Volunteer group uncovers WWII graves
Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, a group of volunteers working in eastern Germany near the Polish border is trying to uncover the remains of fallen soldiers.
Heinz Mutschinski, now 88, is one of them. As a 19-year old German soldier he nearly became one of the buried soldiers in the fields in Klessin.
“Helping here is my therapy,” he said. This is the fourth time he is working with a non-profit group that works to uncover fallen soldiers in eastern Europe.
“We want to give the dead a name and their dignity back, regardless of their nationality,” said Albrecht Laune, the head of the group. Decades after the war ended it is still important for the families, he said.
The group consists of volunteers from Germany, Russia, the Ukraine, Holland and Switzerland. This is the seventh time they are working in Klessin and this time around they uncovered about 30 dead in a mass grave.
This is the largest number of remains the group has uncovered, Laune said. He thinks the dead are former Soviet soldiers.
It isn’t always possible to identify the remains. The Soviets often did not have identification with them. Therefore the searchers look for numbered medals or engraved cooking utensils.
The Association for the Recovery of the Fallen in Eastern Europe was founded in 1992. It is headquartered in Hamburg and is active all over Europe. The 200 members work on a volunteer basis and often take their own holiday time and spend their own money to work on the projects.
Laune wants the area around Klessin to be researched further. In the Spring of 1945 there were hard battles fought here between the German and Soviet armies. Laune thinks there are “still thousands of dead” soldiers in the area.