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Perpetrators & Their Victims

Archaeologists have reportedly unearthed the skeletons of seven Catholic nuns who were brutally tortured to death by former Soviet troops in war-torn Poland during the final phase of Second World War. The Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) has confirmed the news, saying in a statement that those nuns were murdered in 1944…

The IPN has informed the media that a search has been on for the bodies of those Catholic nuns, buried by the Soviet Forces, for years. After gathering enough evidence, Archaeologists started excavation works in Gdańsk, a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland, in July 2020. It was there they found the skeletal remains of Sister Charytyna (whose name was Jadwiga Fahl before becoming a nun). According to the IPN, historical documents, the age and gender of the ashes, and the presence of numerous religious objects indicated that the skeleton belonged to the murdered nun. According to IPN representatives, religious relics were inlaid with clothing related to the Order of St Catalina, a small rosary with polished beads, a large rosary for wearing on a belt, a metal design, and other items, including a cross, and two medallions “with the image of the Holy Family”…

One of those skeletons

In October 2020, excavation works began in Olsztyn, a city near the Łyna River in north-eastern Poland. There, the archaeologists found three more skeletons! Experiments helped them confirm that one of those skeletons was of a Polish nun, named Sister Generosa. Her original name was Maria Bolz. The other skeletal remains were of Sister Krzysztofora (or Marta Klomfass) and Sister Liberia (or Maria Domnik). All of them were nurses at Olsztyn’s St Mary’s Hospital.

Archaeologists struggled a lot to find the remaining four skeletons. They carried out extensive digging in 215sqft area in Orneta to find those skeletal remains. In December 2020, they found skeletons of the remaining three nuns: Sister Rolanda (Maria Abraham), Sister Gunhilda (Dorota Steffen) and Sister Bona (Anna Pestka).

Three skeletons have been recovered from this place

Experts are of the opinion that the erstwhile Soviet Union invaded Poland and carried out brutal attack after the Germans began to flee the country, realising that their defeat in Second World War was imminent. Initially, the Soviet forces targeted the Polish nuns. “Mass terror ensued in the territory occupied by the Soviets,” said a senior official of the Warsaw Institute, a Geopolitical Think Tank in Poland. He also said that Soviet soldiers started looting and burning churches and religious buildings soon after the Red Army advanced into Polish cities and territories. According to the official, nuns were treated “with particular cruelty“.

Buried objects such as crucifixes helped experts identify the nuns’ remains. (Image credit: the IPN)

Meanwhile, an IPN researcher has stressed that the Soviet Forces had descended upon hospitals in Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz, Olsztyn and Orneta in February 1945. In those hospitals, nuns were serving as nurses as per the order of the St Catherine. The Soviet soldiers beat and stabbed patients and also attacked the nuns when they intervened, causing horrific injuries. According to the researcher, Sister Rolanda’s face “was mutilated and swollen beyond recognition“, while Sister Gunhilda was shot thrice. He has informed the press that Sister Krzysztofora died after “a long fight with a Soviet soldier“. “At the time of her death, her eyes were gouged out, her tongue was cut off and she had been stabbed with a bayonet 16 times,” added the researcher.

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