Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2013 August 14

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August 14[edit]

Did the Nazis[edit]

burn people alive? Or the procedure was always kill and get rid of the body by cremating it? OsmanRF34 (talk) 01:25, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

The Holocaust did not involve any significant number of people being burned alive. The Nazis first utilized shooting, then mobile gassing vans to poison the victims with carbon monoxide from engine exhaust, and ultimately settled upon using a cyanide-containing gas, Zyklon-B. DavidLeighEllis (talk) 01:36, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Moral considerations aside, isn't it much efficient to burn alive than to gas and cremate? This jumps to mind because it's not as if they were trying to be humane, they just wanted to be efficient. OsmanRF34 (talk) 01:44, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
You're now arguing why they wouldn't have done this. We should not get into speculation about their reasons but stick to what's citeable. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 01:47, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Ok, but maybe there is a rationale in their choice of method of killing. They moved from the mobile gassing vans to the cyanide gas for a reason (that can be cited). Did they think about other, more efficient methods too? Are they documents explaining why they chose the latter method, and what other options were considered? OsmanRF34 (talk) 01:51, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Maybe they weren't that interested in hearing the screams of the condemned while they burned. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:20, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
As I said above, ..... -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 03:27, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I recall ages ago reading an account of the early days of the holocaust in a historical work, in which German soldiers reported having a very difficult time shooting-to-death German Jews. Murdering Polish Jews was fine as the soldiers could not understand what they were screaming. But when murdering German Jews, at least some soldiers reported hesitating because of and later being haunted by the screaming and pleading that they could actually understand. Extermination_camp#Operation_of_the_camps mentions that one German officer reported after the war that some of his men could not bear the sight of all the blood. I have no idea if the reactions of these soldiers had any part in motivating the decision to switch to gas chambers, and I cannot find a clear reference to any reason in our article (I only did a cursory search, and found only mentions of "efficiency", "industrial scale", etc, but no clear statements). That said, I doubt that murdering people by burning would be terribly efficient, since coercing someone into a furnace should be rather difficult. If I recall correctly the works of Elie Wiesel, I believe he mentioned suspicions that some of the people fed to the furnaces were not dead, but ill to the point of stillness. Someguy1221 (talk) 05:57, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The screams of a room of burning people might also do as much to stir the prisoners as haunt the jailers. Thankfully, I don't know, but I think that sort of sound would hit the "fight or flight" button harder than the dull thud of drowsy people would. If I was a jailer, I'd rather keep those that outnumber me as subdued as practical. Fire would also make the victims themselves much more agitated than gas. Those may have been thick doors, but why risk one breaking down and berzerk flaming people running through the place? InedibleHulk (talk) 00:03, August 15, 2013 (UTC)
Burning alive is inefficient. Gold teeth need to be extracted from the corpses before cremating.
Sleigh (talk) 05:38, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Gold is denser than ash or bits of bone, ash and teeth. My friend who runs a crematorium says that there are spatters of gold at the bottom of the chamber after a body is cremated. It would be easy to retrieve the dental gold after bodies were cremated. Edison (talk) 05:50, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The Nazis didn't cremate one corpse at a time, they cremated en masse.
Sleigh (talk) 06:24, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

There were instances of German troops or their allies forcing civilians into barns or churches and then setting fire to them. A very rapid Google search produced Gardelegen (war crime) and Oradour-sur-Glane as examples, but I believe that there were many more instances on the Eastern Front. Alansplodge (talk) 12:53, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

