A consideration of crematories, both old and new, must be made to determine
the functionability of the German Kremas at accomplishing their attributed
Cremation of the dead is not a new concept. It has been practiced by
many cultures for many centuries. Although practiced several thousand years
ago, it was frowned upon by the Catholic Church and not practiced recently
until the Church relaxed its opposition in the later part of the 18th century.
Cremation was forbidden by Orthodox Judaism. By the early 1800's Europe
was again practicing cremation on a limited basis. It becomes advantageous
to control disease, free up much needed land in crowded areas and eliminate
the need for storing corpses in winter when the ground is frozen. Europe's
early crematories were coal or coke fired furnaces.
The oven or furnace which is used to cremate corpses is properly termed
a retort. Early retorts were merely ovens which cooked all the moisture
out of the corpse and reduced it to ash. Bones cannot be burned and must
be pulverized, even today. The early mortar and pestle has been replaced
by a crushing machine, however. Modern retorts are mostly gas fired, although
some are still supplied for oil. None are still fired by coke or coal in
the United States or Canada.
Earlier retorts were simply a drying or baking kiln and simply dried
the human remains. Modern retorts of brick-lined steel actually blow fire
from a nozzle onto the remains setting them afire, causing combustion and
rapid burning. Modern retorts also have a second or afterburner for reburning
all the pollutants in the combusted gaseous material. This second burner
is a requirement set by the various state agencies responsible for air
pollution. it should be noted that the human remains are not responsible
for the pollution. It is caused entirely by the fossil fuels used. An electric
retort, although cost prohibitive to run, would have no pollutants.
These modern retorts or crematories burn at a temperature of 2000+
degrees Fahrenheit, with an afterburner temperature of 1600 degrees Fahrenheit.
This high temperature causes the body to combust and consume itself, allowing
for the burner to be shut down. Wooden caskets and paper boxes are burned
with the body, today, although not in the past, with no added time of burning
due to the high temperature. Some European units are operated at a traditional
lower temperature of 800 degrees Centigrade (1472 degrees Fahrenheit) and
for a longer time period.
At 2000 degrees Fahrenheit or more with a 2500 cfm blowered air supply
from the outside, modern retorts will cremate one corpse in 1.25 hours.
Theoretically, this is 19.2 in a 24 hour time period. Factory recommendation
for normal operation and sustained use allows for three (3) or less cremations
per day. Older, oil, coal and coke furnaces with forced air (but no direct
flame application) normally took 3.5 to 4 hours for each corpse.
Theoretically, this could allow for 6.8 corpses in a 24 hour period
at a maximum. Normal operation permits a maximum of three (3) cremations
in a 24 hour time period. These computations are based on 1 corpse per
retort per cremation. These modern retorts are of all steel construction
and lined with high quality refractory brick. The fuel is pumped directly
to the retort and all controls are electric and automatic. The coal and
coke fired furnaces did not burn at an even temperature (approximately
1600 degrees Fahrenheit max.) and had to be constantly fed fuel by hand
and dampered up and down. Since there was no direct application of flame
to the corpse, the blower only fanned the flames and increased the temperature
of the kiln. This crude mode of operation probably produced an average
temperature of about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit.
crematories utilized at the inspected German facilities were of the older
type. They were constructed of red brick and mortar and lined with a refractory
brick. All of the ovens had multiple retorts, some were blowered (although
none had direct combustion), none had afterburners and all were coke fired
except one facility no longer in existence at Majdanek. None of the retorts
inspected and examined at all of the locations were designed for multiple
corpse incineration. It should be noted that unless specifically designed
for a greater bone to flesh to heat ratio, the retort will not consume
the materials placed within it. Theoretical and real-time estimated maximum
24 hour outputs, based on one (1) corpse per retort per cremation are found
in Table II.
This report is taken from the Zundelsite