The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Can bodies be burned in pits?

41. Can bodies be burned in pits?

The IHR says (original):

No, it is impossible for human bodies to be totally consumed by flames in this manner, as not enough heat can be generated in open pits.

The IHR says (revised):

No. It is impossible for human bodies to be totally consumed by flames in this manner because of lack of oxygen.

Nizkor replies:

Which is it: heat, or oxygen?

Regardless of what Holocaust-deniers wish to be the case, the simple fact is that such burning did take place; there is a famous photograph of pit-burning, in fact, which was smuggled out of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In addition, there is the report quoted in Hugo Erichsen's 1887 work Cremation of the Dead which documents the cremation of over 200 bodies within an hour. The bodies were not "totally consumed," -- a phrase of value only as a straw man with respect to the burning of bodies in pits during the Holocaust.

The report of the archeological investigations at Belzec includes gruesome findings, including layers of blackened human fat, found in some of the 33 mass graves discovered during the investigation:

"The drill core brought to the surface putrid pieces of human remains, including pieces of skull with skin and tufts of hair still attached, and unidentifiable lumps of greyish, fatty human tissue. The bottom of the grave was lined with a layer of evil smelling black (i.e. burnt) human fat, resembling black soap."

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