The unique story of the archaeological excavation of a World War II extermination camp is revealed to the public.
October 14, 1943 is a date that is not well known in the annals of World War II. Yet it marks a remarkable event that reflected a moment of triumph in the story of thousands of human victims who went helplessly to their deaths at the hands of their Nazi captors inside the Sobibór extermination camp in eastern Poland. It was the day when 500 Jewish prisoners executed a rebellion and successful escape.
Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi made excavation and investigation of this site a personal journey — he had two uncles who died there during the War. Working with Dr. Philip Reeder, Dean of Duquesne University’s Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, he had the site surveyed, mapped, and then excavated over a period of 5 years beginning in 2007. Read more.
Four skeletons were found at the site, where mandatory digs were being carried out prior to the construction of a ring road.
In each case, the deceased had been buried with the head between the legs.
According to folk beliefs, this prevented a possible vampire from finding his or her way back to the land of the living.
There was no trace at the burial ground of any earthly possessions, such as jewellery, belts or buckles. “It’s very difficult to tell when these burials were carried out,” archaeologist Dr Jacek Pierzak told the Dziennik Zachodni newspaper. However, it is believed that they took place in the early modern period. Read more.
A mass grave has been located which historians believe may be the resting place of members of the National Armed Forces (NSZ), one of the chief Polish resistance groups to stay active following the end of the Second World War.
Victims appear to have been shot in the back of the head, a characteristic trait in executions carried out by Poland’s Soviet-modelled secret police.
Researchers have indicated that the remains may belong to the underground division of Captain Henryk Flame (codename Bartek).
Captain Flame was himself shot down by a policeman in a restaurant in the Lower Silesian village of Zabrzeg on 1 December 1947.
Today’s excavation comes under the auspices of a nationwide programme entitled “The search for unknown burial places of victims of communist terror in the years 1944-1956.” Read more.
(AP)—Capitalizing on low water levels in Warsaw’s Vistula River, police are teaming up with archaeologists to recover gigantic marble and alabaster treasures that apparently were stolen from royals in Poland by Swedish invaders in the mid-17th century.
A police Mi-8 helicopter hovered over a riverbed on Thursday, lifting ornaments such as the centerpiece of a fountain with water outlets decorated with Satyr-like faces.
For police, it was gratifying to provide the chopper and assist Warsaw University archeologists in “this very important mission of retrieving priceless national treasures,” said Mariusz Mrozek, a spokesman for Warsaw police.
Archaeologists have long known that such well-preserved treasures were located in the riverbed in the Warsaw area, but not exactly where. Read more.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — It could hardly have been a riskier mission: infiltrate Auschwitz to chronicle Nazi atrocities. Witold Pilecki survived nearly three years as an inmate in the death camp, managing to smuggle out word of executions before making a daring escape. But the Polish resistance hero was crushed by the post-war communist regime — tried on trumped-up charges and executed.
Six decades on, Poland hopes Pilecki’s remains will be identified among the entangled skeletons and shattered skulls of resistance fighters being excavated from a mass grave on the edge of Warsaw’s Powazki Military Cemetery. The exhumations are part of a movement in the resurgent, democratic nation to officially recognize its war-time heroes and 20th century tragedies.
"He was unique in the world," said Zofia Pilecka-Optulowicz, paying tribute to her father’s 1940 decision to walk straight into a Nazi street roundup with the aim of getting inside the extermination camp. "I would like to have a place where I can light a candle for him." Read more.
KIRYAT MALACHI, Israel (AP) — When Israeli archaeologist Yoram Haimi decided to investigate his family’s unknown Holocaust history, he turned to the skill he knew best: He began to dig.
After learning that two of his uncles were murdered in the infamous Sobibor death camp, he embarked on a landmark excavation project that is shining new light on the workings of one of the most notorious Nazi killing machines, including pinpointing the location of the gas chambers where hundreds of thousands were killed.
Sobibor, in eastern Poland, marks perhaps the most vivid example of the ‘‘Final Solution,’’ the Nazi plot to wipe out European Jewry. Unlike other camps that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death almost immediately. Read more.
A British forensic archaeologist has unearthed fresh evidence to prove the existence of mass graves at the Nazi death camp Treblinka - scuppering the claims of Holocaust deniers who say it was merely a transit camp.
Some 800,000 Jews were killed at the site, in north east Poland, during the Second World War but a lack of physical evidence in the area has been exploited by Holocaust deniers.
Forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has now undertaken the first co-ordinated scientific attempt to locate the graves.
As Jewish religious law forbids disturbing burial sites, she and her team from the University of Birmingham have used ‘ground-penetrating radar’.
Her work at the site, where the Nazis tried to destroy all traces of industrial-scale killing, is being followed in forthcoming Radio 4 documentary The Hidden Graves Of The Holocaust. Read more.
Sword at his side, the so-called Young Warrior (left) is among the thousand-year-old discoveries in a newfound cemetery in Poland, a new study says.
The burial ground holds not only a hoard of precious objects but also hints of human sacrifice—and several dozen graves of a mysterious people with links to both the Vikings and the rulers of the founding states of eastern Europe.
Researchers are especially intrigued by the Young Warrior, who died a violent death in his 20s. The man’s jaw is fractured, his skull laced with cut marks. The sword provides further evidence of a martial life.
Objects in the warrior’s grave suggest he had ties to one of the region’s earliest Slavic monarchs, said the project leader Andrzej Buko, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.