Mass WWII grave containing remains of men, women and children found in forests
Death pits containing the remains of at least 29 Poles including women and children have been unearthed in Warsaw.
A specialist team of body searchers from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) made the find in a forested area in the city’s Białołęka district following a tip off from an elderly resident who recalled seeing German troops herding people into the area.
Posting on Twitter, the IPN said: “The remains of several dozen people, including women and children, were discovered in a mass grave. The current state of work allows us to conclude that the remains of at least 25 people were buried at the discovered site.”
The institute added that work is still underway and the number of victims found may increase after the site has been fully explored.
The number of victims discovered has since grown to 29.
According to the Central Archives of Modern Records, the murders may have been committed in 1943.
In connection with the discovery, the archive released a report from the Polish Underground stating: “On 3 July in the morning, 4 vehicles brought about 100 people, including several women, to the forest between Choszczówka and Legionowo. They were ordered to dig ditches, then all of them were shot.”
The archive wrote on Twitter: “Among the information collected by the Polish Underground State about the crimes of the occupant there are numerous references to executions in the so-called Warsaw ring, including in the direction of Pelcowizna-Bialoleka, and Choszczówka-Legionowo.”
Father Tomasz Trzaska from the IPN said in a press interview: “Information about this place was given to us by a witness who, as a small child, saw and remembered that the Germans led several people to this place.
“He was a few years old at the time, 7, maybe 8. Our historians investigated and confirmed this supposition. On Monday we started preparations, secured the site. On Tuesday we made the find.”
IPN body search specialists said that the bodies of the victims were arranged alternately, closely next to each other. They said that this may indicate that the perpetrators forced them to lie down in the death pits immediately before they were executed.
Apart from the remains of adults and children, elements of clothing were also found, including buttons, belts, shoes.
“The excavated remains will be subjected to anthropological examination and then a genetic identification will be attempted,” the institute said on its website.
For many years, the IPN has been searching for secret burial places of victims of both Nazism and Communism.
These searches focus mainly on the victims of communist terror, which in the years 1944-56 in Poland - according to some estimates of IPN historians - could have been murdered by more than 50 thousand people.
Apart from victims of communism, the search also covers the remains of victims of German war crimes.