Jon Seligman, Paul Bauman, Richard Freund, Harry Jol, Alastair McClymont, and Philip Reeder
The Ponar-Paneriai base, the main extermination site of Vilna-Vilnius, began its existence as a Red Army fuel depot in 1940. After Nazi occupation of the city in 1941 the Einsatzgruppen and mostly Lithuanian members of the Ypatingasis būrys used the pits dug for the fuel tanks for the murder of the Jews of Vilna and large numbers of Polish residents. During its operation, Ponar was cordoned off, but changes to the topography of the site since the Second World War have made a full understanding of the site difficult. This article uses contemporary plans and aerial photographs to reconstruct the layout of the site, in order to better understand the process of extermination, the size of the Ponar base and how the site was gradually reduced in size after 1944.
The French search mission for the corpses of deportees in Germany, 1946–58
resulted.7 Conversely, the limited research on the place of
the corpse in mass violence and wars has had little impact on the
historical analysis of genocide. There again, the body is only briefly
addressed, often in discussions on methods of killing. The Holocaust is almost an exception, with detailed, but limited, research on
gas chambers, crematoria and, more recently, the organization and
techniques used by the mobile death squads in eastern Europe, the
Einsatzgruppen.8 Historical research could gain much, however, by
considering mass corpses and by studying
Forensic and archaeological approaches to locating the remains of Holocaust victims
Caroline Sturdy Colls
bodies and obliterating the traces of bodies of Jews killed by the
Einsatzgruppen (1947)’, in Y. Arad, I. Gutman and A. Margaliot (eds),
Documents on the Holocaust, Selected Sources on the Destruction of the
Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland and the Soviet Union (Lincoln, NE
and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1981), pp. 471–3; IMTN,
Trial of the Major War Criminals, vol. 1.
48 T. Thompson, ‘Heat-induced dimensional changes in bone and their
consequences for forensic anthropology’, Journal of Forensic Science,
50:5 (2005), 1008–15; T. Thompson, ‘Recent
differs from that of an actual corpse.
The actual question regarding the exhumation of ashes received
only two opposing definitive answers –one for and one against.
Questions concerning remains were divided between a general
format and those with a specific local context. For example, nine
questions concerned the shooting pits used for victims in areas bordering the Baltic states and the death paths of the Einsatzgruppen
units (for example, Tarnopol, Bochnia, Saramas, Konau and
Kupishok), another five were related to concentration and death
camp exhumations (Bergen