Response to the
Johannesburg Citizen

by Mark Van Alstine

On August 27, 1999, the newspaper The Citizen, of Johannesburg, South Africa, published a letter to the editor titled "Questions on Holocaust." The author asks three paragraphs of leading questions intended to bias the reader toward the conclusion that the Holocaust never happened.

These questions, which he hoped the "defenders of Israel, Zionism, Jewry and the Holocaust" would answer, were similar to the rhetorical questions found in various sources of Holocaust-denial propaganda.

Though we suspect no answer was expected and ours may not be read, The Holocaust History Project has assembled a thorough reply to these questions. We believe the best answer to propaganda is to examine it, and dissect it frankly and openly.

This webpage's URL has been submitted to the Citizen and we invite the original letter's author to contact us with any further questions he might have.

The original letter read:

Will someone please explain how it has come about that the land of Palestine, which was an established entity up to 1948, suddenly disappeared from atlas's and maps and how Palestinians could have "occupied Israel" prior to 1948 when there was no such state in existence at that time?

The continual reference to the Holocaust prompts me to ask a few simple questions which I hope your many defenders of Israel, Zionism, Jewry and the Holocaust will answer.

* If the Nazis murdered six million Jews during a period of 10 years (from 1936 to 1945) then 600,000 people were, on average, killed yearly giving a daily figure of about 2,000. When and where did the Nazis find the time, money and manpower to undertake this exercise?

* Who kept a record (written or otherwise) of the number of Jews who lived in Europe and of those who were allegedly murdered? Have any authentic and reliable records been found anywhere? If no records are available (in writing) then were was the figure of six million obtained?

* What happened to the remains of those who were allegedly murdered? Were they buried? If so have any graves been found as in Bosnia? If they were incinerated or gassed (as alleged) then the ashes from dead bodies would surely have at least formed mounds. Were any such mounds found? If the bodies were allowed to rot then were are the skeletons?

Before I am branded an anti-semite I feel that I should mention that these questions have been nagging many of my friends and associates and that honest answer (verified by authentic documentary evidence) will assist in dispelling a large number of sceptical views of the atrocities allegedly committed by the Nazis who seem to have provided the Israelis and Servs (and South Africa's Nationalists) with invaluable lessons in oppression and genocide.

Raheema Yahya

Our answers follow.

If the Nazis murdered six million Jews during a period of 10 years (from 1936 to 1945) then 600,000 people were, on average, killed yearly giving a daily figure of about 2,000.

First off, while Jews were disenfranchised, persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed prior to 1941, the annihilation of European Jewry - i.e. the Holocaust or Final Solution - did not begin until around 1941.

When and where did the Nazis find the time, money and manpower to undertake this exercise?

This rhetorical question has a twofold answer. The first is that the Nazis were able to find the resources for any effort that was considered essential to the Reich (at least early in the war).

During the same period as the murder of nearly six million European Jews, Hitler's soldiers killed nearly twenty million Soviet soldiers in combat. No one would question where the resources for the war against the Soviet Union came from; it was an important goal. One must then realize that, in Hitler's mind, the war against the Jews was of equal or greater importance.

There are many examples to be found in the writings and speeches of top Nazis. Only a few are quoted here:

With the Jew, there is no coming to terms, but only the hard "either-or".

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925, Volume 1, p. 225.

I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men - that is, to kill them or have them killed - and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be taken to make this people disappear from the earth.

Heinrich Himmler, Speech at Posen, October 6, 1943.

In respect of the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that if they again brought about a world war, they would experience their annihilation in it. That wasn't just a catch-word. The world war is here, and the annihilation of Jewry must be the necessary consequence.

Joseph Goebbels, Diary entry, December 12, 1941

The hatred of the Jews was Hitler's driving force and central point, perhaps even the only element that moved him. The German people, German greatness, the Reich, all that meant nothing to him in the final analysis.

Albert Speer, sworn affidavit, June 15, 1977

In the end, Hitler's last will and testament made it plain who he had always considered the real enemy to be (see Fleming, Gerald, Hitler and the Final Solution, 1984, pp. 186-8):

Centuries may lapse, but from the ruins of our cities and monuments will rise anew the hatred for that people to whom we owe all this, they who are ultimately responsible: international Jewry and its acolytes!

