Traces of a Chimera, or Bełżec’s Vanishing Gas Chamber Building

Published: 2010-04-03

By Thomas Kues

1. The Alleged Second Phase Gas Chamber Building at Bełżec

According Israeli historian Yitzhak Arad [1] the first gas chamber building at Bełżec, a wooden barrack containing three chambers each measuring 4 x 8 meters, was torn down sometime in late June 1942 and replaced with a larger, more solid building measuring 24 x 10 meters and containing six separate gas chambers, each measuring 4 x 8 (or possibly 4 x 5 or 5 x 5) meters. As for the construction material, Arad quotes the Jewish key witness Rudolf Reder, who in 1946 stated that the building was made “of grey concrete”. The former SS-Untersturmführer Josef Oberhauser described it as “a massive new building” in his testimony.[2] The witness Wilhelm Pfannenstiel testified that "the building that housed the gas chambers was made of concrete".[3] That the building was made of brick and/or concrete was accepted also by the verdict of the 1965 Bełżec trial in Munich[4], and has been adopted as a fact by various authoritative works on the Holocaust, such as the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.[5]

2. Andrzej Kola’s Search for the Second Phase Gas Chamber Building

Between 1997 and 1998, Polish archaeologist Andrzej Kola conducted probe drillings and excavations at the former site of the Bełżec “death camp”. While the grave pits found by Kola’s team were only subject to drillings, building relicts found were excavated fully or in part. A primary object of the building excavations indeed appears to have been the search for the remains of the alleged gas chamber buildings.

In his survey report Kola writes [6]:

«The probing drills indicated undefined archaeological structures of a non-grave character in the northern part of the camp, in the north-western area of ha 16. The neighbouring excavations of different shape and size were located there (...). They revealed the existence of an undefined building negative, made completely of wood, partly buried in the ground, dismantled totally. In the bottom view the relicts had a shape of a regular rectangle with the sizes of about 3,5 x 15 m, which bottom was deposited horizontally to the depth of about 80 cm. The excavation contained dark sandy humus, clearly drawn on the background of sandy soil.

   The cultural contents consisted of fragments of tar paper, iron nails coming probably from the overground building construction. Moreover pieces of dentures, female combs and two Polish grosz coins were found. The wooden building served probably as a gas chamber in the second stage of the camp functioning, in autumn and winter 1942. Such an interpretation could be confirmed by its location in the camp plan. The probing drills from the north-eastern and eastern part of the building excavated only mass grave pits. Location of the gas chamber close to the burial places in the second stage of the camp existence was confirmed by some of the witness reports» (italics mine).

The witness which Kola is referring to here is none other than Rudolf Reder, as seen from the following footnote to the above cited passage:

«The witness informs that in the second stage of the camp functioning the gas chamber was located directly close to the graves. According to him, however, the chamber was made of concrete. The excavations carried out in that area did not prove any traces of brick or concrete buildings, which makes that report unreliable» (italics mine).

At the end of his discussion Kola nevertheless draws the following conclusion [7] :

«In the place of the biggest concentration of non grave structures the archaeological survey recognised the traces of [a] non-defined building with the size of about 15 x 3, 5 m (building G). It was a completely wooden building. They may have been relicts of the second gas chamber from the second stage of the camp existence. Such an interpretation is supported by planigraphy of the camp. Reder's information, that the building was made of concrete, does not seem to be convincing, because no traces of concrete objects were spotted in the central part. The tar paper, mentioned by him, which was to cover the flat gas chamber roof, is archeologically proved in the relict layers of the building».

