BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 23 November, 2001, 23:00 GMT
Mass graves found at Nazi camp
Inmates of Auschwitz death camp, 1945
Opening up Poland's Nazi camps is controversial
Researchers have discovered seven mass graves at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in north-eastern Poland.

It is necessary to confirm scientifically the existence of the camp, because some crazy voices have denied the existence of the events of that period

Polish official
The research team, which began its government-sponsored investigation in the summer, said the graves - the largest of which is about half the size of a football pitch - contain charred remains.

The researchers say this is evidence that the Nazis burnt their prisoners during the final months of the camp's existence.

Some 250,000 people, mostly Jews, are thought to have died in the camp.

Holocaust denial

The president of a committee responsible for protecting historical sites in Poland, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, said the investigation had the important role of scientifically proving the camp's existence.

"Some crazy voices have denied the existence of the events of that period," said Mr Bartoszewski, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The Nazis razed the camp in 1943, one year after they built it, after some 300 prisoners managed to escape, killing a number of guards as they did so.

Many were killed in a surrounding mine field and the Nazis recaptured many of the survivors but nevertheless they decided to immediately destroy the camp.

Hidden atrocities

They demolished all the buildings and tried to wipe out evidence of the camp by planting trees over the site.

In addition to the graves, the researchers also found 1,700 bullets in the corner of a barracks, which they believe mean that the Nazis executed the prisoners there.

Andrzej Kola, an archaeology professor supervising the study said the barracks may have also served as a gas chamber but further investigation was necessary.

More research is planned for next year when the ground thaws.

The government plans to use artefacts discovered during the archaeological study in the museum at Sobibor, which was opened in 1996 but is to be further expanded.

A monument to the victims was erected in the 1960s.

See also:

30 May 01 | Europe
Killer Nazi prison guard jailed
29 Mar 01 | Media reports
Jewish mass grave found in Poland
07 Mar 01 | Media reports
Fury over massacre apology plan
12 Feb 01 | Europe
Timeline: Poland
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories