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    Operation Reinhard Mass Cremation: Hindu Funeral Pyres

    How efficient are the cremation pyres used by Hindus in the observance of their religious funeral rites?

    Holocaust deniers claim:

    The cremation grills should have been designed like a Hindu funeral pyre, where the remains rest directly on the wood. This design would have been far more efficient that the grills the Germans allegedly used. 

    The facts are:

    Using as a model a single Hindu cremation pyre is not appropriate as a potential model for mass incineration in the Operation Reinhard death camps of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor. The evidence shows that the Hindu method of cremation is much less fuel efficient than the mass cremations conducted on huge grills in the Operation Reinhard death camps of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.  

    The self-named “Denierbud,” an American Holocaust denier video maker, claims that such a model would have been more efficient because as “as the wood sinks so does the body, the body staying close to the wood.”[1]

    What is the process by which the Hindus cremate their dead?

    Hindus believe that the body is only an instrument to carry the soul and after death the soul disengages from the body. The purpose of cremating the remains is to dissolve the material bond between the soul and the physical body so that the soul will smoothly transition to the astral world. In a Hindu cremation the remains are placed directly on a pile of wood and, after a series of rituals, set alight. Each pyre consumes between 272 kilograms (600 pounds) to 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of wood. The total cremation process lasts about six hours.[2]

    The problem with using the Hindu cremation pyre as the model for mass cremations in the death camps.

    Hindu funeral pyres are so inefficient in terms of wood usage that the estimated 8.5 million cremations performed annually is an ecological nightmare because it requires an estimated 50,000,000 trees! This amount of inefficient wood consumption is one of the things that the Holocaust deniers complain would have made the mass cremation process impossible.

    Calling the traditional method of laying the body directly on the wood an example of “inefficient combustion,” experts in India today are currently promoting the use of new systems for cremation that provide more oxygen for combustion resulting in the use of only about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of wood per cremation.[3]

    There is no comparison between a single Hindu funeral pyre and the mass cremation grills in the camps.

    The cremation grills differ from a single Hindu cremation pyre because of the large number of remains (about 2,000) on each grill, the close proximity of the remains to each other (they were piled several feet high), and the large size of the grills (about 66 square meters or 710 square feet).[4] These circumstances would have contributed significantly to the combustion process once the fire had been started reducing or eliminating the need for adding new wood. In addition, the flow of oxygen under the grill would have aided the process and made it more fuel efficient—just as the experts in India are advocating today.

    Conclusion

    Using as a model a single Hindu cremation pyre is not appropriate as a potential model for mass incineration in the camps. The evidence shows that the Hindu method of cremation is much less fuel efficient than the mass cremations conducted on huge grills in the Operation Reinhard death camps of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.

    Burning ghats of Manikarnika, Varanasi
    By http://www.flickr.com/photos/fyunkie/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fyunkie/947823175/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

     

    NOTES

    [1] See “One Third of the Holocaust” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taIaG8b2u8I at approximately 3:05 minutes.

    [2] Tripti Lahiri, “New ‘green’ pyre to cool planet while burning India’s dead,” Taipei Times, June 16, 2007 at www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/06/16/2003365571; Katie Rawls, “Cremations Harm Indian’s Environment” at http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/religion/cremations-india%E2%80%99s/ ; Bruce Wallace, “Hindus urged to adopt ‘green’ cremation,” Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2007 at www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-ashes3sep03,0,4547624.story.

    [3] Tripti Lahiri, “New ‘green’ pyre to cool planet while burning India’s dead,” Taipei Times, June 16, 2007; Katie Rawls, “Cremations Harm Indian’s Environment”; Bruce Wallace, “Hindus urged to adopt ‘green’ cremation,” Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2007.

    [4] “Mattogno, Graf & Kues on Aktion Reinhard(t) Cremation (1)” at http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/03/mattogno-graf-kues-on-aktion-reinhardt.html.