World War II-era mass graves: stories and discoveries.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
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Nazi-era mass grave discovered on building site in Belarus
Construction on the site of a former Jewish ghetto has unearthed the bones of over 700 people shot during WWII. The mass grave was discovered in the city of Brest, near the Polish border.
German World War II graves unearthed in Estonia
Workers building a memorial to victims of communism in Estonia have discovered a World War II-era German war grave. Authorities in Estonia said that the bodies would be re-buried in a nearby German cemetery.
Declassified report: Soviets massacred 10,000 Soviet citizens in northern Poland
A declassified report by a CIA spy contains so-far-unknown claims that Soviets carried out mass killings of their own citizens in Poland soon after the end of World War II. The report, dated 10 October 1952, contains shocking claims about the activities of Soviet forces occupying Poland following the end of the war. 'A Polish eyewitness told me that in the forest of Witomin [near the Polish port city of Gdynia] over 10,000 Soviets are buried in mass graves. They were shot by the Soviets themselves just after World War II. They were Soviet workers who had been repatriated from Germany.'
618 German soldiers who died during their 1945 retreat through Poland reburied in Poznan, Poland
The remains of 618 German soldiers who died during Nazi Germany's retreat through Poland in 1945 and were buried in mass graves were laid to rest, a memorial organisation said. Tomasz Czabanski, of Polish foundation Pomost (Bridge), said the troops were reburied during a ceremony at a German military graveyard in Poznan. 200 dog-tags had been found in the mass graves, enabling researchers to put names to some remains. 14,000 German soldiers already lie in Poznan's Milostowo cemetery. In total, there are 13 German military cemeteries in Poland, and about 150,000 German soldiers have been reburied.
World War II mass grave with at least 20,000 found in Eastern Ukraine
A mass grave dating from the Second World War has been found in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk. Preliminary estimates place the number of the victims to 20,000.
Croatia compiles a list of WWII mass graves filled with German civilians and Wehrmacht soldiers
A lot of time and resources have been poured into recording the mass graves resulting from Nazi atrocities. However, of the hundreds of WWII-era mass graves used by the Communists to bury executed Germans only couple of percent have been properly investigated.
Croatian interior ministry and the Croatian Institute for History are in the process of compiling a list of the mass graves which were used to bury the German victims - both civilians who perished in the communist camps 1944-1948 and Wehrmacht troops who were executed during the last years of the World War Two. So far the list includes over 200 sites, and it covers only the mass graves in Croatia, not the entire area which made up the former Yugoslavia. Of the 200,000 ethnic Germans who came under the Communist authorities in former Yugoslavia, just a few thousands survived.
Jewish groups join forces in a project to id those buried in Holocaust mass graves across Eastern Europe
The Holocaust is usually associated with the concentration and death camps run by the Nazis. However, before the camp system was fully set up mass shootings took place in the Eastern Front. As might be expected, less is known about these shootings, carried out by mobile SS death squads called Einsatzgruppen, than about the highly-organized and well documented camp system.
Now however, international Jewish organizations have joined forces to set up a project - coordinated by the Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the German War Graves Commission - to identify, protect and memorialize thousands of forgotten mass graves across Eastern Europe.
WWII mass grave of Jews killed by Romanian soldiers is uncovered in remote forest near Popricani
Archaeologists have discovered a WWII mass grave containing remains of over 100 Jews killed in a forest area near the village of Popricani. During the war 280,000-380,000 Jews were killed in Romania, which was allied to the Third Reich.
WWII mass grave found in Slovenia: 700 Nazi collaborators killed by Communists
A Second World War mass grave has been discovered after floods and a landslide revealed bones in Slovenia. The 20-meter-long pit near the town of Prevalje is thought to contain the remains of up to 700 men and women. Some of the victims - their hands were tied behind their backs - seem to have been shot, others hacked to death. Researchers think the victims might have been suspected Nazi collaborators eliminated by communist-backed anti-fascists.
Remains of 5,600 Wehrmacht soldiers and ethnic Germans find final resting place in Czech soil (Article no longer available from the original source)
The remains of 5,600 Wehrmacht soldiers and ethnic Germans who perished on Czech territory now have a final resting place there. Cheb (known in German as Eger) is a town in the Sudetenland near the Bavarian border. The new WWII cemetery, the largest burial site for German war dead on Czech territory, will be opened on September 2010. The Sudetenland consists of the regions of Czech republic that had been populated since the middle ages by ethnic Germans. On this pretext, the Nazis occupied the area in 1938. Previously the Wehrmacht remains were stored in cardboard boxes in a bunker near Pribram.
