Belzec Camp Reported
Reuters reports (Jul. 9) a
recent archaeological study at the site of the
former Nazi concentration camp at Belzec, Poland;
this, states the British press agency, located
thirty-three "mass graves" containing the remains
of thousands -- skulls, flesh, hair, fat, and whole
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek toured the
Thursday and said a new memorial would be built on
the site of a Nazi extermination camp in Poland
which was crumbling and neglected.
Buzek, who will meet
President Clinton at the White House Friday,
handed two silver spoons as a symbolic gift to
museum chairman Miles Lerman. The spoons
were found this year at the site of the Belzec
extermination camp during part of an unprecedented
Belzec, in eastern Poland
near the Ukrainian border, was the first camp in
which the Nazis erected permanent gas chambers. At
least 600,000 Jews were murdered there.
The Polish government and the
Holocaust Museum quietly signed an agreement last
year to build a new memorial there to replace a
sculpture that was erected in the 1960s by the
former Communist authorities of Poland.
Jewish visitors to the site
had complained that it was badly neglected,
overgrown with weeds and strewn with garbage. They
also said the existing memorial was inappropriate
and was falling apart.
"Construction will begin in
the near future. Archeological work is going on at
that site and new discoveries are being made
systematically," Buzek told reporters.
Lerman said Belzec was a
place of great personal significance to him.
"My entire family, my mother,
perished in Belzec," he said.
A Polish team recently
carried out the most comprehensive archeological
survey ever conducted on a major Holocaust site and
located 33 previously unknown mass
"This was the first
archeological survey on this scale done
systematically on a grid system and we have learned
many new things," said Jacek Nowakowski,
associate director of the Holocaust Museum,
coordinating the project from the U.S.
According to a report by
Robin O'Neill, a British scholar who took
part in the survey, the team bored holes to a depth
of some 18 feet at 15-yard intervals throughout the
"The largest mass graves ...
contained unburned human remains (parts and pieces
of skulls with hair and skin attached). The bottom
layer of the graves consisted of several inches
thick of black human fat. One grave contained
uncrushed human bones so closely packed that the
drill could not penetrate," O'Neill
Belzec was one of six
extermination camps erected by the Nazis. The other
five were Treblinka, Sobibor, Majdanek,
The camp began operating in
March 1942. Victims were packed tightly into four
gas chambers and killed by carbon monoxide
generated from a huge aircraft engine, with some
taking as long as 35 minutes to die. Their naked
bodies were dumped in trenches. There were only
five recorded survivors, none of whom is still
The Nazis had built Belzec to
destroy the centuries-old Jewish communities of
southern and eastern Poland. In 1942, that job
done, they closed the camp. They later tried to
hide their crime, burning the bodies and grinding
up the bones.
Nowakowski said the unburned
bodies that had been discovered this year numbered
in the thousands and were probably the remains of
Jews brought to the site to burn the remains of
victims of the gas chambers.
"The fact that there were
many more people employed in burning the bodies
than we thought suggests they had many more bodies
to burn. We may have to revise upward the estimate
of the number who died at Belzec and that only
increases the huge significance of the site," he
Crowell comments that
this Reuters dispatch supports revisionist
"That the fatalities at
Belzec were in the thousands rather hundreds of
- that their bodies were
buried, and not burned to ashes
- that -- contrary to
legend -- their bones were not crushed to
- that therefore the Nazis
made little attempt to wipe out the traces of
The USHMM in Washington,
comments Crowell, has arrived at a diametrically
- since the remains of
thousands have been found, unburned and
uncrushed, therefore these are the remains of
those employed to cremate (and grind to powder)
the remains of the 600,000 others hitherto
alleged to have perished at the camp, and
- since there were thus
thousands of participants involved in just
"wiping out the traces", there must have been
far more than 600,000 victims.
traditional story of hydrogen-cyanide, of which no
trace has been found in the buildings, Reuter's
dispatch breezily claims that the gas chambers at
Belzec were furnished with carbon monoxide gas from
"a huge aircraft engine."
is a departure from the traditional Navy-surplus
U-boat diesel-engine version.