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Eastern Europe Holocaust Archaeology

Location: Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland

Partners: Christopher Newport University, Leading Edge Productions, Warsaw Ghetto Museum, US Embassies of Latvia and Lithuania, University of Wisconsin at Eau-Claire, Duquesne University, The Jewish Museum of Riga, and the Israel Antiquities Authority

The objective of this project was to investigate Holocaust sites in Eastern Europe, with a focus on documenting evidence of resistance activities. Since traditional invasive archaeology methods are largely prohibited at locations where remains of Jewish people may be present, non-invasive geophysical methods are an important tool in these investigations. BGC provided personnel and geophysical equipment for the project, and collected data at fifteen sites in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The investigations consisted of a variety of geophysical methods, drone photogrammetry and multispectral imaging, and handheld LiDAR (i.e., GeoSLAM). Included among the sites were the Mila 18 command bunker in the Warsaw Ghetto, the 50,000 person mass burial at Fort IX in Lithuania, and the Jewish Ghetto in Riga. Based on the geophysics results, an excavation was undertaken in Warsaw with the support of BGC personnel to recover artefacts that will be exhibited at the new Warsaw Ghetto Museum. The research was filmed for a documentary with the working title “The Resistance Project,” to be released in 2023. The results of the 2021 study will also provide content for a website that will provide Holocaust educational material.