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View of a pile of corpses of former prisones of war.

Photograph | Photograph Number: 98101

View of a pile of corpses of former prisones of war.

Original caption reads, "Polish PWs, May 1945."

The bodies of Russian POW's exhumed from a mass grave in the Neuburg forest, two kilometers south of Passau. By April 1945, Passau and its environs were on the verge of being captured by Allied troops. In mid April, Georg Lang, Company Commander of the Passauer Landesschuetzenkompanie, passed on an order to hand over all prisoners interned in Passau and neighboring towns, other than those in the penal camp, to the mayors of those towns, who were to hold them until the arrival of U.S. troops. However, Captain Fuhrmann, the Commander of another Kompanie in the area deliberately disobeyed Lang's order and over half of the 1,200 Russian POW's under his control were killed before they could be liberated. During the three day period from April 26-28, hundreds of Russian POW's were marched to the Neuburg Forest, on the southern edge of Passau. The prisoners were brought to the forest in several large groups, generally 100-150 men, heavily guarded by SS and possibly also Wehrmacht troops. As the group waited in a field, several of the SS took smaller groups of prisoners into the forest to be shot. Many of the bodies were then buried by the remaining prisoners, although some were dragged down to the Inn river and thrown in. Many farmers in the area later reported to American investigators that the grass in their fields had been trampled upon and there were many traces of blood, often leading to the Inn river. Neighbors in the area also reported hearing gunshots throughout the three days, and some even saw SS men with Russian prisoners, some of them already dead. On May 1, Passau was captured by U.S. troops. Upon receiving news of the mass graves from locals, the U.S. troops ordered the exhumation of the graves by Nazi Party members in the area on May 15, and forced German civilians from surrounding towns to attend the burial services. Only 3 graves were found, containing 107, 116, and 91bodies each; the remaining bodies were not recovered.

May 1945
Passau, [Bavaria] Germany
Photo Credit
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of James Snyder
Record last modified: 2012-06-28 00:00:00
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