Italian revisionist Carlo Mattogno, who carefully scrutinizes Kola's report in his study on the Bełżec camp () succinctly remarks on Kola's fallacious chain of evidence [8]:

«Kola’s hypothesis contradicts the testimonies and the judicial findings not only as to the structure of the alleged gas chambers, but also regarding their surface area. (...) On the one hand, the archeological findings contradict the testimonies and the judicial findings, making them inadmissible; on the other hand, Kola’s hypotheses regarding the functions of “Building G” are in disagreement with the testimonies and the judicial findings. However, if we are to accept the official thesis, we cannot free ourselves from these sources: Either the gas chambers did exist the way the witnesses have described them, or they did not exist at all»

Indeed, as admitted by Bełżec expert Robin O'Neil, who had been involved in the excavations

«We found no trace of the gassing barracks dating from either the first or second phase of the camp’s construction»[9].

3. The Hypothesis of Alex Bay

In his online essay "The Reconstruction of Belzec"[10], air photo analyst Alex Bay (who also writes his name Charles A. Bay) devotes considerable effort to "explaining" the discrepancy between "Building G" and the eyewitness descriptions of the "gas chambers". In the section on "Camp II: The Killing and Graves Area"[11] we read:

«One supposes that if the SS thoroughly razed the building, including footings, nothing should remain except disturbed soil horizons.The fact that Kola’s excavations revealed a small area with traces of rotted wood, and no masonry remains implies that the gas chamber was less substantial in material construction. However, countering the indications that led Kola to doubt that Reder was correct about a masonry gas chamber is Kola’s inventory of nearby gave pits in which he listed four graves excavated that contained brick rubble, and three of the four were within 50 to 60 meters of the chamber site (see Figure 4.6.3). This is an indication that when the building was torn down, part of it at least was made of brick which was dumped close by. It is possible that the method of construction was responsible for the absence of masonry. A case can be made for the building’s being erected on ephemeral foundations of wood - a system of piers and grade beams - to support brick walls which subsequently are easily pulled down and disposed of».

Bay then devotes an entire appendix[12] to this attempt at salvaging the identification of "Building G" with the homicidal gas chambers:

«A grade beam construction system is proposed because it meets the requirements for a cheap foundation made of readily available, local materials, for which permanence is of little concern. Certainly the SS would not be overly interested in building a structure for the ages, and rather knew that everything they built would be razed within a short span of months. (...) The grade beam method of construction is illustrated in Figure A-1. Grade beams are usually used for frame structures».

Bay next quotes what is apparently a personal communication from a Mr. Paul Fisette, who is stated to be the "Director Building Materials and Wood Technology 126 Holdsworth Natural Resources Center University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003":

«Most light-frame construction projects follow a similar sequence of events: the perimeter of the planned structure is marked with stakes, soil within the defined area is excavated to a depth that is safely below the frost line (4'0" minimum in my area), foundation walls are formed, concrete is poured, and then a wood-frame structure is erected on top of the poured foundation. Excavations live a short life. They are dug only to be filled, with thousands of dollars worth of concrete. This building practice is at times a necessary. But often, filling an excavated trench with concrete is nothing more than a bad habit. There are less costly alternatives. Using a wooden grade beam is one option that saves time, money, labor and resources» .

Bay then continues his argument:

«The advantages enumerated above must have been clear to Hackenholt, the SS jack-of-all-trades who was a skilled mason and who was intimately involved in the design and construction of the gas chambers at all three Reinhard death camps. It would also have been apparent to him that such a system would be quicker to complete than a conventional foundation of poured concrete or mortared brick, and in the event of tearing down the structure, there would not be any refractory, deep foundation requiring excavation and demolition before it could be disposed of.

   The major question facing one in implementing a grade beam footing is that of the size of the timber needed to support a masonry wall without deflection. Figure A2 presents a graph of the weight of an 8 inch thick brick wall, 6 feet high. The weights are plotted against varying lengths of wall. Each length represents a span of grade beam between piers (as illustrated previously in Figure A1). From Figure A2, a span of 6 or 7 feet weighs in the neighborhood of 1500 kilograms.
   The soils at Belzec were sandy and this type of soil has excellent load bearing characteristics: It will not expand when wetted and it has good friction and compression characteristics. All that is needed in building is a strong beam, and a safe span interval between the posts so that beam flexing is minimized when loaded with a wall. This can be achieved with squared logs of large cross section, a building material in abundant supply at Belzec.
  In Figure A3, one can readily see that it is possible to support an 8 inch thick brick wall, 6 feet high over a span of 6 or 7 feet if tripled fir or spruce headers with dimensions of 6 x 16 or 6 x 18 are used. At Belzec the construction of the new gas chamber could proceed quickly without the need for digging and making a concrete or brick footing. This would mean that after the building was torn down, all that would remain would be the small areas of disturbed soils where the posts had been».

