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Monday, 23 January 2012

Treblinka: Revealing the hidden graves of the Holoca$h

Any doubts about the existence of mass graves at the Treblinka death camp in Poland are being laid to rest by the first survey of the site using tools that see below the ground, writes forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls.
When the Nazis left Treblinka in 1943 they thought they had destroyed it. They had knocked down the buildings and levelled the earth. They had built a farmhouse and installed a Ukrainian "farmer". They had planted trees, and - contemporary reports suggest - lupins.
But if they thought they had removed all evidence of their crime, they hadn't. For a forensic archaeologist, there is a vast amount to study.
The destruction of buildings rarely results in the complete removal of all traces of them. And even on the surface there are still artefacts and other subtle clues that point to the real purpose of the site.
A 1946 report by investigators into German crimes in Poland found "a cellar passage with the protruding remains of burnt posts, the foundations of the administration building and the old well" and here and there "the remains of burnt fence posts, pieces of barbed wire, and short sections of paved road".

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Caroline Sturdy Colls
Bone fragments can still be seen on the surface of the ground, especially after rain”
They also discovered human remains as they dug into the ground, and on the surface "large quantities of ashes mixed with sand, among which are numerous human bones".
Despite this, in a later statement they said they had discovered no mass graves.
The existence of mass graves was known about from witness testimony, but the failure to provide persuasive physical evidence led some to question whether it could really be true that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed here.
Although they lasted only a few days, those post-war investigations remained the most complete studies of the camp until I began my work at Treblinka in 2010.
This revealed the existence of a number of pits across the site.

bbc

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