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    Operation Reinhard Mass Graves: Krege Investigation

    What is the evidence that there are mass graves in the Treblinka death camp?

    Holocaust deniers claim:

    Technology shows that the soil of Treblinka exhibits no evidence of disturbance such as would have occurred if Treblinka was a death camp with large mass graves.

    The facts are:

    The Holocaust deniers’ assertion that the soil of Treblinka is undisturbed, thus proving there are no mass graves, is false. There is photographic and postwar and modern forensic evidence which proves the existence of the mass graves.

    The Institute of Historical Review, a California-based Holocaust denial organization, asserts that in October 1999 a team headed by Australian Holocaust denier Richard Krege “carefully examined the entire Treblinka II site, especially the ‘mass graves’ portion” and “found no soil disturbance consistent with the burial of hundreds of thousands of bodies, or even evidence that the ground had ever been disturbed.  In addition, Krege and his team found no evidence of individual graves, bone remains, human ashes, or wood ashes.”[1]

    The facts about Krege’s “investigation.”

    Krege claims that he used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to investigate the sites of the both Belzec and Treblinka death camps in 1999–2000.

    The GPR device looks like a lawnmower. When it is pushed or dragged across the surface of the ground it maps the structure of the soil underneath it using sound waves and displays the results on a computer screen. Krege claims that the GPR is so sensitive that even the mark of a shovel pushed into the soil would be revealed.[2]

    Krege states that in 1999, together with Jürgen Graf, a Swiss Holocaust denier, and Carlo Mattogno, an Italian Holocaust denier, he dragged the GPR over the grounds of Treblinka and found that the soil was “almost perfect” and “untouched by humans.”  Krege concludes: “Not found: Mass graves, fragments of skeletons, human ashes, wood ashes, ground irregularities, construction compounds or remnants, remains of trees or stumps, cavities, golden teeth.”[3]

    The evidence about the state of the ground in Treblinka.

    Before Treblinka was abandoned in November 1943 the remains of buildings had been bulldozed down to their foundations and covered with sand. The mass graves had been dug up, the remains cremated and the pits refilled and re-covered. On top of that the area was peppered by holes dug by the local Poles who had been searching for gold and valuables that had belonged to the murdered Jews.

    Rachel Auerbach, a survivor from Warsaw, Poland, who went to Treblinka in 1946 with five former inmates of the camp, called the Polish search for treasure “The Treblinka Gold Rush.” She and her companions found: “All kinds of scavengers and marauders come here in droves, shovels in hand. They dig, search and ransack; they sift the sand, they drag parts of half-rotted corpses from the earth, bones and scattered refuse in the hope that they may come upon at least a coin or a gold tooth . . . Not one level place in the whole area. Everything had been torn up and dug up, little hills and holes. And upon them, beneath them, and among them, all sorts of objects . . . But the physical evidence was not limited to objects. As we moved further into the grounds, we walked over a field which was sown with human bones . . . Leg bones, ribs, pieces of spine, skulls big and small, short and long, round and flat.  Skulls!”[4]

    There are images of the camp site from 1945 that clearly show the disturbed ground and human bones scattered around the “wildcat digs” conducted by the local Poles.[5]  The images show an area that looks like a “moonscape” of holes, bones, upturned soil/ash “saturated with white shards that are obviously bone fragments,” skulls and bones, and at least one large pit.[6]

    If Krege’s GPR device was so sensitive that it could find a shovel mark in the ground, how did he miss the overwhelming evidence of the destroyed camp, the mass graves that had been excavated then dug up again and the digging conducted by locals?[7]

    Former death camp at Treblinka in the summer of 1945 By nieznany/unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Other evidence of disturbed ground, human bones and ashes on the Treblinka site. 

    The Polish State Prosecutor’s Office and the Main Commission for the Investigation of the German Murders in Poland examined the Treblinka site in November 1945.  In their final report they noted that they found several graves, the largest of which was 6 meters deep (about 20 feet).  In the largest pit: “. . . Numerous human remains were found by these excavations, partially still in a state of decomposition. The soil consists of ashes interspersed with sand . . . During the excavations, the soil gave off an intense odor of burning and decay.”[8] The sand covering an area of about 20,000 square meters or about 215,278 square feet was mixed with human ashes, turning it gray and granular.[9]

    In 1959, fifteen years later, Martin Gilbert, the noted Holocaust historian, visited Treblinka: “Finally we reached an enormous clearing, bounded on all sides by dense woodland. Darkness was falling, and with it, the chill of night and a cold dew.  I stepped down from the cart on to the sandy soil: a soil that was grey rather than brown. Driven by I know now what impulse, I ran my hand through that soil, again and again. The earth beneath my feet was coarse and sharp: filled with the fragments of human bone.”[10] 

    How did Krege miss the bone chips and ash in the sand that can still be found in the surface soil and which are visible even without GPR technology?

    A modern examination of the grounds of the Treblinka death camp.

