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Researchers Find Secret Tunnel Used to Escape from the Nazis

(Photo: Ezra Wolfinger/Israel Antiquities Authority/AP)

In the Ponar forest outside of Vilnius, Lithuania, the Nazis murdered and buried about 100,000 people. Later in the war, as the Red Army began to push the Germans out of the Soviet Union, the Nazi authorities realized that they couldn't leave such a massive number of corpses behind as evidence.

So they took 80 Jewish prisoners from a nearby concentration camp and forced them to dig up and then burn the bodies in the forest. The prisoners had to remain the forest at the site during the project. They took the opportunity to dig a 112-foot escape tunnel. On April 15, 1944, they fled through it. The Germans pursued the escapees, but 11 survived the war.

Recently, archaeologists used electrical resistivity tomography equipment, which is also used in oil exploration, to find the tunnel. They left the site physically undisturbed, relying on only remote sensing tools to study it. The BBC reports:

Jon Seligman, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said he was reduced to tears on the discovery of the tunnel, calling it a "heart-warming witness to the victory of hope over desperation".

"The tunnel shows that even when the time was so black, there was yearning for life within that," he told Associated Press.

-via Glenn Reynolds

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