Poland Begins Search For WWII Mass Graves
15.05.2013 – A search for mass graves of victims executed by the Nazi Germans in the first months of World War II was launched at Piasnica, northern Poland on Tuesday.
It is estimated that between 12,000 and 14,000 people were executed in woodland near the village, and historians believe that initial excavations in 1946 and 1962 failed to reveal all the graves.
The victims were primarily members of the Polish intelligentsia (teachers, government officials, social activists among others), together with Czechs, Jews and patients from German mental hospitals. The executions tied in with a far-ranging action against the intelligentsia.
The new search is being led by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the state-backed body charged with investigating crimes against Polish citizens.
The investigation into the crimes was relaunched in 2011, and besides testimonies from witnesses, documents have been acquired from German archives.
Although, yesterday’s probe with metal detectors did not reveal any key leads, a second wave is scheduled to take place this summer, once further inquiries have been made in German archives.
The matter is complicated as the Nazi authorities attempted to cover up traces of the crimes in the summer of 1944.
Thirty-six inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk were brought to the forests around Piasnica, and several of the mass graves were excavated, and the remains of the victims cremated.
The inmates were themselves then executed and cremated.
Nevertheless, altogether, 31 mass graves were located in the probes of 1946 and 1962, and it is believed that more have yet to be discovered.
A number of the Nazi German perpetrators were tried after the war, including Albert Forster, the Gauleiter of the Gdansk Region, who was ultimately executed in Warsaw in 1952. (nh)
– Polskie Radio