Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Friday, 14 August 2009 17:33 UK

Mass Polish reburial of war dead

By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

A man prays in front of coffins during the reburial ceremony in the village of Stare Czarnowo, Poland, 14 August 2009
Most bones discovered were found to be those of women and children

The remains of more than 2,000 people discovered in Poland's largest mass grave from World War II have been reburied in a military cemetery.

Polish and German officials presided over the ceremony at a cemetery for German soldiers in north-west Poland, near the border between the countries.

The victims are believed to be German civilians who died in the last months of the conflict, in early 1945.

The mass grave was discovered in the Polish city of Malbork last October.

Because no-one was prepared to pay for expensive DNA testing, the historians' best guess is that the victims were German civilians caught up in the Red Army's assault on the city.

At the time Malbork was Marienburg, a German city.

No recriminations

The first skeletons were unearthed by workmen digging the foundations of a new hotel near the city's medieval castle.

In the end, more than 2,000 skeletons were discovered, two-thirds of them belonging to women and children.

There were no accompanying documents, clothing or personal items except for one pair of child's spectacles.

Issues over the war have often divided Germany and Poland in the past, but not in this case.

Neither side voiced recriminations and they worked together to finally give the victims a dignified burial.

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