I have also left no doubt that, if the nations of Europe are again to be regarded as mere shares to be bought and sold by those international money and finance conspirators, then that race, Jewry, which is the real guilty party in this murderous struggle, will be saddled with the responsibility. I also made it clear that this time, not only would millions of children of European Aryan races starve, not only would millions of grown men meet their death, and not only would millions of women and children be burned or bombed to death in the cities, but that the real culprit would atone for his guilt, even if by more humane means.

The Nazi gas chambers, of course, were the "more humane means" to which Hitler referred.

The second part of the answer to this question is to point out that the manpower requirements directly involved in carrying out the Final Solution were actually modest.

The Einsatzgruppen numbered about 3,000 SS personnel (6,000 including rotations). Add to this number thirty-eight Order Police battalions totaling approximately 19,000 troops, three SS brigades totaling 25,000 troops, and Wehrmacht troops (e.g. 6th Army units), and the manpower requirements for the mass killing operations in the Ostland amounts to approximately 50,000 troops. The mobile killing operations lasted until about 1943 and killed some 1.4 million Jews. After the mobile killing stopped the personnel would, one supposes, have become available for reassignment. (See Goldhagen, Daniel, Hitler's Willing Executioners, p. 167; Hilberg, Raul, Destruction of the European Jews, p. 767.)

In comparison to the manpower requirements for the mobile killing operations, the number of troops required to man the death camps was comparitively small. A few hundred troops for each of the Operation Reinhard death camps and (on average) about 3,000 for the Auschwitz complex (6,000 including rotations), which was comprised of three main camps and some fifty subsidary camps. The Operation Reinhard and Auschwitz extermination camps alone killed approximately 2.8 million people (of which about 2.7 million were Jews). (See Arad, Yitzhak, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, pp. 160-161,377-380; Gutman, Yisrael, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, pp. 50,62-72,246-262,274; Hilberg, Destruction, pp. 54-105.)

Ergo, excluding "regular" concentration camp guards, train personnel, administrative staffs, industrial executives, and such, the total number of Germans directly involved in the Final Solution was on the order of at least 60,000 troops.

In regard to the issue of how the Nazis paid for carrying out the Final Solution the following should be enlightening. In short, they paid for it by plundering their victims. The first step in plundering Jewish victims was the "Aryanization" of Jewish property, businesses, and assets. The "voluntary" stage of "Aryanization" began in 1933. The compulsory stage began in 1938. The "Aryanization" of Jewish businessess throughout Nazi-occupied Europe was worth billions of Reichsmarks. (See Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, pp. 84-87; Hilberg, Destruction, pp. 54-105.)

The second step in the plundering of the Jewish victims was the confiscation of their personal property. According to Hilberg (Destruction, pp. 613-615):

...On September 7, 1942, Pohl wrote to Himmler that he intended to give a large number of womens' coats, children clothes, gloves, raincoats, stockings, etc., to the Race and Resettlement Main Office (RuSHA) for the presentation as Christmas gifts to the families of SS men. The items derived from the Dutch Sonderaktion.

Barely two weeks later Brigadeführer August Frank, chief of WVHA-A, issued a basic allocation directive to Auschwitz and Lublin which turned the SS into a veritable Salvation Army and at the same time provided for considerable leverage against Economy Minister Funk. To make sure that everything was properly camouflaged, Frank ordered at the outset that Jewish property be referred to henceforth as "goods originating from theft, receipt of stolen goods, and hoarded goods...."

The gifts were distributions which did not flow through state agencies; the deliveries to the Economy Ministry and to the Reichsbank were used for the purpose of obtaining special benefits for the SS....

...The best textile items were reserved for distribution to Volksdeutche. According to a Himmler order of October 14, 1942, over 200,000 ethnic Germans in Trans-Dnistria, the Ukraine, and the Generalgouvernement were to be supplied with suits, dresses, coats, hats, blankets, underwear, and utensils. The items had to be delivered by Christmas.

