Sometime in 1942, SS chief Heinrich Himmler is said to have decided that the traces of atrocities committed by German units both in the various so-called extermination camps as well as during mass shootings outside of camps needed to be erased. To this end, mass graves were ordered to be opened, the corpses extracted and burned, the ashes scattered, and the graves backfilled and camouflaged by sowing grass and planting saplings on them. On the one hand, this concerned mass graves in the camps Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Sobibór and Treblinka. On the other hand, this operation concerned hundreds, if not thousands of mass graves scattered across millions of square miles mainly in the temporarily German-occupied Soviet territories, but also in Poland and Serbia. The code name for this operation was allegedly “Aktion 1005.”
Paul Blobel is said to have been put in charge of this operation, sometime in the spring or summer of 1942. This was presumably due to the fact that he had gained some experiences with flamethrowers and incendiary bombs during the First World War. Blobel’s first assignment was gaining experiences with the open-air incineration of corpses extracted from mass graves near the Chełmno Camp during summer 1942. The technique he allegedly developed consisted of setting a grate made of railway tracks on concrete or stone pillars up to one meter high. Underneath, firewood was placed, and the bodies on the grate.
Later, sometime in the summer of 1943, he established a Sonderkommando 1005. This unit was to roam the occupied eastern territories in search of mass graves. Randomly chosen Jewish inmates from local camps or ghettos were then forced to do the gruesome work: open the graves, extract the bodies, burn them on pyres, grind down any unburned bones, remove any valuables, scatter the ashes, backfill the graves, and camouflage them as mentioned earlier. A short while later, this Sonderkommando was split into 1005A, 1005B – in charge of processing mass graves in the Ukraine – and 1005-Center, with a focus on Belorussia. Other locations also had similar mass-grave-removal operations without any specific unit assigned to it, such as certain locations in the Baltic countries and Serbia.
Since there were allegedly no maps showing where all the hundreds or thousands of mass graves were, Blobel’s units had to find out locally and by communicating with other German units where those mass graves were. As a means of communicating secretly about this, no written documents were supposed to be produced, and radio messages supposedly used a code language, such as giving the number of bodies in a grave as the cloud height in fake weather messages.
Blobel was an alcoholic who was hospitalized from January 1942 for several months due to liver cirrhosis and stomach ulcers. Having handled flamethrowers and incendiary bombs a quarter century earlier did not make him a cremation expert. Germany had hundreds of real cremation experts, and Himmler’s SS was working with many of them closely together building cremation facilities in many camps. Germany also had plenty of experiences with removing large-scale battle-field casualties with open-air incinerations during times of war (Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 and World War I). Scientific publications on these were readily available. Had Himmler wanted expert knowledge to build efficient field furnaces or simple pyres, that literature and Germany’s many cremation experts were at his disposal.
Although a few documents exist mentioning a Sonderkommando 1005 formed due to a special Himmler order, it is unknown when this unit was formed, what its tasks were, and why it had the number 1005.
While in U.S. captivity in 1947, Blobel signed two affidavits, which are the basis for the orthodox narrative rather than the few extant documents. In these affidavits, Blobel made contradictory claims about what supposedly happened: He received the order either in March/April, in June or in the fall of 1942. Blobel did not make any reference to any experiments conducted in Chełmno, and he never mentioned the term “Aktion 1005.” Furthermore, Blobel also never mentioned any activities at the alleged extermination camps.
The timeline of “Aktion 1005” events is highly inconsistent and nonsensical. To start with, the alleged order of early/mid/late 1942 makes no sense. At that point, nothing foreshadowed a German defeat. Hence no one would have thought about having to remove evidence. Next, Blobel’s alleged Chełmno experiments are based only on the testimony of Rudolf Höss, which were extracted with torture. Not even any Chełmno witness confirmed them. Furthermore, each alleged extermination camp is said to have received an order to erase traces of mass graves at a different point in time: they range from summer 1942 (Auschwitz, Chełmno, Sobibór) to November 1942 (Bełżec) to March 1943 (Treblinka). Moreover, the removal of mass graves at Auschwitz and Chełmno were triggered by hygienic concerns, not issues of secrecy. To make matters worse, Blobel formed his Sonderkommando 1005 only in summer 1943, hence roughly a year after allegedly receiving the order. Was he in a drunk delirium for an entire year? The time lost could not be recovered.
The entire operation contradicts existing documents. On 20 November 1942, Himmler issued an order to either cremate or bury all deceased inmates in SS custody. Hence, there was no order in place to cremate them all. Moreover, due to a 1942 order from central German authorities, all local authorities in the east were required to keep lists of all mass graves in their region, mark them conspicuously so local farmers didn’t accidentally plow into them, for instance, and maintain them so groundwater does not get poisoned, and wildlife does not dig into them. In other words, lists of mass graves did exist, and the German authorities were doing the exact opposite of hiding them: they were clearly marking them for everyone to see. This attitude might have changed in 1943 when the Germans started retreating, and when the discovery of the Katyn mass graves in April of that year demonstrated the propagandistic value of discovering enemy mass graves.
