The Kulmhof extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem was the first camp set up by the Nazis to exterminate Jews during the Second World War. The history of Kulmhof has long been an area of interest for academics, but despite thorough research it remains one of the least-known places of its kind among the public. Studies of the role of archaeology in acquiring knowledge about the functioning of the camp have been particularly compelling. The excavations carried out intermittently over a thirty-year period (1986–2016), which constitute the subject of this article, have played a key role in the rise in public interest in the history of the camp.
6 6 1 1 Editorial Editorial
23 07 2020
6 6 1 1 1 1 3 3 1 10.7227/HRV.6.1.1 Article The history of archaeological research at the site of the former Kulmhof exterminationcamp Grzegorczyk Andrzej firstname.lastname@example.org 23 07 2020
6 6 1 1 4 4 14 14 2 10.7227/HRV.6.1.2 Mapping Ponar (Paneriai) A reassessment Seligman Jon email@example.com Bauman Paul Freund Richard Jol Harry McClymont Alastair Reeder Philip 23 07 2020
6 6 1 1 15 15 39 39 3 10.7227/HRV.6.1.3 The
From 1945 until around 1960, ceremonies of a new kind took place throughout Europe to
commemorate the Holocaust and the deportation of Jews; ashes would be taken from the site
of a concentration camp, an extermination camp, or the site of a massacre and sent back to
the deportees country of origin (or to Israel). In these countries, commemorative
ceremonies were then organised and these ashes (sometimes containing other human remains)
placed within a memorial or reburied in a cemetery. These transfers of ashes have,
however, received little attention from historical researchers. This article sets out to
describe a certain number of them, all differing considerably from one another, before
drawing up a typology of this phenomenon and attempting its analysis. It investigates the
symbolic function of ashes in the aftermath of the Second World War and argues that these
transfers – as well as having a mimetic relationship to transfers of relics – were also
instruments of political legitimisation.
The daily work of Erich Muhsfeldt, chief of the crematorium at Majdanek concentration and extermination camp, 1942–44
A specialist: the daily work of Erich
Muhsfeldt, chief of the crematorium
at Majdanek concentration and
exterminationcamp, 1942–44 1
In the context of the invasion of the Soviet Union, due to begin on
22 June 1941, Heinrich Himmler, visiting Lublin on 20 June that
year, ordered a camp to be built in this Polish city situated in the
south-east of occupied Poland, the so-called Generalgouvernement.
Officially run as the ‘Lublin Waffen-SS prisoner of war camp’, the
camp – which the prisoners named after the Lublin suburb of
The afterlives of human remains at the Bełzec extermination camp
(Re)politicising the dead in
post-Holocaust Poland: the afterlives
of human remains at the Bełzec
At the official dedication of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of
Europe on 10 May 2005 in Berlin, Lea Rosh, a German journalist
who launched and led the long-lasting campaign for the erection
of this contentious monument,2 herself became a source of extreme
controversy. During her impassioned speech, held in front of a large
and engaged audience including Holocaust survivors, their relatives
and Jewish religious
This book addresses the practices, treatment and commemoration of victims’ remains in post- genocide and mass violence contexts. Whether reburied, concealed, stored, abandoned or publically displayed, human remains raise a vast number of questions regarding their legal, ethical and social uses. Human Remains in Society will raise these issues by examining when, how and why bodies are hidden or exhibited. Using case studies from multiple continents, each chapter will interrogate their effect on human remains, either desired or unintended, on various political, cultural or religious practices. How, for instance, do issues of confiscation, concealment or the destruction of bodies and body parts in mass crime impact on transitional processes, commemoration or judicial procedures?
Destruction and human remains investigates a crucial question frequently neglected from academic debate in the fields of mass violence and Genocide Studies: what is done to the bodies of the victims after they are killed? Indeed, in the context of mass violence and genocide, death does not constitute the end of the executors' work. Following the abuses carried out by the latter, their victims' remains are treated and manipulated in very particular ways, amounting in some cases to social engineering. The book explores this phase of destruction, whether by disposal, concealment or complete annihilation of the body, across a range of extreme situations to display the intentions and socio-political framework of governments, perpetrators and bystanders. The book will be split into three sections; 1) Who were the perpetrators and why were they chosen? It will be explored whether a division of labour created social hierarchies or criminal careers, or whether in some cases this division existed at all. 2) How did the perpetrators kill and dispose of the bodies? What techniques and technologies were employed, and how does this differ between contrasting and evolving circumstances? 3) Why did the perpetrators implement such methods and what does this say about their motivations and ideologies? The book will focus in particular on the twentieth century, displaying innovative and interdisciplinary approaches and dealing with case studies from different geographical areas across the globe. The focus will be placed on a re-evaluation of the motivations, the ideological frameworks and the technical processes displayed in the destruction of bodies.
Forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims
Caroline Sturdy Colls
‘Earth conceal not my blood’:
forensic and archaeological
approaches to locating the remains of
Caroline Sturdy Colls
‘Earth conceal not my blood’. It is this statement with which every
visitor to Sobibór in Poland was confronted as they entered the
memorial site marking the former Nazi exterminationcamp that
existed there from April 1942 to October 1943.1 This echoed the biblical statement in the Book of Job, in which Job pleads ‘O earth, cover
not thou my blood, and let my cry have no resting place’.2 Although
first few years of the post-war period, the people living next to the actual sites of the exterminationcamps in
Poland dug up and sifted through the soil from Treblinka, Sobibór
and Bełzec, creating a local gold-panning rush that constituted a
final profanation. This is shown in the excellent account given by
10 Human remains in society
Zuzanna Dziuban in her chapter on the spatiality of the death sites
in Poland. Yet while these same sites have yielded corpses to be
identified and returned to their families, they are also destinations
for tour operators
A war of extermination, grave looting, and culture wars in the American West
-Hall, 1940), p. 391.
S. F. Cook, The Conflict between the California Indian and White
Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1943).
L. McMurtry, Oh What A Slaughter: Massacres in the American West,
1846–1890 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), p. 56.
E. Mailänder, ‘A specialist: the daily work of Erich Muhsfeldt, chief of
the crematorium at Majdanek concentration and exterminationcamp
(1942–1944)’, in Anstett & Dreyfus (eds), Destruction and Human
Remains, pp. 46–68.
28 Tony Platt