There are Poles among NKVD victims buried in mass graves in Ukraine: historian

“Among the NKVD victims buried in the mass grave in Odessa, Ukraine, there are Poles,” Oleksandr Babich, historian and one of the search members, told the Polish Press Agency (PAP). Experts estimate that a total of 5,000 to 6,000 bodies may be found in the recently discovered death pits.

Death pits with thousands of NKVD victims found in Odessa

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At the former NKVD special facility “Tatarka” in Odessa in the south of Ukraine, since the beginning of August, researchers have found 29 death pits where victims of communist terror were buried. The Institute of National Remembrance of Ukraine estimates that it is one of the largest mass graves in this country.

As Mr Babich said, some time ago people who had been handed over a plot of land located on the territory of the former NKVD special facility asked him for a historical consultation. They said that they had heard that there had been mass shootings on the land handed over to them and that there were burials there.

“I had to... ask the city authorities to start search work there,” Mr Babich said, adding that “finally a working group was created, which included historians, representatives of Polish, German and Romanian consulates, archives directors, and also representatives of city authorities and people who conduct field searches.”

Since the beginning of August, 29 graves have been discovered on the site so far, from which the layer of waste has been removed. According to the historian, the perpetrators covered the bodies with a small amount of soil and then covered them with rubbish.

According to him, the remains of 5,000 - 6,000 victims may be buried on the premises of the former NKVD special facility.

“They were ordinary people devoured by the behemoth of Stalinist repression,” he said, pointing out that “when you read the interrogation reports, you can see that they were people with various professions - engineers, railroad workers, librarians, teachers.”

He added that Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, Romanians and Greeks are also buried there.

When asked when the exhumation of the remains may begin, he emphasised that there is no permit for this yet and that it is not easy to obtain it.

“Maybe it will start early next year,” he said, stressing that “it will go on for many years.” He also did not rule out the possibility of specialists from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) being involved in the exhumation work.

As Mr Babich emphasised, the found mass grave is one of the largest in the country.