungsofen System Volckmann-Ludwig", Zentralblatt für Feuerbestattung, yr. 3, no. 3, 1931.
47. Engineer Fichtl, "Rationelle Wärmewirtschaft in den Krematorien", Die Wärme, Zeitschrift für Dampfkessel und Maschinenbetrieb, yr. 17, no. 34, 1924, pp. 394-397.
48. H. Tilly, "Luftüberschuß und Brennstoffverbrauch bei der Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen", Die Wärmewirtschaft, yr. 3, issue 2, 1926, pp. 190f.; H. Tilly, "Versuch einer rechnungsmäßigen Erfassung der Vorgänge der Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen", Die Wärmewirtschaft, yr. 3, issue 8, 1926, pp. 134ff.; H. Tilly, op. cit. (Note 27); H. Tilly, "Über die Einäscherung menschlicher Leichen", Die Wärmewirtschaft, yr. 4, issue 2, 1927, pp. 19-25.
49. "Die neuzeitlichen Leicheneinäscherungsöfen mit Koksfeuerung, deren Wärmebilanz und Brennstoffverbrauch", Feuerungstechnik, yr. XXXI, 1933: issue 8, pp. 109ff., and issue 9, pp. 123-128. This is a consolidated version of the study on thermal equilibrium which engineer Heepke had presented in his aforementioned book, op. cit. (Note 21), pp. 60-63.
50. cf. Hans Kraupner, Franz Puls, Die chemischen Vorgänge bei einer Einäscherung, special offprint from Städtehygiene, 8/1970, Ülzen.
51. "Factors which affect the process of cremation", Third Session, by Dr. E. W. Jones, assisted by Mr. R. G. Williamson, from: Annual Cremation Conference Report, Cremation Society of Great Britain, 1975, p. 81.
52. R. Kessler, op. cit. (Note 28), issue 8, p. 140; P. Schläpfer, "Betrachtungen über den Betrieb von Einäscherungsöfen", op. cit. (Note 32), p. 151.
53. R. Kessler, op. cit. (Note 28), issue 9, pp. 150f. and 156f.
54. Danuta Czech, Auschwitz Chronicle, 1939-1945, New York: Henry Holt, 1989, p. 16; cf. Archivum Panstwowego Muzeum w Oswiecimu (APMO), D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 19.
55. J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz. La Machinerie du meurtre de masse, Paris: CNRS, 1993, pp. 12f.
56. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, pp. 33f., 36, 70, 130f.
57. J.-C. Pressac, op. cit. (Note 55), p. 18.
58. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), pp. 108, 112.
59. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, pp. 130f.
60. Letter from the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Gusen to the firm of Topf, Oct. 24, 1942. Letter from the firm of Topf to the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Gusen, Jan. 16, 1943. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
61. Letter from the firm of Topf to the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen, Dec. 20, 1944. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
62. Letters from the firm of Topf to the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen, Nov. 23, 1940 and Oct. 16, 1941. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54. The letter of Oct. 16, 1941 expressly mentions the delivery of a "double-muffle cremation oven - Auschwitz model" ("Doppelmuffeleinäscherungsofen - Modell Auschwitz").
63. Delivery notice from the firm of Topf, Jan. 12, 1943. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS Ma/54.
64. Re. details on construction, cf. our main work, op. cit. (Note 11), as well as: J. A. Topf & Söhne Erfurt. Coke-fired cremation oven and foundation blueprint. D57253. Jan. 10, 1940. Re. SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Auschwitz. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54; listing of the materials for a Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Oven, Jan. 23, 1943. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54; bill no. D 41/107, Feb. 5, 1941, Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
65. Betriebsvorschrift des koksbeheizten Topf-Doppelmuffel-Einäscherungsofens ("Operation Manual for the Coke-Fired Topf Double-Muffle Cremation Oven"). Sept. 26, 1941. APMO, BW 11/1, p. 3.
66. APMO, neg. no. 20818/1.
67. Operation Manual for the "Topf" Exhaust Installation, Sept. 26, 1941. APMO, BW 11/1, p. 2.
68. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), p. 442.
69. Letter from Kurt Prüfer to Ludwig and Ernst Topf, Dec. 6, 1941. APMO, BW 30/46, p. 6; bill no. 69, Jan. 27, 1943. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, pp. 258f.
70. Letter from the firm of Topf to the Central Construction Management of the concentration camp Auschwitz, Sept. 30, 1942. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 114.
71. Letter from the firm of Topf to the Central Construction Management of the concentration camp Auschwitz, Oct. 28, 1942. APMO, BW 30/34, p. 96.
