Remains of Polish soldiers found at first battleground of WWII

Excavation works at the first battlefield of World War II – Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk, northern Poland – continue revealing the remains of the Polish soldiers who stood fast against the German invasion in September 1939.

Polish soldier’s body found at Westerplatte

Excavation works have revealed the body of a Polish soldier located near the main path to the Westerplatte Defenders’ Monument.

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Poland’s Culture Minister Professor Piotr Gliński said that “looking at the remains of the uniforms we can conclude that for sure the soldiers were Polish.”

Karol Nawrocki, a historian and head of the Museum of WWII in Gdańsk that organised the excavation works, said that “for years we were told that nothing can be found on Westerplatte. We are proving that something most important is still there – human remains.”

Following the capture of Westerplatte, the Germans exhumed the bodies of Polish defenders at the beginning of 1940, transported and buried them at a cemetery in the Zaspa district of the city of Gdańsk. However, historians and archaeologists suspected that the Germans did their work sloppily and that some human remains could still be found at Westerplatte peninsula.

As part of the ongoing fifth season of excavation works that started on September 12, 2019, Archaeologists have recently found the remains of a fourth person at Westerplatte. The first body of a Polish soldier was revealed in late September.

The remains were found in four separate graves within a short distance of each other. “This corresponds to the stories told. Initially, they were buried in individual graves while later they were buried in mass graves at the behest of the Germans,” said Filip Kuczma, head of the Archaeology Department in the Museum of WWII in Gdańsk.

The works were conducted at the original site of the cemetery of the Westerplatte defenders.

The first clash between the Polish army and the invading German forces took place on September 1, 1939 at a Polish Military Transit Depot and went down in history as the Battle of Westerplatte. The depot functioned from 1926 to 1939 and was located on the peninsula within the territory of the Free City of Danzig, which is now Gdańsk.

Determining the identity of the fallen will be possible after DNA testing. The archaeological research work in Westerplatte is the first such large scale undertaking since the war.

Under a special law signed on August 1 by President Andrzej Duda, a new museum facility will be built in Westerplatte, which will be a branch of the Museum of WWII in Gdańsk.

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