Part 4, Section 1
Part 4, Section 2
Part 5, Section 1
Part 5, Section 2
Nature and Purpose of Archaeological Investigations
In the section of the critique’s chapter 7 dedicated to the nature and purpose of the archaeological investigations conducted at Bełżec in 1997-1999, I had addressed Mattogno’s attempt to present the archaeological investigations carried out in the area of that camp as a (failed) attempt to "furnish the ‘material proof’ of the alleged extermination at Bełżec.", and refuted his contentions that the head of these investigations, Prof. Andrzej Kola, had been hired in order to obtain corroboration of eyewitness testimonies through physical evidence, and that the reason why he restricted his work on the mass graves to core drilling instead of excavating the graves and exhuming the corpses had been a concern – motivated by the core drilling results – that excavation would lead to conclusions incompatible with the historical record of Bełżec extermination camp.
After spending a whole paragraph castigating me for the "maniacal insistence" with which I "brooded" during the past years over this "question of absolutely no importance", Mattogno tries to make it look as if I had falsely attributed to Prof. Kola a statement in the foreword to Kola’s book about the Bełżec investigations, authored by Miles Lerman, Chairman Emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, whereby the purpose of the archaeological investigation had been to "thoroughly examine the topography of the former camp, so as to exclude areas with human remnants" and avoid the disturbance of such areas during the building of the memorial, which was to cover the entire former camp area. Actually I had expressly mentioned Lerman as the author of this statement. 
Mattogno then tries to make the point that the purpose of Prof. Kola’s investigations essentially consisted in obtaining archaeological and historical information (and not in pinpointing mass grave areas so as to avoid their disturbance during museum construction) by quoting Prof. Kola to the effect that the general purpose of the project had been to "obtain the basic knowledge of how the camp had been planned, particularly to establish where the mass graves had been located". The quote is taken out of a context that, contrary to Mattogno’s argument, does not contradict the statement of Miles Lerman:
The architectural elements commemorating the camp in Bełżec, mainly as the enclosure and the monument require changes at present. The Council of Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom (Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa - ROPWiM) in Warsaw together with the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington have decided to take up new actions to commemorate the camp. The general purpose, essential for the project works taken up already, is to obtain the basic knowledge of how the camp had been planned, particularly to establish where the mass graves had been located.
As one can see, Kola was referring to his employers and the commemoration purpose of their "new actions". Obtaining "basic knowledge of how the camp had been planned", and particularly to "establish where the mass graves had been located", served that commemoration purpose.
A later statement of Kola’s (whereby "The big number [of mass graves] contains mainly ashes of bodies, which make killing and burying hundreds of thousands of people in one place possible.") is interpreted by Mattogno (p. 1205) as an explicit statement "that the real purpose of the investigation was to deliver archeological ‘proofs’ to orthodox holocaust historiography". Chances are that Prof. Kola, who considered the mass extermination at Bełżec a proven historical fact, and not a mere possibility to be checked by archaeological research, would be as amused about this far-fetched interpretation as I am.
Further bolstering his theory, according to Mattogno, is the fact that "archaeological research at Chełmno and at Sobibór had nothing to do with the erection of monuments in these areas, but were part of a general project, exactly, of ’Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres.’". This happens to be the title of an article describing past and ongoing archaeological work at former Nazi extermination camps, and there’s no such thing as a "general project" of "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres" outside Mattogno’s wishful thinking. The Chełmno archaeological investigations "were carried out by Ł. Pawlicka-Nowak on behalf of the Konin Museum in three phases during the years 1986-1987, 1997-2002 and 2003-2004", which suggests a local initiative of the Konin museum, as do Pawlicka-Nowak statements whereby the museum, after 10 years of forced inactivity, obtained support from the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw because it asked for such support. The Sobibór investigations in 2000-2001 were conducted at the behest of the Polish Board for the Protection of Monuments of Combat and Martyrdom in Warsaw, whereas the Bełżec investigations were a joint initiative of this Board and the USHMM. Different initiators for each project, at different times.