    Krege and his denier friends had to sneak around to do their examination with the GPR device as they did not have permission from the museum authorities at Treblinka. However, a study begun in 2010 by forensic archeologist, Caroline Sturdy Colls, was conducted with permission and in a scientific manner. Using the same GPR device Krege allegedly used, Colls has preliminarily identified “a number of buried pits” that are “considerable in size, and very deep, one in particular is 26 by 17 meters [85 by 58 feet].”  Colls noted that: “Another five pits of varying sizes and also at least this deep” are located near the large pit.  “Given their size and location, there is a strong case for arguing that they represent burial areas.”  Colls indicated that the work was just beginning.[11]  As of this date (2014) Colls has not published a formal study on her work at Treblinka.

    Krege and his claims today.

    In 2001, Krege’s findings were presented in an article in the Journal of Historical Review, published by the Institute for Historical Review, an American Holocaust denial organization.[12] Krege announced at that time that his findings were to be published in book form but as of 2014, other than a lone and unsubstantiated computer image on the Internet showing undisturbed ground which Krege claims is representative of his findings at Treblinka,[13] there have been no further articles or books on the matter. Not even Carlo Mattogno, an Italian Holocaust denier, who funded Krege’s research and accompanied him to the site, has been willing to publicly endorse Krege’s spurious findings in the intervening years.

    Krege spoke at Holocaust denier conferences in Washington, D.C. in 2001 and Moscow in 2002. Although he is described as a “sought after lecturer on Treblinka”[14] by his supporters, his only other notable recent appearance was at the Iranian Holocaust denial conference in Tehran in 2006.[15]

    Conclusion

    Krege’s assertion that the soil at Treblinka is undisturbed thus proving there are no mass graves is false. There is photographic evidence of the state of the site after the closing of the camp that show the area riddled with pits, heaps of sand, and deep pits.  These images also reveal bones and human remains, which can be seen with the naked eye.

    In addition to the very disturbed area of the camp grounds after the war, the actual existence of the mass graves in Treblinka was established by the opening of several mass graves by the Polish State Prosecutor’s Office and the Main Commission for the Investigation of the German Murders in Poland in November 1945, in which they found human ashes and remains. In 2010, an authorized study using a GPR device has located a number of very large and deep burial pits.

    NOTES

    [1] “Treblinka Ground Radar Examination Finds No Trace of Mass Graves” at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v19/v19n3p20_radar.html.

    [2] Richard Krege, “The 1999 Krege Report on the Treblinka Extermination Camp” at http://barnesreview.org/wp/archives/280.

    [3] Richard Krege, “The 1999 Krege Report on the Treblinka Extermination Camp.”

    [4] Rachel Auerbach in Alexander Donat, editor, The Death Camp: Treblinka: A Documentary (Holocaust Library, 1979), pp. 69-71.

    [5] You may see pictures of the camp site from 1945 that clearly show the piles of sand and the human remains of the Jews murdered at Treblinka uncovered by the treasure hunters at http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/12/belzec-sobibor-treblinka-holocaust_5940.html.  These images and more are available in the archives of the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum in Israel at http://gfh.org.il/eng/.

    [6] “Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 7: Mass Graves (2).  Number, Dimensions and contents of the Mass Graves” at http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/12/belzec-sobibor-treblinka-holocaust_5940.html.

    [7] For more information see http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2008/03/gold-rush-in-treblinka.html.

    [8]“Protokol czynnosci wykomanych w terenie w toku dochodzenia sadowego w sprawie obozu smierci w Treblince, AIPN NTN 69” as cited in “Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka.  Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 7: Mass Graves (2).  Number, Dimensions and contents of the Mass Graves” at http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/12/belzec-sobibor-treblinka-holocaust_5940.html.

    [9]“Protokol czynnosci wykomanych w terenie w toku dochodzenia sadowego w sprawie obozu smierci w Treblince, AIPN NTN 69” as cited in “Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka.  Holocaust Denial and Operation Reinhard. Chapter 7: Mass Graves (2).  Number, Dimensions and contents of the Mass Graves” at http://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/2011/12/belzec-sobibor-treblinka-holocaust_5940.html.

    [10] Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985), preface, p. 17

    [11] Lee Cain, “British archaeologist destroys Holocaust deniers’ argument with mass grave find at Treblinka, Mail Online, April 14, 2013 at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2087735/British-archaeologist-discovers-fresh-evidence-mass-graves-World-War-Two-death-camp-Treblinka.html and “Treblinka: Revealing the hidden graves of the Holocaust,” BBC News Magazine, 23 January 2012 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16657363.  (The BBC article contains color maps of Coll’s findings.)

    [12] “Treblinka Ground Radar Examination Finds No Trace of Mass Graves” at http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v19/v19n3p20_radar.html.

    [13] See David Irving’s website, http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/Treblinka/IHRJ191000.html citing “Treblinka Ground Radar Examination Finds No Trace of Mass Graves,” Journal of Historical Review, 19(3) (May/June 2000).

    [14] “Was Treblinka a Death Camp?” at http://holocaustdenial.com/Zyklon_B/judicial_inc_biz/Treblinka.html.

    [15] “Iran Hosts Anti-Semitic Hatefest in Tehran” at http://archive.adl.org/main_International_Affairs/iran_holocaust_conference.htm?Multi_page_sections=sHeading_3.