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    Are a dozen tons of human ashes found in the Działdów forest evidence of German genocide?

    In July, the head of the investigative division of the IPN (Institute of National Remembrance) in Gdansk, together with a group of experts and specialists in archaeology and anthropology under the direction of Dr Andrzej Ossowski of the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, made a breakthrough discovery – two mass graves containing approximately 17.5 tonnes of human ashes were found.

    The Soldau lager, which functioned between 1939 and 1945, was an important link in the German system of terror in the lands of northern Poland. The formal changes made by the occupant in the name and designation of the camp (transit camp, prisoner of war camp, educational work camp), did not obscure the basic task, which was the planned extermination of the Polish national elite of northern Mazovia, including in particular the clergy.

     

    “Most of the victims came from the Soldau camp, which was set up to murder representatives of the Polish resistance movement. But the Germans also murdered Third Reich citizens here. This was not only a horrific crime but also a regular theft. People were murdered and robbed here. In order to ensure that the crime never saw the light of day, the remains of the murdered were excavated from these graves in the spring of 1944, from 1 March for the next six weeks, piled up, covered with brushwood, doused with petrol and set on fire. Finally, the ashes were ground,” said IPN president PhD Karol Nawrocki.

     

    As the attorney Tomasz Jankowski added, the number of murders was estimated at around 8,000 people. This is a breakthrough discovery, as until now the official number of those killed in the Solgau camp was put at around 1,000. But historians and researchers have long raised the fact that the number was probably much higher – up to 30,000. The discovery of the IPN confirms these suppositions.

     

    “This is the enormity of the bestiality – we found two, 20-metre-long and 3-metre-deep pits. We can conclude that 8,000 people were executed here. No one will be able to say that these are just empty graves. We know at least 6 more places in the Działdów area where there are human remains, we will successively examine them,” said the attorney.

     

    Archaeologists also found several hundred objects such as elements of clothing, buttons, buckles, devotional items, medallions, scapulars, and knives. And also scales, a piece of skull with an entry wound, and fragments of human bones. These artefacts will be transferred to the museum in Działdów. The IPN will also try to establish the identities of those who died in Solgau, although this is extremely difficult due to the grinding up of burnt remains by German criminals.

     

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