On February 6, 1943, Pohl reported on the textile Aktion. Apologetically, he pointed out that a very large percentage of the clothes in the Auschwitz and Lublin depots consisted of rags. The transportation of the gifts to the East was meeting with difficulties because the Reichsbahn had closed traffic to the Ukraine (Transportsperre); however, the Economy Ministry was negotiating with the Transport Ministry for allocation of freight cars, since it was in the greatest inerest of the economy to make maximum utilization of old clothes. Up to the time of the report the following quantities had been delivered:

VOMI Freight cars
Men's clothes
Womens' clothes
Children's clothes
Underwear, etc
Economy Ministry:
Men's clothes
Womens' clothes
Womens' silk underwear
Bed feathers130
Women's hair (3 tons)1
Other salvage5

In general, then, what was not good enough for the Volksdeutche was sent to the Economy Ministry. (Silk was of course an exception; the war effort had a priority on silk material.) Shipments set aside for the ministry went to private firms to be worked over for one purpose or another. For the contribution which the WVHA made to the conservation program by delivering the rags and old clothes, Pohl naturally demanded certain favors. Accordingly, he had a "nice conversation" (freundliches Gespräch) with Economy Minister Funk, in the course of which he requested priorities for textiles to be made into SS uniforms, "on account of the delivery of the old clothes of the dead Jews."

According to Goldhagen (Hitler's Willing Executioners, p. 305) in regard to plunder from Aktion Reinhard:

The second period of the Clothing Work's history commenced in the fall of 1942 with the arrival of large quantities of clothes and possessions that had belonged to Jews consumed in Aktion Reinhard's flames. Finally, the Germans had enough work to keep the labor force in this "work" camp, otherwise poorly appointed for work, in productive motion. The prisoner population, having been around two thousand, grew quickly beginning at the end of 1942, and the physical plant of the camp was commensurately expanded during this rapid buildup program.

The prisoners sorted a prodigeous amount of booty. According to Globocnik, 1,901 boxcars of clothes, linen, feather for bedding, and rags confiscated from Jews were delivered to German industry. The Germans also accumulated 103,614 watches (in need of repair), 29,391 pairs of glasses, many jewels, as well as large sums of money. The total take was calculated to be worth over 178 million Reichsmarks. Much (though it is unknown how much) of this was sorted at the Clothing Works.

According to Hilberg again (Destruction, pp. 617-618):

...The same pattern which we have seen in the textile distribution - gifts and leverage - applied also to hardware. The biggest gift item in the durable goods catagory consisted of watches. On May 13, 1943, Frank could already make a report about the "realization of Jewish stolen goods" (Verwetung des jüdischen Hehler- und Diebesgutes) in which he mentioned receipt of 94,000 men's watches, 33,000 women's watches, 25,000 fountain pens, and other items. He had already sent 1500 watches to three SS divisions (Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Das Reich, and Totenkopfdivision) and proposed sending 1000 watches to each division of the Waffen-SS, plus 6000 watches to U-boat command (a favored service arm). In addition, he was distributing scissors to the DAW, Lebensborn, camp doctors, and camp barbershops.

Four months later Hildebrandt of the RuSHA put in a claim for "larger quantities" (groessere Mengen) for watches and fountain pens. He wanted to distribute gifts to wounded SS men during Christmas of 1943. "Many a wounded man," he said, "who does not own a watch or fountain pen will enjoy such gifts." We need not go into the subsequent correspondence in the course of which such weighty decisions were made as to whether the SS and Police Dicision should get 500 or 700, the delivery of 15,000 women's watches to ethnic Germans, the distribution of 3000 clocks (500 to concentration camps, 2500 to bombed-out Berliners), and the allocation of especially valuable watches for exceptionally brave soldiers of new divisions.

Most the valuables, including money, jewelry, gold watches, and dental gold, were duly delivered to the Reichsbank. The Reichsbank was Germany's central bank; its president was Economy Minister Funk. There were two vice presidents: Emil Puhl, and Kurt Lange, who hailed from the Economy Ministry and was the ministry's expert in monetery, stock, exchange, and insurance matters....