There are similar cases with Jewish victims in synagogues, though I think the OP's question was about crematoria specifically. הסרפד (call me Hasirpad) 13:31, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The question is about mass-extermination, and why it had the form it had. OsmanRF34 (talk) 13:52, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The answer seems obvious. Maybe you could explain why you think burning alive is somehow more "efficient". I don't see how tying someone up, binding, gagging, etc. to keep them from struggling would somehow be easier than just shooting them and throwing them all into the fiery furance. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:14, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Absolutely. I've never burned a human, but I've put upset cats into non-flaming carriers and upset children into non-flaming cars. Not easy. Adding the fear of fiery death and longer, stronger limbs, then multiplying by thousands doesn't equal efficiency. InedibleHulk (talk) 15:53, August 14, 2013 (UTC)
Experiences of a Fifteen year old in Birkenau says; "The elderly were loaded onto dump trucks and then dumped into burning trenches while still alive. The remainder were led into the gas chambers." Note that this part of the account is hearsay rather than an eye-witness account, having been reported to the author by the work party responsible for clearing the gas chambers; at least some of the other events described are debatable. This is actually being quoted on the website of David Irving, who is described in our article as a Holocaust denier.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau: History of a man-made Hell says; "There were allegations by several survivors of Birkenau that Dr Mengele had 300 children burned alive in an open fire." and later "He (Mengele) also shot people, and by some reports he tossed live babies into the crematoria."
Auschwitz-Birkenau: Bunker 1 and Bunker 2 gas chambers quotes from an eye witness account by Dr Miklos Nyiszli, describing how 5,000 men were killed, 'for whom there was no room in the four crematoriums.' "At the end of the pathway two Sonderkommando men seized the victims by the arms and dragged them for 15 or 20 yards into position before the SS. Their cries of terror covered the sound of the shots. A shot, then, immediately afterwards, even before he was dead, the victim was hurled into the flames." The article also says that "Several survivors of Auschwitz accused Otto Moll of throwing live babies into the flaming pits."
So the answer to the question is that many accounts describe concentration camp inmates being burned alive, although they were either infants, elderly and infirm or had already been shot. Alansplodge (talk) 17:21, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Likewise, kittens, old cats and sick ones are a breeze to cage. InedibleHulk (talk) 23:50, August 14, 2013 (UTC)
Another one from the DEPOSITION OF 24th MAY 1945 BY HENRYK TAUBER: "The SS carefully checked the worked of the dentists, always being present. From time to time they would stop a load of corpses ready for charging into the furnace and already operated on by the dentists, in order to check the mouths. They occasionally found a forgotten gold tooth. Such carelessness was considered to be sabotage, and the culprit was burned alive in the furnace. I witnessed such a thing myself. A dentist, a French Jew, was burned in this way in Krematorium V. He fought and cried, but there were several SS and they threw themselves on him, overpowered him and put him in the furnace alive." Alansplodge (talk) 23:26, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I've been torn up good by five conscious feral tomcats. Two of them ended up in the cage, but that doesn't mean it was efficient. If I had to do even a hundred, I'd be toast. Not knocking your answers, quite good for showing it happened, it's just for the efficiency part of the question. InedibleHulk (talk) 23:50, August 14, 2013 (UTC)
Obviously it wasn't a major method, but it happened. I always feel rather unclean after reading those accounts - time for bed. Alansplodge (talk) 00:19, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
OK, I get that forcing people into small ovens is not efficient, and that building big ovens is also not an option, but once you have people in a locked space, like they had them, why use Zyklon B? Why not just use something easily available, like CO2 or CO? OsmanRF34 (talk) 11:48, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
They tried CO (carbon monoxide) at Belzec extermination camp by running the exhaust from a lorry or petrol engine into a makeshift gas chamber, but it took a really long time. Bottled CO was used elsewhere, but Zyklon B which was used for delousing, was found to be more efficient. CO2 is not poisonous, and I imagine that you would have to almost completely displace the air in the chamber to make it lethal. In my searches last night, I did find a reference to punishment cells which could be sealed until the inmates suffocated, but it wouldn't have worked on a large scale. The answer is that they used Zyklon B because it was effective, cheap and if any questions were asked, you could always say that you needed it to delouse the inmates. Alansplodge (talk) 14:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Carbon dioxide is not as innocuous as you imply, since even a percent or two can cause hyperventilation and cardiac arrythmia, and 7% to 10% can cause unconsciousness. Edison (talk) 19:21, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Overall, the Nazis' choice of method for mass slaughter was for expediency related to the circumstances. Factors included: (a) the number of people to be killed quickly and then disposed of (e.g. in mass graves at Einsatzgruppen killing sites outside of camps, where purpose-built crematory ovens were nonexistent), with (b) available personnel and equipment, and (c) entailing minimum expense of money and materiél, both needed for the war effort. One method not mentioned above: drowning in a nearby body of water, such as the Danube River for an urban population in Budapest and the Baltic Sea in evacuating thousands of inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp. -- Deborahjay (talk) 20:31, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Also Himmler's concern about the mental health of his SS men:

"Initially the victims were killed with gas vans or by firing squad, but these methods proved impracticable for an operation of this scale.[117] In August 1941, Himmler attended the shooting of 100 Jews at Minsk. Nauseated and shaken by the experience,[118] he was concerned about the impact such actions would have on the mental health of his SS men. He decided that alternate methods of killing should be found.[119][120] On his orders, by spring 1942 the camp at Auschwitz had been greatly expanded, including the addition of gas chambers, where victims were killed using the pesticide Zyklon B.[121]" Count Iblis (talk) 00:52, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

  • In For the Sake of Heaven and Earth, Irving Greenberg describes an incident where children were thrown atop piles of burning corpses, ostensibly to save money on Zyklon B. I can't remember at the moment if Greenberg was quoting Elie Wiesel, or possibly someone else for the information, but there's at least one secondary source I can contribute. Evanh2008 (talk|contribs) 02:07, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Burial site of Carlos Martínez De Irujo, 1st Marquis Of Casa Irujo[edit]

I am looking for the place where Carlos is buried. He is an ancestor and I would like to pay my respects (talk) 09:33, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Don Carlos Martínez de Irujo y Tacón died in Madrid.
Sleigh (talk) 09:51, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Vel Phillips[edit]


I'm researching Vel Phillips for a documentary and on her Wikipedia page there is something mentioned that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. Can you help me reach out to the author of the page in order to find the source of the information?


Robert — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert Trondson (talkcontribs) 15:27, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Hi Robert, you might be able to do this. What you need to do is:
  • go to the Vel Phillips page and click on the "view history" tab at the top. What you'll see is a listing of all the "authors" of the page - of everyone who has made changes to it and when they made the change. Luckily, there are only a few compared to some pages here!
  • You can click on the different times-and-dates until you find the edit where your piece of info was inserted.
  • Then you can return to the history and click on the "(talk)" link next to the username or IP address of the person who added it.
  • At that point you have the option to leave them a message, or email them if they have Wikipedia email enabled. (For more help with that process, see the Teahouse which specializes in helping new Wikipedians find their way around.)
Best luck, (talk) 16:39, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Total floor area in Chicago[edit]

I am looking for the total floor area in Chicago. Unfortunately, the only data I find is on the "floor area ratio" or on the floor area of individual buildings such as skycrapers. The value is likely to be in the order of magnitude of 500,000,000 square meters. Any help is appreciated. (talk) 17:09, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

What if you contact the Chicago Tax Assessment office and ask them if this information is compiled anywhere? (talk) 18:56, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. However, for the reason of citation I would prefer to find the data in a publically accessible website or database. (talk) 09:39, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I understand, but I meant the office would know if such a database even exists in the first place. (talk) 14:46, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Lenin in a lift[edit]

I recall once being told about a building (possibly a skyscraper) in the US (possibly built during the 30's / 40's when the US and the USSR were getting on a bit better) which had a giant mural of Lenin and glorious Soviet future in the lift. This was then removed by the time the Cold War was in full swing. Does anyone know if this is actually the case, which building it was, and if any pictures exist of the mural? Thanks. Horatio Snickers (talk) 18:05, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Rivera's Man at the Crossroads in the Rockefeller Center famously had Lenin in it, but it didn't last until the cold war. Paul B (talk) 18:36, 14 August 2013 (UTC)