Archaeology news: Skeletal remains of 8 fallen soldiers uncovered in chilling mass grave

The archaeological discovery comes after a year of intensive search efforts and 75 years after the soldiers were killed. Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) believes the soldiers were part of a partisan unit dubbed Warta. Their skeletal remains were found in a mass burial pit hidden on the grounds of St Martin’s parish cemetery in Odolanów, southwest Poland.

The soldiers were killed in a roundup on October 22, 1945.

IPN said: “On that day, the ‘Błysk’ unit seized Odolanów.

“In the town, the Citizen’s Militia post was disarmed, the town hall was occupied and the municipal funds were distributed among locals at a rally organised on the town’s square.

“During the retreat, near Odolanów, an hour-and-a-half-long skirmish took place between the unit and the NKVD/Internal Security Corps/Security service group following them, which had twice the numeral advantage.”


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The partisan group was broken up and, according to some accounts, up to 24 soldiers were killed.

The group’s wounded commander Lieutenant Jan Kempiński, whose alias was Błysk or Flash, escaped wounded but alive.

Some of the killed partisans’ bodies were collected by relatives and buried in family graves.

However, according to many witnesses, the remaining corpses were secretly buried at the Odolanów cemetery by the communist security service.

Archaeologists began their hunt for the remains in 2019, focusing on an area along the cemetery’s fence.

The remains of eight people were revealed

The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN)

According to some testimonies from local residents, that is where the soldiers were buried.

IPN said: “At that time, however, the remains were not found.

“This year’s work was carried out within the symbolic Grave of Greater Poland Insurgents and Pro-Independence Underground Soldiers.

“During the work, the remains of eight people were revealed.

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“The arrangement of skeletons in the grave and biological features, as well as the nature of injuries, indicate that the soldiers were probably found.”

Alongside the remains, archaeologists recovered many personal effects.

The items included military buttons, pieces of uniform, a comb as well as shells from Mauser-type ammunition.

IPN said the remains will be subject to genetic testing.

The institute has also called on anyone who might have information about the partisan group to come forward.

Just 17 days after the German invasion of Poland from the west, the Soviet Union marched in from the east.

The country was split between the invaders under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact until Germany invaded the USSR in 1941.

After the end of World War 2, Poland became a Soviet satellite nation and the Polish People’s Republic was established in 1947 and lasted until 1989.

According to some estimates, as many as 200,000 Poles were killed under the boot of Soviet oppression.

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