The disposal of the items to the Reichsbank rested on an agreement between Funk and Himmler which was concluded in the summer of 1942. The matter was then discussed by Funk, Puhl, Pohl, and a number of other officials at lunch in the Reichsbank building. The arrangement for the actual receipt of the items was worked out by Reichbankrat Thoms of the Reichsbank Precious Metals Division and Brigadeführer Frank. The deliveries were made by the chief of WVHA A-II (finance and payroll), Hauptsturmführer Melmer. There were a total of seventy-six or seventy-seven shipments, each filling a truck. Although Melmer wore civilian clothes by arrangement, he was accompanied by a few uniformed SS guards; hence the deliveries did not remain secret for very long.

In the storerooms the articles were emptied on tables and sorted. About twenty-five to thirty people passed through these rooms every day. The objects themselves were sometimes stamped "Auschwitz" and "Lublin," and the large quantity of dental gold was noticed. When Pohl visited the Reichsbank, he was conducted to the premises by Puhl, who remarked, "Your things are here too [Ihre Sachen sind auch darunter]."

The problem of what to do with the accumulating deliveries was brought up by Puhl one day in a Reichsbankdirektoren meeting. The vice president announced that the Reichsbank was going to realize the gold and jewelry of the SS. Reichsbandirektor Wilhelm, chief of foreign currency and currency control, protested: "The Reichsbank is not a dealer in second-hand goods." Wilhelm - no friend of the SS - was consequently left out of the picture.

The channeling of the property from the storerooms was finally as follows: Coin was retained by the Precious Metals Division (Thoms). Stocks, bonds, and bankbooks were transferred to the Securities Division. The gold teeth were sent to the Prussian State mint for melting. Jewelry was delivered to the Berlin Pawnshop, where it was handled by Amtsrat Wieser. The proceeds from the disposal of the metals and papers were deposited in the Treasury; there they were credited to the Finance Ministry on a special account designated "Max Heiliger." From time to time the account was drawn upon by the Finance Ministry's old expert in Jewish matters, Dr. Maiedel, who booked the withdrawals in the budget (Chapter XVIII, title 7, paragraph 3).

The realization of the Jewish valuables did not proceed as efficiently as the above procedure might seem to indicate. Principally, three obstacles had to be faced. In the first place, it was difficult to get rid of certain items. For example, the Securities Division was stuck with unendorsed papers which had been made payable to holders; the pawnshop complained tht most of the jewelry and watches it had received were of low value because they were old-fashioned or damaged in transit.

Another difficulty was the lack of time. In the course of the preocessing a number of bottlenecks developed. Just before the German collapse 207 containers filled with gold, currency, and other valuables were sent to salt mines, where the entire shipment remained until discovered by American troops.

The third limitation was, of course, the price the SS asked for its deliveries. Although not "one penny" was to be deducted, Wippen and Moeckel were authorized to withhold sufficient amounts to defray expenses connected with the Aktion itself. Gold was handed over subject to the condition that three kilograms be made available if needed by the SS for bribery or intelligence. Most important of all, the Reichsbank and Golddiskontbank had to establish a fund from which the SS could borrow money to finance its various activities. This loan, known as the Reinhardt fund, infused the SS industries with new life. The SS combine owed 6,831,279.54 reichmark to the SS Savings Bank Association and 1,000,000 reichsmark to the German Red Cross; these debts could now be repaid. In addition, some money was plowed into capital expansion. After the conclusion of thse arrangements the disproving Reichbankdirektor Wilhelm took the occasion to 'warn' Puhl against visiting the concentration camps in connection with the credits.

After all the property and possessions were plundered from the victims they were either killed or turned into slaves of the Reich. The value of slave labor and the plunder taken from the victims at Auschwitz, for example, was probably several hundred million reichsmarks. The profit from just the plunder alone, assuming a 1.1 million Auschwitz death toll and excluding slave labor revenues, was approximately 220 million reichsmarks. (See Gutman, Anatomy, pp. 71,238,262.)

If one considers the profits generated from the millions of slave laborers in the Nazi concentration camp system and elsewhere in Germany the amount is staggering. By late 1944, for example, the number of slave laborers reached about 9 million people (approximately 21% of the German work force). If one were to use the metric for slave laborers from Auschwitz: a nine-month life expectancy yielding a profit of 1,431 reichsmarks per person, that would suggest an annual profit, from such a slave labor force, to the German Reich of nearly 13 billion reichsmarks. A tidy sum indeed. (See Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, pp. 498-499; Gutman, Anatomy, p. 238.)

