Documented History

The Belzec Camp was initially one of a string of forced-labor camps set up along the eastern border of occupied Poland, meant to house prisoners, among them gypsies, Jews and Christian Poles, who were deployed to build roads and border fortifications. Living conditions in these camps were very bad, and mortality due to exhaustion, mistreatment and diseases was very high.

On 16 March 1942, Fritz Reuter, an employee of the Department of Population and Welfare in the office of the governor for the Lublin District, and SS Hauptsturmführer Hans Höfle, Odilo Globocnik’s deputy chief of staff and delegate for Jewish resettlement in the Lublin district, decided that Jews slated to be sent to this district ought to be divided in those fit and those unfit for labor before being put on trains. The former were to be collected in a camp for forced-labor, while the latter were to be sent through the outermost border station at Belzec “to cross the border [to the East] and never return to the Government General [occupied Poland].”

Very few official documents on deportations to the Bełżec Camp have survived. While they show a very harsh German attitude toward the Jews – “old, infected, frail, or untransportable Jews” were evidently on occasions shot – they do not confirm any extermination policy; for if every Jew was to be gassed at Belzec, why take the trouble of killing unfit Jews beforehand?

Some German documents report about problems with Jews who had been resettled, either because they tried to hide, left the resettlement location or fled from resettlement trains. Others indicate that, when the Belzec Camp was about to cease its activities, allegedly because all Jews in the region had been killed, German authorities were setting up large numbers of Jewish living quarters in the concerned districts.

A report of 7 April 1942 by Richard Türk, director of the Department for Population and Welfare in the office of the governor of the Lublin district (Reuter’s boss) contains a paragraph on the “Jewish Resettlement Operation” listing the number of Jews from the west who had been settled in the area, and the number of Jews evacuated from the area to the East.

The history of the resettlement of Jews in the district of Lublin confirms fully the Höfle directive mentioned above. After the Bełżec Camp assumed its new function, many transports of western Jews arrived in the Lublin district and were settled there. There are documents showing that Jews left the Bełżec Camp and arrived in other camps, such as Majdanek. Many transport trains with western Jews were deported to the East without interrupting their journey at Bełżec or any other claimed extermination camp.

Several months after the Belzec Camp had been shut down, Höfle sent a telegram that was intercepted and decrypted by the British. Among other figures, it contained the number of persons who arrived at “B” (presumably Belzec) until the end of its operation: 434,508 individuals. Hence, if we take the extant documents at face value, this is the number of individuals transited through that camp, either on the way to other camps or to some resettlement destination, usually in the East.

(For more details, see Mattogno 2004a, pp. 97-108)

Propaganda History

The first report on Bełżec is from 8 April 1942, claiming that Jews were murdered there either by electrocution or by poison gas, after which the corpses were burned.

A text said to have been found after the war, allegedly buried on the former campgrounds by some inmate in 1942, claims that Jews were either killed by other Jews defecating on their heads until they suffocated in their excrements, or that they were electrocuted.

A report of the Polish underground from April 1942 stated that they didn’t know how Jews were murdered at Belzec but listed electrocution (though there is no electricity at the camp), gases (though no gas effect has been observed), and vacuum.

This is followed by a string of reports in the second half of 1942 by such sources as the Jewish underground of the Warsaw Ghetto (Emanuel Ringelblum’s group), the Polish government in exile in London, and a Wehrmacht officer’s diary entry.

On 30 August 1942, the Jewish Agency for Palestine issued a report claiming that the corpses of Jews murdered at Belzec were utilized for their fat.

On 15 November 1942, Ignacy Schwarzbart, a member of the Polish National Council, repeated claims that murder at Belzec occurred using either electrocution or lethal gas-chambers, but he described only the alleged electrocution process in some detail. His claims were spread by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ten days later.

