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    The mystery of the death of 60 prisoners from a camp in the Stargard area

    Scientists from Szczecin want to determine the cause of death of 64 people whose remains were found on the grounds of the former prisoner-of-war camp Stalag II-D in Stargard (West Pomeranian Province). The prisoners died over four consecutive days, but there are no traces to indicate, for example, that they were shot.

    “During our research on the grounds of Stalag II-D, we found several dozen mass graves. We conducted exhumations in one of them, where we found the remains of 64 male persons. Based on the analysis of the collected evidence, artefacts, we can now say that in large part they are from Red Army,” said the head of the Forensic Genetics Department of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Andrzej Ossowski, PhD.


    He added that among the artefacts revealed in the grave, fragments of uniforms of Polish and Belgian soldiers were also found, but at this stage, it is impossible to say unequivocally whether they were also buried there.


    Thanks to data on Red Army soldiers made available through OBD’s Memorial project, the researchers determined that the POWs died on four consecutive days in December 1941.


    Preliminary findings also indicate that the deaths were due to exhaustion, but researchers want to investigate the circumstances further – precisely because of the short time frame in which so many people died.


    “The scale is incredible – more than a dozen people a day were dying in the camp. There are no traces here that would indicate that the mechanism of brutal death – shooting or execution, as we observed in our work in the camps in Stutthof, Treblinka, or Sobibor – was used,” explained Ossowski.


    As he pointed out, the exhaustion of the body made the captives susceptible to infectious diseases, such as typhus. “We are planning to perform pioneer tests for pathogens in preserved bone material – so far no one in Poland has done this,” said the geneticist.


    He added that research on the site of the former Stalag II-D will continue – likely, the 64 prisoners found in the grave are not the only victims of such deaths.


    “It was not a concentration camp or an extermination camp. It was a prisoner-of-war camp. This shows the scale of the criminal system and we can talk about the massive scale of death in POW camps. It is a horrifying picture, showing the enormity of the criminal activity. This was extermination through the conditions to which the prisoners of war were exposed – hard labour, undernutrition, lack of any medical assistance,” emphasized Ossowski.


    Stalag II-D was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in the Third Reich. From 1939 (initially, it operated as a transit camp, Dulag L), it received prisoners of war from all over Europe, including soldiers of General Kleeberg’s army and other Polish, French, Belgian and Soviet soldiers. The prisoners who were sent to the camp worked in labour camps throughout Pomerania, including on landed estates and in road construction. Many of them died during work. They were buried near the place where they worked. The camp operated until its evacuation in February 1945.


    Research on the site of Stalag II-D was subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.


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