Why Are Archaeologists Exhuming Thousands of Nazi Victims?

Prisoners in the notorious 'stalags' faced horrendous living conditions Photo: Muzeum Obozów Jenieckich W Źaganiu

Archaeologists working near Przemysl, in southern Poland have unearthed a mass grave containing the remains of some 3,000 Russian and Italian soldiers. The men died during World War II in one of the notorious German prisoner of war camps, known as “Stalags.”

Time has taken its toll on the bodies. And because the men were stripped before burial, its almost impossible to pinpoint their identities or nationalities. Of the 3,000 bodies only two Russian soldiers have been identified.

The remains have ossified over time, so archaeologists are working on collecting the victim’s skulls, “It’s the only way to count the exact number of victims,” archaeologist Przemyslaw Kolosowski, told AFPHe added that most of the soldiers died of starvation or disease caused by the terrible living conditions in the POW camp.

The bodies will be given a proper burial next year when a new military cemetery opens in the nearby city of Nehrybka. Around 1,500 victims unearthed by the Polish Red Cross in 1963 have already been laid to rest there. “We don’t know why they didn’t check all the mass graves then. Maybe they didn’t have the funds,” Adam Siwek, of the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites said. “Today we’re finishing up what we should have been done long ago.”


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

artnet and our partners use cookies to provide features on our sites and applications to improve your online experience, including for analysis of site usage, traffic measurement, and for advertising and content management. See our Privacy Policy for more information about cookies. By continuing to use our sites and applications, you agree to our use of cookies.

Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In