On 25 November 1942, Polish black-propagandist Jan Karski wrote a report claiming that Jews were killed inside deportation trains by putting a layer of chlorinated lime on the rail-car floors, and sprinkle it with water, which led to toxic fumes choking many inside. Those arriving alive at Belzec were electrocuted (here, Karski copied Schwarzbart’s text). On 10 December 1942, the Polish government in exile in London repeated the claim that the floors of rail cars “were covered with quicklime and chlorine” to maximize transport casualties. Karski’s report was also published in March 1943 by the newspaper Voice of the Unconquered. In his 1944 book Story of a Secret State, Karski has all victims die in the trains by quicklime eating the flesh off their bones; the electrocution chambers have disappeared.

On 20 December 1942, The New York Times endorsed those claims by writing executions at Belzec occurred using “electrocution and lethal gas,” a story they repeated on 12 February 1944 with a detailed description of the electrocution process, claiming that the naked victims, standing on a metal platform, were lowered “into a huge vat filled with water,” where they “were electrocuted by current through the water.”

Also in 1944, Abraham Silberschein published two reports on the Bełżec camp, which both claimed that Jews executed were mass-murdered there by electrocution (or an “electric oven”), after which the corpses’ fat was turned into soap.

Belzec Map
Schematic drawing of the Belzec Camp area, based on a 1944 air photo.
1 roads; 2 main rail line passed through Belzec train station one kilometer (⅝ mile) north; 3 trees; 4 farms that were plowed and tilled in 1944; 5 cleared line may have been a power cable; 6 short railway spur; 7 the lower building appears to have been a sawmill; 8 the camp area between the ridge top and the railway spur of 240 m × 250 m (790 ft × 820 ft) was cleared by logging of all trees between 1940 and 1944; 9 site of the supposed 1942 homicidal gas chambers; 10 hill-top ridge 30 m (100 ft) higher in elevation than the railway spur in the valley; 11 location shown on alleged survivor’s maps where more than 400,000 bodies were buried; it would have been cumbersome to transport the bodies uphill from the supposed gas chambers; 12 heavily worn path in the soil appears to have been a skid for sliding logs downhill to the rail cars; 13 rail cars

Also in 1944, Stefan Szende claimed in a book that “5 millions people” were killed by lowering them on a huge metal floor-plate into a large water tank, where they were electrocuted, after which the water was drained, and the floor-plate turned into a gigantic electric furnace, cremating all victims.

When Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman compiled the text for their Black Book starting in 1944, they wrote about the use of both gas and electric currents for mass murder at Belzec, and that the murdered Jews’ fat was turned into soap.

In a deposition of 7 October 1944, Rozalja Schelewna Schier declared to know from hearsay that at Belzec people were killed with “gas and high-voltage electric current,” after which the floor folded down, and the corpses fell into a pit, where they were burned.

On 26 April 1945, a deranged Kurt Gerstein signed one of his many affidavits in which he claimed that mass murder at Belzec was committed with Diesel-engine exhaust gasses, although these gases are so low in carbon monoxide that they are unsuited for mass-murder purposes.

On 16 October 1945, a certain Jan G. declared to know from hearsay that the electrocution story was wrong. Rumors had it that the killing had been done with the exhaust gas of a 250-HP engine running in the camp. The witness confirmed the collapsible-floor rumor, although now to discharge the corpses into rail cars, bringing them to mass graves. On the same day, another hearsay witness, Michał Kuśmierczak, also peddled the 250-HP motor version.

Other 1945 publications insisted, though, that the electrocution claim was in fact correct, a theme elaborated on further by Simon Wiesenthal in a 1946 pamphlet, who added to that tale that soap had been made from Jewish bodies.

In preparation for the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT), the Polish War Crimes Office asserted in a 1945 report that Jews were killed at Bełżec in “special electric installations” by means of “electric current of high voltage.” The same tale can be found in the Polish government’s official report on Belzec accepted by the IMT as Document USSR-93 (see IMT, Vol. VII, pp. 576f.).

