According to eyewitnesses, the employees of Prykarpattyaoblenergo did not initially understand what they were looking at even though an old Jewish cemetery is located right next to the discovery site. However, local residents prevented them from filling up the uncovered graves and phoned the police.
The excavations at the grave site are currently being conducted by scholars and researchers from the Ivano-Frankivsk municipal enterprise “Pamyat” (Memory). In the trench dug by the employees of Prykarpattyaoblenergo, in one day they found about two bags of human bones and household items. Among them are pieces of women’s and children’s clothing. According to the head of “Pamyat” Vasyl Tymkiv, it is still too soon to estimate the extent of the graves, but, judging by the length and depth of the trench, at least 50 bodies of victims were uncovered and confirmed.
“The human remains that we uncovered lie at a depth of 30 centimeters, perhaps even deeper, but we can’t say anything for sure. The hole is only five meters long. The remains are intact, but the bodies aren’t arranged in any sort of order. What I mean is that they weren’t laid out in an organized manner.” says Vasyl Tymkiv.
In the 1940s, the area near the grave site was used to bury victims of both the communist and Nazi regimes. However, judging by certain features of the burial site, scholars tend to believe that the remains belong to victims executed by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs – Soviet secret police organization from 1934 to 1946-Ed.). Vasyl Tymkiv states that Bolsheviks used to bury their victims in ditches and hollows, without bothering to dig a deeper pit.
The researchers are currently waiting for official permission to conduct further excavations, which will enable them to make a more thorough investigation of the grave site. They are hoping to dig more deeply and search more widely to establish the size and extent of the site.