Polish researchers find mass graves at former Nazi death camp of Sobibor By ANDRZEJ STYLINSKI The Associated Press 11/23/01 3:34 PM WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Polish researchers said Friday that they have discovered mass graves at Sobibor, a death camp in eastern Poland that was razed by the Nazis after inmates staged an uprising. Seven mass graves and the sites where several buildings stood were found, said Andrzej Kola, an archaeology professor supervising what he said was the first thorough study of the former camp. The Nazis, who built the camp in occupied Poland in 1942, razed it in 1943 after an uprising in which inmates killed nine guards and tried to flee. Three hundred Jews escaped from the camp, but dozens of them were killed in a surrounding mine field and most of the rest were hunted down over subsequent days. A total of about 50 people who escaped from Sobibor survived World War II. Some 250,000 people, most of them Jews, are believed to have died in the camp. The research team began drilling around the site over the summer to determine where buildings and graves might have been located, Kola said. The study is sponsored the government. The drillings provided the initial evidence of mass graves and traces of a long barrack. After further excavation at the building site, researchers uncovered 1,700 bullets in one of its corners, leading them to believe that prisoners were executed there, Kola said. Researchers also found various objects used by inmates or guards, including metal cups and spoons, watches and binoculars. Kola said the barrack, located about 70 yards from the mass graves, might have served as a gas chamber, but that further study was necessary. More archaeological research is planned for next year after the ground thaws. The test drillings and preliminary excavations have been concentrated at former camp No. 3 at Sobibor, which was a death camp. Two other sections were used to imprison slave laborers. The camp, on Poland's eastern border with Belarus, was turned into a Holocaust memorial in the 1960s by the Polish government. New memorial plaques, a parking lot and a small exhibition were added in the 1990s. The government plans to expand the museum at Sobibor, which will include artifacts recovered during the archaeological research.
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