Patrick Desbois and the "Mass Graves" of Jews in Ukraine

Published: 2015-09-04

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1) The empty arguments of Father Patrick Desbois

Father Patrick Desbois, an ardent champion of Judeo-Christian "friendship" and Chairman of the Yahad-In Unum Association, has acquired a certain notoriety in recent years due to his search for the mass graves of Jews murdered by the Einsatzgruppen in the Ukraine and other German theaters of operation in the years 1941-1942. Like any good Judeophile, he enjoys close relations with Israel, which showers him with awards and praise in return.[1]

Notwithstanding this lavish support of the philo-Semitic and philo-Jewish Punch-and-Judy show, Desbois has come under criticism in his country of origin, France.

The 19 June 2009 issue of Le Monde des Livres, p. 2, published an article by Thomas Wieder entitled “Querelle autour du Père Desbois[2] [“Dispute Surrounding Father Desbois”], which begins as follows:

It is rare for Le Monde to be compelled to return to a work upon which a review has already been published in its columns. The occasion presents itself today, by reason of the growing controversy, now several weeks old, regarding a book, Porteur de mémoires [Bearer of Memories] published by Michel Lafon, 2007, [Title has been published as Holocaust by Bullets in its English edition –Ed.] and its author, Father Patrick Desbois.

On 2 November 2007, under the title 'A Priest Sets an Example for the Historians', Le Monde des Livres published a laudatory review of Father Desbois's book. This Catholic priest, director of the National Service for Relations with Judaism at the Conference of Bishops of France, describes the research conducted by himself in Ukraine starting in 2002, “on the traces of the Shoah by bullets,” intended to locate the graves containing the corpses of more than one million Jews murdered during the Second World War. The author of the article, Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, speaks of an "extraordinary undertaking," likely to “upset our preconceived ideas" on this aspect of the genocide.

Almost two years later, and after two visits to the Ukraine with Patrick Desbois and his group — first in May, and later in August 2008 — Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine declares that she “was mistaken.” She makes this announcement, first of all, in “La fabrique de l’histoire” [“The History Factory”], on France Culture, on 27 May. After the broadcast, she was informed that her "collaboration" in the seminar sponsored by the Sorbonne with the historian Edouard Husson and Father Desbois in the fall of 2008 was to be “terminated effective immediately.” Desbois, who refused to participate in the broadcast, has now become the target of criticism on several points.

Some regard the notion of a "Shoah by bullets,” popularized by Desbois and disputed by the majority of the specialists, as "sloganeering.” Other criticisms are methodological in nature and relate to Desbois's alleged tendency to depict himself as a "pioneer" while ignoring all the historians who studied this problem well before he did.

With regard to this reproach, Patrick Desbois keeps calm. "I am not a historian," he says, attributing the whole affair to a "misunderstanding," a term borrowed from Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, general director of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, one of the organizations providing financial support to the Yahad-In Unum association, chaired by Desbois since 2004. She explains: “There is no need to require Father Desbois to be something which he is not. His undertaking is that of a man of the cloth and he has the right to follow his own methodology, which is not identical to that followed by university professors.”

It is precisely this methodology which is causing consternation at the present time.

This consternation relates, in particular, to Desbois's tendency to ignore Ukrainian memorials [which already existed] ("to give the impression that the great majority of these graves in Ukraine had been unknown until that time", thus exaggerating "the scope of his discoveries" with recourse to a few "minor adjustments of the truth") while omitting the fact of the complicity of the Ukrainian population with the Nazis, to avoid "laying the blame on our courageous Ukrainian witnesses," in Desbois's words.

On the other hand, Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine "expresses doubt as to the scholarly value of interviews sometimes carried out "in a climate of intimidation," due to the presence of an "armed bodyguard wearing camouflage," an accusation rejected by Desbois as a "calumny."

What should be noted here is that Desbois is not a historian, but a "man of the cloth," who has, for his research, adopted a methodology based, not on scholarly standards, but, rather, on religious faith.

2) Aktion 1005 and “Negationism"

In the booklet entitled Operation 1005,[3] Desbois and Levana Frenk concern themselves with the so-called Aktion 1005, an alleged

code word for an operation intended to wipe out the traces of the murder of millions of persons in occupied Europe,[4]

allegedly directed by SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, through an operational unit commonly known as Sonderkommando 1005.[5]

In fact, the authors say nothing about Aktion 1005, but restrict themselves to compiling a biography of Blobel. The objective of their book seems in fact to consist of establishing a correlation between the above-mentioned operation and “Holocaust denial”:

The operation of wiping out the traces and eliminating the bodies had direct implications, in part, upon the development of negationism, and, in part, upon the phenomena of memory. Eliminating the traces was equivalent to denying the victim their right to burial and relegating them to oblivion. On the other hand, negationism had already been committed through the process of "Vernichtung,” of reducing to a nullity and annihilating all traces of the dead, without precedence in the history of genocide.[6]

The passage quoted above must therefore be kept in mind in any consideration of Desbois's famous research work in the Ukraine as a sort of response to "negationism," a term invented by the defenders of traditional Holocaust lore to discredit revisionism. The only real negationism is that professed by those who, out of intolerance, deny other people's right to freedom of expression, denying, out of pseudo-religious obtuseness and bad faith, the very foundations of historiographical and scholarly methodology itself.

The picture is becoming increasingly clear: Desbois is a "man of faith" who adopts a "faith-based" methodology for the express purpose of denying revisionism.

3) Numerical nonsense

The folder accompanying the exhibition entitled Les Fusillades Massives en Ukraine (1941-1944): La Shoah par Balles, (The Mass Shootings in Ukraine (1941-1944): The Shoah by Bullets), held at Paris on 20-30 June 2007, supplies the following information in this regard:

Between 1941 and 1944, approximately one and a half million Ukrainian Jews were murdered d n theater), the Waffen-SS, the German police and by local collaborators. Only a minority were killed after deportation to the extermination camps […].

Since 2004, Father Patrick Desbois and the Yahad-In Unum research group found numerous Ukrainian witnesses who had seen the massacres or who had been called up [for temporary labor service] during the execution of the Jews. The testimonies gathered by the Yahad, systematically compared with written documentation, have enabled the discovery of more than five hundred previously forgotten mass graves and the collection of material evidence relating to the genocide (weapons, cartridge cases, ammunition). It has finally become possible to preserve and respect the burial of the victims […] (emphasis added).[7]

If words still have any meaning, the presumed "discovery of more than five hundred mass graves" is a shameless lie. As we shall see, with the exception of 15 graves, with regard to which many objections can nevertheless still be raised, Desbois never located one single grave, but rather, areas in meadows, woods or agricultural lands in which he claims mass graves exist, based on mere testimonies, the reliability of which we shall now examine. Even the number of alleged victims is absurd. In his numerical tally of Holocaust victims, under the heading of "Open Air Executions," Raul Hilberg supplies the total figure of "more than 1,300,000," which includes:

Einsatzgruppen, other heads of the SS and Police, Rumanian and German armies in mobile operations; shootings in Galicia during the deportations; executions of prisoners of war and shootings in Serbia and elsewhere.[8]

It is therefore impossible to understand how one could arrive at the figure of 1.5 million victims in the Ukraine alone.