Interrogations of hearsay witnesses by the Polish judiciary in late 1945 and early 1946 resulted in a jumble of various methods of execution, with none prevailing: gas, electric current, vacuum. Only two witnesses who testified in this context claimed to have been inside the camp and have seen the mechanics of the alleged murder facility: Rudolf Reder and Stanislaw Kozak.

Reder described an absurdly complicated system with an engine, a fly wheel and glass tubes, insisted that he did not know how the killing was done, but was absolutely sure that the engine’s exhaust gases were not used for murder but vented outside instead.

Kozak, who claimed to have been hired by the Germans in late 1941 to build three wooden chambers, described them as equipped with a furnace in each chamber and water pipes set along the chamber walls. In other words, he described either shower rooms or hot-steam disinfestation chambers, but certainly no mass-murder technology.

In spite of this Babylonian confusion, Eugeniusz Szrojt from the Central Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland wrote down a bold lie in a 1947 report that all except one witness had agreed that the murder was committed with engine-exhaust gases. This was repeated in 1948 in a report by the Polish government (which so far had endorsed the electrocution method). This move may have been induced by the traction that Gerstein’s depositions had gained in the meantime with Western historians. From that point onward, all earlier false claims and lies about electrocution, trains of death, soap factories and fat exploitation, as well as collapsible floors, were forgotten and swept under the rug.

What crystalized as the orthodox “truth” from this was a first set of three wooden gas chambers as described by what Kozak claims to have built in late 1941/early 1942 (although he saw a hot-water or steam facility), and a second, later set of six brick-and-concrete chambers as described by Gerstein and Reder when they came to the camp in the summer of 1942. It mattered not at all that none of these witnesses were trustworthy, that their testimonies were internally and mutually contradictory, and that some of their claims were physically impossible.

For instance, Reder had “seen” a gas-chamber building measuring 100 m × 100 m containing six chambers, three on either side of a corridor 1.5 m wide. Therefore, the building’s footprint was 10,000 square meters! Gerstein also saw six chambers, three each arranged on either side of a corridor, but the chambers measured 5 m × 5 m (or 5 m × 4 m). Hence, his building measured only some (3 × 5 m =) 15 m × (2 × 5 m + 2 m =) 12 m, resulting in a footprint of only 180 square meters! This is not even two percent of Reder’s building! This is a clear-cut case of a divergence rather than convergence of evidence.

Mainstream historian Michael Tregenza revealed in 2000 that the camp’s SS men and Ukrainian guards were socializing, even fraternizing with the local village population, with the latter supplying construction workers and employees, delivering food, and offering sexual services, all voluntarily and paid. Local villagers working inside the camp were allowed, even encouraged to take photographs of their SS friends inside the camp. In light of these interactions, it is inevitable that the Polish underground would have been informed right from the beginning of the camp’s existence as to what exactly was unfolding there. Furthermore, the SS men’s behavior clearly shows that they thought they had nothing to hide. Therefore, the confusion as to how mass murder was committed at that camp was not based on a lack of information, but on a lack of coordination among the black-propaganda liars.

By 1965, when the Bełżec Trial took place in Munich against several former members of the camp staff, the official narrative of death by engine exhaust had been so firmly established that the eight defendants, in the hope of minimizing their sentences, could not but accept it unconditionally and proffer painful “confessions.” Seven of them saw their charges dropped in return, while the last defendant standing, Josef Oberhauser, received not even eight minutes of jail time for every single one of the 300,150 murders he was found guilty of having committed, resulting in a total of 4.5 years in prison. Jewish lives were still cheap in Germany at that time, but what mattered was that the dogma had been legally cast in stone.

(For more details, see the entry on the Bełżec Trial as well as Mattogno 2004a, pp. 11-47; 2021e, pp. 22-66)

Death-Toll Propaganda

  • In his 1944 book, Stefan Szende claimed a death toll of 5 million.
  • On 22 September 1944, Rudolf Reder claimed a death toll of 3 million.
  • On 11 April 1946, a Polish prosecutor claimed a death toll of 1.8 million.
  • In 1947, a Polish government commission claimed a death toll of 600,000.
  • In 1965, the Munich Jury Court claimed a death toll of at least 300,000.
  • German prosecutor Adalbert Rückerl, however, insisted that the Polish figure of 600,000 may even be too low.
  • In 1999, historian Robin O’Neil claimed a death toll of some 800,000.
  • In 2000, historian Michael Tregenza claimed a death toll of up to one million.

