The COVID Crematoria Conundrum

John Huss • January 1, 2021

Uh-oh. Alarming news (is there any other kind these days?) suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a catastrophic strain on the world’s crematoria not seen since … well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

Let us take these headlines at face value for the sake of argument:

Zittau, Germany: Reports from this Saxony city describe a backlog of bodies in the first three weeks of December 2020 totaling 115 deaths, or about 5 deaths per day. “Despite optimised procedures and permanently working machines, the number of cremations necessary is higher than the capacity of the Zittau crematorium and its staff,” city officials warned. The city has allegedly resorted to storing corpses in a large hall.

New Delhi, India: More than 650 people died from COVID-19 last summer in India’s capital city. An article from AFP stated that “[i]t takes about two hours to incinerate a body in a furnace.” This implies that a single oven was capable of handling only about 12 bodies per day, assuming the oven operated continuously 24 hours per day. New Delhi’s crematoria, some of which were not operational, could barely keep up, by official accounts.

Mexico City: In early summer, there was reportedly a backlog for cremation at every public crematorium in Mexico City due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Black smoke billows out over cemeteries as the ovens are cremating on an industrial level in the city but the bodies don’t stop coming,” Sky News reported. “In fact, the ovens simply cannot cope and there are regular reports of breakdowns only adding to the backlog.” An analysis of data from 30 crematoria across the city showed that each crematorium “is disposing of between 18 and 22 bodies each day.”

Wuhan, China: Last February, the Daily Mail reported that all the crematoria in Wuhan, China, were operating 24/7 to cope with COVID-19 deaths. At that time, the death toll from the virus in China (not just in Wuhan but in the entire country) was reportedly 490.

Los Angeles, Calif.: “Hospital morgues are so full that the National Guard is being called in to help county workers as corpses are moved into storage at the L.A. County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “The overcrowded crypts at hospitals are the result of private mortuaries running out of space and staff to handle the unprecedented number of COVID-19 deaths.”

Some cities, including New York , Indianapolis, Riverside, Fresno, El Paso, and Waco, are reportedly using refrigerated trailers for auxiliary storage of COVID-19 corpses. In Ecuador, people who died of COVID-19 were simply left lying in the streets, according to the Daily Mail.

We know that such hyperbolic claims of mass death and disease transmission in the age of pandemania have repeatedly withered under scrutiny—the overflowing field hospitals that never were and the Sturgis, South Dakota, superspreader event that wasn’t, for example.

But assuming the global reports of clogged crematoria are true (or mostly true), we arrive at a rather interesting and delicate COVID crematoria conundrum: The number of bodies that have pushed modern crematoria to their limits pales in comparison to the number allegedly incinerated at German concentration camps during World War II. A single crematorium at Auschwitz was reportedly able to incinerate 768 corpses every day, according to the Jewish Virtual Library. That’s more than six times the total number of deaths in the city of Zittau between December 1 and December 23.

Townhall columnist Marina Medvin recently cited a claim that “more than half” of thousands of inmates were gassed and “half cremated” at Dachau concentration camp within just three hours. When readers tried to challenge that claim, Townhall staff removed their comments.

When podcaster Nick Fuentes seemed to suggest that the standard Holocaust narrative overstates crematoria capacity, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro responded indignantly, repeating a claim by an alleged eyewitness that Auschwitz (or maybe a single crematorium at Auschwitz) cremated 2,500 bodies per day. The eyewitness said the high volume was made possible by shoving numerous corpses into each oven during each cremation.

Why, if those numbers are correct, were Nazi crematoria of the 1940s so much more efficient than modern crematoria? To paraphrase Fuentes, the math just doesn’t seem to add up.