But does this argument really hold water? In the next section I will discuss Bay's statements and contrast them with what we know of the construction method suggested by him.

4. The Reality of Grade Beam Foundations

4.1. Different Types of Building Foundations

I will begin my critique of Bay's hypothesis by taking a brief look at the various types of foundation systems. In the guide Building Construction Illustrated we read [13]:

«The foundation is the lowest division of a building - its substructure - constructed partly or wholly below the surface of the ground. Its primary function is to support and anchor the superstructure above and transmit its loads safely into the earth. Because it serves as a critical link in the distribution and resolution of building loads, the foundation system must be designed to both accommodate the form and layout of the superstructure above and respond to the varying conditions of soil, rock, and water below» (italics mine).

There exists four main types of building foundations used in ordinary houses (normal or small scale buildings). They are [14]:

«Foundations are normally made by one of the following methods:
1   a concrete strip with frost-resistant brick or block sub-walls up to DPC [damp-proof course] level; usually 150 mm above ground (figure 6.2);
2  a trench completely filled with concrete (figure 6.3);
3  a thin raft of reinforced concrete, used where ground conditions are unstable (figure 6.5); and
4  piles with a ground beam in exceptionally difficult ground (figure 6.4) [Illustration 1 below]»

As will be seen below, we are here dealing with a variant of the fourth method.

III. 1: Figure 6.4. from The Whole House Book

4.2. The Characteristics of Grade Beam Foundations

Building Construction Illustrated provides the following definition of the term grade beam [15]:

«A grade beam is a reinforced concrete beam supporting a bearing wall at or near ground level and transferring the load to isolated footings, piers, or piles» (italics mine).

Ill. 2: Schematic representation of grade beam foundation from Building Construction Illustrated

Bay's example has wooden grade beams, but the function is the same. The wooden variant is known in literature (The Whole House Book mentions "timber (ground) beams spanning between timber piles or recycled brick piers [i.e. isolated wooden footings]"[16]) although it appears to be rarely used in other than small-scale, low-rise construction.

The crucial point here is that grade/ground beams support bearing walls, i.e. all outer walls of a building. In order to support the weight of the wall properly, the beam has to have at least the same width as the wall which is placed on top of it. The load of the wall is then transferred through the beam to "footings" or piles buried vertically in the soil. There has to be at least four such footings if the building is rectangular - one in each corner (to achieve minimum stability) - but usually there are additional footings to further distribute pressure. The placement of the beam under the bearing wall is clearly seen on figure 6.4 on page 66 of The Whole House Book as well as the figure showing a grade beam foundation on p. 3.09. of Building Construction Illustrated. Bay's own Figure A1 also shows this, as well as a footing placed at the building's corner. A figure found in the Swedish guide Grunder ("Foundations") - reproduced below as Illustration 3 - shows a variant of grade beam construction, a small house with an "open footing" foundation.[17] This means simply that the footings are placed partly over ground, but the principle of grade/ground beams ("grundbalkar") supporting the bearing walls is the same.

Ill. 3: Variant of grade beam construction with open footings. (Yttre plintrad = outer line of footings; inre plintrad = inner line of footings; bjälkar av konstruktionsvirke = beams of construction wood; plintavstånd = footing distance; bärlina/grundbalk = bearing line/ground beam).