According to a telegram by Hans Höfle intercepted by the British and discovered in 2001, the total number of Jews deported to Belzec amounted to 434,508, with an unknown fate. (For more details, see Mattogno 2004a, pp. 47-50)

Forensic Findings

Before planning any forensic research, it should be clear at least to some degree what to expect. And this is where things already fall apart. Should we expect gigantic electrocution chambers? Gas Chambers? Collapsible floors? Mass-grave traces of 3 million people, or just 434,500, or maybe even much less?

Belzec GarageThe only remarkable forensic discovery at Belzec: the ruins of a former garage building.

The only witness who described the claimed second gas-chamber building made of brick and concrete (thus leaving durable traces), and who wasn’t completely discredited – Rudolf Reder – insisted that this building had an incredibly large footprint of 100 m × 100 m. That’s almost two football fields side by side.

Already in 1945, a few limited excavations were made by Polish investigators, revealing the presence of scattered ashes and human bones. However, these digs were too limited in scope and scale to draw any quantitative conclusion. This changed between 1997 and 1999, when Polish researchers systematically took soil core samples drilled from a network pattern of spots covering most of the former camp’s area. The results were disappointing. First, no trace of any large former brick-and-concrete building coming anywhere near the expected size was found – except for the remains of a building that evidently was a vehicle garage.

The orthodoxy claims that virtually all Belzec victims were buried in mass graves, and only when the mass murder frenzy was over, did they start exhuming and burning these bodies on huge pyres. This presumably started in December 1942 and lasted until March 1943. However, the combined located volume of all disturbed soil found during the Polish investigations of 1997 and 1999 amounts only to some 21,000 m³. Yet in order to bury the minimum number of victims claimed by the orthodoxy for Belzec – 434,500 – at least some 72,000 m³ would have been needed at a packing density of 6 bodies per m³. This means that, in the volume of disturbed soil found, at most some 30% of the Jews deported to Belzec could have been buried. However, this is true only if we assume that all disturbed soil volume in fact was packed at this density from top to bottom. But that is certainly not the case, not the least also because some of the disturbed soil volumes located must have originated from the 1945 excavations, and from wild diggings by locals who turned the camp area upside down after the war in search of rumored Jewish treasures lost or hidden there.

So, where are the other 300,000+ deportees?

Finally, only occasionally were ashes mixed with soil found, and only very rarely any human remains. Therefore, whatever was once buried there, if anything, must have mostly disappeared, if it ever existed in the first place.

There are no witness testimonies as to how exactly the bodies of these allegedly murdered Jews were made to disappear. The orthodoxy’s narrative regarding Belzec was simply copied over from claims made about the Treblinka Camp. As with this camp, the logistical problems that the perpetrators and their assistants would have faced would have been formidable. All the corpses claimed had to be burned with open-air incinerations on huge pyres, since the camp had no cremation furnaces. The table above shows some data about the claimed events.

Characteristics of Mass Graves and Mass Cremations at Belzec
Claimed Found
no. of corpses 434,500 to 3 million scattered remains
space required (@ 6 bodies/m³) 72,400 to 500,000 m³ at most 21,000 m³
claimed cremation time Dec. 1942 – March 1943, ca. 120 days
corpses cremated 3,620 to 25,000 per day
green wood needed (@ 250 kg/body) 905 to 6,250 metric tons per day
total green wood needed 108,625 to 750,000 metric tons

The wood needed to cremate these corpses had to come from local forests, which would have led to large swaths of land around the camp getting denuded of any trees, but that evidently didn’t happen. The space requirement for the many huge pyres, and the manpower needed – to exhume the bodies; fell, transport and chop tens or even hundreds of thousands of trees; build and maintain the pyres; extract and scatter the ashes – would have been formidable.

