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October 26, 2012

Thomas Dalton writes “A Postcard from Treblinka” about what he learned on a visit to the camp

Filed under: Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 10:02 am

A big Thank You to the reader who wrote a comment on my blog and included a link to A Postcard from Treblinka by Thomas Dalton, the author of a book entitled Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides. Dalton is a professor of humanities at an American university.  You can read his articles on Inconvenient History here.  If you are not familiar with Inconvenient History, stop reading this right now and go immediately to the inconvienthistory.com website.

Dalton includes a photo of the Treblinka Museum, which was not there when I visited the Treblinka Memorial Site in 1998. At the time of my visit, there was only a small tourist center, which is shown in my photo below.  The one car parked in front of the tourist center was my tour guide’s car. We were the only visitors there that day.

Tourist Center at Treblinka in 1998

In writing about his recent trip to Treblinka, Thomas Dalton mentioned that he hired a taxi to drive him to Treblinka and just before reaching the camp, they came to a bridge over the Bug river, which was not open to traffic at that time. When I visited Treblinka in 1998, my driver took me over this bridge, which is a reconstruction, according to British Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert.

Bridge over the Bug river, near Treblinka

I have written previously on my blog about the route to Treblinka here.

On my trip to Treblinka, I was immediately suspicious about this place being a “death camp.”  It’s location near the Bug river suggested to me that Treblinka was a transit camp, which I wrote about on this blog post.

In visiting Holocaust memorial sites, I try my best to be respectful and not burst out laughing.  In reading Thomas Dalton’s account of his visit to Treblinka, I couldn’t contain myself.  I laughed out loud when I read his description of the Treblinka Monument as “a toad-stool like monolith.”  My photo of the monument is shown below.

My 1998 photo of the Treblinka Monument

According to the pamphlet that I obtained from the Visitor’s Center in 1998, the Treblinka memorial site was built between 1959 and 1963. In February 1960, the Warsaw Regional Council selected the design of Polish sculptor Franciszek Duszenko and Polish architect Adam Haupt for the memorial stone and the Symbolic Cemetery.

According to the Council, the design of the symbolic cemetery would create a field of jagged stones that suggest a cemetery consisting of 17,000 stones with 700 of the stones inscribed with the names of the Jewish villages and communities in Poland that were obliterated by the Holocaust.

The photograph below shows the back side of the memorial tombstone. When the death camp was in operation, there was a narrow dirt path through a “tube” covered with tree branches which led to the gas chamber building in this spot. Notice the Menorah at the top of the tombstone.

The back side of the Monument at Treblinka

In my 1998 photo above, the back side of the Monument faces the symbolic graveyard where, according to my tour guide, the ashes of the victims are buried.

This quote is from A Postcard from Treblinka by Thomas Dalton:

Soon enough we arrived at the pathway (the symbolic “tube”) that led to the famous central monument: a toadstool-like monolith located at the very spot of the alleged gas chambers (Photo 8). Here we were, at the heart of Treblinka, the site of the most horrendous kill rate of the entire Holocaust: of the 912,000 victims, 837,000 were killed in just six months of 1942, according to the camp’s (and Burba’s) “official” tally. (The remaining 75,000 died in 1943.) This works out to nearly 140,000 per month, 35,000 per week, or 5,000 per day, every day, rain or shine, for six months. Not even Auschwitz during the alleged Hungarian massacre could match this rate.

(And where did they put all that dirt, by the way?) Upon dumping the bodies for nine months, the Germans then, allegedly, covered the whole mess up—just in time to change their minds and decide to burn them all.

So they uncovered the graves, dredged up 700,000 rotting, decaying corpses, and dragged them over to…a fire pit. To burn them all. Down to pure ash, down to nothing. In the open air. Using wood logs. I asked Edward where this miracle happened. He walked us over to the “symbolic” pit where the Germans had constructed grills of elevated railway rails, on which they could stack the corpses—see Photos 9 and 10. Wood was placed underneath, ignited, and the bodies all but vaporized. And not only did they have the 700,000 exhumed corpses, but they also had to contend with the ongoing supply of 212,000 “fresh” bodies that were still being gassed—at a rate of 5,000 per day. All 912,000 bodies, reduced to ash, in the very spot we were standing. And they did this in just 16 weeks, according to the experts—more than 8,000 per day, every day. Those Germans were brilliant indeed, and efficient.

One small detail that I noticed in Dalton’s description of Treblinka was this quote:

How deep were the graves?, [Dalton] asked. Eight meters—some 26 feet, a very impressive hole.

In the quote above, Dalton was asking the Director of the Treblinka Museum, about the depth of the graves where the gassing victims were originally buried.  I read somewhere that the grave pits were 35 feet deep.  Apparently, that was wrong.  The graves were 26 feet deep — and the height of the Treblinka Monument is exactly 26 feet high.

When the Treblinka death camp was in operation, there was a narrow dirt path through a “tube” covered with tree branches which led to the gas chamber building in the spot where the huge memorial now stands.

This quote is from A Postcard from Treblinka:

A British forensic archaeologist has unearthed fresh evidence to prove the existence of mass graves at the Nazi death camp Treblinka—scuppering the claims of Holocaust deniers who say it was merely a transit camp. … Forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has now undertaken the first coordinated scientific attempt to locate the graves.

I previously blogged about the scuppering of the claims of Holocaust deniers here.

December 22, 2011

The Dachau gas chamber re-examined

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:23 am

The Inconvenient History blog has a new article entitled Reexamining the “gas chamber” of Dachau. The article, which was written by Thomas Dalton, can be read in full here.  In the article, Dalton points out several things about the Dachau “gas chamber” that I never noticed, but he also missed a couple of things that I saw on several visits to Dachau.

One thing that I noticed in the Dachau “gas chamber” is shown in the photo below, taken by Thomas Dalton, and included in his article.

Photo of the east wall of Dachau "gas chamber" Photo Credit: Thomas Dalton

On the far right in the photo above, you can see the faint outline of what looks like a column that is about one foot wide and extends about six inches from the wall.  I have no idea what is inside this brick column, but it could have something to do with the “compressor” which was mentioned in the Chavez Report.  I had been inside the Dachau gas chamber several times before I noticed the column; unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it.

Wooden screen on the East wall of the Dachau "gas chamber" Photo taken in May, 1945 Photo Credit: Donald Jackson

On April 30, 1945, the day after the Dachau concentration camp was liberated, the 40th Combat Engineer Regiment, which was supporting the 45th Thunderbird Division, arrived to take over. The photo above shows Eldon Patterson of E Company, 40th Combat Engineers standing in front of Baracke X. The door into the “wooden shed” was blocked by a pile of corpses and it may even have been nailed shut which would have discouraged anyone from looking behind it.

Before the first proceedings of the American Military Tribunal at Dachau began in November 1945, a War Crimes Investigation Team had summarized its findings in the Report of the Atrocities Committed at Dachau Concentration Camp, signed by JAGD Col. David Chavez Jr. on 7 May 1945.

The Chavez Report stated on page 56 that the wooden structure, shown against the east wall of the crematorium in the photo above, was a “Wooden shed believed to contain a pump or compressor.”  The wording of the Report implies that no one went into the “wooden shed” to see if the pump or compressor “believed” to be hidden there was actually there.   (more…)