Monthly Archives: August 2016

Escape Tunnel, Dug by Hand, Is Found at Holocaust Massacre Site

Fascinating new evidence discovered at Ponar

[From The New York Times]

A team of archaeologists and mapmakers say they have uncovered a forgotten tunnel that 80 Jews dug largely by hand as they tried to escape from a Nazi extermination site in Lithuania about 70 years ago.

The Lithuanian site, Ponar, holds mass burial pits and graves where up to 100,000 people were killed and their bodies dumped or burned during the Holocaust.

Using radar and radio waves to scan beneath the ground, the researchers found the tunnel, a 100-foot passageway between five and nine feet below the surface, the team announced on Wednesday.

A previous attempt made by a different team in 2004 to find the underground structure had only located its mouth, which was subsequently left unmarked. The new finding traces the tunnel from entrance to exit and provides evidence to support survivor accounts of the harrowing effort to escape the holding pit.

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Poland approves bill outlawing phrase ‘Polish death camps’

This is fascinating to me: the adjective “Polish” when attached to “death camps” appears to be something Poles object to. It raises interesting questions about the processes through which national identities are played out, named, claimed, especially in the context of these appalling atrocities.

[From The Guardian]

The Polish government has approved a new bill that foresees prison terms of up to three years for anyone who uses phrases like “Polish death camps” to refer to Auschwitz and other camps that Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during the second world war.

The justice department said the prime minister Beata Szydło’s cabinet approved the legislation on Tuesday. It is expected to pass easily in the parliament, where the nationalistic ruling party Law and Justice enjoys a majority.

The bill aims to deal with a problem the Polish government has faced for years: foreign media outlets referring to the Nazi camps as Polish.

Poles fear that as the war grows more distant younger generations will incorrectly assume that Poles had a role in the death camps.

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