The claim that fake weather reports were sent to disguise numbers of bodies cremated makes no sense. First, why would anyone insist on sending numbers of cremated bodies anywhere? But if it happened, where are they? There was no reason to destroy them, precisely because they were encoded. Yet not even one was ever found. If the reason for this is that they were indistinguishable from real weather reports, then how was the recipient to know what is real weather data and what is “corpse data”? That this claim is based solely on rumor and fantasy can be seen from other witnesses’ claims that coded reports used water levels rather than cloud height, or even “watering holes” (whatever that meant). Every witness was making up stuff as they fibbed.
In addition, the Einsatzgruppen and associated units had created hundreds of documents describing in meticulous detail how many persons they executed, when and where. Hence, it would have made sense to create a list of priorities based on the figures mentioned in those documents, then start with the mass graves containing the most victims, and work down the list to smaller mass graves. But that is not what happened. The actual procedure was utterly random, often allegedly opening smaller graves while ignoring the big ones. Many locations of Einsatzgruppen executions were never mentioned by anyone as having had any “Aktion 1005” activities. Hence, all these mass graves must still be there, but no one ever looked systematically for them.
Moreover, while Himmler allegedly ordered the erasure of all traces of mass murder by cremating the bodies, no effort was made to destroy the meticulous documentation that the Einsatzgruppen had compiled and sent to Berlin. A complete set was discovered there by the Allies, who subsequently, during the Einsatzgruppen Trial at Nuremberg, relied on this vast documentation. They had no need whatsoever to locate and investigate any mass graves. So, what was the point of implementing a huge operation of cremating one million (or more) bodies all over Europe, when all the documents proving that they had been murdered in these locations were left intact?
In many Soviet cities that the Red Army recaptured briefly during the German advance in 1941/42, or reconquered starting in 1943, investigative commissions were set up, which wrote reports about alleged atrocities of German units. Some of them were used during Soviet show trials, such as those in Krasnodar and Charkiv. Witnesses were interrogated, a few of whom claimed to have survived a mass execution. Most witnesses, however, claimed to have been part of inmate units formed by the Germans who were forced to exhume and burn bodies from mass graves presumably containing the victims of German mass murder operations.
The number of victims most witnesses claimed to have assisted in exhuming and burning regularly exceeded the number of victims that were executed there, if we follow the figures listed in German wartime documents (reports of the Einsatzgruppen). These figures were then sometimes increased even more by the Soviet commissions when writing their reports.
On numerous occasions, the Soviets claimed to have found mass graves whose victims had not been burned, or only partially. Many of these graves were not exhumed and forensically investigated. If they were, often only a small fraction of the claimed number of victims was actually exhumed, while the rest – if they existed – were left untouched. In not a single case of these investigations were any foreign observers and experts, especially from neutral countries, invited to participate in these investigations, as the Germans had done when discovering the mass graves at Katyn and Vinnitsa.
In only a few cases were any photos taken or made publicly accessible. However, rather than showing thousands or tens of thousands of corpses, the photos usually show only a few bodies, a few dozen or at most a few hundred corpses. The latter quantity can be seen only on photos showing Soviet PoWs in their uniforms, but not civilians of all age groups stripped naked, as is said to have been the case where Jews were massacred.
One mass grave some 3 meters wide, 3 meters deep and some 30 meters long was filmed, and the footage used for the 1943 Soviet propaganda movie The Battle for Our Soviet Ukraine. However, here, too, the victims wear clothes, probably uniforms, so even these are either deceased PoWs or simply battle casualties.
The same type of Soviet commissions began to work here – some even with the same people in charge, who had compiled a completely forged and fake expert report on Katyn, with which they blamed these Soviet mass murders on the Germans. The same mendacity they proved to be capable of regarding Katyn they applied wherever else they went to work to prove German atrocities. In one case, they claimed to have found corpses allegedly killed in “gas vans” with carbon monoxide, whose skin, after many months of decomposition, miraculously was still “of bright pink color.” In a similar case, they managed to prove the presence of carbon monoxide in severely decomposed tissue, an analytical feat which is impossible even today, after 80 years of technical progress!
Many mass graves the Soviets claimed to have located, however, presumably had no or hardly any bodies in them anymore, because the Germans allegedly had them all exhumed and burned, and their ashes and bones scattered by a team of inmate slave laborers. This convenient situation alleviated any needs for the Soviets to prove anything. The Germans had murdered, and then they had destroyed all the evidence for it. Hence, the lack of any evidence for mass murder proves that mass murder was committed!