It gets worse. Desbois describes himself as a "man of the cloth," who adopts a "faith-based" methodology to combat revisionism, with recourse, euphemistically speaking, to certain "adjustments of the truth." And he does this on a vast scale, as we shall soon see.

The Italian translation of Desbois's book Porteur de mémoires, mentioned above, was published with the title "Fucilateli tutti” La prima fase della Shoah raccontata dai testimoni[9] [Shoot Them All: The Initial Phase of the Shoah as Narrated by Witnesses]. The author describes his indefatigable search for eyewitnesses in the Ukraine, who, in filmed interviews, are said to have told him of the locations of the alleged mass graves of Jews shot by the Einsatzgruppen.

The motivation alleged to have impelled him to conduct this undertaking – the desire to find the final resting place of his grandfather, a POW, in a concentration camp at Rawa Ruska, in the Ukraine – is a rather facile pretext. Desbois in fact tells us that, finding himself in Częstochowa, in central-southern Poland, during a nighttime walk, he asked his companions where they were: "Someone turned to me and answered: ‘Not far from the Ukraine.’" This response is said to have shocked him, by suddenly re-awakening old memories (pp. 35-36). In reality, Częstochowa is nearly 350 kilometers away from the Ukraine as the crow flies. It is closer to Germany (less than 290 km away) than the Ukraine. Desbois's account is therefore merely a literary fiction.

4) The Eyewitnesses

Desbois supplies additional important information in this regard:

The witnesses whom we interviewed fell into three different categories: Indirect witnesses, who had not been present during the shootings, but who had heard tell of them or who saw the Jews being taken away. This class includes witnesses who described, for example, police removing Jews from their houses and taking them away.

Direct eyewitnesses: this class includes those who saw the shootings personally. […] The majority of our witnesses fell into this class.

Finally, there were the others: civilians drafted for a day or a week, most of them boys (p. 90).

The direct eyewitnesses, however, "were only six, seven or eight years old at the time of the events in question"! (pp. 89-90). In one case, only five years old, such as Maria Kedrovska, born in 1937 (p. 259, 261). This fact is repeatedly mentioned in the book:

…as children, were present at the murder of their Jewish neighbors… (p. 121);

…from their recollections, recalled through the eyes of the children that they were at that time… (p. 131);

The Germans shouted at the children not to look… (p. 156);

"When I was a little girl, I saw them taking Jews away on carts… (p. 166);

With other children, we went to see what was happening (p. 170);

A little girl at the time, she remembers running behind the carts full of bodies right up to the entrance to the cemetery (p. 220).

How reliable can these old childhood memories possibly be? Their recollections, more than sixty years later, are now indissolubly confused with what they heard or read later, a fact made obvious by their own declarations:

Only much later did we learn what had happened (p. 148);

My father, who died in 1980, was the person who told me… (p. 203);

I didn't see it personally, but someone spoke to me about it… (p. 216).

I didn't see it directly, but the villagers told me about it (p. 245).

From rumors going around… (p. 186).

These alleged "eyewitness testimonies" are thus clearly invalidated by the rumors circulating post-war. Desbois himself notes:

After the Germans abandoned an area, the Soviets opened the graves in village after village and conducted an investigation, interviewing victims, persons affected, and the survivors. They then drew up reports establishing the facts.

Sometimes, they were divined from the maps upon which the locations of the mass graves were indicated by crosses. But are these Soviet documents reliable? This type of material has been largely discredited by the Katyn Forest affair, introduced during the proceedings of the Nuremberg Trial (p. 134).

On 13 April 1943, in the Katyn forest, near Smolensk in the Soviet Union, the Germans, acting on information obtained from the local population, discovered seven mass graves containing a total of 4,143 bodies. The investigation (during which the bodies were examined by a commission consisting of forensic experts from 12 European countries, by a Commission of the Polish Red Cross and by American, British and Canadian officers selected from among POWs) showed that the crime had been committed by the Soviets. When the Soviets subsequently reoccupied the territory of Smolensk, the bodies at Katyn were once again exhumed and a commission was drawn up consisting solely of Soviet citizens (the Burdenko Commission), to shift responsibility for the massacre onto the Germans. On 15 January 1944, they also invited a group of Western journalists. This large-scale propaganda exercise in the falsification of history is still attested to in the 38 booklets relating to the Katyn case, which are still located in the State Archives of the Russian Federation. At Nuremberg, the Katyn massacre, shamelessly attributed to the Germans by the Soviets, was debated in several sessions of the Nuremberg Trial.[10]

The value of the above-mentioned Soviet reports can readily be assessed. There is no doubt, therefore, that the witnesses interviewed by Desbois, who were mostly mere adolescents at the time, were heavily influenced by this propaganda.

A few of the witnesses were also researchers after their own fashion, such as Polina Savchenko, "who had a passionate interest in the history of the Shoah" (p. 165), or Adolf Wislowski, who "gathered articles relating to the killing of the Jews" (p. 139), which can only have influenced their testimony.

Their tales are full of obviously apocryphal horrifying or edifying anecdotes, such as the story of the

… man who had seen a local Volksdeutscher take a childhood friend into the camp and shoot him, after which [the child] was forced to pick a cartful of sunflowers [!] to burn his friend and all the Jews who had been killed over the past week (p. 152).

Or that of the Jewess who, indifferent to the mass executions, wandered around calmly begging with her three children near the barracks housing the Gestapo. The "head of the Gestapo" shouted at her:

Jews? The woman nodded, yes. Then he took his pistol and killed them all, right there, right in front of my doorway (p. 125).

Truly a suicide looking for a place to happen.

Or the story, a truly plaintive one, of the Jewish child, "aware" that his friend Anna was watching his execution together with her friends, concealed in a nearby hayloft, waved goodbye to her before being shot; since they were watching "through cracks in the slats," and could not be seen from the outside, he was able to "make a brief gesture in their direction, as if to wave goodbye, after which he shouted: "Goodbye!" The murderers fired at that moment. (p. 213)

All this is said to have taken place in the face of imminent death by shooting, in which a true "silence of the tomb" must have reigned, enabling them to hear the child's words, from a distance, through the cracks in the hayloft.

Obviously, this little fairy tale is then said to have "almost broken" Desbois's heart (p. 213), just like this one, no doubt:

When the neighbors read "kilometer 11," the Germans had already blocked the road. All traffic was prohibited during the executions. The only vehicles authorized to continue along the road were loaded with Jews. They glimpsed little Dora on the other side of the barrier. She was naked. In the freezing cold, she begged the Germans to give her back her cloak: "Give me my cloak, I'll give you my shoes in exchange!" But the Germans never listened to any of the pleading victims. Dora was shot (p. 275).

But if the road was blocked and all traffic was prohibited, how could the "neighbors" have seen and heard such a scene, which occurred, be it noted, in the midst of a crowd of 1,500 persons?[11]

Not to mention the little fairy tale of the bodies piled up on top of each other and stamped on like grapes in a vat:

There were thirty of us Ukrainian young people, we had to stamp on the bodies of the Jews with our bare feet and throw a thin layer of dirt over them, so that the other Jews could lie down.