The final step in Nazis plundering their victims, however, was robbing their corpses.

At Auschwitz, according to Strzelecki as cited in Gutman, Anatomy, pp. 258-259:

The pace of destruction in death camps such as Treblinka and Sobibor and extermination centers in concentration camps such Auschwitz and Majdanek yielded large quantities of precious metals beginning in 1942. A post-war study by the Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, which surveyed over 2,900 reports on the removal of false teeth, concluded that 16,325 teeth made of gold and alloys of precious metal had been removed from 2,904 Auschwitz prisoners between May and December 1942. By early 1944, members of the prisoner underground in Auschwitz estimated that the SS had amassed 10 to 12 kg (22 to 26.4 pounds) of gold a month. According to a secret report smuggled out of the camp at the start of the extermination of Hungarian Jews in May 1944, the SS took delivery of 40 kg (80 pounds) of gold and "white metal" (probably platinum).

On admission to Auschwitz, all prisoners' dental work was examined, and annotations were recorded in their records. The presence of false teeth was noted, as was their removal when the prisoner died. The extraction of precious metals from dead prisoners was first carried out by SS dentists, assisted by prisoners. By 1943, the work was done in camp sick bays, morgues, and crematoria by imprisoned dentists known as gold workers (Goldarbeiter) or by the Sonderkommandos who worked at the gas chambers and crematoria. Under close supervision of the SS, the metal teeth were extracted with dental pincers, chisels, or crowbars. In the summer of 1944, at the peak of the extermination, at least 40 prisoners were employed at this labor. The teeth were soaked in muriatic acid to remove scraps of muscle tissue and bone, then the gold was melted and cast into ingots weighing from 0.5 to 1 kg (1.1 to 2.2 pounds) or into disks of 140 g (4.9 ounces).

At the Aktion Reinhard death camps, according to Arad (Belzac, Sobibor, Treblinka, p. 158):

The gold teeth that had been extracted from the corpses of the victims after they had been removed from the gas chambers were packed, tranferred to the camps' headquarters, and from there sent to their destinations. Abraham Lindwaser, who was made to extract teeth in Treblinka, relates that during the period that the transports arrived, every week an average of two suitcases full of gold, each with 18 kg, were sent from Treblinka. The money, gold, and valuables were sent from Treblinka in an armored car or in a special railway car with an SS and Ukranian guard escort.

SS Unterscharführer Gustav Münzberger relates:

I know that Matthes [who was in charge of Camp III], at the end of each day when a transport arrived, used to take the gold to the lower camp. This relates to gold teeth and valuables of gold that had been found on the corpses. This gold was brought in a small case.

In summary, the persecution and annihilation of European Jewry generated enormous profit for the Nazis - and especially for the SS. This, of course, by no means excludes the fact that the the annihlation of European Jewry was indeed an "ideological mission." It was. It's just that it turned out also to be a profitable one as well.

Who kept a record (written or otherwise) of the number of Jews who lived in Europe and of those who were allegedly murdered?

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Historical Atlas of the Holocaust, p. 221):

About six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Jewish communities across Europe were shattered. Many of those who survived were determined to leave Europe and start new lives in Israel or the United States. The population shifts brought on by the Holocaust and by Jewish emigration were astounding.

According to the American Jewish Yearbook, the Jewish population of Europe was about 9.5 million in 1933. In 1950, the Jewish population of Europe was about 3.5 million. In 1933, 60 percent of all Jews lived in Europe. In 1950, most Jews (51 percent) lived in America (North and South combined), while only a third of the world's Jewish population lived in Europe.

The Jewish communities of eastern Europe were devastated. In 1933, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, numbering about three million. By 1950, the Jewish population of Poland was reduced to about 45,000. The Soviet Union had the largest remaining Jewish population, with some two million Jews. Romania's Jewish population fell from about 980,000 in 1933 to about 280,000 in 1950.

The Jewish population of central Europe was also decimated. Germany had a Jewish population of 565,000 in 1933 and just 37,000 in 1950. Hungary had a Jewish population of 445,000 in 1933 and 155,000 in 1950. Czechoslovakia's Jewish population was reduced from about 357,000 in 1933 to 17,000 in 1950 and Austria's from about 250,000 to just 18,000.