72. Bill no. 728 of May 27, 1943. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 241.
73. J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 55), p. 39.
74. APMO, microfilm nos. 287, 290 and 291.
75. Bill no. 60 of Jan. 27, 1943. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 259.
76. Plan of the new crematorium of Auschwitz (and future Crematorium II/III of Birkenau). Diagram by the Construction Office of Auschwitz, no. 933, of Jan. 19, 1942. APMO, neg. nos. 20957 and 20818/4.
77. APMO, neg. nos. 518 and 520; cf. advance bill from the firm of Topf, Dec. 18, 1941. Each exhaust (induced-draft) installation cost RM 3,016. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 97.
78. Letter from the firm of Topf to the Central Construction Management of the concentration camp Auschwitz, Sept. 30, 1942. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 114.
79. Memo of March 25, 1943. APMO, BW 30/33, p. 8.
80. Betriebsvorschrift des koksbeheizten Topf-Dreimuffel-Einäscherungsofens ("Operation Manual for the Coke-Fired Topf Three-Muffle Cremation Oven"). This document was published for the first time in Dr. Miklos Nyiszli's Médecin à Auschwitz. Souvenirs d'un médecin déporté, traduit et adapté du hongrois par Tibère Kremer, Paris: Juillard, 1961 (extratextual document); cf. APMO, BW 30/34, p. 56.
81. "Erlaß über die Durchführung von Einäscherungen im Krematorium des Konzentrationslagers Sachsenhausen". Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 3/425.
82. Text from F.Schumacher, op. cit. (Note 19), pp. 116-120.
83. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, p. 11.
84. APMO, D-Z/Bau, no. inw. 1967, pp. 203f.
85. cf. bill no. 380 of April 5, 1943. APMO, op. cit. (Note 84), p. 202; plan of Crematorium IV (and V) of Birkenau. Construction Office Diagram no. 1678 of Aug. 14, 1942. APMO, neg. no. 20946/6; plan of Crematorium IV (and V) by the Construction Office, no. 2036 of Jan. 11, 1943. APMO, neg. no. 6234; APMO, neg.fot. nos. 620, 14283, 21334/81, 21334/82, 21334/83, 21334/141; J. A. Topf & Söhne Erfurt Diagram D58173 of Jan. 6, 1941. Single-muffle cremation oven. SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
86. Aside from the information we provide in our main work, op. cit. (Note 11), cf. the following documents: letter from the Didier-Werke, Aug. 25, 1943, to Herrn Boriwoje Palitsch, Belgrade, re. SS cremation facility in Belgrade. USSR-64; letter from the firm of H. Kori, May 18, 1943, to accredited engineer Waller of Department CIII of the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, re. the delivery of one or two Kori cremation ovens. Archives of the Curatorship for the Atonement Memorial of the Concentration Camp Dachau, 5732; cremation facility for the POW camp Lublin. Design by the firm of H. Kori J. no. 9122. Archives of the Curatorship for the Atonement Memorial of the Concentration Camp Dachau, 659/41; letter from the firm of H. Kori, Oct. 23, 1941, to SS-Sturmbannführer Lenzer, Lublin. Archivum Panstwowego Muzeum na Majdanku, sygn. VI-9a, v. 1; letter from the firm of H. Kori to the Headquarters of the Waffen-SS and Police POW camp Lublin. Archivum Panstwowego Muzeum na Majdanku, sygn. VI-9a, v. 1; APMO, ZO, sygn. Dpr-20/61a, p. 76.
87. Public Memorial and Museum of Mauthausen.
88. APMO, BW 30/46, p. 18.
89. ibid., BW 30/46, p. 6.
90. Manuelle dell'ingegnere (Engineer's Handbook), 82nd ed., Nuovo Colombo, pp. E734-741.
91. Engineer B. Rammer, BBC Elektro-Kremationsöfen im Dienste der Feuerbestattung, BBC Brown Boveri (explanatory report).
92. K. Weiss, "Der erste deutsche elektrisch beheizte Einäscherungsofen im Krematorium Erfurt", op. cit. (Note 43), pp. 454f.
93. ibid., p. 455.
94. Ferdinand Heinemann, "Ein neuer Verbrennungsofen für Friedhofabraum", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 63, issue 16, 1940, pp. 189f.
95. H. Kori, op. cit. (Note 26), p. 115.
96. Topf cost estimate for concentration camp Mauthausen, Nov. 1, 1940. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
97. Letter from the firm of Topf to the SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen, Nov. 1, 1940. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
98. Letter from the firm of Topf to the SS New Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen, July 14, 1941. Weimar State Archives, LK 4651.