Bay writes that "after the building was torn down, all that would remain would be the small areas of disturbed soils where the posts had been". This would mean, of course, that one would be able to detect the former presence of footings along the outer walls of the torn down building. Let us recall here that the alleged second gas chamber building measured 24 x 10 meters, while Kola detected "an undefined building negative, made completely of wood" having the "shape of a regular rectangle with the sizes of about 3,5 x 15 m", that is, a structure covering an area corresponding to merely 22% of that of the alleged gas chamber building, which according to the eyewitnesses was built of concrete and/or bricks. It therefore follows from Bay's reasoning that Kola somehow managed to miss the major part of the building's remains! But is this really plausible?

5. "Building G" in the Context of Kola's Surveys and Excavations

5.1. Kola, O'Neil and Tregenza's Descriptions of "Building G"

"Building G", being the supposed remains of the "Hackenholt Foundation" gas chamber building, is without doubt the most important of the building remains detected. Despite this, Kola devotes to it merely half a page of text and a not very sharp photograph showing "The building relicts and the profile at the depth 60-70 cm". In contrast, the loading platform is given two and half pages, "Building A", the remains of a building with no ascribed relation to the alleged extermination process, three and a half pages, including two photos, and "Building D", the camp garage, nearly four pages. Even more remarkable is the fact that together with "Building E", the remains of a "medical point for the camp staff", "Building G" is the only structure excavated for which no profile, outline, section or plan is provided. We therefore have very little data to go on when it comes to this most important building. This, however, did not stop Bełżec expert Michael Tregenza from writing in 1999 that:

«On the former premises of Lager II was found a concrete base, measuring 15 by 4 meters and divided into four large rooms of equal size. It is assumed that this is what remains of the “Stiftung Hackenholt” gas chambers».[18]

Tregenza is clearly stating untruths here, unless we are to believe that Kola for some inexplicable reason covered up the existence of remains much more consistent with the characteristics of the alleged gas chambers! Neither does Kola mention anything about a subdivision of the building.

In his online book Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide[19], which, judging from its introduction, was written in 2004, Robin O'Neil seems rather sure that "Building G" is the remains of the second phase gas chambers:

«The location of the gas chamber building during the second phase was probably in the central-eastern part of the former camp where exploratory drillings failed to locate evidence of any mass graves. Reder reports that on either side of the unloading platforms which extended along the length of the building there were burial pits filled with corpses, or empty graves prepared to receive them. The bodies were transported from the platform manually, which indicates the pits were in close proximity to the gas chambers. The investigators were unable to identify totally this structure as the second phase gas chamber: the traces of a wooden building in the central part of the camp can be hypothetically regarded as the remains of the 2nd stage gas chamber.

However, the author and other camp experts have concluded that the findings were in all probability traces of the second phase gas chambers. The tarpaper mentioned by Reder, which covered the flat roof of the gas chamber building in the second phase is archaeologically proved by substances found on-site, corroborating Reder's testimony» (italics mine).

As seen above, however, Robin O'Neil publicly admitted in 1999 that no remains of either the first or the second gas chamber building had been detected, and in an online article from 2006, apparently written in collaboration with Tregenza, he writes [20]:

«The lack of any clear evidence to date locating the second gassing building is intriguing. It may well be the case that the SS deliberately destroyed and removed all evidence of the most incriminating structure in the camp. On examination of the arrangement of all the mass graves and camp structures located during the 1997‑98 investigations, one area stands out as the most likely site of this building: an area devoid of any graves or structures near the north eastern corner of the camp» (italics mine).

The foremost experts on Bełżec are thus still hesitant to identify "Building G" as "Stiftung Hackenholt"!

5.2. The Method of A. Kola

How did Kola proceed in his excavations of building remains at Bełżec? In his report we read [21]:

«The archaeological recognition of the camp area was thought to be carried out by the means of probing drills. Only in few cases, where while using that method non grave objects were stated, the recognition was completed by narrow and wide scope trying to explain the objects' functions. During the autumn works in 1998 and 1999 those methods were given up and this time much bigger part of the western and central side of the camp was searched thoroughly. During the excavation the archaeologists tried to interpret the functions of objects recognised in the area by drilling in intensive archaeological structures, which were identified as remains of unidentified brick buildings (in its western part) and probably a wooden building (in its central part)».

