Marcel Nadjari's Message in a Bottle

The apparent age and peculiar provenance of the document do not suffice to make it credible.
Published: 2017-12-01
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Smithsonian “Smart News” of 11 October 2017 and Deutsche Welle of 9 October reported that a thirteen-page letter from a member of the Sonderkommando at Birkenau, discovered in 1980, has been rendered legible. Deutsche Welle says that the letter was written in late 1944, then “stuck in a thermos, wrapped in a leather pouch and buried in the soil near Crematorium III” before the arrival of the Red Army. Only 10 to 15% of the letter, written by Greek Jew Marcel Nadjari, was legible when it was found in 1980, but with multispectral image analysis in 2013, 85 to 90% of the letter became legible.

Pavel Polian, an historian with the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich, says that Nadjari’s and several other writings found buried at Auschwitz “are the most central documents of the Holocaust.” The other buried writings, Polian says, were all found shortly after the Red Army arrived in 1945; only the one written by Nadjari was discovered much later.

The letter describes the systematic killing of prisoners at Birkenau:

"Underneath a garden, there are two endless basement rooms: one is meant for undressing, the other is a death chamber. People enter naked and when it is filled with about 3,000 people, it is closed and they are gassed." (Deutsche Welle, 9 October 2017)

Deutsche Welle says that the letter was buried near Krema III, where a homicidal gas chamber has been alleged (which according to revisionist findings was a morgue).

According to original German wartime blueprints, Morgue #1, the alleged homicidal gas chamber of Crematorium III at Birkenau, was 30 m long and 7 m wide, hence had an area of 210 m² (2,260 sq ft; ignoring the seven pillars of altogether a little over 1 m²). Deutsche Welle quotes Nadjari as saying that the prisoners were pressed into the room “like sardines” by whipping them.

The figure of 3,000 persons packed into the alleged gas chamber of Krema III happens to correspond to something in the pseudo-memoir of Rudolf Höss (pp. 110, 143), written while in Polish Communist captivity after the war. It says that Krema II (which is a mirror-image of Krema III and of the same size) could easily accommodate 2,000, but could potentially hold 3,000. 

Is it necessary to point out the impossibility of marching 3,000 people into a room of only 2,260 square feet? Even if they are chased with a whip, it is not going to happen.

Nadjari says that, after one-half hour in the gas chamber (another figure attributed to Höss), he and others in the Sonderkommando would remove the corpses and take them to be cremated. Here, again, Nadjari supplies some interesting details. First, Nadjari says that the corpses were flammable:

“We carried the corpses of these innocent women and children to the elevator, which brought them into the room with the ovens, and they put them there in the furnaces, where they were burnt without the use of fuel, because of the fat they have.” (Smithsonian Smart News, 11 October 2017)

Anybody who has grilled meat over an open flame should know that this is impossible. Although pure fat is flammable, the fat of a carcass, human or otherwise, contains too much water to burst into flames. Certainly the people at Smithsonian “Smart News” should know this!

What remains after the cremation of a human corpse? Nadjari declares:

“a human being ends up as about 640 grams of ashes.” (Deutsche Welle)

That’s 1.41 lbs. Is that a realistic figure? A business that sells paraphernalia related to cremation has posted online general information about cremation, including a description of what remains:

"The cremated remains of an adult male will usually weigh around six pounds while the remains of an adult female will be closer to four pounds. The height of the deceased rather than their weight has a strong correlation with the weight of the ashes produced through cremation." (Cremation Solutions)

The article says that the remains consist mainly of bone fragments, which means that neither emaciation nor obesity will significantly affect the weight after cremation. Nadjari’s 640 grams is thus about 28% of the average weight of cremated human remains. (It is surely possible that European Jews 70 years ago had smaller frames than present-day inhabitants of the United States, but not that much smaller.)

How does Nadjari say that the death factory of Birkenau disposed of the remains? He talks about:

“ … bones that the Germans forced us to crush, to then press through a coarse sieve, and then a car picked it up and poured it into the Vistula River, which flows by in the area and thus they eliminate all traces. ” (National Post, 19 October 2017)

Nadjari estimates that about 1.4 million victims were processed in this manner, and he is praised by Pavel Polian for the relative accuracy of his estimate, since it is much less than the 4,000,000 that the Auschwitz Museum claimed until 1990.

Even if the powdered bone fragments from each corpse weighed only 1.41 lbs, that is literally about 1,000 tons of crushed bone poured into the River Vistula. (If we use the more realistic figure of 4 lbs. per corpse, multiplied by the current official Auschwitz-Birkenau death toll of about 1.1 million, that makes 2,200 tons.) By what magic is a thousand tons or more of bonemeal dumped into the River Vistula not going to leave a trace?

Also, Nadjari is not even saying that the bones were pulverized: they were "crushed" to the point of being able to pass through a "coarse sieve," which means that there would be recognizable fragments of bone in the river.

There are other problems with Nadjari’s account, like the illogical and stupid way that he says gassings were managed, but the physical impossibilities alone should have been enough to alert the various major news agencies, and certainly the Smithsonian Institution, that the buried letter lacked credibility – even if it is one of “the most central documents of the Holocaust.”

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Hadding Scott
Title Marcel Nadjari's Message in a Bottle, The apparent age and peculiar provenance of the document do not suffice to make it credible.
Sources Inconvenient History, Vol. 9, No. 4 (2017)
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Dates published: 2017-12-01, first posted on CODOH: Dec. 1, 2017, 6:46 a.m., last revision: n/a
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