Mattogno makes the point that Prof. Kola’s book "presents itself as an archeological book with historiographical claims", describing finds "which would have been completely unnecessary for mere museal purposes". This indeed suggests that – as already mentioned in the critique – a broader archaeological investigation eventually resulted from the initial purpose under a "as we’re at it, les us also …" perspective, as Prof. Kola expressly pointed out when writing that the archaeological works in the Bełżec camp area, which "had originally the only aim to locate the mass graves by probing drills", revealed structures that "opened a chance to widen the research programme" into one that involved reconstructing the camp buildings and establishing the function of located objects. However, as already pointed out, this doesn’t validate Mattogno’s conjectures and insinuations. For independently of whether identifying the mass grave areas was Kola's only task or he was eventually also commissioned to attempt an archaeological reconstruction of the camp’s buildings (and independently of whether all information about the mass graves included in Prof. Kola’s report was necessary for the planning and construction of the memorial), the archaeologist was bound by his employers' religiously motivated concerns about disturbing the dead to keep physical contact with human remains to the minimum indispensable for identifying the areas containing such remains.
Mattogno therefore needs further arguments to substantiate what I appropriately called his conspiracy theory. Mattogno balks at the term ("This phantom ‘conspiracy theory’ is a real obsession for the ‘plagiarist bloggers.’" - p. 1207), apparently oblivious of his claims of a false pretext and un-confessed ulterior motives, quoted hereafter: 
This only confirms my assertion: that the primary goal was to locate the mass graves. The real issue here is the purpose behind the attempt to identify the mass graves. The official explanation, that of the new memorial, is clearly deceptive. [...] It is clear that the story of the memorial is merely a pretext, allowing for a thorough examination of the entire camp area in the hope of localizing mass graves (presumably able to contain 600,000 corpses) and archeological remains (of the alleged gassing installations) that would provide material evidence for the alleged exterminations at Bełżec, and thus silence historical revisionists. When the results of the surveys failed to meet these expectations, the team fell back on the official alibi of the memorial: human remains had not been searched for and the minor remains discovered could eventually not be exhumated for "moral" reasons.
If the above-quoted conjectures don’t qualify as a conspiracy theory, I don’t know what does.
Always the cynic, Mattogno follows up his protestations against my characterization of his conjectures with another conspiracy theory, showing a photo of the current Bełżec memorial and musing on p. 1209 that
If the main goal was to prevent any future verification of the data referred to by Kola and to prevent any further research, one could not have done any better to achieve this than by what was done to the area of that former camp.
After that he tries to demonstrate that the religious-ethic objections against opening the Bełżec mass graves are questionable.
Mattogno argues that the rulings of Orthodox Jewish courts mentioned by Father Patrick Desbois, whereby the remains of victims of the Nazi genocide should be left in peace, have not prevented Desbois from "opening a mass grave and to expose human bones (Illustration 11.11), and then to take a picture on its edge (Illustration 11.12)". The illustrations show Father Desbois by a mass execution site uncovered at Busk in the L’viv region of Ukraine, in which a layer of skeletons has been laid bare. Desbois described the Busk excavations in great detail, expressly mentioning the constraints due to Jewish religious laws under which his team was forced to work:
The challenge was doubly complex. On the one hand we had to respect Jewish laws and on the other hand we wanted to obtain scientific results as precise as possible in terms of the identity of the victims, their number, and the cause of death. The Jewish law, the Halakha, specifies that bodies must not be moved under any circumstances, particularly the victims of the Holocaust. According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, these victims are resting in the fullness of God, and any movement of the bodies would disturb that peace. Hence the archaeologist could only uncover the first layer of bodies, taking care not to move any bones. In addition, the bodies had to be covered up again as soon as the archaeologist finished working.
Mattogno either didn’t read Desbois’ book or omitted the above information on account of its inconvenience to his argument.
Why, one might ask, is excavation of human remains at extermination camp sites not allowed by Orthodox Jews although Father Desbois was allowed to conduct the excavations at Busk? A possible reason is that digging without dislocation of human remains (thus in compliance with Halakha) was possible at a place like Busk, which contained whole skeletons. At places where human remains mostly consist of ashes and smaller or larger bone fragments mixed with soil, on the other hand, every spade movement would imply dislocating human remains and thus violating Jewish law.
Mattogno presents several cases in which corpses of Jews murdered by the Nazis or their allies were exhumed – near Iaşi (Romania) on 12 September 1945, near Kerecsend and Budapest (Hungary) on 5 November 1957, near Lithuanian Jurbarkas in 1958, near Białystok (Poland) in November 1945, in concentration camps in Germany in 1958, in Popricani (Romania) in April 2011, and reburials of Jews killed in Czestochowa, Kurenets and Kozienice (Kozhnits) according to photographs featured in the Ghetto Fighters House Archives, Photo Archive section. With one possible exception , the exhumed corpses were reburied in a Jewish cemetery, according to the sources provided.
