Memo for the controversial bloggers, part Vb: Lothes and Profé’s carbonization experiments with anthrax carcasses

We turn now to Muehlenkamp’s treatment of cremation, which is even more absurd than his discussion of mass graves. We will not rehearse the facts about mass cremation here, but suffice it to say that, for example, the United States Department of Agriculture “recognizes that incineration [of carcasses] is both difficult and expensive,”[102] and that accounts of real-life mass cremations of animals confirm this and offer specific figures for the quantities of space, time, and fuel required for mass cremation that prove the impossibility of the Reinhardt cremations taking place in the manner alleged, and dramatically and uniformly contradict the portrait of cremation given in witness statements regarding the Reinhardt camps. As in his analysis of mass graves, Muehlenkamp generally ignores reality in favor of long lines of speculative extrapolations, which can be massaged until they give the answer desired. I will not go into the details of the flaws of his analysis, but suffice it to say that his methodology implies that a pyre containing thousands of pig carcasses needs only be set on fire and will then self-cremate, a conclusion that would astonish all of the organizations ever involved in the difficult and expensive process of carrying out such cremations.[103]

Despite his focus on elaborate and inventive extrapolation, Muehlenkamp does bring a few real-world events into his discussion of cremation. The remainder of this section will focus on those few real-world events that Muehlenkamp thinks support his position, and will show that he is wrong about every single one of them. The planks in Muehlenkamp’s empirical platform are three: first and foremost, his interpretation of the experiments of the veterinarians Lothes and Profé in the disposal of anthrax carcasses; second, claims concerning pyre cremations in the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden; third, a cremation that took place at High Bishopton farm during the 2001 UK foot-and-mouth disease epidemic.

A set of experiments[104] by the veterinarians Lothes and Profé, performed over a century ago, are the basis of Muehlenkamp’s calculations of fuel requirements. Even at first glance, they are a rather doubtful foundation, given that they dealt not with mass cremation but with the disposal of single large carcasses and that Muehlenkamp ignores a great deal of specific evidence concerning fuel requirements of mass cremation (which give figures much less favorable to his argument). One might recall that contemporaneous observers referred to Lothes and Profé’s methods as being impractical (umständlich)[105] and as suffering from the disadvantage of requiring constant expert supervision.[106] One might point out that the study’s specific mention of abundant fat supply from the cremated beast[107] contrasts sharply with the situation which prevailed at the Reinhardt camps. One might also ask why, despite over a century having passed, the results have never been replicated, why on the contrary other sources (including another study published in the same journal in the same year[108]) consistently report higher fuel requirements. Above all, one might ask why anyone is entitled to assume that the unreplicated results of these impractical procedures could be scaled up to a project that aimed to incinerate thousands of carcasses on a single pyre. While all of the above considerations are more than sufficient to show that Muehlenkamp’s reasoning is poorly justified, they will inevitably be met by Muehlenkamp’s trademark practice of ignoring all the evidence telling against his thesis while insisting that the burden of proof is on his opponents to prove that his speculations are impossible. A closer examination of Lothes and Profé’s experiments is therefore in order. The vital question is whether Muehlenkamp is correct in asserting that Lothes and Profé achieved complete cremation, or whether Carlo Mattogno was correct in assuming[109] that their experiments aimed only at more or less complete carbonization.

The term unschädliche Beseitigung in the paper’s title strongly suggests that the latter is the case. What are Muehlenkamp’s arguments to the contrary? Muehlenkamp claims that Lothes and Profé achieved complete rather than merely sanitary cremation for three reasons: first, because of their use of the term complete burning (vollständige Verbrennung); second, because of their reference to an experiment leaving only a heap of ashes behind; third, because of their concern over the dangers of anthrax (pp. 466-467). We will address these three arguments in turn.

First, consider the use of the words complete burning (vollständige Verbrennung). This term is indeed used in the paper by Lothes and Profé which Muehlenkamp cites. How should it be interpreted? This question can be answered by examining a subsequent paper by the same authors on the same topic, which Muehlenkamp ignores. Here the authors refer to complete carbonization (vollständige Verkohlung) three times, as well as vollständige Verbrennung.[110] They do not differentiate between the two terms – on the contrary, they treat them as equivalent. Vollständige Verbrennung is therefore not a reference to complete cremation, but only to carbonization.

