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Wartime escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuanian forest

EZRA WOLFINGER/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY VIA AP

Wartime escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuanian forest

Researchers have discovered a tunnel once dug out with spoons by Jewish prisoners escaping Nazi captors in World War II.

The tunnel, lost since the end of the war, was uncovered in Lithuania’s Ponar forest by researchers, including the Israel Antiquities Authority, using a ground scanning system.

About 80 prisoners from the so-called Burning Brigade, who were forced to burn corpses to cover up Nazi atrocities as the Soviets advanced, had created the tunnel. The prisoners were from the Stutthof concentration camp.

Knowing they too would be killed, they dug a tunnel from the pit where they were kept. Eleven escapees managed to survive.

According to the BBC Ponar forest, known now as Paneriai, was a buzzing Jewish community before the war.

Under Nazi occupation mass burial pits and graves were carved out of the forest to hold the bodies of up to 100,000 people, including 70,000 Jews.

As the Red Army closed in, the Nazis tried to cover up their atrocities.

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