The following is Desbois's comment:

I could never have imagined that the Germans would have forced Ukrainian children to stamp on the bodies of Jews with their bare feet, as if they were Beaujolais grapes at harvest time (p. 102).

Does this require any comment at all? Alternatively, the bodies were "thrown" into the graves (p. 94), in which case it was unnecessary to "stamp" on them, but they had to be arranged in regular layers; or they were "arranged" (p. 185), in which case, it was unnecessary to "stamp" on them.

A bit of a digression here: an Internet site known as Holocaust Controversies, where the principal prize-winner for obtuseness and bad faith is a certain Roberto Muehlenkamp,[12] a member of the site's resident Holocaust "affirmer" crew adduces this testimony as a "concordant proof" of the "method of killing" employed by the commandants of the SS Einsatzgruppen and Police in the Ukraine.[13] The "stamping" method (p. 100) is said to confirm that of "Sardinenpackung," or sardine packing, said to have been practiced by Friedrich Jeckeln, Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer with the German Army Group South in Russia, and vice versa. Evidence of these claims is said to be provided by two sources explaining exactly what "sardine packing" consists of. The first says that the victims

were forced to undress and to lie face-down in layers in the graves, after which they received a bullet in the back of the neck. Another layer of victims [sic!] were then forced to lie face-down on top of the layer which had just been killed [sic!] and were then shot; the procedure continued until the grave was filled.[14]

The second source repeats the same story, but adds that "they used Russian machine guns because the belt held fifty bullets and they could select semi-automatic fire," which is also included as falling into the definition of "sardine packing."[15]

In this way, the Holocaust Controversies Internet site fails to note that this contradicts one of the cardinal assertions underlying Desbois's investigations, as we shall soon see (in § 9): the alleged incriminating implications of the German cartridge casings found by the said Desbois.

It is odd that the "method" in question did not enlist the labor of the Jewish victims themselves, and that not even the Jews forced to lie down on top of the layer of bodies to be shot in turn were compelled to "stamp" on the bodies forming the underlying layer.

It might be added that if "sardine packing" were really a "method," it should have been in general use throughout the Ukraine; but not a single one of Desbois's witnesses even mentions it; on the contrary, some of the witnesses openly contradict it. For example, Stanislav claims that the victims were killed "on their knees in front of the graves, facing forward, towards the grave" (p. 224). Nikolaj Olkhuski declared that the Germans "all shot at the same time" (p. 94) at the Jewish victims on the edge of the grave, who then fell into the ditch, some of them still alive (pp. 94-95). The same method is confirmed by Ivan Fedossievich Lichnitski, according to whom, in the ditch, a group of Jews "were forced to distribute the Jews lengthwise, covering the entire breadth of the grave" (p. 173), precisely because they had been shot at the edge of the ditch.

Thus, precisely and solely this method justifies the folk legend, referred to by many witnesses, of the mass graves covered by dirt which moved for three days, because the victims were buried alive (p. 81, 109, 175, 274), with the variants of two days (p. 187), or four days (p. 267); or of the use of a "well" instead of a mass grave (p. 263), evidence of extraordinary vitality on the part of the victims, to say the least: buried alive, three days below ground, without air, after being deliberately "stamped" on, like grapes in a wine vat! If to this be added the shot in the back of the neck inflicted upon every single victim, buried alive in mass graves, for three days, only zombies would be capable of such movement.

The witness Maria, by contrast, asserts:

No, they didn't shoot them one by one, but with bursts of sub-machine-gun fire. They didn't use rifles, but sub-machine guns (p. 205).

Another refutation of the "sardine packing” method.

To conclude our review of the imaginative anecdotes reported by Desbois, the witness Evgenja Nazarenko, in 1943, at age 9, is said to have been abandoned, alone, by her mother, near an execution site at Busk , in the province of Leopoli[16], to allow her (the mother) to see whether or not her husband, the child's father, would also be shot, thus risking the life of the little girl (pp. 218, 241, 246).

And what can one say about the stories of Jews walled up alive (pp. 266-267) or suffocated with "Eiderdowns," i.e., feather-bed quilts [sic!]"? Desbois even entitles the paragraphs in question “The Shoah by Suffocation”! (p. 267).

No testimony is nonsensical enough to be rejected by the good priest, and certainly never as, well, not as an outright fairy tale (borrowing the priest's attitude of "Christian charity" for a moment), but at least as dubious or suspicious-sounding.

Everything his decrepit ex-child "witnesses" tell him sixty years later is sacrosanct Truth, like the Gospels (or the Talmud).

5) The Busk eyewitnesses

Claiming credit for having discovered new witnesses, Desbois declares:

These direct witnesses have never been heard and do not appear in any archive document.[17]

In the book, as indicated above, he mentions the (propagandistic) investigations of the various Soviet War Crimes Commissions. On p. 222, he comes back to this topic, writing:

The names of the other witnesses, other than Busk — those whose depositions were signed before the city prosecutor in 1944. The prosecutor interrogated the Ukrainian witnesses who lived in Via Chevtchenko, the long street running past the Jewish cemetery. In 2006, without having been aware of this, we knocked at the same doors where the prosecutor had introduced himself sixty-two years before. The concordance of the testimony is stupefying, in terms of both the underlying questions and the form.

But how then could he pretend that his witnesses had "never been heard" before?

This "adjustment of the truth" implies another — one even more serious.

It should be noted that the city of Busk is of capital importance in Desbois's research, because, as we shall see in § 10, it was the only locality in which any mass graves were ever opened. He declares that "it is in this city that we carried on our research for three years" (p. 210) and he then informs us that "over the course of the investigations at Busk , we met a multitude of eyewitnesses" (p. 216). We are entitled to assume that, for the purposes of his book, Desbois selected the most representative from among this "multitude of witnesses." In fact, in Chapter 17, entitled "Busk”, he mentions six of them:

1) Anna (last name not indicated), interviewed on 29 April 2004 (pp. 210-213): this is the same "witness" who, as a child, is said to have witnessed a shooting while concealed in a hayloft, described above.

2) Anton Davidovich, interviewed on 5 May 2005 (pp. 214-215): a self-styled "little friend" of Anna's, who is said to have shared the same experience with her ("there were five of us children in the hayloft", p. 214).

3) Polina (last name not indicated), interviewed on 30 August 2006. Desbois repeats the story, told him by Anton Davidovich, of Jews being reduced to "sexual objects" by the Germans:

These women were not killed at Busk but in a little copse five kilometers away. By the time the Germans left the city, they were all pregnant. Since the Germans did not feel like shooting them, they entrusted the job of murdering them to a group from Sokal (p. 215).

Desbois comments:

This information is said to have found confirmation one year later, on 30 August 2006, when we met Polina, who lived at Tchuchmani, a small city six kilometers from Busk, not far from the copse in which the little Jewish girls were murdered.

Since the witness Davidovich did not witness the alleged shooting, Anna's "confirmation" presupposes that she was at least an eyewitness of the event. But these are her exact words:

There were shootings in the forest. I did not see them personally, but someone told me about them (p. 216).

For Desbois, therefore, a rumor confirms another rumor, and the two combined constitute proof demonstrating the reality of the alleged event, even if both "testimonies" were given over sixty years later!

Scientifically, this is an aberrant "faith-based" methodological principle, but not for a "person of great faith."