Muehlenkamp’s second argument that Lothes and Profé achieved complete cremation is their reference to only a pile of ashes being left behind. This might seem to suggest complete cremation, but the term “ashes” – in both English and German – is rather flexible. One might say that a house had burned to ashes, or even a city burned to ashes, without literally meaning that there remained nothing but ashes, but rather that one considered the burning to have been complete in some sense of the term. As corpses never – not even in crematory ovens – burn to ashes in the strict sense of the term, we know that Lothes and Profé are not making strict use of language. Consequently this passage does not establish in precisely what sense Lothes and Profé’s combustion was ‘complete’. A contemporaneous study by Fabricius, published in the same journal and also dealing with the burning of anthrax carcasses, refers to an anthrax carcass being, though still very much intact, covered with glowing ash towards the end of a burning, and thereby shows in what direction we should look when interpreting this particular statement of Lothes and Profé.[111]

Muehlenkamp’s final argument concerns the dangers of anthrax. Here he reasons that Lothes and Profé would not have been satisfied with anything less than complete cremation because they were concerned with these hazards. He states quite correctly that Lothes and Profé were concerned about the risks involved in burying anthrax carcasses, and concludes from this that they must have demanded a very complete degree of combustion (p. 467). This inference is unfounded. Lothes and Profé’s concern over the danger of anthrax in a burial environment implies nothing about their beliefs concerning the destruction of anthrax by thermal means. As we have seen, they referred to the results of their experiments as vollständige Verkohlung, a phrase also used by Volmer, another author publishing on the burning of anthrax carcasses at the time,[112] and were satisfied with this result. The above cited passage from the work of Fabricius indicates an even lower standard of what degree of thermal destruction was seen as necessary for dealing with an anthrax carcass. The same conclusion – that complete cremation is not required for the sake of disposing of an anthrax carcass – was laid out in some detail by E. Zschokke.[113] In fact, Lothes and Profé were so sanguine about the thermal destruction of anthrax that they considered cooking (or boiling) to be a practical method of rendering a carcass unharmful through thermal means.[114] Their opinion in this regard was quite standard, and was backed up by other authors dealing with the anthrax problem.[115] Indications are that all of these experts were on-target in their assessment of the situation. Modern results suggest that heating anthrax to a little beyond 100 degrees centigrade will render it safe in a relatively short period of time.[116] While this is not quite as simple as it sounds, given the time it takes for heat to diffuse through to the center of a large carcass,[117] it is still far, far short of what is involved in complete cremation. As Lothes and Profé were well aware that anthrax could be destroyed by quite modest degrees of heat, their concern over the risks of burying anthrax carcasses has a significance precisely opposite that which Muehlenkamp assumes. Rather than suggesting that they would have insisted on complete incineration, it illustrates their incentive to settle for a quite limited degree of cremation, as cost was a major reason why carcasses were not burned.[118] Lothes and Profé were therefore at pains to establish that carcass burning could be performed inexpensively, because if it could not be performed inexpensively it likely would not be performed at all. Their incentives did not favor ensuring complete cremation of the carcass, but rather being able to advertise a procedure inexpensive enough for frugal farmers to be willing to adopt it.

In summary, by examining the literature on the disposal of anthrax carcasses contemporary to their work, we have shown that the result of Lothes and Profé’s experiments was a form of sanitary cremation and not complete cremation, and that therefore their experiments do not offer, as Muehlenkamp believes, proof that the governments of Great Britain, the United States, France, Australia, and other countries have been wasting large amounts of money by using wildly excessive amounts of fuel for mass cremations of livestock. Carlo Mattogno’s initial suspicion[119] that the experiments dealt only with more-or-less complete carbonization was entirely correct. Muehlenkamp’s appeal to Lothes and Profé can now join John C. Zimmerman’s failed appeal to the body-disposal activities of Créteur[120] on the garbage heap of failed anti-revisionist arguments: both are attempts to demonstrate the feasibility of the alleged German open air cremations by appealing to activities from the early history of modern cremation, whose results upon closer examination fall far short of what the anti-revisionists require.

