[Press & Publications] BURYING THE TRUTH

November 1999

No 207

How archaeology is being used to uncover the horrors of the Holocaust

A former CID officer who has spent the past 30 years researching and discovering evidence of Nazi atrocities during World War Two is to give a public lecture on his findings at the University of Leicester.

The lecture by Robin O'Neil shows the importance of archaeology in providing evidence of crimes committed more than 60 years ago. Using forensic tools common to all criminal investigations today, Mr O'Neil's scrutiny gives clear proof of the killings despite the attempts to destroy this evidence.

Mr O'Neil, who retired as a CID officer in London and the Home Counties five years ago, will give his talk on Monday 29 November, at 4.45pm in the University's New Building, Lecture Theatre 3. It is being hosted by The Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies and the School of Archaeological Studies.

In 1997 Mr O'Neil was invited to the site of the Belzec camp where the graves had to be located by experts from a university in Warsaw before a memorial to the dead could be put up. Although it was originally thought that 600,000 men, women and children were taken by train transit to die at Belzec, current research by Robin O'Neil shows the figure to be over 800,000. They are buried in 33 pits or mass graves some big enough to contain 80,000 bodies.

At the University of Leicester lecture Mr O'Neil will bring with him plans and maps of the extermination camp.

By using the archaeology of the Holocaust excavations at Belzec in a similar way to forensic scrutiny, O'Neil discovered that the Nazis had dug up all the bodies, burnt them and ground the bones down and put them back in 33 pits.

"It does not matter how big the crime is as such - it could have been 800,000 people or one person - the detection, or forensic investigation, is exactly the same as long as the correct procedures are adopted," he said.

"The main thing at the scene of the crime is to stop other people contaminating the evidence. Fortunately, for the examination at this site, the Nazis stopped that happening. Not only did they dig up all the bodies, burnt them and ground the bones up, but they then put them all back and grassed the graves over. So they have been intact there for the last 60 odd years," he said.

"The importance of recording the truth is vital to refute the lies of revisionists who say that these things never happened. For those who died the key thing is to show that these terrible crimes were committed. You are really answering their prayers. That is why it really should be written down."

For further information please contact Professor Aubrey Newman at the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies at the University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 2804.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 25 November 1999 14:56
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