4) Evgenja (last name not indicated) is the child abandoned by her mother near an execution ground, as described above (pp. 216-218).

5) Stepan Davidovski (pp. 218-220) is an indirect witness.

6) Lydia (last name not indicated), interviewed on 16 April 2006 (pp. 221-222), was a child at the time of the alleged incident (p. 221) and did not see the executions, but indicated the location of the mass graves, according to Desbois.

Of these six witnesses, four were children at the time, while the ages of the other two are unknown.

The above-alleged "concordance of testimony" later mentioned by Desbois, means, therefore, that the Soviet prosecutor had interrogated the children "sixty-two years before"!

I shall return to the matter of the mass graves at Busk in § 10.

6) The shooting of the Italian soldiers

On p. 133, Desbois writes:

At a curve in a road, next to a garage, we met another old man, Adolf. Thin, short in stature and with short hair, he is a self-proclaimed 'militant of memory'. He invited us in, saying that he still had some Polish newspaper articles mentioning the body-burning squad. He shows them to us and says, 'I was present at the execution of the Italians. I climbed up into an oak tree with some friends and I saw the Italian soldiers'”. We began to realize the extent of the massacre. The testimonies all agree, and, even if no one is able to reconstruct what happened, they nevertheless inform us of what had happened (emphasis added).

Another example of Desbois's "faith-based" methodology in action.

His witness continues as follows:

At this point, I salvaged the text of a survivor, Wells. This Jew worked in the camp of Janowska, an extermination camp at Leopoli. Book in hand, I followed the itinerary described by the writer, until we arrived at the same forest. Another confirmation (emphasis added).

Before commenting on this last paragraph, "Adolf's eyewitness testimony" really ought to be quoted:

And the executions of the Italians?

They were in uniform with their plumed hats; the poor boys didn't know that they were about to be killed and they undressed calmly. Their clothes were thrown into boxes. Since it was feared that they might escape, there were more Germans than usual. At any rate, they were led out in front of the graves as usual. We were amazed how resigned they were (p. 135).

The translator of the Italian edition of the Desbois's book, Carlo Saletti, informs the reader in a note:

According to the reports drawn up by the Soviet investigatory commission, the Germans murdered several thousand Italian soldiers at the sites utilized at Leopoli in the weeks following September 8th. The news was carried by Soviet sources in 1986-87, causing a sensation in our country. The then Minister of Defense, Giovanni Spadolini, created an investigatory commission intended to shed light on the reliability of this information. […] The findings of this investigatory commission cast doubt upon the alleged mass executions (note 47 on p. 133).

On this topic, Erika Lorenzon wrote:

The debate which followed served to awaken people's interest in the Third Reich, and the fate of Italian POWs in the Soviet Union, with numerous articles in the Italian daily newspapers. While the preceding denunciations had produced a muted response, the communiqués of January 1987 were widely taken up and discussed by the Italian mass media, awakening a wave of emotion and raising many questions: the Soviet revelations, suitably verified, might shed light on the fate of thousands of Italian soldiers listed as missing on the Eastern Front. The Ministry of Defense, at that time headed by Giovanni Spadolini, thus formed an investigatory commission, presided over by Under-Secretary Tommaso Bisaglio, then by Senator Angelo Pavan, together with military and academic authorities who had participated in the war, such as Giulio Bedeschi, Mario Rigoni Stern and Nuto Revelli. In June of the following year, the latter published his findings in a report declaring that the massacre perpetrated against Italian soldiers at Leopoli should be considered assertions not yet basically proven; this statement, however, is counterbalanced by a minority report written by Lucio Ceva, Rigoni Stern and Revelli, who considered that the massacre could not be completely disproven, "although there are still reasonable grounds for doubt which make it impossible to consider the matter proven.”[18]

But an asserted, unproven event remains just a rumor, because neither the testimonies repeated by the Soviets, nor the testimonies considered to constitute "concordance of evidence" by Desbois, has any value as proof. In practice, the good priest has simply collected a concordance of rumor.

I shall return to Wells's alleged "confirmation" somewhat later.

7) State Secrets and open secrets

Desbois claims credit for this “discovery” as well:

Another fact of capital importance: we have demolished the myth of the secret Shoah in the East. In effect, the executions took place in the light of day, in the village or just outside.[19]

This is said to constitute proof of the presence of the above-mentioned Ukrainians at the executions.

Desbois explicitly states that:

[T]he Germans took no precautions against the possibility that the [Ukrainians] forced to participate in the killings might reveal their secrets afterwards. The persons forced to participate were neither Ukrainian police, nor collaborators, nor auxiliaries; most of them were children, both girls and boys, or little boys, whose labor was used for one or two days after being taken from their homes, early in the morning, by an armed man. These were not the ones who watched from the windows of their houses as the columns of Jews marched to the graves, or who climbed trees or hid behind bushes. They were often present on the site to start with, well before the shootings, remaining beside the Jews and their executioners, sometimes just a few meters away, sitting on the grass (pp. 99-100).

He moreover stated that "in some cases, more than fifty young people were used for their labor" (p. 100), adding that the persons forced to participate were not killed (p. 136, 178). Therefore, there was no secrecy, and nothing to be kept secret.

All the persons forced to participate, according to Ivan Lichnitski, by German order,

took empty buckets and beat on them to make a noise, to cover up the blows and screams (p. 183).

This witness also claims to have remained concealed in the usual barn overlooking the execution site, so that he saw what happened. In response to the remark that "it was a miracle that they weren't killed," he said:

And how. They even saw us, shot at us, but thanks to God they didn't capture us (p. 176).

We are thus invited (or expected) to believe that the Germans released direct eyewitnesses, who had witnessed the entire course of the executions, "remaining side by side with the Jews and their murderers, sometimes just a few meters away, seated on the grass," eyewitnesses who were then drafted again for the next round of executions (pp. 177-178), but shot at children who witnessed the shootings only by chance, partially and at some considerable distance!

8) Desbois and the witness Wells-Weliczker

Desbois tells of his meeting in New York with Leon Wells, who writes under the pen name of "Weliczker", author of a book entitled Brigada Śmierci. Pamiętnik (The Death Brigade. A Diary, Łódź, 1946, published in Italian in 1960 under the title Comando speciale 1005, Editori Riuniti, Rome.

With reference to Desbois's book, Wells writes as follows:

I consider his work, which has been used as a guide for years, in addition to reporting some of the very first eyewitness testimonies, a history book, and I did not believe that the author was still alive (p. 137, emphasis added).

I intend to analyze this alleged "history book" in another article.

Here I shall limit myself to examining Weliczker's answers to Desbois, which I shall number for purposes of simplifying the discussion.

He describes the Jewish commander who burned other Jews alive. He told me that other Jews called him Baby.[20] At the time, he was little more than a teenager.[21]

I asked him: "Whatcha doin', Baby?"

[1] I pulled the teeth out of Jews after disinterring them, collected the teeth in a bag which I gave to the Germans, every evening.

[2] And it took a long time, because there were ninety thousand bodies.

[3] I had a friend, younger than me, named Tzaler,[22] “accountant”. His job was to count the bodies, at the end of the day, and jot down the number in a little notebook.

