Poles search for executed hero's remains

Aug. 9, 2012 at 5:10 PM

WARSAW, Poland, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Polish authorities say they are searching for the remains of Witold Pilecki, a solider who fought the German occupation that lead to World War II.

Warsaw's Powazki Cemetery is the final resting place for Poland's most famous thinkers, poets and dissidents. As the Institute of National Remembrance excavates a pit in a remote corner, far from the regal graves of national heroes, Der Speigel reported archaeologists hope to find the remains of Pilecki among the bones of others executed during Poland's communist regime.

Pilecki was a soldier for the Polish underground army during the German occupation. During the Holocaust, he volunteered to be deported to Auschwitz so as to gather intelligence on Nazi activities. However, he was later executed following the war for "espionage" against the new regime.

The excavation seeks to unearth as many as 100 bodies -- about 70 of which are Poles who revolted against the Communist system installed by Joseph Stalin after the war. The other 30 or so are thought to be German war criminals killed in Mokotow Prison between 1948 and 1956.

Andrzej Pilecki, 80, is on hand to help archaeologists locate his father's remains by providing DNA. "I would be happy if I could finally light a candle at this spot," Pilecki said.

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