The maximum number of inmates, claimed by any witness, who were deployed at Belzec to cut trees and bring it to the camp as firewood was 60. Data based on experience with forced laborers such as PoWs shows that one man can fell some 0.63 metric tons of trees per day. This makes some 38 tons of wood for 60 inmates per day. Experiences with open-air incinerations show that it takes some 250 kg of freshly cut wood to cremate one average human corpse. Hence, the cremation of some 434,500 bodies would have required 108,625 metric tons of freshly cut wood. It would have taken these 60 inmates some 2,873 days of uninterrupted work to cut that much wood. This is almost eight years – while they had only 120 days to do it. Alternatively, to get the work done in time, it would have required 1,437 dedicated lumberjacks.

Add to this the fact that the Polish forests were tightly managed by the German occupational forces as precious resources for lumber and fuel. Hence, the SS couldn’t send droves of inmates to adjacent forests and cut them down without getting permission to do so. Of course, there is no documental or material trace of any such massive tree-felling activity having been applied for, or granted, let alone occurred.

None of it has left a trace – either in witness statements, or in documents, or in the material and forensic record. Therefore, the most logical conclusion is that nothing of the claimed events actually happened.

To prevent any future research from messing with the orthodox narrative, the Polish authorities turned the entire area of the former Belzec Camp into a gigantic tomb covered with a huge concrete memorial and layers upon layers of rock.

(For more details, see Mattogno 2004a, pp. 71-96; 2021e, pp. 195-213, 273-295; Rudolf 2023, pp. 284-287)

Current Orthodox Narrative

Because Stanislaw Kozak’s description of the alleged extermination building which he said he helped construct in late 1941 and early 1942 is completely different than what Rudolf Reder and Kurt Gerstein described seeing in the summer of 1942, the orthodoxy has split the camp’s extermination activities into two stages (see Gutman 1990, pp. 174-179):

The first stage features Kozak’s three wooden chambers, while hiding from the reader the fact that Kozak described a steam or water facility, not a homicidal gas chamber. Instead, they misleadingly write: “There were pipes in the chamber through which the gas was pumped,” when Kozak had actually stated that water pipes were going along and up the wall and were connected to a heating furnace. They moreover posit the use of exhaust gases from a 250-HP diesel engine, although one witness who spoke about a 250-HP engine merely reported rumors from hearsay, and mentioned that the gas-chamber floors opened up, so the corpses would fall into carts below – a preposterous, false claim. Another witness, also reporting rumors from hearsay, nonsensically spoke of a 250-KW motor placed in a 3-m deep pit underground, 30 meters away from the gas-chamber building. Neither “witness” mentioned that it was a diesel motor. This claim relies on Gerstein’s preposterous “confessions,” ignoring that diesel-engine exhaust is unable to kill people within any reasonable time­ frame. (See Mattogno 2004a, pp. 20, 46f.)

The claimed second stage of the camp, presumably initiated in the spring of 1942, features Reder’s and Gerstein’s six brick-and-concrete chambers, allegedly measuring 4 m × 5 m each (Gerstein’s claim), while ignoring that Reder spoke of a gasoline engine whose exhaust was definitely not used for murder, and his gas-chamber building measured 100 m × 100 m, hence each of the six chambers would have been much larger than 4 m × 5 m. Gutman and colleagues claim that up to 1,200 people per batch were killed in those six chambers, resulting in an incredible packing density of 10 people per m². Yet they ignore that Gerstein, who gave the size of these rooms, had repeatedly insisted that 700 to 800 Jews were packed into each of these chambers, hence up to 40 people on a square meter – which would have been possible only if they all were ground to a pulp.

In other words, the orthodoxy selects claims from mutually contradictory and obviously preposterous sources in order to create a picture that looks superficially consistent and reasonable, while hiding from their readers the outrageous nature of the “evidence” all this is based upon.

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