The charred remains of 8,000 victims of a Nazi World War II death camp have been unearthed in woodlands in northern Poland.
Experts say 17.5 tonnes of human ashes have been found buried near the notorious Soldau concentration camp in what was then East Prussia.
The finding – in Ilowo-Osada – is said to date back to 1939, when German occupiers slaughtered Poland’s leaders and high society, said Tomasz Jankowski from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance on Wednesday, 13th July.
In a grim calculation, experts estimate that every two kilos of ashes equate to one human body.
Jankowski said the remains “allow us to state that at least 8,000 people died here”.
The woodlands were a dumping ground for the bodies of death camp victims.
But in 1944, Jewish prisoners were made to dig up and burn the bodies of dead inmates to cover up traces of German war crimes.
As such, the number of people killed in Soldau is still difficult to determine today, with estimates of up to 30,000 victims.
Most victims at the camp were Poles and Jews, though there were some Soviet prisoners of war and even condemned Germans.
DNA analyses may now be carried out in order to find out more about the identity of the victims.
Around six million Jews and some 11 million members of other groups – including Slavs, gypsies and disabled people – were killed by Nazi Germany.