He counted the bodies? And what happened to him?

He looks discomfited. He seems disturbed. "Of course, they killed him." I told him that I had heard that the "counters" were eliminated.

"Yes," he continued, "to eliminate all trace of the numbers."

[4] They made you sleep in tents, to prevent you from seeing that the people they were killing were Jews?

[5] Yes, but I, who was just a little kid, succeeded in seeing something between the sheets of canvas, I saw the executions, and afterwards, I had to go out, undress them and burn them. It took six months.[23]

Point [1]. In his book, Weliczker makes no specific mention of "gold teeth," but, rather, of "precious metals, such as gold or platinum," which was not "disinterred," but rather, found among the crematory ashes and placed, not in a "little bag," but rather, in "special sieve"; Weliczker performed none of these tasks, since "in the evening, the sergeant[24] took it [the sieve full of precious metals], delivering it to the squad leader."[25] The recovery of the precious metals was performed by the "ashes column," of which Weliczker formed no part.

Point [2]. The figure of 90,000 bodies is not mentioned in the book, and is not the sum of the sums mentioned, a total of approximately 5,100,[26] plus "thousands,"[27] an order of magnitude far removed from 90,000. What is more, this figure is in contradiction with the procedures described by Weliczker. In fact, he claims that it took three days to eliminate 700 bodies in June of 1943 (exhumation, cremation, sifting the ashes, filling and levelling the mass graves)[28] and another three days to eliminate 750 bodies in August, [29] so that the average was 250 bodies a day, not counting Sunday, which was a holiday![30] It follows that the elimination of 90,000 bodies would have required 360 working days, or 420 days including Sundays, that is, 14 months. But Weliczker only spent 5 months in the "death brigade.”

Point [3]. In this regard, Weliczker's book states as follows:

On the other side, the body counter, or "accountant", with a pencil and piece of paper in his hand. His job was to note the number of cremated bodies. He couldn't tell the policeman how many bodies had been burned during the day. In the evening, he had to present the Untersturmfuehrer with a detailed report. He could not, however, remember how many bodies had been burned in the past few days. If the Untersturmfuehrer asked him the next day, he was supposed to say that he had forgotten.[31]

There is no mention of any shooting of the "accountant". On the other hand, the possible shooting of the "accountants" would not have sufficed to ensure "no trace of the numbers remained." This story is, in fact, a bit disingenuous: the "accountant" could easily have told Weliczker himself — who, by his own account, made regular entries in a diary:

A few days afterwards, I took out my notes and reorganized them while I was on duty with the 'Death Brigade'. I owe this diary to my duties as barracks guard: I took delivery of the paper and pencils used by the 'accountants' every day to jot down the number of bodies thrown into the flames.[32]

This means that he was in direct contact with the "accountants" precisely by virtue of his duties; since the task of diary-keeping, performed by himself personally, was ultimately intended to gather evidentiary material against the Germans, he could easily have transcribed the number of bodies cremated each day, and presented the diary as a complete statistical record of the cremations [at a later time].

Point [4]. The motivation suggested by Desbois and declared to be the truth by Weliczker for the fact that the "Death Brigade" slept in tents (to prevent them from witnessing the killings of the Jews) is contradicted by the book itself, which says:

I will describe the appearance and organization of the new Lager. Every tent was nine meters long and six meters wide. Eighty men lived in one tent; the rest were housed in the other, intended for the 'follow-up team', specialists, service men and a few workmen, the great majority of whom had nothing to do with the bodies, at least not directly. One third of the second tent was taken up by a small office, which was separated from the rest of the tent by a wall. We also had electric light.[33]

The tents were therefore intended to fulfil a simple logistical function, since they were used to house men and materials.

Point [5]. In the book, the scene takes place in the barracks, the doors of which were covered "with cloaks and coats" [?]:

A few of us watched through the cracks in the roof, and described the scene to the others.[34]

Weliczker later says that, after the pitching of the tents, during the executions, the men from the "brigade" were compelled to enter the tents to avoid being present [during the executions], but on this occasion he makes no claim of anyone spying through any cracks; rather, he refers to what they "heard."[35]

There are many obvious contradictions, but Desbois raises no objections whatsoever.

And yet, according to him, Weliczker's little book would henceforth be "used as a guidebook for years to come," so that one must assume that he knows it almost by heart.

Now let us return to Weliczker's alleged "confirmation" of the shootings of the Italian soldiers. Following the route described by himself, Desbois is said to have arrived "at the same little wood", that is, in the Lysynytchi Forest, just outside Lvov. In reality, Weliczker's book mentions neither the Lysynytchi Forest, nor any bodies of Italian soldiers. According to him, the exhumation-cremations are supposed to have taken place in a "great deep gorge" in 18 August 1943,[36] in the Krzywicki Forest,[37] at Wólka,[38] Jaryczow,[39] Piaski,[40] and Szczerce[41]. But this doesn't "confirm" anything.

What really takes the cake is when Desbois, writing on p. 134, claims that,

the Lysynytchi Forest was the site of the massacre which cost the lives of over 90,000 people,

repeats an oral testimony from Weliczker which is flatly contradicted by Weliczker's own written testimony!

Again, omissions and lies are brushed off as merely a few more "adjustments of the truth"!

9) “Proofs of genocide”: the cartridge casings!

Desbois describes his genius for intuition in the following terms:

I couldn't get a wink of sleep all night. Did the Germans just throw their cartridge casings away? Auditing the archives was my job. I started researching the German and Soviet documents. I asked a few specialists, I studied the records of the existing testimonies. There was no mention of the Germans gathering up their cartridge casings. A glimmer of hope! I became convinced that there must still be cartridge casings, concealed beneath the Ukrainian soil, and that wherever there was a cartridge casing, a murder had been committed (pp. 69-70, emphasis added).

This is another aberrant methodological principle, the application of which by the naive priest approaches the level of the ridiculous:

The Germans only used one shot to kill a Jew. Three hundred cartridge casings, three hundred bullets: here, three hundred people were murdered. The feelings of shock I experienced would not go away. There was not a single Soviet cartridge casing. The proofs of genocide are so flagrant, so tangible! (pp. 70-71, emphasis added).

But if the "sardine packing" story is to be taken seriously, with the corollary of killing by means of a shot to the back of the neck using Soviet machine pistols, the absence of Soviet cartridge casings would be evidence against the genocide!

On p. 72 Desbois asserts :

We counted six hundred cartridge casings that day, at the restaurant. Guillaume climbed up onto the table to photograph them from above. I realized that we had a duty to collect all these traces, the traces of the murders, all these cartridge casings, equivalent to an equal number of proofs of the Shoah by shooting (emphasis added).

Thus, according to this "faith-based methodology, mere "traces", amounting to something much less than real evidence, are transformed into “proof”!

On the other hand, the principle of "one cartridge casing = one death” is contradicted by both Desbois himself, and by several of his witnesses. In fact, he writes:

The methods utilized by these mobile killing units varied. In general, the victims, once they had been gathered together, were lined up on the edge of a mass grave and killed with a pistol shot in the back of the neck or with a machine pistol. Mortally wounded, they fell into the pit. But Blobel did not like this procedure. After the war, he declared that he had personally refused to use 'specialists in shooting in the back of the neck' to avoid placing 'personal responsibility' upon his men. Ohlendorf, Blobel and Haensch declared that they preferred mass shootings at a distance.[42]

For Desbois, therefore, the rumors repeated by the "witnesses" and the cartridge casings are "convergent proofs of genocide," while cartridge casings are "tangible proofs of massacre" (p. 75).

