by SHYAMA SRIKKANTH Staff Writer
Forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls uncovered pits of bones and ashes in 2010 at the Treblinka Death Camp in Poland. Colls is the first archaeologist to study these grounds. Using geophysical tools, such as ground penetrating radar, scientists can highlight physical properties of what lies beneath the surface. Conclusions can be formed based on information about historic and archaic data about whether or not there are burned human remains. Colls says that at Treblinka, it is clear that there is ash and it contains remains of bones. She discovered four other similar pits. Scientists on Colls’ team are wondering if the pits are any indication of the bodies that were cremated there, as bone fragments can be seen amongst the ash, especially after rain. Freshman Danielle Albaciete says, “I found this news unsettling, knowing that even after half a century the evidence of the Holocaust still remains. But even so I support the excavation of the site to discover more and remember those who passed.” On the grounds, it is thought that the two brick made structures may have been used as gas chambers. The decision to burn the bodies occurred several months after the camp had been operating. The bodies were burned on pyres made from railway tracks and wood, and the ashes were buried in more pits. In 1943, the Nazis thought they had already destroyed Treblinka and all evidence of it when they burned it down and evacuated. They built a farmhouse there and planted lupine trees. Investigations into German crimes in 1946 uncovered remains of burnt posts, barbed wire and small sections of paved road at Treblinka. Inspectors also found human remains as they dug underground, though there were no mass graves. Junior Aaron Potter says, “This was very interesting and caught me off guard. I was surprised that remains are still being found. I hope that more things can be discovered to connect the pieces of history that were lost.” In the 1960’s, photographs showed there were bodies that could still be found. Not all of them were burned. Colls says the reason the graves may not be found is due to looting, due to myths of Jewish gold hidden in the pits. Colls and her team are hoping to form a collaboration with the Treblinka museum. She is hoping her research can “provide new insights into the physical evidence.” Colls wants all of the victims of the Holocaust to be properly commemorated.