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German war graves discovered at memorial construction site in Tallinn

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The remains of some one hundred German soldiers have been found at the construction site of a future memorial to the victims of communism in Tallinn's Maarjamäe area.

"The builders stopped their work when they discovered the remains, and the situation was looked into. We're dealing with part of a German military cemetery dating back to World War II that apparently reaches into the construction zone," Arnold Unt of the Estonian War Museum told ERR.

Unt specified that what was found is a number of single graves, not a mass grave.

"A burial place has been found. The remains of exactly how many people have been found we can't say," Unt said, adding that judging from the size of the area where human remains were found, they are probably looking at about a hundred graves, potentially more.

"The remains will likely have to be exhumed and buried again at the already existing German military cemetery in Maarjamäe," Unt said. In any case, the matter needed to be dealt with quickly, as meanwhile construction of the new memorial for the victims of communism are standing still.

35,000 German soldiers buried in Estonia

According to various estimates some 35,000 German soldiers and officers fallen in World War II are buried in Estonia.

In 1995 Estonia and Germany signed an agreement that allowed Germany to fix up and maintain German war graves and cemeteries. Such cemeteries are today located in Ahtme, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Kudjape, Narva, Pärnu, Rakvere, Maarjamäe and Pirita, Toila, Valga, and Viljandi. A memorial was also restored at the Paulus cemetery in Tartu.

According to the Estonian War Museum, the restoration of the cemeteries is complete, while new gravestones are still being placed. The identification of single graves also continues, as do exhumations and reburials where needed.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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