He is well aware of the irremediable inconsistency of these "proofs", but – and this is the basic problem underlying his research – "since they were not permitted to open the graves" (p. 76), he had to content himself with merely superficial traces, such as cartridge casings or the statements of witnesses.

But why not open the graves?

10) The mass graves

Desbois claims that he visited London on 5 October 2006 to meet Rabbi Schlesinger:

The rabbi sat down slowly, seriously and silently, and began to examine various documents, written by hand in Yiddish on yellow and white sheets, which had been arranged on his desk for some time. These were opinions from international Orthodox rabbinical case law regarding the bodies of Jews killed during the Shoah. Holding a yellow[ed] sheet in one hand, he raised his eyes and explained to me in English that it had been established that the Jews murdered under the Third Reich were considered tsadiqim, or "saints," and that they had been granted the fullness of eternal life. For this reason, their graves, wherever they were, whether beneath a highway or a garden, must be left intact, so that their peace might not be disturbed (pp. 161-162).

But these "opinions" had already been violated by Desbois some months before. In the paragraph entitled “August 2006. Archaeological Investigation and Re-Opening of the Graves” (pp. 224-228), he describes, in fact, the re-opening of the mass graves of Busk, performed under the supervision of the son of Rabbi Meshi Zahav, founder of the Israeli organization Zaka, which "ensures that the burials of the victims were conducted according to Jewish law" (note 77 on p. 225).

Desbois explains that,

Jewish law, halakhah, states that in no case may the bodies be moved, particularly, with reference to the victims of the Shoah. Orthodox Jewish tradition establishes that the remains of the victims of the Shoah rest in the fullness of God, and that any moving of their remains disturbs their rest. Thus, the archaeologist was only permitted to work on the surface of the bodies, taking care not to move the bones (p. 225).

I shall not dwell upon this singular ban, halfway between superstition and ceremonial magic (on the one hand, the rabbi has the power to cause the victims to enjoy "the fullness of God", while on the other hand, moving their bodies "disturbs" this fullness, as if the bones could exert an influence over the soul!); rather, I shall proceed immediately with the motivation for re-opening the graves: "so that it would no longer be possible to doubt [the reality of the Shoah] because of the lack of material confirmation" (p. 224).

Finally, after chattering about the witnesses and the cartridge casings, Desbois presents his true and proper "material confirmation." Let's see what it is. After declaring that the archaeologist "estimated"[sic] the number of graves at 17 (instead of 15), Desbois says that they contain approximately 1,750 persons, most of them women and children (pp. 225-226).

He then describes the discoveries:

The bodies began to come to light: one, then another, then yet another one… We succeed in establishing whether the victim was a man, woman or child, and particularly, the cause of death. The signs of the bullet impacts and the position of the bodies showed that they died as a result of shooting, or, in some cases, because they were buried alive. Various groups of women were found in the act of protecting their infants from the shovelfuls of sand. These macabre discoveries lasted three weeks (p. 226, emphasis added).

Desbois nevertheless personally admits that "it was not possible to conduct the investigation as it should been performed, since we had to follow Jewish law, which prohibited us from moving the bones" (p. 227), which means that the investigation is valueless from the point of view of forensics.

It should be added that Desbois's statements are in contradiction to those of the witness Stanislav, who claims that the Jews,

had to gather their belongings in a pile and were then compelled to kneel before the graves in groups of ten or less, facing the graves. They were then killed with machine pistols. (pp. 223-224).

This method of execution is incompatible with the findings mentioned by Desbois, since it presupposes moving the dead bodies around, and arranging them along the entire surface area of the mass grave; for this reason, the "position of the bodies" in the grave" proves nothing, nor were any skeletons found "in the act of protecting their infants from the shovelfuls of sand."

On p. 188, a witness reports that "the Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] has recognized the genocide of the Ukrainian people during the famine of 1932 and 1933", the so-called Holodomor, "the terrible famine which struck the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. This was the worst catastrophe which ever struck the Ukrainian nation in modern history, since it involved the deaths of several million people (estimates vary widely). According to various historians and the Ukrainian government itself, the famine was intentionally caused by the policies of Soviet Dictator Stalin, in such a way as to enable consideration of the famine a true and proper genocide."[43]

What is certain is that the number of deaths caused by the genocidal famine was enormously greater than that of the “Shoah by bullets” and that women and children also died, both Ukrainians and Jews. On the other hand, the graves at Busk were discovered "in an old Jewish cemetery."

But then, without a forensic investigation, how can one state that the bones in question belonged to Jews shot by the Germans?

Strangely, in the photographic appendix to his book, Desbois fails to publish a single photograph — either of the re-opened graves, or the bones — but rather, only 4 photographs of cartridge casings (3 of which were found at Khvativ and a single photograph showing at least 30 cartridge casings, at Busk ). A few interesting photographs may be found on the Internet, however, particularly an aerial photograph showing the 15 grave sites (Fig. 1).[44]

Aerial View of the Busk Site

Fig. 1: Aerial Photograph showing the 15 grave sites

These are the comments accompanying the photograph on the Internet:

Aerial view of the Busk site, in the Lvov region, where 15 mass graves were found in an old Jewish cemetery. An expert report ordered by the Shoah Memorial in 2006 showed the presence of Jewish victims killed by German bullets between 1942 and 1943. At the request of the Shoah Memorial in August 2006 an expert report was drawn up under the responsibility of Yahad-in Unum, by Ukrainian archaeologists from the Civil Society for Research into War Victims [called] “Memory”, under the supervision of the Zaka organization, guarantor of respect for the bodies of the victims according to Jewish law.

In reality, as I have explained above, no "expert report" was ever published. For purposes of comparison, please see the expert study performed by the Germans at Vinnitsa, where 97 mass graves were discovered, at three different locations in June 1943 containing the bodies of 9,432 Ukrainians murdered by the Soviets. As in the case of Katyn, the Germans compiled the findings of the investigations in an extremely well-documented 282-page publication organized in three parts.[45]

The Katyn inquest,[46] which is also available on the Internet,[47] and an equally meticulous expert report.

Let us return to Desbois.

From the aerial photograph of the Busk site, it is possible to estimate that the 15 graves (considering their dimensions and the average size of a human being) were rather small, with a total surface area of approximately 300 square meters.

Another image (Fig. 2), taken from ground level, shows the skeletons in a mass grave.[48] This grave is bigger, with an estimated surface area of approximately 40 square meters. Another photograph depicts Desbois on the edge of this grave.[49]

Fig. 2

Fig. 2: Skeletons in a mass grave.

The skeletons are not piled up on top of each other, but rather, randomly dispersed; assuming a density of 4 skeletons every 3 square meters, the 15 mass graves would only have contained 400 bodies in total. If the graves contained 1,750 each, as claimed by Desbois, this would mean that every grave contained 4 layers of bodies. But since they were not permitted to move the bodies, Desbois and his archaeologists had no way of knowing what lay beneath the layer or skeletons they were looking at. So how did they arrive at the figure of 1,750 skeletons?