——

[102] United States General Accounting Office, Report to the Honorable Tom Daschle, U.S. Senate: Foot and Mouth Disease: To Protect U.S. Livestock, USDA Must Remain Vigilant and Resolve Outstanding Issues, July 2002, p. 64.
[103] See the details at https://holocausthistorychannel.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/pigs-are-self-cremating-says-roberto-muehlenkamp/
[104] Lothes & Profé, Zur unschädlichen Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung, Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 37, 1902, p. 557-560.
[105] Zwick, Die unschädliche Beseitigung der Tierkadaver und die Fleischkonfiskate, p. 7, in: Transactions of the IXth International Veterinary Congress at The Hague, 13-19 September 1909.
[106] W. Heepke, Die Kadaver-Vernichtungsanlagen, quoted in Carlo Mattogno, Thomas Kues, and Jürgen Graf, The “Extermination Camps” of “Aktion Reinhardt”: An Analysis and Refutation of Factitious “Evidence,” Deceptions and Flawed Argumentation of the “Holocaust Controversies” Bloggers, 2013, p. 1240.
[107] Lothes & Profé, Zur unschädlichen Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung, Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 37, 1902, p. 558.
[108] Volmer, Ueber das Verbrennen der Milzbrandkadaver auf freiem Felde, Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 42, 1902, pp. 617-618.
[109] “Verbrennungsexperimente mit Tierfleisch und Tierfett,” Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2003, pp. 185-194, here p. 189.
[110] Lothes & Profé, Die unschädliche Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung, Fortschritte der Veterinär-Hygiene, No. 12, March 1904, pp. 325-328; cf. review in Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 22, 1904, p. 401.
[111] L. Fabritius, Nochmals über das Verbrennen der Milzbrandkadaver, Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 4, 1903, p. 50. Here is the relevant passage: Allmählich senkt sich die Feuerstätte immer tiefer, bis im Laufe einiger Stunden die glühende Asche nur noch spärliche verkohlte Reste des Cadavers birgt.
[112] Volmer, Ueber das Verbrennen der Milzbrandkadaver auf freiem Felde, Berliner Thierärztliche Wochenschrift, No. 42, 1902, pp. 617-618
[113] E. Zschokke, Über die Vernichtung von Milzbrandkadavern, Schweizer Archiv für Tierheilkunde, No. 6, 1902, pp. 283-292, here p. 291. For the reader’s convenience, we reproduce the pertinent passage in full: Ohne Kenntnis von ähnlichen Verfahren, wurde doch in gleicher Weise, wie oben beschrieben, vorgegangen, d.h. der Kadaver wurde in einer mit Holz gefüllten Erdgrube, von den üblichen Dimensionen dieser Verscharrungsgruben, verbrannt, unter Benutzung einer bedeutenden Menge von Petroleum. Dabei bestand allerdings nicht die Absicht, den Kadaver komplett zu veraschen, sondern nur soweit zu verkohlen, dass man sicher sein konnte, dass die Pilze durch die Hitze abgetötet, und namentlich alle, etwa mit der Luft in Berührung stehenden Körperpartien, wo die Bildung von Sporen zu befürchten gewesen wäre, verkohlt wurden. Das dürfte im allgemeinen doch wohl genügen. Der Rest des Kadavers sinkt in die Grube und wird mit Erde bedeckt.
[114] Lothes & Profé, Die unschädliche Beseitigung von Thiercadavern auf dem Wege der Verbrennung, Fortschritte der Veterinär-Hygiene, No. 12, March 1904, pp. 325-328, here p. 328.
[115] Zwick, Die unschädliche Beseitigung der Tierkadaver und die Fleischkonfiskate, pp. 1-2, in: Transactions of the IXth International Veterinary Congress at The Hague, 13-19 September 1909.
[116] E.A.S. Whitney, M.E. Beatty, T.H. Taylor, et al. Inactivation of Bacillus anthracis Spores. Emerging Infectious Diseases. Vol. 9, No. 6, 2003, pp. 623-627; S. Xu, T.P. Labuza, F. Diez-Gonzalez. Thermal Inactivation of Bacillus anthracis Spores in Cow’s Milk. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 72, No. 6, 2006, pp. 4479-4483.
[117] Jacqueline McKinley, In the Heat of the Pyre: Efficiency of Oxidation in Romano-British Cremations – Did it Really Matter?, in: Christopher Schmidt & Steven Symes (eds), The Analysis of Burned Human Remains, 2008, p. 165.
[118] Zwick, Die unschädliche Beseitigung der Tierkadaver und die Fleischkonfiskate, p. 2, in: Transactions of the IXth International Veterinary Congress at The Hague, 13-19 September 1909.
[119] “Verbrennungsexperimente mit Tierfleisch und Tierfett,” Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2003, pp. 185-194, here p. 189.
[120] John C. Zimmerman, Body Disposal at Auschwitz: the end of holocaust denial, online: http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/body-disposal/ ; cf. Carlo Mattogno, An Accountant Poses as Cremation Expert, in: Germar Rudolf & Carlo Mattogno, Auschwitz Lies, 2011, p. 91f.

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