Remnants of Nazi Massacre Found in Germany

400 artifacts found during excavation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2019 8:30 AM CDT
A Prayer Book Fell to the Dirt, Along With 208 People
A woman's shoe, found in the excavation.   (LWL/Maria Hahne)

Between March 20 and 23 in 1945, Nazis killed three groups of Polish and Soviet forced laborers—208 people in all—in Germany's Arnsberg Forest. The remains were exhumed and reburied by 1947, but those victims are now being remembered and discussed following a trio of excavations of the sites, reports Gizmodo. Archaeologists uncovered more than 400 artifacts and relied on historical records to piece together what happened at each site. The bulk of the finds come from the first site, a forest near Warstein, where archaeologists discovered a prayer book, a Polish dictionary, shoes, beads, buttons, and kitchen tools. The 60 women, 10 men, and a child were told they were being moved to a different labor camp and asked to temporarily deposit their belongings along the road. Then they were shot. Bullets were found scattered around the forest, suggesting some made a last-ditch effort to escape.

Near Suttrop, another 57 laborers were forced to dig trenches before they were ordered inside them and shot. Per Smithsonian, fewer artifacts here suggest the perpetrators "were better-prepared to cover traces of their actions." At the third site, a field near Eversberg, Nazis used grenades to create a giant pit that would become a mass grave for 80 people, including a child; they left behind a harmonica, comb stand, and Soviet coins, per LiveScience and Deutsche Welle. While Allied soldiers came upon the two other sites soon after the massacres, this one, concealed under a cow paddock, was missed until an anonymous tip came in late 1946. Referencing the "increasing denial" of the horrors inflicted by the Nazis, expedition head Matthias Löb says "the murders are an example of this part of our history that we have to face." (The "Shirley Temple of Nazi Germany" is dead.)

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