Lithuanian News: Hand-Dug Holocaust Escape Tunnel Discovered

Lithuania’s Ponar Forest is the site of this horrible story that began in June of 1941 shortly after the Nazis invaded Lithuania. More than 100,000 people, including 70,000 Jews, were massacred here and almost forgotten until very recently when a Holocaust escape tunnel was discovered.

Nazi genocide rears its shameful and very ugly head

From 1941 to 1943, the Nazis transported via cattle cars, groups of Jews, gypsies and dissidents from the nearby city of Vilnius, which was then known as the Jerusalem of Lithuania,  to the Stutthof concentration camp located in the Ponar Forest. Here, the Nazis heartlessly lined them up, shot them at close range and threw the bodies into a pit as if they were garbage.

 #1. Bodies Lying in Pit


Lithuanian News: Hand-Dug Holocaust Escape Tunnel Discovered
Photo: CODOH Forum

Prisoners of war were forced to bury their own dead

#2. Prisoners Dig Graves

Lithuanian News: Hand-Dug Holocaust Escape Tunnel Discovered  Lithuanian News: Hand-Dug Holocaust Escape Tunnel Discovered
Photo: Public Radio International

In 1943, Nazi officials forced some eighty prisoners to cover up their crimes by piling the thousands upon thousands of murdered bodies together on logs supplied from the nearby forest, incinerating the victims and burying the ashes. For months, these prisoners of war dug up and burned the corpses of their friends and neighbors. One survivor had nightmares for the rest of his life after recognizing the bodies of his own wife and children among the massacred. Another spoke of washing his hands to the point of obsession until the day he died to eliminate any trace of the bodies.

The idea for the Holocaust escape tunnel was born

These desperate men knew they would soon be killed and they quickly developed a daring escape plan. For 76 nights, literally under the very feet of their oppressors, 80 men dug a tunnel from the burial pit where they were housed into the forest by using spoons and their bare hands. It took three grueling months under cover of darkness to complete the tunnel.

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