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Mark Powell of England, writes December 13, 2001





Those excavations at Sobibor

I RED with interest your posting of the "Scotsman" report (dated November 26) of mass graves discovered near Sobibor in eastern Poland.

It appears that once the bubbles of air have been cut out from the report, archaeologists have excavated seven mass graves with an average depth of 15 feet. What, precisely, are we supposed to deduce from this figure? All we learn from it is that someone has dug a hole, or a series of holes, whose depth averages 15 feet. (Sorry to belabour the obvious; but so often, it's the obvious that seems to elude so many people when reading reports of this kind.) So what? Since the late 17th Century, single graves in Britain have been traditionally dug to a depth of 6 feet. (For each body interred, roughly 108 cubic feet of earth is displaced.) But the report is careful to avoid any figure relating to the volume of contents of each hole.

Andrezj Kola is quoted in the report as saying, "We also found a hospital barracks." Did they really? What physical evidence of these alleged barracks actually remained? A few pieces of wood? Stencilled with a Red Cross, perhaps? Nope, none of that. That's not what Mr Kola is saying. What he's really saying is that they've dug up a tract of land (of unspecified size), from whose soil (from an unspecified depth) they've managed to unearth the nice round figure of 1,800 used machine-gun cartridges (of unspecified age).

What confirms the existence of a hospital barracks somewhere within this location, then? Well, someone said there was one. Hey, what more forensic evidence do you need?

I'm still waiting, rather impatiently, for evidence rather than conjecture.

Mark Powell

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Auschwitz index
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