The wooden building mentioned is evidently "Building G". The net of probe drillings (called "basic drills" by Kola) covering the former camp area consisted of drillings made with 5 meter intervals, so that there was

«relatively little accuracy in defining the borderline shapes of the located objects (mass graves and non-grave objects)».[22]

As shown by Carlo Mattogno, "relatively little accuracy" is an understatement, as the mass grave borders outlined by Kola and O'Neil are in fact, to a certain degree, arbitrary. Finer drillings were only made at the site of structural remains [23]:

«Only in same cases, where the non-grave objects were stated in the layers (the remains of buildings) narrow scope survey was decided as more detailed, and the drills were dense (every 2 or 1 m). On the whole during the two excavation seasons of 1997 and 1998 years 2227 study drills were made, in which 404 drills in 1997 year and 1823 drills in the next one. The method was not used in 1999».

The alleged gas chamber building would, if it was real, inescapably leave at least certain amounts of debris (concrete or brick fragments, mortar etc.) spread over its "footprint", and remains or negatives of footings as well as other kinds of soil disturbances would have been detectable within the supposedly 24 x 10 m large area. That an experienced archeologist like Professor Kola, while carrying out the additional drillings around the identified structural remains of "Building G" would have failed to detect such traces is preposterous, especially if one considers that Kola attempted to identify the building remain as the gas chamber building and that he was aware of the discrepancy between official historiography and the "Building G" remains. If in fact he had any evidence whatsoever to go on, we can be sure that he would at least have mentioned the possibility of "Building G" being larger than 3,5 x 15 m.

6. Bay's Circumstantial Evidence for the Second Phase Gas Chamber Building

As demonstrated above, Bay's grade beam hypothesis is devoid of any real value. What then of the circumstantial evidence invoked by him, namely the presence of brick rubble in adjacent mass graves and the supposed traces of the "tube" visible in air photos? Below I will discuss in brief this evidence, together with the tar paper found at the site of "Building G", which Kola as well as O'Neil puts forth as corroborating evidence for "Building G" being the gas chambers.

6.1. The Presence of Brick Rubble

Bay asserts that

«countering the indications that led Kola to doubt that Reder was correct about a masonry gas chamber is Kola’s inventory of nearby gave pits in which he listed four graves excavated that contained brick rubble, and three of the four were within 50 to 60 meters of the chamber site (see Figure 4.6.3)».[24]

A comparison of Bay's Figure 4.6.3 with the survey maps show that the three grave pits we are dealing with are the ones designated as no. 7, 8 and 12 by Kola.[25] The fact that these graves contained some brick rubble is indeed borne out by Kola's report.[26] Graves no. 7 and 8 are situated some 20 to 30 meters away from "Building G". As for grave no. 12, it is located approximately 65-70 m away from "Building G", but it is also not far from the brick structure "Building B"[27], something which offers an alternative explanation for the brick rubble found in this grave. The findings of brick rubble in graves no. 7 and 8 could, as suggested, indicate the presence of bricks in the structure of "Building G", but given the well-known large scale clandestine diggings carried out at the former camp site years and even decades after the end of the war - activities which could well have led to debris being transported several hundred meters - this indication is a weak one at best. It should of course not be excluded altogether that "Building G" in fact was a brick building resting on a wooden grade beam foundation, but in that case the structure measured 3,5 x 15 m, and could therefore not have been the gas chamber building alleged by the eyewitnesses.