Mattogno argues (p. 1214) that, assuming the corpses (found in the Bełżec mass graves) belonged to Jews "the religious dictates would not have impeded the exhumation of corpses in a state of saponification and their re-burial in a Jewish cemetery".
This argument fails to take into account a source pointed out by Mattogno himself in an earlier publication, namely the article "Exhuming the Dead" by Rabbi Myron S. Geller. Geller summarizes the applicable rules as follows:
From the perspective of halakhah, the removal of remains from a grave is generally barred because of concern for the dignity of the dead. Under certain circumstances, remains may be transferred:
A. to move the remains to a family burial plot;
B. to move the remains to Eretz Yisrael;
C. for the security of the remains against vandalism or natural catastrophe;
D. for public need; or,
E. if the remains were buried in a plot belonging to someone else.
Exception A - "to move the remains to a family burial plot" is obviously the reason why corpses of murdered Jews were exhumed from the mass graves into which their killers had buried them and transferred to the local Jewish cemetery. For Jews from a certain location murdered at or near that location, the location’s Jewish cemetery would be the "family burial plot", the place where their ancestors and other members of their extended family had been buried. But how was anyone to tell, from the partial remains saturating the soil of Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka, which remains belonged to what "family burial plot"? Impossible. And because it was impossible to determine what "family burial plots" the remains in the soil of the extermination camps should be transferred to (as concerns remains other than corpses in wax-fat transformation, it was even impossible to establish what specific human being these remains pertained to), exhumation under Exception A to the Halakhah rules (the only one that could have applied) was out of the question. Thus Mattogno’s examples don’t support his argument.
Mattogno refers to the complaints of Rabbi Weiss against the archaeological investigations at Bełżec and the construction of the memorial, claiming (pp. 1214-15) that they show "that the Jewish political-cultural authorities in the whole matter of the museum of Bełżec kept an attitude of total indifference in respect of Jewish religious dictates" and that "Rabbi Weiss interpreted the museum project as a desecration "in the name of ‘archaeological research,’" confirming that this was the primary goal for the Jewish and Polish authorities involved in it". Actually what Rabbi Weiss did was express an understanding different from that of other Jewish religious leaders about what was and what was not allowed by Jewish religious rules about not disturbing the peace of the dead, and he expressly lamented this disagreement, a fact that Mattogno conveniently omits. Considering that Rabbi Weiss’ concerns of "desecration" were obviously not shared at the time by other leading figures of the Jewish religious community, a reasonable person might conclude that there were differences in the Jewish religious community as to the interpretation of rules governing burial places and the exceptions of such rules, or at most that the archaeological research and subsequent construction work at Bełżec were indeed what Rabbi Weiss called them – a "monumental failure" under the aspect of respecting the dead and their burial places according to Jewish religious beliefs, a blunder due to insufficient care and diligence. Conspiracy theorists like Mattogno, needless to say, are not reasonable persons.
Moving from Bełżec to Sobibór, Mattogno accuses me on p. 1215 of dishonestly contorting the sense of a long slab of text from MGK’s Sobibór book, without explaining what the claimed dishonest contortion is supposed to consist of. In said long slab of text, which Mattogno quotes in all its splendor, MGK complain about "persons not satisfied with mere belief in eye witness claims and fanciful interpretations of documents" being "equated with flat-earthers and simply not debated with", and about the supposed cardinal scientific sin of accepting "as an a priori fact" the Sobibór gas chambers "for which there exist only the weakest type of evidence, namely eye witness testimony". "If this is not ‘pseudoscience,’ then what is it?", Mattogno rhetorically asks.