The answer probably lies in the fact that, as stressed by Prof. Edouard Husson, the above-mentioned investigation

succeeded in confirming the testimony of the witnesses and the investigation of the 1944-45 Soviet Commission regarding the massacre of the last 1,700 Jews.[50]

A “confirmation" discredited in advance.

He adds that the findings of the investigation

dated 3 October 2007 have been examined at the Sorbonne by specialists in history, Second World War weaponry, ballistics experts, specialists in forensic medicine, and archaeologists.

The findings of this examination must not be very exciting, since we still haven't heard anything about them two years later.

It is, however, a fact that the good priest, in his "archaeological investigation", never even bothered to indicate the dimensions of the mass graves, and, having finished his study, was unfortunately "compelled"

to cover up the graves with a particular [form of] tar, utilized for the asphalting of airport runways, in such a way as to guarantee that no one searching for gold could ever again disturb the dead in their repose (p. 227).

Of course, this also guarantees that the graves will never again be opened to perform a forensic-medical expert examination intended to ascertain whom the skeletons belonged to, when they died, and the cause of death.

As for Desbois's witnesses, one must wonder as to the extent to which they, too, may have had recourse to little "adjustments of the truth": Desbois was looking for mass graves, and they showed him mass graves.

Of Jews? The "archaeological investigation" described by Desbois in his book never proves this.

The witness Stanislav furthermore declared that the execution of "thousands of Jews" at Busk lasted "for over a week" in May 1943, and that there were "approximately ten graves" in the Jewish cemeteries (pp. 223-224). Ignoring the number of alleged victims and graves, his assertion that "the executions lasted over a week" is in flagrant contradiction with the Holocaust claim that the executions occurred on 21 May 1943,[51] which is hard to reconcile with either the numbers or dimensions of the graves, eight of which have a total estimated surface area of approximately 100 square meters, on average little more than 12 square meters each. Why would the Germans have bothered digging so many small graves if they needed to shoot over 1,700 people total?

Fig. 1 shows that the majority of the graves are very close together, separated only by a wall of earth: this indicates successive rather than a single digging operation; in that case, the dividing walls would have been knocked down to create larger graves.

I do not wish to imply that the graves in question could not contain the remains of Jews shot by the Germans: I simply state that Desbois has provided virtually no support for this particular conclusion.

11) The cremations

In Chapter 16, Desbois concerns himself with the alleged Aktion 1005, already mentioned above. We learn that

the Third Reich decided to entrust the destruction of the traces of their victims to highly qualified, trained personnel (p. 201, emphasis added).

This is a rather strange thing to say about Blobel, who had absolutely no competence in the field of cremation. As I have remarked above, at the time, according to Holocaust historiography, the Topf & Söhne company, the most important German builder of crematory ovens at the time, and its head engineer, Kurt Prüfer, an extremely highly qualified specialist in cremation, rendered their services at Auschwitz, concurrently with the extermination of the Jews. Notwithstanding this fact, the SS, for the huge task of cremating hundreds of thousands of bodies, instead of consulting real cremation specialists — particularly Prüfer himself or his colleague, Fritz Sander, certified engineer and designer, in October 1942, of a "Crematory furnace for bodies, capable of continuous functioning and intended for mass use" (Kontinuierlich arbeitender Leichen-Verbrennungsofen für Massenbetrieb),[52] is said to have had recourse to a poor semi-drunken derelict, who, as Desbois himself remarks, had "never even studied architecture," as he later declared at Nuremberg during the Einsatzgruppen trial, but had simply attended a "state technical school at Barmen-Eberfeld, where he began a half-year [course of study], during the winter of 1913-1914, before joining the army."[53]

Desbois, incredibly, adds:

Aktion 1005 was kept secret, the SS communicated with Berlin in code: the number of clouds indicated that of the re-opened graves, and the quantity of rain indicated the number of bodies that had been burned (p. 201).

Where did Desbois ever get this poppycock? From some senile "eyewitness"? What rubbish!

And if the shootings were committed "in the light of day," if their secrecy was a "myth," why were the cremations so concealed?

According to Desbois, Aktion 1005 units followed "approximately the same itinerary as the Einsatzgruppen", in search of the mass graves: but how many graves did they succeed in eliminating the "traces" of? Desbois doesn't even express an opinion on this fundamental problem, not even “approximately.” The only "proof" he produces is a photograph depicting him on the ruins of a little wall in open countryside. This is the caption:

14 July 2006. We find the traces of the chicken coop in which the Soviet POWs employed in Aktion 1005 were burned![54]

What proof! Truly overwhelming! This is how Desbois proves the reality of Aktion 1005 according to the "faith-based method."

12) The Belzec threshing machine

This is really a shocking "discovery." At Belzec, an anonymous witness ("the son of one of these peasants" whose horses were requisitioned by the camp command) told Desbois

that he had seen threshing machines in operation inside [the camp]. The Nazis used them to sift the ashes and find gold fillings and teeth (p. 46).

This story has really got to be true, because it was "confirmed" to the good priest by no less than a "peasant" (not by his son, who was supposed to have seen them!), at Tomaszów, near Belzec:

The commandant of Belzec camp requisitioned my thresher. He gave me a receipt telling me I could get it back later. After a few months, since no more trainloads of Jews were arriving at the camp, I went to the camp entrance to get my machine back. The Germans told me to go into a warehouse where there were about ten machines like mine. There were poor Jews who turned the cranks. But instead of wheat, there were the ashes of the Jews.

In view of these extremely important "material proofs", attested to by two concordant rumors, Desbois did everything he could to get his hands on them:

That day, I decided to load three of these machines onto a white van, one of which is now on exhibit at the Shoah Memorial at Paris (p. 200).

The good priest must have failed to notice one not-exactly irrelevant detail: according to the official historiography concerning Belzec, the gold teeth were extracted from the victims before burial (followed by subsequent disinterment and cremation). [For example], in this regard, the witness Rudolf Reder, declares as follows in a small book of "recollections" published in 1946:

All along the path from the gas chambers to the graves, for several hundred meters, there were dentists equipped with pincers. They stopped the workers dragging the corpses, opened the mouths of the bodies, looked inside and pulled out the gold, which they then threw in a little chest.[55]

On the other hand, the peasant found somebody to fob his old fairy tales off on, no doubt with suitable payment.

13) More deaths = more money

Desbois describes his financiers as follows:

We have received enormous support from various organizations, particularly the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah, and from Madame Veil, who ensured that we became well-known to the media, as well as by other foundations and personages, in the Christian world as well. Nevertheless, we had to be really active to make ends meet, because whether or not we find the bodies will depend upon our financial situation. We were thus compelled to carry on an active search for funds to raise the funds, since the entire organization is completely transparent (emphasis added).[56]

In other words, the more deaths, the more money. And the more deaths, the more notoriety. Which, based on the pretense that indicating the location of a few alleged mass graves [on a map] is equivalent to "the discovery of mass graves" and, therefore, proof of mass murder. Desbois vividly describes his public appearances exhibiting his "discoveries." He appeared "before representatives from the Claims Conference" at New York (p. 122) and at the Holocaust Museum at Washington, D.C. (p. 123). In this regard, very modestly, he comments:

At these meetings, before all our researchers, I realized the significance of my discoveries to the history of the Shoah. One after the other, they listed, with all their erudite language, what I had discovered on the camp. Meetings like this helped me become aware of the importance of my work. It became clear to me that I could no longer proceed merely empirically, no matter how useful that might be. My methods had to be more "professional" (p. 125).

