Construction works go on at the former German Nazi Soldau concentration camp in Dzialdowo, Poland on July 13, 2022, close to the site where the mass grave of about 8,000 Geman Nazi victims was unearthed at the beginning of July 2022. (Photo by JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)

The people were murdered “probably around 1939” and belonged to the Polish elite, said Tomasz Jankowski from the Polish Institute for National Remembrance (IPN) on Wednesday.

The ashes of Nazi victims were found in a wooded area in Ilowo-Osada, 150 kilometers north of Warsaw and near the former Soldau Nazi concentration camp in former East Prussia. The Soldau camp was built during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. It served as a transit camp, but also as a concentration and extermination camp for political opponents of National Socialism, members of the Polish elite and Jews.

In 1944, Jewish prisoners had to dig up and burn the bodies of dead inmates to cover up traces of German war crimes.

The number of people killed in Soldau is still difficult to determine today, estimates assume up to 30,000 victims. The remains that have now been discovered “allow us to state that at least 8,000 people died here,” said IPN representative Jankowski. The number is determined by the weight of the ashes found. Two kilograms of human ashes correspond to about one corpse.