Researchers from the Polish Institute of National Remembrance have now discovered the remains of Ilowo Osada, in the Bialucki Forest, near the concentration camp. They suspect that the victims were killed as early as 1939. When Russian forces advanced into Poland in 1944, the camp command is said to have ordered Jewish prisoners to take the bodies out of the graves and burn them. The ashes were then buried again.
Researchers say they have found about 16,000 kilograms of human ashes. According to their opinion, this amounts to about 8000 bodies. “We took samples from the axons, which will be examined in the laboratory,” said Andrei Osovsky, a geneticist at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin. “We will also do DNA analysis to learn more about the identity of the victims.”
But it remains to be seen if that will actually work. “Getting genetic information from cremated remains is particularly difficult,” says Martin Larmuso, a geneticist in the department of human genetics at KU Leuven. “Incineration at extremely high temperatures destroys DNA molecules and makes them unreadable. If fatal remains are found with genetic material, the identification process can begin by comparing that material with DNA from distant relatives.”
Similar research has already been carried out in the Polish concentration camps Sobibor and Treblinka.
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