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A new study claims experts have discovered a mass grave that Nazi Germany tried to destroy at the end of the war. Filled with the remains of about 500 individuals, the discovery is said to be linked to the horrific “Pomeranian Crime” that took place in Poland’s pre-war Pomerania province. The exact number of people murdered is unknown, but it is believed Adolf Hitler’s men killed up to 35,000 people at the start of the war.
They are said to have returned in 1945 to hide evidence of the prior massacres by exhuming and burning the bodies.
But after examining archives, interviewing locals and conducting extensive archaeological surveys, experts say they have uncovered solid evidence of the atrocities.
So many people were killed in 1939 and 1945 in one area of Pomerania, near the outskirts of the town of Chojnice, it became known locally as Death Valley.
One locqal recalled in the study seeing that “a column of approximately 600 Polish prisoners from Bydgoszcz, Torun, Grudziad̨z and neighbouring villages, under the escort of the Gestapo, was taken to Death Valley during the second half of January 1945”.
“They were executed there, and the witness speculated that the bodies of the victims were burned to cover up the evidence.”
The bodies of 168 people were unearthed in Death Valley after the war, but even at the time, experts believed there were many more to be found.
Dawid Kobiałka, an archaeologist from the Polish Academy of Sciences, said: “It was commonly known that not all mass graves from 1939 were found and exhumed, and the grave of those killed in 1945 was not exhumed either.”
The team used non-invasive techniques to study the area, including LIDAR.
It reportedly showed that the Polish army had dug in 1939 in anticipation of a war with the Third Reich.
But researchers said that just a few months later, the Nazis used these trenches to hide the bodies of their victims.
They wrote: “Executions took place at the trenches.”
“The victims fell into the trenches or their bodies were thrown there by the perpetrators.
‘Later, the trenches were backfilled with soil.”
Metal-detector surveys also revealed many artefacts, which led the researchers to excavate eight of the trenches.
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Since then, they have found more than 4,250 artefacts, many from 1939 and 1945, that included bullets, shell casings and charred wood that was likely used to burn the bodies.
The team also found cremated bones and jewellery, including a gold wedding ring, suggesting the victims were not robbed when they were killed.
The team hopes to identify some of the victims with DNA analysis.
Mr Kobiałka said: “A series of specialised analyses of the finds is taking place right now.
“It is believed that more victims killed in Death Valley will be identified soon, and their families will be informed about what really happened to their beloved ones.”
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