Mass grave near Starogard Gdański

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Friday 26 May 2023 (11:04)

A mass grave for the victims of German crimes committed in the first months of World War II has been found in the Szpęgawski Forest.

From May 8 to May 25, 2023, the Public Prosecutor of the Subcommittee for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation was in Gdańsk, with a group of experts and specialists in the field of archeology and anthropology under the direction of Dr. Dawid Kobialek of the University of Łódź has examined selected areas of the Szpęgawski Forest near Starogard Gdański – the site of the extermination of the Polish population carried out by the German occupiers in 1939.

A mass grave measuring 10m long, 5m wide and 2m deep was found with the remains of 84 people. Traces of the perpetrators erasing traces of criminal activity were also revealed. It consisted in the systematic exhumation of the corpses from the mass graves in 1944, and then subjecting them to high temperatures for burning, which made it impossible to find the burial places of the victims in the future and to prove the criminal activity of the occupiers. against civilians.

Although the Germans carried out a work related to covering up the traces of the crime also in the examined place, it was possible to find the remains of victims of adults and children of different ages. The material proved to have come from at least 84 people, including at least six children/young adults. The youngest child was estimated to be 3-7 years old. The remains of the men dominated the excavated grave. Among the guaranteed items are cranial injuries caused by a gunshot wound.

During the work, a number of personal belongings of the murdered were also found, for example: gold wedding rings, silver watches, base metal rings, crosses, medals, civil and military buttons from the period of the Second Polish Republic, small Polish coins of denominations before 1939 and cufflinks. Cases and bullets from the Mauser rifle, the 9×19mm Parabellum and the 7.65×17mm SR Browning were also detected. The remaining ammunition was in the equipment of the officers of the Third Reich.

The secured bone material will be sent for analysis in order to identify and identify the DNA of the people killed. However, the artifacts found will be subject to preservation. In order to better document the course of homicides and methods for their elimination in the Szpęgawski Forest, a series of specialized analyzes (including botanical, geomorphological and chemical macroremains) were also planned.

The research activities and archaeological works carried out within the framework of the investigation by the public prosecutor and experts are part of the implementation of the international scientific project entitled “Archaeology of the Crime of Pomerania 1939” led by Dr. Dawid Kobyaka of the Institute of Archeology of the University of Łódź. This project is funded by the National Science Center under Contract No. UMO-2021/43/D/HS3/00033.

The Gdańsk Subcommittee for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation requests persons whose relatives lost their lives at the hands of German officers in Starogard Gdański and Starogard Gdański poviat to report to the Gdańsk branch of the Institute for National Remembrance in order to report on the tragic history of their relatives and the possibility of making genetic material available for further of identification tests.

Contact: Institute of the Commemoration Branch in Gdańsk, al. Grunwaldzka 216, 80–266 Gdańsk, tel. 67 58660 30.

Departments Authority to prosecute crimes
against the Polish nation
in Gdansk

Prosecutor Thomas Jankowski

Gdansk. May 25, 2023

Prosecutor Tomasz Jankowski, Chairman of the Administrative Committee for the Prosecution of Crimes / Gdańsk Branch

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