6.2. The Alleged Traces of the "Tube"

Bay next serves up a piece of evidence that is even less convincing than the brick rubble:

«Aside from the material composition of the gas chamber, the available aerial photography strongly supports the reported dimensions. For example in Figure 4.6.4, the small copse of woods has an opening cut through it 10 meters wide. The second gas chamber was built just beyond the trees, at the end of this cut. The photography shows distinct traces of fencing in the form of dark lineations (see A, B, D), which are believed to be the traces of fencing. The lines would have been the result of the fall of needles and twigs from the evergreen branches woven into the wire as a screening device. Lines A-B measure to be about 5 meters apart. These are undoubtedly the remains of the tube which funneled the victims to the door of the gas chamber. At Treblinka, this feature was 5 meters wide»[28]

In the end the above argument boils down to the following question: If a 10-meter-wide fenced-in pathway existed at Bełżec, does this mean that there was a 10-meter-wide building with homicidal gas chambers at one end of it? The answer is emphatically no, since there exists no material or documentary evidence whatsoever for the existence of said gas chambers, and moreover, the existence of a 10-meter-wide pathway does not dictate that a hypothetical building placed at one end of it would also have to be 10 meters wide. It should further be noted that the existence of such a passage in itself does not prove that the mass gassing allegations are correct, only that there was a passage through which people passed. If Bay insists on pursuing a quest for the impossible, he could as well go search for the gold at the other end of the rainbow…

6.3. The Remains of Tar Paper and the Location of "Building G"

Bay further calls to his reader's attention Kola's argument that traces of tar paper at the site of "Building G", as well as the very location of this object supports the hypothesis of it being identical with the alleged second phase gas chamber building. These supposed indications, however, are likewise disingenious, as even orthodox Holocaust historians have had to admit. In their article "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres", Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek discuss Kola's identification of "Building G" as follows [29]:

«The suggestion that building G is the gas chamber of the second phase contradicts the historical evidence and therefore arouses reservations on methodological grounds. There is no doubt that building G was a wooden structure. However, historical sources indicate that the gas chamber of the second phase was built of concrete. (...) Kola, who is aware of Reder’s report, flatly rejects it in a footnote and labels it ‘unreliable’ (Kola, 2000: 61). In the summary (ibid: 69) he states that ‘Reder’s information, that the building was made of concrete, does not seem to be convincing, because no traces of concrete objects were spotted in the central part.’

   The downright rejection of Reder’s observation (and that of Pfannenstiel) is methodologically problematic, and it is profitable to discuss this point in the framework of historical archaeology. It is generally agreed that one of the challenges facing the historical archaeologist is the artefact/text dichotomy. When they are in accordance, reconstruction of past events is safer, but what about apparent (or alleged) contradictions? If contradictions are apparent and real, we are talking about spaces between or within artefact and text, about dissonances, that may reveal additional aspects hitherto unknown (Galloway, 2006: 42-44). However, to establish if in a given case dissonances exist, the nature and quality of the evidence, of both the archaeological and the historical data, should be re-examined carefully. Kola does not re-examine the credibility of Reder or Pfannensstiel, or the feasibility of their observations before rejecting them. (...)

   Kola’s interpretation is based on two arguments. The first one is the fact that building G is located near the mass graves. The distance is in the eye of the beholder, since a gas chamber could be found 20-30 m west or south to building G, and still be near the mass graves (Fig.8) (Kola, 2000: Fig. 17). The second argument concerns the tar paper. The fact that tar paper was found in building G is used by Kola to interpret it as a gas chamber, because tar paper was noticed by Reder on the roof of the new gas chamber (ibid: 69). We cannot find a reason not to trust Reder’s specific observation, but we are sure that this does not imply that the use of tar paper was restricted to the gas chamber only. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that tar paper was used intensively in Poland in the construction of barracks in general and wooden barracks of Nazi concentration and extermination centres in particular. In Treblinka, for example, the survivor Samuel Willenberg (1992: 139) notes that “Instead of having us clap a tar-covered roof on the new building, like those of the other buildings of the camp, the Germans ordered one of cast concrete.” That tar paper was brought to Bełżec and used to cover the roofs of wooden structures is highly probable, and thus building G is a remainder of such a structure. Since there were many wooden structures, covered, most likely, with tar paper, the claim that building G is a gassing installation cannot be substantiated» (italics mine).