Well, it’s a reasonable scientific approach, as reasonable as it was to accept the existence and destruction of Roman Pompeji based on contemporary eyewitness accounts independently of what archaeological research revealed. What Mattogno derides as "the weakest type of evidence, namely eye witness testimony" is an essential element for reconstructing all sorts of historical events, including mass crimes that Mattogno probably professes no doubt about because they were committed by people he doesn’t like or against people he likes. The "weakest type of evidence" has been the main source on the basis of which the criminal justice authorities of democratic states, acting according to defendant-friendly procedural rules that Mattogno cannot show to have been violated, reconstructed mass crimes like those committed at Bełżec and Sobibor. It has also been the main source for reconstructing a great many Soviet crimes. Would Mattogno, say, accuse the German Federal Archives, who in the 1970s reconstructed 3,300 sites of crimes committed by Red Army troops against the German civilian population, and attributed 24,500 victims to 2620 of these crimes sites, essentially on the basis of eyewitness accounts, of having been "satisfied with mere belief in eye witness claims"? No, he would not, obviously aware of the importance of eyewitness testimony for reconstructing the majority of crimes committed by the Soviet Union, regarding which little or no assessments of physical evidence are available. And as to documents regarding the AR camps and deportations thereto, the only "fanciful" interpretations thereof are those of Mattogno et al, who to this day have not been able to provide a single name of a Jew supposedly transited to the Nazi-occupied territories of the Soviet Union even though such names would be all over the place if such transit had occurred.
 Mattogno, Bełżec, p. 90.
 Andrzej Kola, Bełżec: the Nazi Camp for Jews in Light of Archaeological Sources: Excavations 1997-1999, Warsaw-Washington: The Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2000.
Critique, footnote 50 on page 401.
Kola, Bełżec, pp. 8-9.
As above, p. 40.
Isaac Gilead, Yoram Haimi and Wojciech Mazurek, "Excavating Nazi Extermination Centres" in Present Pasts, I, 2009, online under [link].
Gilead et al, as above.
 Pawlicka-Nowak, Chelmno Witnesses Speak, p. 42; see also the Konin Museum’s website under [link].
 Andrzej Kola, ‘Badania archeologiczne terenu byłego obozu zagłady Żydów w Sobiborze w 2001 r’ (‘Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibór in 2001’, Przeszłość i Pamięć. Biuletyn Rady Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa Nr. 4/21 z 2001 r, pp.115-123. Translated into English by Katarzyna Piotrowska. The translation is available on the thread "Archaeological Research of the Former Jew Extermination Camp at Sobibor in 2001" ([link]).
Kola, Bełżec, p.69.
Critique, p. 406.
From the paper "Belzec or the Holocaust Controversy of Roberto Muehlenkamp" - [link].
Father Patrick Desbois, The Holocaust by Bullets, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pp.129-130.
Desbois, as above p. 176.
Illustrations 11.16 and 11.17 are from the Ghetto Fighters House Archives’ Catalog No. 105, whose caption reads as follows: "A proper burial for the victims of camps in Germany, whose remains were disinterred from mass graves. Attached: a report, prepared in 1958, explaining the activity in Germany and France of Miriam Novitch, who took part in this work. In French; a complete Hebrew translation is included." It is not stated that the skeletons unearthed from the soil of former concentration camps in Germany pertained to Jews let alone how it was established that they did.
" … a probable fact but not a certain one; in 1940 the camp received some gypsies, among whom contagious diseases like typhus broke out, and it is likely that a certain number of gypsies died and were buried there," Mattogno is referring here to the Bełżec labor camp that operated in 1940, which is mentioned on the USHMM’s page about Bełżec ([link]).
"LE ULTERIORI CONTROVERSIE OLOCAUSTICHE DI ROBERTO MUEHLENKAMP Parte I.", now under [link], commented in the article "Belzec Mass Graves and Archaeology - Continuation (1)" ([link]).
 Online under [link].
 Avi Weiss, "A Monumental Failure at Belzec", online under [link].
 Avi Weiss, "A Tribute That Desecrates Rather Than Sanctifies", online under [link]. Weiss writes that "The Belzec trench controversy has been particularly painful as it involves my disagreeing publicly with my cherished friend Rabbi Irving Greenberg as well as the American Jewish Committee, whose noble work under the leadership of David Harris has been exemplary. I know that their motives are pure. Still, with all my heart and soul, I believe the position they have taken is terribly misguided, so misguided that we at Amcha-The Coalition for Jewish Concerns have now been forced to go to the courts."
 MGK, Sobibór, pp. 166 f.
Vertreibung und Vertreibungsverbrechen 1945-1948. Bericht des Bundesarchivs vom 28. May 1974, 1989 Kulturstiftung der deutschen Vertriebenen, Bonn, pp. 38 and 55.
See my "Challenge to Supporters of the Revisionist Transit Camp Theory" under [link], which remains without takers well over four years after it was published.