Jewish Groups Begin Hunt For Unmarked Holocaust Graves

BERLIN, Germany -- Jewish organisations are to search for countless unmarked graves of Holocaust victims across Eastern Europe.

Nazi troops slaughtered many Jews before the death camps were opened.

The groups think that more than two million Jews were rounded up by the German military and shot, with their bodies left in unmarked mass graves.

The shootings took place before the Nazis organised mass killings at the gas chambers of death camps.

The plan is to memorialise and protect sites in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Poland.

After Hitler invaded Russia, hundreds of thousands of Jews were routinely killed by the advancing army, even before the formal industrial killing in death camps began.

In Berlin, Jewish organisations said they would try to identify graves.

They said teams would be "driving up and down the back roads of small villages... knocking on doors and asking the elderly to recount what they saw during the war".

Last month, researchers made a preliminary inspection of five sites in Ukraine.

One of them, where 5,000 Jews were shot and dumped, is now a swamp.

Jan Fahlbusch of the American Jewish Committee, who is in charge of the effort to memorialise the graves, said it was important that the people who live there know what happened in their home villages.

"There's a lot of ignorance among the local population and it is important to raise awareness of the crimes of the past," he said.

Source: BBC News