In Western Europe, the largest Jewish communities remained in Great Britain, with aproximately 450,000 Jews (300,000 in 1933) and France, with 235,000 (225,000 in 1933). In southern Europe, the Jewish population fell dramatically: in Greece from about 100,000 in 1933 to just 7,000 in 1950; in Yugoslavia from about 70,000 to 3,500; in Italy from about 48,000 to 35,000; and in Bulgaria from 50,000 in 1933 to just 6,500 in 1950.

Before the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, Europe had a vibrant and mature Jewish culture. By 1945, most European Jews - two out of every three - had been killed. Most of the surviving remnant of European Jewry decided to leave Europe. Hundreds of thousands established new lives in Israel and the United States.

Have any authentic and reliable records been found anywhere?

Yes. The Einsatzgruppen Reports, for example, are "authentic and reliable records" detailing the Einsatzgruppen mobile killing operations in the Ostland.

Another "authentic and reliable record" of Nazi mass murder is the Korherr Report. According to Gerald Reitlinger (The Final Solution, p. 490):

There is one source of inestimable value in dealing with debateable figures and this is the 'Korherr report' (Nuremberg documents, NO 5192-4) which was submitted to Himmler in March, 1943. This report tallies with so many counter-checks that its honesty may be assumed where counter-checks are lacking, as for instance in the critical case of Poland. Dr. Korherr was an actuary, employed by Himmler to compile a balance-sheet from the resettlement lists as kept in Eichmann's office, which he referred to discreetly as the RSHA. He describes himself as 'Inspector for Statistics to the Reichsführer SS' and his first report, 156 stencilled sheets headed 'The Final Solution of the European Jewish Question,' was sent to Himmler's secretary, Rudi Brandt, on March 23rd, 1943, though the figures are not made up beyond the end of the year 1942. An attempt was made to sum the total of the various figures in the document and with the omission of Russia and Serbia a figure was reached of 1,873,549 Jews dead, deported or emigrated, including 'Special Treatment.' Then Dr. Korherr concluded: 'Since the seizure of power the number of Jews in Europe, which was over ten millions in 1933, has been halved; the decline of over four millions is due to German influence.'

Moreover, there are, as well, as accounts of SS officers and guards at the extermination camps:

Not to mention that the Nazis themselves often "documented" their extermination actions:

Or that others did:

If no records are available (in writing) then were was the figure of six million obtained?

The calculation of the Jewish death toll in the Holocaust has been primarily made using demographic means. In short, the pre-war and post-war European Jewish population (adjusted for emigration and such) has been compared to determine how many Jews were killed.

What happened to the remains of those who were allegedly murdered?

According to Shmuel Spector (Gutman, Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, pp. 11-14):

AKTION 1005, code name for a large-scale activity ained to obliterate the traces of the murder of millions of human beings by the Nazis in occupied Europe. A decision to undertake this action was made in Berlin after news of the mass murders began to emerge in the Allied countries, and when the hastily buried corpses began to pose a serious health hazard in the early summer of 1942.

The operation's code name originated in an important letter from the Gestapo commander Heinrich HIMMLER to Martin LUTHER in the Foreign Office, who was forwarded an anonymous letter complaining about the corpses flooding the WARTHGAU area. At the head of the letter, under the name of the ministry, appeared the number 1005 in brackets, and this became the code by which the operation was known. The units that put into effect were called Sonderkommandos 1005.

The operation commenced in June 1942 with attempts to burn the corpses in the CHELMNO extermination camp. At the same time, SS-Standertenführer Paul BLOBEL was appointed head of Aktion 1005. He created a small staff in Lodz and in the initial stage, between the summer of 1942 and that of 1943, supervised the burning of bodies in the AKTION REINHARD extermination camps (BELZEC, TREBLINKA, SOBIBOR), and in the Chelmno camp, and at AUSCHWITZ (until the crematoria were installed there). An architect by profession, and a member of the engineering corps in World War I, Blobel developed systems for burning pyres, installation for crushing bones, and methods of scattering ashes.

In a second stage, beginning in early June 1943, liquidation of the mass graves in areas of the occupied USSR and Poland began. The first site seems to have been the JANOWSKA camp in Lvov, where the Sonderkommandos 1005 later employed in other areas studied the methods used.