99. Letter from the Central Construction Management of the concentration camp Auschwitz to the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, June 28, 1943. APMO, BW 30/42, p. 3.
100. H. Stenger, "Ergebnisse mit einem gasbeheizten Einäscherungsofen neuer Bauart", Gesundheits-Ingenieur, yr. 62, issue 2, pp. 17f.
101. cf. the more in-depth information in our main work, op. cit. (Note 11).
102. "Factors which affect the process of cremation", op. cit. (Note 51), p. 83.
103. APMO, op. cit. (Note 84), p. 65.
104. ibid., p. 63.
105. J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 3), p. 133.
106. H. Keller, "Mitteilungen über Versuche am Ofen des Krematoriums in Biel", op. cit. (Note 28), pp. 24f; H. Keller, "Versuche an einem Feuerbestattungsofen", op. cit. (Note 28), p. 21; Engineer Fichtl, "Rationelle Wärmewirtschaft in Krematorien", op. cit. (Note 47), p. 396; P. Schläpfer, "Betrachtungen über den Betrieb von Einäscherungsöfen", op. cit. (Note 32), p. 151.
107. J. A. Topf & Söhne, receipts for special billing re. day-rate jobs, for the Construction Office of the Waffen-SS and Police at Mauthausen (Oct. 9 to Nov. 8, 1941). Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
108. Ugo Bordoni, Trattato generale teorico pratico dell'arte dell'ingegnere civile, industriale ed architetto (general theoretical and practical treatise about the trade of the civil, industrial and architectural engineer), Milan: Casa Editrice Dottor Francesco Vallardi, n.d., p. 41.
109. Letter from the firm of H. Kori, Oct. 23, 1941, to SS-Sturmbannführer Lenzer, Archivum Panstwowego Muzeum na Majdanku, sygn. VI 9a, v. 1, p. 2.
110. Beate and Serge Klarsfeld (eds.), Le mémorial de la déportation des Juifs de France, Paris, 1978.
111. Léon Poliakov, Josef Wulf, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden. Dokumente und Aufsätze, Berlin-Grunewald: Arani Verlags-GmbH, 1955, p. 231.
112. G. Ferrari, Guida all'educazione alimentare (guide to nutrition education), v. 2, Rome: Sovene Editoriale, 1960, p. 143.
113. APMO, sygn. D-AuI-5/1.
114. ibid., sygn. D-AuI-5/3.
115. Franciszek Piper, Estimating the Number of the Deportees to and Victims of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp, Yad Vashem Studies XXI, Jerusalem, 1991, p. 90.
116. APMO, j 502-4.
117. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), p. 120.
118. ibid., p. 42.
119. This is the figure one arrives at when one deducts from the total number of inmates registered at the end of January 1942, the number of those who died (which follows from the Death Books 1-3 of 1941, as well as from the Mortuary Book) as well as the number of those who were released or transferred to other camps.
120. PS-1469 (Sept. 30, 1943 letter from the Chief of the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office, SS-Obergruppenführer Pohl, to the SS-Reichsführer, regarding deaths in concentration camps).
121. APMO, Ruch Oporu, t. II, sygn. RO/85, pp. 62, 62a.
122. ibid., sygn. D-AuI-3a/370a.
123. NO-5194, p. 12.
124. Hermann Langbein, Menschen in Auschwitz, Vienna: Europaverlag, 1987, p. 12.
125. On Dec. 31, 1943 the total population of Auschwitz and Birkenau was 85,298 inmates.
126. J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 3), p. 132.
127. ibid., p. 183.
128. ibid., p. 236.
129. ibid., p. 162.
130. J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, op. cit. (Note 55), p. 148.
131. ibid., p. 58.
132. ibid., p. 34.
133. F. Piper, Estimating..., op. cit. (Note 115), p. 99.
134. The numbers cited are only approximate. On March 24, 1943 Crematorium II was already damaged (a); on July 17 that same year the repairs were "yet to be completed" (b).
(a) Memo of March 17, 1943. APMO, BW 30/7/34, p. 54.
(b) Letter from the Central Construction Management of Auschwitz to the firm of Topf, July 17, 1943. APMO, BW 30/34, p. 17.
135. This date is also only approximate. Cracks already appeared in the eight-muffle oven of Crematorium IV as early as April 3 (a); the SS Construction Office's telegram to the firm of Topf, dated May 14, 1943, requests "calculations re. heat engineering for stacks of Crematoria II and IV" (b). This means that the stack of Crematorium IV had also been seriously damaged before this date.
