VILNIUS – At the NATO airbase in Lithuania Zokniai (near the city of Siauliai) there may be a burial of about 700 victims of the Second World War, reports BNS. Such preliminary findings were presented to the leadership of the airbase by archaeologists who conducted exploratory surveys.
Studies commissioned by the air base command (the airfield for the Lithuanian Air Force was built here in 1931) began after last summer, in preparation for laying a storm sewer route in this area, unknown human remains were found at the newly equipped cargo distribution site. In the end, it was found that on the site for the distribution of goods, which is planned to equip at the airbase, in the area of approximately 12 hectares are 70−80 holes with burial grounds.
Their sizes are different, there are single burials of the remains, there are also group ones – up to 10 remains. A mass grave was also found in one such pit. It can be up to several dozen remains. Archaeologists conclude that more than 700 remains can be buried in the study area. According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense, more thorough archaeological research would help answer the question of who can be buried here – only the military or civilian victims of the war.
“We did not have any information about the burial sites in this territory, the territory is not included in the list of immovable cultural property to be protected. Therefore, having discovered the bones, we informed the relevant departments and ordered preliminary archaeological research that will answer the question of what remains and, most importantly, how much and in what area there may be holes with graves, ” said the head of the air base, Colonel-Lieutenant Antanas Matutis .
According to him, the unexpected discoveries have made necessary some adjustments in the work on the development of the air base, but this will not affect military tasks. The first archaeological research began at the end of last year, but in winter they had to be suspended. According to the Ministry of Defense, the municipality of Šiauliai will form a commission that will make proposals on how to organize the extraction of the remains, their burial and honoring the memory of the dead. The State Department for Cultural Heritage, the Center for Research on Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also informed about the incident. Currently, construction work around a localized burial site on the territory of the airbase is suspended.