Desbois then describes the manner in which he received the praise of German researchers at Munich (p. 126), as well as Israeli praise at the Yad Vashem Memorial (p. 126) and French praise at the Shoah Memorial at Paris (pp. 126-127). We are not informed as to whether the notoriety goes solely to the Ukrainian procurers of (alleged) mass graves. And the same could be said of Desbois's relations with the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. , which, in its 2007 annual report, reports that Desbois has "identified 700 graves and execution sites" and that it "estimates that more than 2,000 exist [but] have never been found."[57]

It may be a "sin to think evil," but there is no doubt that the alleged 1,300 alleged "sites still awaiting discovery" represent the promise of renewed financing and notoriety for Desbois.[58]

To erase these shadows clouding his moral character, all Desbois need do is visit the Gaza Strip with his research caravan and look for Israeli cartridge casings: "one cartridge casing= one dead Palestinian."

In that case, we could, at least, believe in his good faith.


Originally published in November 2009 as Patrick Desbois e le "fosse comuni" di ebrei in Ucraina.  English translation by Carlos Porter

[1] See
[2] Available for consultation at:—Des-Libres-19-06-2009.
[3] Patrick Desbois, Levana Frenk, Opération 1005. Des techniques et des hommes au service de l’effacement des traces de la Shoah. Les études du Crif, 2005. Text available at :
[4] Enzyklopädie des Holocaust. Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden. By Eberhard Jäckel, Peter Longerich, Julius H. Schoeps. Head Director: Israel Gutman. Argon Verlag, Berlin, 1993, Vol. I, p. 10.
[5] This pretext is refuted in my study on the topic, entitled “Azione Reinhard” e “Azione 1005”. Effepi, Genoa, 2008.
[6] P. Desbois, L. Frenk, Opération 1005. Des techniques et des hommes au service de l’effacement des traces de la Shoah, op. cit., p. 5.
[7] Temporary exhibition, 20 June-30 November 2007. Les fusillades massives en ukraine (1941-1944) :la Shoah par balles,
[8] R. Hilberg, La distruzione degli Hebraii d'Europa. Giulio Einaudi editore.Turin, 1995, p. 1318.
[9] Marseilles, Venice, 2009.
[10] See, for example, vol. VII, p. 470 (conclusions of the Soviet Investigating Commission, and Document URSS-54) from the First Nuremberg Trial, German edition. See also: Robert Faurisson, “Katyn à Nuremberg,” in: Revue d’Histoire Révisionniste, no.2, August-September-October 1990, pp. 138-144.
[11] According to the Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, op. cit., vol. II, p. 823, 1,500 krimchaki were shot at Simferopol on 9 December 1941.
[12] See; in this regard, my article Bełżec e le Controversie olocaustiche di Roberto Muehlenkamp, in:
[13] Father Patrick Desbois - Part 2: The Requisitioned , in:
[16] Nome italiano di L’viv; Lwów per i polacchi, L’vov (o Lvov) per i russi, Lemberg per i tedeschi.
[17] Une interview de Patrick Desbois, by François Delpla, 4 June 2009, in:
[18] E. Lorenzon, Gli Internati Militari Italiani e la memoria di una “storia producente”, in:
[19] Une interview de Patrick Desbois, by François Delpla, 4 June 2009, in:
[20] The book contains no mention of this nickname.
[21] At the time of his joining the “Death Brigade,” on 15 June 1943, Weliczker was 18 years and 3 months old, having been born on 10 March 1925.
[22] Zahler means “payor;” the name should be Zähler, “counter.”
[23] In the book, five months, from 15 June to 20 November 1943. L. Weliczker, Comando speciale 1005, op. cit., p. 15.
[24] That is, the head of the Kommando.
[25] L. Weliczker, Comando speciale 1005, op. cit., p. 35.
[26] Idem, pp. 39, 47, 55, 59, 69, 77.
[27] Idem, p. 23: "It was a mass grave, with thousands of bodies."
[28] Idem, pp. 39-45.
[29] Idem, p. 59.
[30] Idem, p. 53, 57, 64.
[31] Idem, p. 28.
[32] Idem, p. 105.
[33] Idem, p. 73.
[34] Idem, p. 46.
[35] Idem, p. 87.
[36] L. Weliczker, Comando speciale 1005, op. cit., p. 23 e 59.
[37] Idem, p. 67 e 72.
[38] Idem, p. 75 e 77.
[39] Idem, p. 77.
[40] Idem, p. 88.
[41] Idem, p. 90.
[42] Patrick Desbois, Levana Frenk, Opération 1005. Des techniques et des hommes au service de l’effacement des traces de la Shoah. Les études du Crif, 2005, op. cit., p. 18.
[43] Ukrainian Embassy in the Republic of Italy, Holodomor 1932-33 - Genocidio contro popolo, in:
[44] Les fusillades massives des juifs en Ucraine 1941-1944. La Shoah par balles, in
[45] Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Winniza. Berlin, 1944.
[46] Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Katyn, Berlin 1943.
[47] Amtliches Material zum Massenmord von Katyn, in:
[48] Les fusillades massives des juifs en Ucraine 1941-1944. La Shoah par balles, in
[49] 2007 annual report of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, in:,
[50] Rapport sur la création et le développement du Centre de ressources pour la recherche et l’enseignement sur la Shoah à l’Est (Paris-Sorbonne/Yahad-In Unum). Remis par le Professeur Edouard Husson au Professeur Georges Molinié, Président de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne. Settembre 2009, in:
[51] Querelle autour du Père Desbois, article cited.
[52] See, in this regard, my study Le camere a gas di Auschwitz. Edizioni Effepi, Genoa, 2009, pp. 403-407.
[53] Patrick Desbois, Levana Frenk, Opération 1005. Des techniques et des hommes au service de l’effacement des traces de la Shoah , op. cit., p. 9. Blobel suffered from "cirrhosis of the liver undoubtedly caused by excessive drinking," p. 17.
[54] Photographic insert from an outside source. The story is narrated on pp. 205-206.
[55] Roberto Sforni, Il sabba di Belzec. Edizioni Shtetl, Milan, 2004, p. 123
[56] Père P. Desbois: "Nous avons aussi nos ennemis". Par Caroll Azoulay pour Guysen International News. 1° giugno 2009, in:
[57] In:
[58] In an interview conducted by Caroll Azoulay for Guysen International News on 1 June 2009, Desbois stated that "for one official execution there were perhaps 10 undeclared executions". Père P. Desbois: "Nous avons aussi nos ennemis", in:

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Carlo Mattogno
Title: Patrick Desbois and the "Mass Graves" of Jews in Ukraine
Sources: Inconvenient History, 2015, vol. 7, no. 3
Published: 2015-09-04
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 8, 2015, 9:13 a.m.
Last revision:
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