Volunteers in Moldova are getting ready to dig up a grave that is rumoured to contain the bodies of Jews murdered during the Second World War.
The Moldovan community group August – whose members normally search for the remains of Soviet soldiers – will, for the first time, excavate a civilian massacre site, said Vasilii Senicovschii, the leader of the organisation.
The site, located in the village of Marianca de Sus about an hour and a half from the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, is in a wheat field and marked by a single stone. The villagers say that Jews were buried there, although there may also be the remains of the residents of a Christian nursing home.
The site came to the attention of the public after church officials in the Moldovan capital found a newspaper article from the summer of 1941, which suggested that about 100 residents from its nursing home were sent to Marianca de Sus.
But Serghey Daniliuk, an August volunteer who was the first to discover the grave, said that the Jews and the nursing home patients may have been executed together.
He says about four years ago he read the testimony of one of the perpetrators who confessed that the victims were around 120 handicapped Jews and elderly people, who were stripped naked and marched outdoors for hours, kept without food or water for three days and then gunned down.
“Maybe it was 20 Jews and some elderly people, or maybe there were 100 Jews and 20 old men,” Mr Daniliuk said.
The preliminary work on the site – to confirm that it is a mass grave – is scheduled for the beginning of March.
There are at least four more unmarked Shoah-era mass graves in Moldova, Mr Senicovschii added.