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    Operation Reinhard Mass Cremation: Remains of Teeth

    How do we know that most of the teeth of the Jews who were murdered in the Operation Reinhard death camps of Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor would have been destroyed in the cremation process?

    Holocaust deniers claim:

    If some 1,400,000 Jews had been murdered in the Operation Reinhard death camps of Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor there would be millions of teeth in the graves on the sites.  

    The facts are:

    Scientific evidence shows that human teeth can be destroyed by fire or crushed into dust. The research of forensic dentists—whose business it is to know what happens to teeth in fire conditions—shows that exactly the opposite of the Holocaust deniers’ claims are true. In fires with temperatures high enough to cremate bodies, most of the teeth are destroyed. Any remaining teeth that did not burn are weakened and so are more easily ground to dust.

    The self-named “Denierbud,” an American Holocaust denier and video maker, citing Arnulf Neumaier, notes that “. . . the teeth of the supposed victims could not have been destroyed by the primitive methods attested to . . . Even if each of the alleged victims had only 20 of the usual 32 teeth left at the time he or she died, there would have been at least 17.5 million teeth to be disposed of at Treblinka. This means that we should still be able to find some 5 teeth per cubic foot of the 3.53 million cubic feet of material excavated at the alleged site of the crime.”[1]

    What we know about the destruction of teeth by fire.

    The destruction of teeth by fire is a matter of professional interest to forensic dentists involved in the identification of bodies. A study conducted by German forensic dentists in 2001 found the following:

    • After 30 minutes in fires with temperatures of 752 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius) the front teeth are totally destroyed. The molars (the grinding teeth in the back of the mouth) start to crack.
    • At between 45 and 70 minutes in fires with temperatures between 1832 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius) and 2012 degrees Fahrenheit (1100 degrees Celsius), all the teeth are totally carbonized.[2]
    • In a civilian crematorium furnace, a temperature between 1400 to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit (760 to 1150 degrees Celsius) is generated to ensure the disintegration of the remains. Even then some teeth and bones are still intact and are crushed in a machine.[3]

    In the mass cremations in the camps it is possible that a few of the sturdier back teeth of the adults might have remained in the ashes along with some larger remnants of bone. However, these teeth would be cracked, weakened or fallen from the jaw and could have been destroyed relatively easily in the bone crushing process. Certainly, the milk teeth of babies and the teeth of children (which made up a large percentage of the victims) would have been largely destroyed in the fire.

    Shoes of Victims from Operation Reinhard Death Camps - Collected at Majdanek Concentration Camp - Lublin - Poland
    Shoes of Victims from Operation Reinhard Death Camps – Collected at Majdanek Concentration Camp – Lublin – Poland By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    Teeth have been found in the camps.

    The various investigative bodies that surveyed the camps after the war and modern day investigations found traces of intact teeth in Belzec:

    Polish judicial authorities performed excavations on the site of Treblinka in October 1945. They dug nine holes or trenches in the area believed to the extermination part of the camp. They found “. . . a large number of human bones . . . such as skulls, parts of skulls, vertebrae, ribs, collarbones, shoulder blades, arm bones, lower legs, wrists, fingers, pelvic bones, thigh bones, lower legs and foot bones. Some of the bones mentioned are either partly burnt or had not been burnt at all . . . From the size of the various bones one can conclude that they belong to persons of different age groups, from two-year-olds up to very old people, as borne out by toothless jaws and numerous dentures. Among the jawbones found there was one partially burnt specimen containing milk teeth as well as incipient permanent teeth, which indicates that it belongs to a person 7 to 8 years of age.”[4]

    Why the remains of more teeth have not been found by investigators.

    The reason we cannot find “millions” of whole teeth today is because most of the teeth would have been destroyed in the fires and the rest would have been crushed. Their presence today is indeterminable from the rest of the human ashes in the graves.

    In addition, the few whole teeth that would have gotten through the burning and pulverization process are scattered across or buried under acres of land. Finding them in the thousands of tons of human and wood ash would be purely accidental.

    Conclusion

    Human teeth can be destroyed by fire or crushed into dust. The research of forensic dentists—whose business it is to know what happens to teeth in fire conditions—shows that exactly the opposite of the Holocaust deniers’ claims are true. In fires with temperatures high enough to cremate bodies, most of the teeth are destroyed. Any remaining teeth that did not burn are weakened and so are more easily ground to dust.

    The intact teeth of some 1,400,000 murdered Jews in the three death camps of Operation Reinhard cannot be found in large quantities because they are part of the deep layers of human ash in the mass graves or are scattered or were dumped into local rivers and ponds.

    NOTES

    [1] “One Third of the Holocaust” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taIaG8b2u8I at approximately 3:30 minutes.

    [2] Klaus Rotzscher, Claus Grundmann, Sven Benthaus, “The effects of high temperatures on human teeth and dentures: Conclusions regarding the degree on destruction and the influence of time,” Journal of Dentistry and Oral Medicine, No. 6(1), 2004 at http://ipj.quintessenz.de/index.php?doc=html&abstractID=20899 . Warning: This study contains graphic color photographs.

    [3] “Cremation” in Wikipedia (“Burning and ashes collection”) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation.

    [4] Carlo Mattogno, Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2004), p. 80 at http://vho.org/dl/ENG/b.pdf. Mattogno cites the “Protokoll der Leichenschau” (Report of Coroner), October 13, 1945. ZStL, 252/59, vol. I, pp. 1123f (translated from Polish into German). For the German translations from Polish of the excavation protocol dated 12 October 1945 and coroner Dr. Mieczyslaw Pietraszkiewicz’s report and opinion of 13 October 1945, see BAL B162/208 AR-Z 252/59, Bd. VI, f. 1121 ff.