Monday, 24 October 2011 10:23

WWII German soldiers reburied in Poland

    The remains of 618 German soldiers who died during Nazi Germany's World War II retreat through Poland and were buried in mass graves were laid to rest Friday, a memorial organisation said.

    Tomasz Czabanski, of Polish foundation Pomost (Bridge), said the troops were reburied during a religious ceremony at a German military graveyard in Poznan, western Poland.

    The troops died in the region in January and February 1945, as Soviet forces rolled back the occupying Germans, and were uncovered at various sites earlier this year.

    Some 14,000 German soldiers already lie in Poznan's Milostowo cemetery.

    Czabanski said 200 dog-tags had been found in the mass graves, enabling researchers to put names to some remains.

    "The others will remain unknown," he said.

    Funded by Germany, Pomost seeks out battlefield burials across Poland and exhumes the remains for reburial in military graveyards.

    The exhumation programme is governed by an accord signed by Warsaw and Berlin in 1991.

    Since then, some 150,000 German soldiers have been reburied.

    There are 13 German military cemeteries in Poland.

    A total of 31,000 soldiers lie in the largest, at Siemianowice Slaskie in the south.

    War graves are discovered regularly in Poland, often by accident during construction work.

    Some 468,000 German soldiers died in what is now Poland during World War II, and 400,000 during World War I, according to Germany's memorial foundation.

    Not all of them died fighting on Polish territory -- the country's borders were shifted westwards into Germany by the victorious Allies to offset land lost to the Soviets in the east.

    Sixty-six years after the end of the war, over a million German soldiers and civilians from the Eastern Front and former German territory are still unaccounted for.

    Efforts to resolve their fate were hampered by post-war tensions between West Germany and the Soviet-led communist bloc, of which Poland was a part.

    But the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989-1991 brought a thaw, opening the way for the restoration of German cemeteries and a renewed drive to locate long-lost battlefield burials.

    Pomost and similar organisations have put aside past hatreds.

    Poles have never forgotten the brutality of World War II.

    Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and carved up Poland in 1939.

    On the German side of the line, around six million people were killed, half of them Polish Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

    In 1941, Germany turned on its erstwhile ally, and fought its way deep into the Soviet Union.

    But by mid-1944, Soviet forces pushed the Nazis back into Poland driving towards Berlin, whose defenders surrendered in May 1945.


    Related World War History Online Posts

    • Relatives to remember World War II hero they never knew
      Relatives to remember World War II hero they never knew A dozen or so people gathered in Virginia on Tuesday — arriving from the Chicago area and the West Coast — to stand graveside and remember Emil T. Wasilewski, a family member none of them ever met. John Sikes, Wasilewski’s great-nephew from Joliet, was among them, and he wasn’t sure quite how he’ll feel saying goodbye at Arlington National Cemetery…
    • The Royal Naval Cemetery at Shotley
      The Royal Naval Cemetery at Shotley The Royal Naval Cemetery at Shotley in Suffolk is at the former training establishment HMS Ganges and is the last resting place for casualties of many ships based at Harwich and Felixstowe. A large collective grave holds the remains of sixteen sailors of the Modified W-Class destroyer HMS Worcester (Pennant No D96), part of a flotilla which intercepted the German…
    • Solution for WWII radioactive Dalgety Bay beach 'no closer'
      Solution for WWII radioactive Dalgety Bay beach 'no closer' A solution to radioactive contamination on a Fife beach appears to be no closer following an announcement from the Ministry of Defence. It had been given until the end of the month to prepare a draft plan to tackle the problem of radioactive particles on the shore at Dalgety Bay. UK defence minister Andrew Robathan said they were continuing to…
    • Speer:Hitler would never have considered invading Poland without USA help
      Speer:Hitler would never have considered invading Poland without USA help American support for Hitler and Nazism was not limited to eugenics and Nazi racism justified by that pseudoscience. The cream of American industry, also under the sway of eugenics, generously provided the financial and technical knowhow that enabled Hitler to raise Germany from deep economic depression into a full employment, modern industrial economy able to create a military that nearly…