Yuri Farber was a Jewish PoW in German captivity. A propaganda report by the Soviet terror organization NKGB dated 14 August 1944 about alleged German atrocities in the Ponary District of Lithuania contains a long account of an unnamed Soviet PoW written with the intention to “assist in the crushing defeat of [the] Hitlerite gangs.” A very similar account by Yuri Farber was published in the infamous Black Book. It is evidently an edited and rearranged version of this NKGB propaganda report.
In these two accounts, Farber claimed to have been transported to an abandoned Soviet construction site in the woods near a Vilnius suburb called Ponary on 29 January 1944. Together with 79 other prisoners, he was allegedly forced to exhume and burn bodies buried in mass graves at that location, while their legs were shackled with chains.
He tells how he eventually managed to escape on 15 April 1944: They were lodged inside a circular pit, four meters deep, 24 meters in diameter, whose walls were lined with concrete. Three days after their arrival, the inmate started digging an escape tunnel starting from inside their shelter pit.
Within 68 days, they dug out a tunnel 200-250 m long, 0.7 m wide, and 0.65 m high (Black Book; the NKGB version speaks only of a 30-m upward slope, evidently at the tunnel’s end, but not how long it was before the slope started). The soil of the tunnel roof was propped up by boards resting on poles (7–8 boards and 14–16 poles per meter). These boards and poles were made from firewood using saws. Tools and materials needed for this construction were retrieved from the corpses, which implies that the execution victims had neither been searched for weapons nor stripped before the execution, and carried with them an entire armory of construction tools. Since the workers depleted all oxygen in the tunnel, candles wouldn’t burn, so they installed electric light in the tunnel.
However, Farber does not explain how they managed to get the tools needed to dig through their pit’s concrete wall, and then through 200+ meters of soil filled with tree roots; where the supplies for the electric lighting inside the tunnel came from; where the electricity for the light came from; what they did with the excavated soil (at least some 90 cubic meters for 200 m of tunnel); how they managed to do hard labor in a tunnel depleted of oxygen; and how they could have hidden all this frantic construction activity from their guards.
Moreover, since there was room only for one worker lying on his belly, this prostrate worker had to dig almost (200m/68 days=) three meters a day. Since all inmates had to work during the entire day on exhuming and cremating corpses with all the concomitant work (chopping wood, hauling wood and corpses, crushing bones etc.), they all would have been utterly exhausted in the evening. Hence, no one would have had any energy left for such intense digging work performed under low-oxygen conditions.
Another witness of the same event, Szloma Gol, was more realistic, or perhaps only less imaginative, by claiming that they dug the tunnel with their bare hands. A further witness, Matvey Zaydel, asserted that, after a while of digging with bare hands, they switched to using a tablespoon.
Farber claims that the corpses were extracted from the graves by a person outside the grave by throwing a hook down into the grave, and if by chance a corpse or body part got hooked, he pulled it out. The same absurd corpse-fishing game was described by Szymon Amiel and Salman Edelman in a testimony also published in The Black Book. This is a case of convergence of evidence on a lie, probably because the witnesses testifying for the NKGB – which were The Black Book’s sources – had a chance to “learn” from one another and from their interrogators.
Farber’s description of the pyres they built is peculiar. Each had an outer scaffold of wooden logs, and in its center a chimney(?) made of pine trunks – for some unknown purpose. He asserted that 3,500 bodies were placed on a pyre measuring 7 m × 7 m, and was some four meters high. If the pyre had a cuboid shape, its volume would have been (7 m × 7 m × 4 m =) 196 cubic meters. If we assume for each heavily decomposed body a volume of only 26 liters (hence a mass of 26 kg), 3,500 of them, stacked with 40% gaps in between, would have occupied (3,500 bodies × 0.026 m³/body × 1.4 =) around 127 cubic meters, leaving less than 70 m³ for the wood. However, Farber claimed that his pyres were pyramidal in shape. In that case, there would have been no space left for any wood. Clearly, his pyres would not have burned, let alone reduced the corpses to ashes.
The alleged pyramidal shape of the pyre with a wooden chimney at the top was also claimed by Szloma Gol, who testified 2 years after Farber.
Farber moreover claimed that one prisoner was standing right next the burning pyre with a spade, stoking the wood and bodies “to make sure that the fire did not die out.” That person would have burned to a crisp, if such a pyre had burned so hot that it reduced all wood and bodies to ashes, as he claims it did.
Cremating an average human body during open-air incinerations requires some 250 kg of freshly cut wood. Cremating 38,000 bodies thus requires some 9,500 metric tons of wood. This would have required the felling of all trees growing in a 50-year-old spruce forest covering 21 hectares of land, or some 47 American football fields. An average prisoner is rated at being able to cut some 0.63 metric tons of fresh wood per workday. To cut this amount of wood within 75 days would have required a work force of some 200 dedicated lumberjacks just to cut the wood. Yet Farber’s entire slave-labor unit of 80 men were merely busy digging out mass graves, extracting bodies, building pyres, crushing bones, sifting through ashes, scattering the ashes and refilling the graves with soil. The firewood needed was just magically there.
Here are some contradictions in Farber’s tale:
- The pyres were built “near the excavation,” but at the same time 400 m away.
- They managed to process up to 800 bodies a day, but lit a pyre with 3,500 corpses within a couple of days, or every three days (Black Book).
- If they processed 800 bodies per day during Farber’s stay of 76 days, this results in some 60,000 bodies; if assuming 3,500 bodies every three days, that’s some 90,000 bodies; yet in his NKGB statement, he claimed that “only” 38,000 were processed during his time, of his estimate of a total of 80,000 buried bodies; hence, 56,000 were still there. Still, he claimed that in mid-April they learned that their “work on the corpses was coming to an end.” Yet the Soviets claimed that this work continued for months after Farber’s escape.
If Farber’s tale has any real background, it would have been on a much smaller order of magnitude than what he claimed.
This testimony relates to one of many events claimed to have been part of the alleged German clean-up operation which the orthodoxy calls Aktion 1005. The above exposition demonstrates conclusively that Farber’s entire scenario is completely detached from reality. It cannot be based on experience, but on mere propaganda, imagination and delusion.