(a) APMO, BW 30/34, p. 42.
(b) APMO, BW 30/34, p. 41.
136. Pressac claims that Crematorium IV was no longer used after September 1943 (a), but does not document his claim. According to R. Höß the crematorium had to be "repeatedly shut down, since the stacks were burnt out after a short period of cremations of about four or six weeks" (b).
(a) J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématories d'Auschwitz, op. cit. (Note 55), p. 81.
(b) M. Broszat (ed.), Kommandant in Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen des Rudolf Höss, Munich: dtv, 1981, p. 165.
137. APMO, Dpr.-Hd/11a, p. 95 (Höß Trial).
138. ibid., p. 96.
139. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), p. 637.
140. J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 3), p. 389.
141. R. Jakobskötter, "Die Entwicklung der elektrischen Einäscherung...", op. cit. (Note 43), p. 583.
142. This date follows from the list of coke deliveries to the crematorium of Gusen. Public Memorial and Museum of Mauthausen. Archive. B 12/31, p. 352.
143. Letter from the SS Construction Office of the concentration camp Mauthausen to the firm of Topf, Sept. 24, 1941. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
144. J. A. Topf & Söhne, receipts for special billing re. day-rate jobs, Oct. 12 - Nov. 9, 1941. Koblenz Federal Archives, NS 4 Ma/54.
145. Hans Marsalek, Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen. Dokumentation, Vienna: Österreichische Lagergemeinschaft Mauthausen, 1980, p. 156.
146. APMO, BW 11/1, p. 4.
147. ibid., BW 30/7/34, p. 54.
148. ibid., BW 30/7/34, p. 68.
149. Mortuary Book. APMO, sygn. D-AuI/5.
150. Receipt. APMO, segregator 22a, sygn. D-AuI-4, no. 12025-12031.
151. APMO, D-AuI-4, segregator 22, 22a.
152. J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 3), p. 224.
153. ((20.3 x 15) + (15.25 x 8)) / 23 = 18.5 kg (average consumption by Crematoria II through V).
154. E. Beutinger, op. cit. (Note 23), p. 127.
155. K. Weiss, "Die Entwicklung des elektrisch beheizten Einäscherungsofens im Krematorium Erfurt", op. cit. (Note 43), p. 585.
156. J.-C. Pressac, Auschwitz..., op. cit. (Note 3), p. 171.
157. APMO, Ruch Oporu, t. II, sygn. RO/85, pp. 62, 62a (number corrected on the basis of Doc. PS-1469 and other documents).
158. Filip Müller, Auschwitz Inferno: Testimony of a Sonderkommando, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979, p. 130.
159. ibid., pp. 131-132.
160. ibid., pp. 136f.
161. ibid., p. 138.
162. J.H. Perry, Chemical Engineer's Handbook, Wilmington (Delaware), 1949, p. 1584.
163. For details see our main work, op. cit. (Note 11).
164. The Dec. 9, 1941 letter from the firm of Topf to the SS Construction Office of Auschwitz mentions "a repair of the two coke-fired double-muffle cremation ovens" which had already been carried out. APMO, BW 11/1, p. 4.
165. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), p. 139.
166. ibid., pp. 148, 212.
167. APMO, camp order. t.l. camp order no. 19/42, sygn. A-AuI-1, p. 17.
168. P. Broad, "Erinnerungen", in: Auschwitz in den Augen der SS. Katowice: Krajowa Agencja Wydawnictwa, 1981, pp. 165f. Broad makes the anachronistic claim that the mass graves were opened after the discovery of the gaves of Katyn (Feb. 1943).
169. Ptomaines - discovered by Prof. Selmi in Bologna, Italy - are toxic alkaloids forming in dead bodies during putrefaction.
170. "Ground water is even better suited than soil and air to spreading the products of putrefaction; it is all the more dangerous in that the underground watercourses can undergo changes which are not noticeable at the surface." - "The hazards of earth burial increase when the bodies are those of victims of infectious diseases." M. Pauly, op. cit. (Note 13), pp. 24f.
171. J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, op. cit. (Note 55), p. 49.
173. D. Czech, op. cit. (Note 54), p. 242.
174. J.-C. Pressac, Les Crématoires d'Auschwitz, op. cit. (Note 55), p. 58.
175. Udo Walendy, Historische Tatsachen, no. 60, Vlotho: Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, 1993, pp. 7-10. See also J. C. Ball's chapter, this volume.
This work was translated from the German, "Die Krematoriumsöfen von Auschwitz-Birkenau" by Victor Diodon