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Russian day care on graveyard sparks outrage
Photo: DPA

Russian day care on graveyard sparks outrage

Published: 24 Jan 2013 14:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Jan 2013 14:19 GMT+01:00

The decision to build a new kindergarten atop an old German cemetery in what was once East Prussia has sparked outrage, forcing Russian authorities to exhume and rebury 150 bodies before work can continue.

Barely an hour after digging into the ground in Baltijsk, a small coastal town near Kaliningrad, workers were faced with bones of German residents past, buried when the town was called Pillau.

Historians caught wind of the discovery and the town administration found itself in the firing line of local outrage. “The graveyard is clearly marked on up-to-date maps,” Valery Limonov, a history researcher.

How building permission was granted is a mystery to Limonov, who said that there should have been a geological survey prior to giving construction the go-ahead. The town council said that they had no idea though.

“From the outside there was nothing to see, the area has been used as parkland for decades,” said the council in a statement. It added that in now way did they want to hurt the feelings of the former inhabitants of Pillau.

See photos of the unearthed graveyard

The site became a park in the 1950s, when Soviets levelled the graveyard and was only recently earmarked as the location of Baltijsk's new kindergarten. When built it should house 240 children, have a playground and a swimming pool.

Town residents also seemed wary about sending their children to school on top of an old graveyard. “A kindergarten on a cemetery? I would never forgive the town for that,” said one woman on regional forum NewKaliningrad.ru.

To cool anxious residents, the town council has agreed to exhume all 150 of the newly discovered bodies. It has tasked the moving them to a nearby church to a company used to digging up the dead.

The firm Avanport has plenty of experience exhuming German soldiers from the giant military graveyard in the area which lies in the dune hills next to the town. There are 13,500 people buried there from the Second World War.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:42 January 24, 2013 by Englishted
Oh the shock ! is this the land where I can't be buried in my town because I don't pay church tax,the same land where you never see a graveyard around a church because they use the space for other things now, but there were graveyards around the churches before so somebody moved those graves.

Plus you have to pay a fee yearly to stay in the church 's graveyard (not you but your living family) or they just dig you up and use the ground again for some other unquestioning golden egg layer.
17:53 January 24, 2013 by DerHirsch
uh,... no. The graveyard mentioned in the article above is in Russia. Or in the former East Prussia.
21:10 January 24, 2013 by DOZ
Possible flaming article.
10:58 January 25, 2013 by raandy
Englishted, yes indeed -:)

When I first came here and took my first walk through the graveyard, I asked my wife what the red tags on some of the sites were. She said that no one had paid the grave fees so they dig up the plot and but another "Golden Egg layer" in their place.
14:56 January 30, 2013 by Vargaz
What IS it with the constant rehashing of things that happened 80 years ago and for whom NO ONE for the last 67 years is responsible for? People need to GET OVER IT, grown up, and move on. Memorialize it all you want but don't cram it down our throats constantly. Same thing with this "outrage" at building a school over a decades old cemetery. I'm sure those interned would not mind considering they are DEAD! Progress is the way to live, not by stubbornly dragging your feet through the quick-setting cement of the ad nausea past.
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