In January, memories of the Holocaust were once again brought up when a mass grave was discovered in Brest, Belarus on the construction site of a new luxury apartment block.
Since the discovery, the bones of 1,214 people, most believed to have been Jews, were excavated from the site, tangled with shreds of cloth and the soles of shoes.
Dmitry Kaminsky, a Belarusian soldier running excavations, said that some of the skulls bore bullet holes, suggesting that victims were executed by a shot to the back of the head.
The city of Brest, then part of the Soviet Union, was attacked on June 22nd 1941, the first day of Hitler’s invasion. Reports say the German forces may have shot up to 5,000 people in the first few days after the city fell. Around 20,000 Jews were forced into a ghetto in late 1941. The ghetto was in existence until it was liquidated in October 1942.
Accusations were directed towards Belarusian authorities that they have attempted to keep the discovery quiet but local official Alla Konduk denied any such intention of the authorities, saying a special forensic military unit was called to the site as soon as discovery of the first bones was made known to city authorities.
Konduk also said the foundations of the housing development would not be built on the grave, and that construction would resume soon. After discussions with the city’s small Jewish community, Konduk also said that it was agreed to bury all the bones recovered in a Jewish cemetery in the north of the city.