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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Remains of Soldiers Unearthed in Eastern Germany

Friday, May 10, 2019

KLESSIN, GERMANY—DW.com reports that a mass grave was unearthed on private land in eastern Germany, near the Polish border, during a construction project. Werner Schulz of the Association for the Recovery of the Fallen in Eastern Europe (VBGO) said World War II–era ammunition, pieces of helmets, and insignia helped identify skeletons in the grave as the remains of 15 German soldiers and one Russian soldier. The men are thought to have been killed during heavy fighting in the winter of 1945, as the Red Army advanced through the village of Klessin toward Berlin. German soldiers eventually retreated to Klessin Castle, but the castle and village were reduced to rubble. At the time, some of the bodies of the German and Russian soldiers were buried, while others were left in trenches or ditches, or on the frozen ground. So far, volunteers working with VBGO have recovered the remains of 120 German and 100 Soviet soldiers in the region. The remains are identified from personal artifacts, when possible, and reburied in nearby war cemeteries. To read about a raid on a German World War II–era heavy water plant in Norway, go to “The Secrets of Sabotage.”

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