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Forced burial of victims by German civilians

Film | Accession Number: 2011.124.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1329 | Film ID: 2921

(LIB 6591) Estedt, Germany. German civilians smooth dirt over fresh graves in a fenced area, then pound grave markers (crosses) into the dirt. A group of Polish former forced laborers led by a man in a Polish army uniform, carries a large wreath with a red and white ribbon in a procession (Polish funeral march). Wreath inscribed with "Od Polaków z Estetu ku czci pomordowanych rodaków" [From the Poles of (in) Estet in honor of their murdered countrymen]. They wear small badges (the purple P on a yellow square) on their breasts. They enter the fenced area with the wreath. Several American soldiers (probably from the 102nd Armored Division) stand on one side. A Catholic priest conducts a funeral service. CUs of people (probably German civilians; a couple of the men wear top hats) attending the service. CU of woman wearing a badge with a "P" on it. American soldiers shoot their rifles into the air in a salute. View of the empty cemetery, with a valley beyond. During a death march of Polish, Soviet, and Jewish prisoners from Mieste to Gardelegen, a number of prisoners escaped into the Zichtauer forest, where some of them were spotted by local farmers, who immediately alerted the police. The prisoners were captured and marched to a site near Estedt. There they were shot and buried in a mass grave. There were some 1016 prisoners from several death marches who were brought in together. The Americans were approaching and the Nazis killed them on April 13, 1945; the area was liberated on April 14, 1945. The funeral participants might have been forced laborers (even POWs in forced labor) who witnessed the event and funeral.

02:31:50 (LIB 6111) Solingen-Ohligs, Germany. Shot from above, German civilians exhume corpses under American guard. CUs of the partially and then fully exhumed bodies. 02:32:35 Rows of exhumed corpses arranged on a hillside (see Photo Archives worksheet 08177 for matching frame).The corpses are those of 71 political prisoners taken from Luettringhausen prison and shot by the Gestapo near the end of the war.

Event:  after April 1945
Estedt, Germany
Solingen, Germany
Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 21:56:38
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