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Posted Friday, September 4, 1998


Latest news from the Belzec dig


Reader's letter in the Jewish Chronicle

Friday, September 4, 1998

Archaeology of the Belzec camp

I WAS INTERESTED to read the comments about the Belzec extermination camp (JC August 7 and subsequent letters).

I have recently returned from a two-month investigation at Belzec, where I was part of an archaeological team, surveying the camp site with a view to the erection of a more appropriate memorial.

Essentially, our job was to locate any mass graves in order for them to be identified as memorial sites in any future construction.

We in fact identified 33 mass graves, the largest of which measured 50 metres x 30 metres x 6 metres deep.

Further, we are of the opinion that well over 800,000 Jews were murdered in Beizec, far higher than the number suggested by the Soviet commission of inquiry in 1946.

As mentioned by your Polish correspondent and readers, the site is in a deplorable state and is used for evening drinking sessions by local villagers who obtain their liquor very cheaply from over the Ukrainian/Polish border.

We excavated five original buildings (barracks) and recovered over 600 items of property, including a silver cigarette case inscribed with the name Max Monk, Vienna.


I have almost certainly identified Max Monk as a Jew born in Vienna in 1882, who was taken from Prague to Theresienstadt on December 17, 1941, on transport "N" and later transported to Piaski on transport "Ag" on April 1, 1942. We know that transports left for Sobibor and Belzec on November 11, 1942. If this is our Max, we have the first direct evidence that Jews from Vienna were murdered in Belzec.

It may also be of interest that the latest favoured memorial design is based on the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It is proposed to bring original stones from Jerusalem and place them as the central feature of the memorial. Whether we can overcome the rampant anti-Semitism is another matter. Overnight, our excavation sites were vandalised, and holes dug, no doubt by people looking for "Jewish gold.'

Finally, this was not a very pleasant task and at times it was very difficult for the team to cope with our findings. We carried out over 1,700 bore drillings and each borehole was immediately replaced with the extracted soil samples. None of the team was Jewish but, after each day's work, I read an English translation of the Kaddish. We did our best in all the circumstances, and what we thought was right.

Robin O'Neil, Church Furlong, Stapleford, Salisbury.

Our opinion
 THERE IS something vaguely surreal about the picture of archeologists raking over, sinking boreholes, and digging up the sites of the "Nazi factories of death" with an almost Egyptological fervor, already seeking to find, barely fifty years after the event, hard evidence of hideous crimes which should have been easily provable by other means decades ago. Have the Revisionists already done such harm to the legends?

We have reported elsewhere [AR#14] on the commendable researches conducted by Mr Robin O'Neil. Why at Belzec: why not at Auschwitz, where there would be so much of interest to seek: the mass graves there, the burning pits, the crematoria/gas-chambers, even the foundations of the "bunkers" - the two cottages in the woods where the initial gassings were allegedly carried out. Instead, they have started with Belzec, most unprepossessing of the sites. We shall keep our visitors informed of the progress.

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