As Gilead et al correctly observes, neither the presence of tar paper nor the location of "Building G" is evidence for it being the "Stiftung Hackenholt" gas chambers. Thus the historians have nothing left but their pious beliefs, in this case aided by the fact that the entire camp site is now covered with concrete, making further investigations impossible. It is worth noting in this context that Bay himself is a collaborator of Haimi and Gilead's Sobibór Archeological Project, as seen from the quoted article of Gilead et al.[30]

7. Conclusion

Above I have shown that Alex Bay's "reconstruction" of "Building G" as the alleged second phase homicidal gas chamber building of Bełżec is severely flawed, since it rests upon a misunderstanding of how a grade-beam foundation actually looks and works. The little circumstantial evidence that Bay can muster is of dubious value, and do not in any way strengthen the extermination camp hypothesis. In the end, one can only conclude that "Building G" cannot possibly be identical with the gassing building described by the witnesses. What Bay presents is therefore nothing more than a wild goose chase after the traces of a chimera, a rather half-hearted attempt at saving the face of orthodox historiography in the light of embarrasing hard evidence.

[1] Y. Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1987, p. 73.

[2] Quoted in E. Klee et al., ‘The Good Old Days’: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders, The Free Press, New York 1988, p. 230.

[3] Quoted by Y. Arad, "'Operation Reinhard': gas chambers in eastern Poland", in: Kogon, Langbein and Rückerl (Eds.), Nazi Mass Murder: a Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 1993, p. 130.

[4] Cf. A Rückerl (ed.), NS-Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse, Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1979, p. 133.

[5] I Gutman (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, MacMillan, New York 1990, Vol I, p. 178.

[6] A. Kola, Bełżec: The Nazi camp for Jews in the light of archaeological sources: Excavations 1997-1999, The Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Warsaw/Washington 2000, p. 61.

[7] Ibid., p. 69.

[8] C. Mattogno, Bełżec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, and History, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2004, p. 94.

[9] Quoted in ibid., p. 96.




[13] Francis D.K. Ching, Building Construction Illustrated, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ, 4th edition 2008, chapter 3, page 2 (3.02) - this book lacks page numbers.

[14] Cindy Harris & Pat Borer, The Whole House Book. Ecological Building Design and Materials, 2nd edition, Centre for Alternative Technology Publications, Machynlleth 1998, p. 66.

[15] Francis D.K. Ching, Building Construction Illustrated, op.cit., chapter 3.09.

[16] Cindy Harris & Pat Borer, The Whole House Book, op.cit., p. 67.

[17] Tore Hansson, Holger Gross, Grunder (Träbyggnadshandbok 5), Trätek/Byggförlaget, Stockholm 1991, p. 23.

[18] M. Tregenza “Bełżec – Das vergessene Lager des Holocaust”, in: Wojak, Irmtrud, Peter Hayes (eds.), “Arisierung” im Nationalsozialismus, Volksgemeinschaft, Raub und Gedächtnis, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt/Main, New York, p. 257.



[21] A. Kola, Bełżec, op.cit., p. 11.

[22] Ibid., pp. 13-14.

[23] Ibid., p. 14.


[25] A. Kola, Bełżec, op.cit., p. 19.

[26] Ibid., pp. 25-26, 28.

[27] On his published survey map, Kola marks out the building remains as black objects, but does not state their designations. By comparing the (often incomplete) grid data for the building remains with those of graves no. 12 and 10 it becomes clear that "Building B" is either the object directly south of grave no. 10 or the object 40-50 m south-west of the same grave.


[29] I. Gilead, Y. Haimi, W. Mazurek, "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres", Present Pasts, Vol. 1, 2009, pp. 22-23.

[30] Ibid., p. 35.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Thomas Kues
Title: Traces of a Chimera, or Bełżec’s Vanishing Gas Chamber Building
Published: 2010-04-03
First posted on CODOH: April 3, 2010, 3:33 a.m.
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