Archeologists uncover mass WWI grave

  • 2005-07-20
  • Staff and wire reports
VILNIUS - Archeologists have discovered the remains of some 730 German soldiers buried during World War I at the Panevezys Juozas Balcikonis High School stadium.

The exhumed remains will be placed in coffins and reburied in Klaipeda, while paraphernalia will be handed over to Germany after archeologists complete their research.

It was originally believed that up to 600 German soldiers were buried at the site. But now project experts say this number could jump to 800.

"We have exceeded the norm, and we think that there will be more," archeologist Daina Stankeviciute told the Baltic News Service.

She added, however, that only several dozen of the soldiers' remains could be identified, with the help of wedding ring engravings and other belongings.

On July 11 archeologists discovered the skeleton of a soldier buried with ammunition 's a dagger, cartridges, and canteen among other artifacts.

"The remains of World War I victims have not been exhumed in any European country so far," Albinas Kuncevicius, director of the Cultural Heritage Acadamy, was quoted as saying.

The government has allocated 116,000 litas (34,000 euros) and the City of Panevezys 110,000 litas for the exhumation works.

During the Soviet era, monuments for the German soldiers buried in Panevezys were torn down and a school stadium was built at the site.

Archeologists are assisted by troops and students, who plan to finish the dig next week with a solemn reburial ceremony scheduled for Aug. 4.