Blobel’s alleged task to eliminate all traces of hundreds, if not thousands of mass graves containing a total of a million or more bodies was formidable. If Himmler had ordered this as a secret and important task, appropriate means would have been made accessible to Blobel: access to expert knowledge about open-air incinerations on pyres or field furnaces; access to the Einsatzgruppen reports listing the executions; access to the lists of mass graves prepared by local authorities; a team of hundreds of organizers, each with a team of hundreds of workers; orders by Himmler overriding the local forest authorities’ jurisdiction regarding who is allowed to chop wood; and then an instant start of the operation in summer 1942. None of this happened.
Blobel waited a year without doing anything. He then formed only three teams, who traveled from one location to another, with no map or list, depending on guesses and speculations as to where they would find graves. Instead of taking a skilled and experienced group of lumberjacks, grave diggers and pyre builders with them, they allegedly killed off all workers after each job was done, then started from scratch with a new set of unskilled and untrained inmates.
Blobel’s claimed cremation technique – rails on posts – is absurd. If bodies are to burn fast, they need to lie in the midst of the fire and glowing embers, not on top of a rack kept away from the heat. No matter how many witnesses confirmed this technique, it didn’t happen this way.
The operations described by the witnesses – corpse extraction, pyre building, fire maintenance, processing of cremation remains – are at times ludicrous, and often technically impossible, but under any circumstances impossible to achieve with the minute labor teams allegedly involved, and within the short time frames claimed.
For instance, some witnesses claim that corpses were extracted from mass graves by fishing for them from the grave’s edge using hooks on ropes. Many witnesses insist that the pyres they built were 4, 6, 8, even 10 meters high. This would have required cranes to build them. However, when set ablaze, such enormous stacks would have sooner or later collapsed, spilling burning wood and corpse parts all over the place. Others claimed that some workers stood right next to the blazing pyres, poking it with rods to make sure all bodies burned properly. In reality, however, they would have suffered severe burns within seconds, had they tried to stay close to these fires. Many witnesses also insisted that merely a few men sifted thousands of metric tons of ashes through handheld flour-type sieves, and that just as few men crushed unburned remains of inevitably enormous quantities with simple pestles within a few days or weeks. None of it is realistic.
However, most important is the observation that all witnesses, without a single exception, completely ignored or dramatically underestimated the quantity of firewood that would have been needed to cremate the number of bodies they claim to have processed. Thus, the self-proclaimed participants in these alleged operations never considered for a second the number of skilled, experienced and physically fit lumberjacks it would have taken to fell the trees that needed to be cut down and chopped up. They never imagined the large swaths of local forest that had to be denuded of all trees to get this wood. This issue is treated in detail in the entry on lumberjacks, where links to the individual witnesses or alleged crime scenes can be found, with further details on each witness’s claims and orthodox tenets about these crime scenes.
The common hallmark of these witness accounts is that they were made in front of Soviet investigative commissions or, worse still, representatives of the Soviet terror organization NKGB. These have the reputation of orchestrating witness accounts and rigging their investigations along political demands of the Soviet Union’s leadership. Hence, their claims cannot be trusted unless there is independent verification.
However, there is little to no evidence from independent sources, such as diary entries or photographs by the local populace, or air photos of Soviet or German planes. While the claimed crime scenes may not have been accessible to outsiders, the smoke which the claimed massive open-air incineration operations would have produced for weeks or even months could not have gone unnoticed by locals. Yet even in places near larger cities, such as Kiev, Minsk, Lviv and Kharkov, no one seems to have noticed anything unusual during those alleged long-lasting conflagrations.
A special case is Babi Yar, a claimed mass-murder location on the outskirts of Kiev. Just when the massive exhumation and cremation work allegedly carried out at that location was wrapped up, German reconnaissance planes took air photos of the region, revealing in high resolution that nothing claimed about this place ever happened: no smoke, no disturbed soil from recently opened mass graves, no trace of massive transports of fuel, or removal of ashes.
Other less prominent but equally instructive cases of Soviet atrocity propaganda that have entered history books due to orthodox credulity, and which have their own entry in this encyclopedia, are:
- Bronnaya Gora (near Brest)
- Janowska Camp (near Lviv)
- Maly Trostinets (near Minsk)
- Ponary (near Vilnius)
- Semlin Camp (Serbia)
Proper forensic efforts to investigate mass graves were started only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In a few cases, exhumations were made, but for the most part, mass graves were only located or at most exposed, but no bodies exhumed and examined. These efforts usually served only to locate graves and turn such sites into memorials. In all these cases, the mass graves had not been exhumed in 1943/44, and no bodies had been burned. Therefore, these graves evidently were not part of Aktion 1005. Hence, a few cases are discussed in the entry on the Einsatzgruppen instead.
(For many more examples and further details, see Mattogno 2022c, pp. 403-758.)