Stalin-era mass grave yields 3.5 tons of bones on the outskirts of Vladivostok
At least 495 skeletons, many with head gunshot wounds, have been discovered in a mass grave dating back to purges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s. 3.5 tons of bones were collected from the site on the outskirts of the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok after it was stumbled upon by workmen building a road. Millions of Soviet citizens were executed or died in labor camps during Stalin's rule from the 1920s until his death in 1953. "Practically all of the skulls have bullet wounds," stated Yaroslav Livanksy, adding that money and clothes from the 1930s had been found at the site.
Nazi victims' mass graves found in Austria under football field
Two mass graves containing people killed by the Nazis during World War II have been discovered underneath an army football pitch in Austria. The mass graves - located in bomb craters underneath the army sports field in Graz - contain 70 bodies killed by the SS to eliminate witnesses to Nazi atrocities before the Soviet Red Army arrived. The graves were identified from WWII photos, made from American bombers, showing open graves and bodies. The army statement said that the investigation found out the identities of two suspected culprits who fled to Germany and could still be alive.
Cemetery for Wehrmacht soldiers opened in Kursk region, Russia
A new cemetery has been opened in Russia, but this one honours the Wehrmacht soldiers killed in Russia during the Second World War. 25,000 German soldiers have been buried in a cemetery near the village Besedino in Kursk Region, in a move Russia hopes serves as a sign of reconciliation. However, the decision to build the cemetery was not easy, governor Aleksandr Mikhailov said, noting that the Nazi occupation of Kursk wiped out over 300 villages in the region. The site will not only become a place of memory and mourning, but will also contribute to understanding and reconciliation between Russia and Germany. It is the 11th cemetery of its kind in Russia.
Project to survey Holocaust-era mass graves in Baltic states in 2010
A project will survey mass graves and Jewish cemeteries in the Baltic states where Jewish communities were wiped out during World War Two. The aim is to id and repair the neglected sites from the Holocaust era, which often are the last reminder of once-lively Jewish communities, says a statement by Lo Tishkach-Do Not Forget, a project coordinated by the Conference of European Rabbis, and sponsored by the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Youth groups in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will begin a training program to carry out surveys of local sites starting in spring 2010.
German authorities to dig up World War II mass grave
Authorities are to begin digging up a site thought to contain the remains of 750 Jewish prisoners killed by the Nazis in the last days of WW2. The mass grave is on the grounds of the former Lieberose forced-labor camp, a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen. The grave is thought to be the biggest in Germany outside the walls of a concentration camp. The men and women were inmates in 1945 at Lieberose. The SS executed them with machine guns on February 2, 1945 because they were too sick or exhausted to participate in a forced march away from the Nazi camp as the Soviet Red Army neared.
WWII mass grave of people gassed to death by Communist regime uncovered from a cave
A mass grave filled with the remains of 300 people killed in the aftermath of World War II has been discovered in Slovenia. The bodies are believed to be pro-Nazi collaborators killed by Yugoslavia's Comunist regime at the end of the war in 1945. The victims had no wounds, suggesting they had been "killed with gas". Investigators and historians tore down concrete walls built after WWII to close off the Huda Jama cave and discovered the remains inside. Piles of military shoes were found at the entrance to the cave.
Mystery surrounds mass graves in Malbork (photographs)
In the Polish city of Malbork, once part of German West Prussia, one mass grave after the other has been unearthed over the years. Some of the skulls have bullet holes: Are they the victims of a monstrous crime? The current excavation is being led by Zbigniew Sawicki, the archaeologist at Malbork's castle museum - and so far no forensic experts have been called in. The search for clues leads to the last months of World War II. What has been documented is that as the Soviet soldiers passed through villages, again and again they shot male civilians and "took" women. "The battles were really tough," Victor Zalgaller, a former Red Army soldier recalls.
World War II mass grave of residents of Malbork discovered in Poland
The Polish city of Malbork (once Marienburg) has discovered a mass grave with the remains of 1,800 people, believed to be German residents of the town. They died as the victorious Red Army marched through Poland. A pit dug for a foundation in Malbork revealed the remains, all piled together in a WWII-era mass grave. City official Piotr Szwedowski explained: "We have exhumed around 1,800 corpses. We are pretty sure that they were former residents of Malbork." One in 10 of the corpses had been shot in the head - and all of them had been buried naked. "The metal detectors used during the excavations found no metal, not even a false tooth."
Mass graves help Ukraine uncover legacy of World War II
Vyacheslav Grybailov, of the state-funded "Memory and Glory" group, picks up a skull from a trench filled with human remains and shows it to WW2 veteran Dmitry Aleksandrov. "Look, here, from this side the bullet came in." The search for soldiers' remains reflects belated efforts in Ukraine to come to terms with the war events, which still leave the country divided. During the war hundreds of thousands joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a group that battled against both the Soviet and German armies to create an independent state. Others signed up for a Nazi unit known as the SS Halychyna.