Each Sonderkommando 1005 consisted of several SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) and (Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police; Sipo) officers, who supervised the work, and several dozen German policemen from the ORDNUNGSPOLIZEI (German regular police), who were charged with guarding the workers and the area. The labor was carried out by scores or hundreds of prisoners, mainly Jews. Pyres were built with long, thick wooden beams 23 to 26 feet (7-8 m) long soaked with a flammable liquid, and the corpses were placed in layers between them. In the extermination camps, railway tracks were used for the foundation of the fire. The prisoners were divided into three groups: one opened the graves and exhumed the bodies, the seconf brought the corpses on stretchers and arranged them on the pyre, and the third was employed in sifting the ashes, crushing the bones, collecting any valuables overlooked earlier, and scattering the ashes. One or two prisoners were responsible for kindling the pyre and counting the corpses burned. The capacity of one pyre at Janowska was about two thousand bodies a day. Upon termination of the work at the site, reconstruction was carried out, such as leveling the terrain, harrowing, and replanting. Since Aktion 1005 was defined as a "Reich secret" (geheime Reichssache), the Germans in the unit had to sign declarations promising secrecy, and the prisoners were killed on the completion of their work.

Were they buried?

Initially, yes. However, according to Conat, after the German discovery of the mass graves of the murdered Polish officers in Katyn, Himmler decided that using mass graves to dispose of the millions the SS killed wasn't such a good idea after all. So Himmler, in what Conot calls "one of history's most extraordinary examples of a psychotic mentality," ordered all the corpses of the victims murdered by the Einsatgruppen - and at the death camps - to be exhumed and burned so their numbers could not be determined. (See Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, p. 272.)

Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, for example, confirms this in his memoirs (Death Dealer, p. 33):

During his visit in the summer of 1942, Himmler very carefully observed the entire process of annihilation. He began with the unloading ramps and completed the inspection as Bunker II was being cleared of bodies. AT that time there were no open-pit burnings. He did not complain about anything, but he didn't say anything about it either. Accompanying him were District Leader Bracht and SS General Schmauser. Shortly after Himmler's visit, SS Colonel Blobel from Eichmann's office arrived and brought Himmler's order, which stated that all the mass graves were to be opened and all the bodies cremated. It further stated that all the ashes were to be disposed of in such a way that later on there would be no way to determine the number of those cremated.

If so have any graves been found as in Bosnia?


If they were incinerated or gassed (as alleged) then the ashes from dead bodies would surely have at least formed mounds.

This question of "where are the ashes" is an old Holocaust-deniers' canard which has been answered previously.

In regard to the Einsatzgruppen, according to Gutman (Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, pp. 438-439):

The Einsatzgruppen performed their murderous work in broad daylight and in the presence of the local population; only when the Germans began their retreat was an effort made to erase the traces of their crimes. This was the job of Sonderkomanndo 1005 (see Aktion 1005): to open the mass graves, disinter the corpses, cremate them, and spread the ashes over the field and streams.

At the Operation Reinhard camps the ashes of the murdered victims were buried in what was previously the mass graves there. At Auschwitz, according to Höss (Death Dealer, p. 45):

During the period when the fires were kept continously burning without a break, the ashes fell through the grates and were constantly removed and crushed to powder. The ashes were taken by truck to the Vistula [River], where they immediately dissolved and drifted away. The ashes taken from the burning pits near Bunker II and from Crematory V were handled in the same way.

Were any such mounds found? If the bodies were allowed to rot then where are the skeletons?

The remains of victims - both ashes and skeletons - have indeed been found. At Auschwitz, human remains and bits of bone and hair have been found at locations corresponding to the huge incineration pits there. If one visits Birkenau, one can also see that the soil in certain parts of the grounds is permeated with bone fragments. Whole skeletons have been found in mass graves in the Ukraine and elsewhere.

Raheema Yahya's questions were penned not out of ignorance, but deceit. Their goal was not the furtherance of knowledge, but its erasure. To ask questions for which answers abound is to propagandize.

If the reader is fooled into thinking such questions are legitimate, a little bit of human history dies. The solution is recognition of the illogic behind the propaganda, and education about this tragic period of our past.