Bremen argues over the former military cemetery

Dhe project is controversial, the fronts are hardened: In Bremen, the Senate wants to build a railway workshop on the site of the former “Russian cemetery”. But there have been protests against this for a long time: the Bremen Peace Forum and a local citizens’ initiative pointed out that the remains of almost 300 Soviet prisoners of war could still be there.

Archaeologists have been searching the site for three months – and have so far found remains of bones and almost two dozen soldiers’ identification tags. They also recovered a skull, reports the Bremen state archaeologist Uta Halle in an interview with the FAZ. They have already been able to assign nine of the brands to people. Halle and her team were able to find the names and dates of birth in a database of the Russian Defense Ministry. “That’s nine people to whom we were able to give their identity back.”

Rolled through files and studied cards

Halle is approaching the case. Even during the preparatory work for the excavations in July, she was convinced that they would still find human remains. She had pored over files and studied maps for weeks until she was sure that there was something to the information from the peace forum and the citizens’ initiative. Apart from a few historians, people in the city were convinced that after the end of the Second World War, all bones from the “Russian cemetery” had been transferred to a cemetery of honor. “Now we have to find out that the exhumation was incomplete,” says Halle.

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In the Oslebshausen district of Bremen there were several labor camps for prisoners of war from 1941 to 1945. Especially in the early days, many of them died of exhaustion or illness after just a few weeks. The cemetery was located between the barracks and the workplaces at the industrial port. “The prisoners had to walk past it every day,” Halle reported in July. After the Second World War, the area was partly fallow, and some smaller companies settled there.

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