Poland's Painful Past - Director Andrzej Wajda talks about the Katyn massacre
Katyn is the most personal film Andrzej Wajda has made: he lost his father in the Katyn massacre. In 1940 22,000 Polish citizens were murdered under the orders of Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. The tragedy was not revealed until the 1943 when the Third Reich invaded the Soviet Union and discovered the mass graves. Any Soviet citizens who spoke out to reveal the truth were punished. In Poland under the country's post-war communist regime, talk of the massacre was taboo. Throughout the Cold War the secret was kept, until finally in 1990 the Kremlin cadmitted that Stalin's secret police had been responsible.
Slovenia: More World War II mass graves unearthed - Sinful secrets
Skeletons are buried in meadows and under parking lots. Over 570 hidden grave sites from World War II have been unearthed by historian Mitja Ferenc, who wants a fair account of the past in this former Yugoslav republic. A slaughter happened in WWII's last days and aftermath by the troops of Marshal Tito, the partisan leader and communist who would rule for decades across the area. Thousands of Germans, Croatians and others on the losing side were killed. The massacres were unexplored in communist-era, but Ferenc's digs have broken a psychological barrier and sparked debates anew about the sins of World War II.
Possible Mass Grave of Nazi Victims Unearthed in Kassel
Construction has been halted on a site in Kassel, where at least 36 human skeletons have been discovered. During World War II the site was the location of a train engine and tank factory that used forced laborers, said archivist Frank-Roland Klaube. The skeletons wore neither watches nor rings, which gave credence to the theory of them having been forced laborers rather than bombing victims, who would have been hurriedly buried. The site had also been the location of a hospital until 1870, so the dead could thus have been the victims of an epidemic, but only if the estimate that they were no older than 100 years was wrong.
Million Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS soldiers get reburial after 60 years
A million fallen German soldiers, both Wehrmacht and Waffen SS, are being reburied over 60 years after the fall of the Third Reich. The operation is taking place across Eastern Europe, where 15M civilians were killed by the German war machine. Resentment against the program is high. So far 520,000 skeletons have been dug up from mass graves, old trenches and battlefield graveyards and reburied in German war cemeteries. A further 400,000 are due to be exhumed over the next 8 years. And 100,000 will be reburied after that. Exhumation teams are recovering skeletons from Stalingrad and WWII's largest single mechanised engagement: the Battle of Kursk.
Ukraine reburies 2,000 Stalin's victims killed by Soviet secret police
Ukrainian authorities have reburied the bodies of 2,000 people killed by the Soviet secret police over 60 years ago. Relatives watched as red coffins were lowered into graves. The bodies, including 474 Poles, were dug up in Bykovnya, where tens of thousands are thought to have been dumped during the 1930s and 1940s. Under Communist rule the existence of the mass graves was denied. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the mass graves were acknowledged and memorials built. Maria Marzhetska said her father had been seized in 1937, and she only discovered his fate 60 years later.
World War II mass graves confirmed in Alaska (Article no longer available from the original source)
Mass graves believed to hold the remains of 2,300 Japanese WWII soldiers killed on the Aleutian island of Attu have been confirmed. Maj. Chris Johnson says 4-day expedition turned up clothing and remains that confirmed the burial sites listed in a 1953 report. "During that first day we found 2 boots; both left feet and different sizes. But we found the remains of foot bones in overboots, then we knew we had indeed found the burial sites." Japanese troops occupied the island of Attu in June 1942 but U.S. forces retook the island year later. The Americans lost 549 troops while the Japanese, fighting to the last man, sustained 2,300 casualties.
Ukraine: World War II Mass Grave Found - Killed by Nazis
Pipeline diggers unearthed a mass grave in the village of Gvozdavka-1 believed to contain thousands of Jews slaughtered in Ukraine - a grim finding in a nation that one historian described as "an enormous killing field." In November 1941, Nazi officials set up a concentration camp near the village and killed 5,000 people. 240,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Odessa region, which was occupied by the German-allied Romanians. "We must figure out their names. It is our debt to the victims." Ravine Babi Yar, where the Nazis slaughtered 34,000 persons over 2 days in Sept 1941, is a powerful symbol of the tragedy in Ukraine.
World War II Nazi Euthanasia skeletons found
The skeletons believed to be victims of the Nazi euthanasia program have been found in a mass grave in the town of Menden, close to where a World War II facility run by Adolf Hitler's physician Karl Brandt was located. There were indications the deaths might be related to euthanasia, which was practiced by the Nazis from 1939 to 1941. Some 70,000 people perished in the program, which the Nazis believed was necessary. The Nazi euthanasia program, which became an open secret in the Third Reich, was officially terminated in 1941 in the wake of protests. Karl Brandt, who was in charge of the program, was executed in 1948.