Mass graves of Nazi victims found in Austria

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Washington, March 13 (ANI): Reports indicate that at least two mass graves containing dozens of people killed by the Nazis have been found on property used by the Austrian army.

According to a report in Discovery News, an army statement suggested that some of the remains may be that of US pilots shot down and imprisoned during World War II.

The mass graves are located in bomb craters underneath an army sports field in the southern city of Graz.

Officials said they contain about 70 bodies of victims killed by the SS to eliminate witnesses to Nazi atrocities shortly before Soviet troops arrived.

The graves were identified from wartime photos, made from US bombers, showing open graves and bodies.

US authorities made the imagery available on request of Austrian historians tasked two years ago by Defense Minister Norbert Darabos with researching documented war crimes at the site, used by the SS during World War II.

A statement available on the Austrian army web site said that up to 219 people were massacred at the location during the dying days of World War II in an attempt to hush up atrocities committed there.

Among other things, the probe was meant to "find out more over the identity and the whereabouts of the victims killed in the last days of the Second World War," said the statement.

"The systematic violence of the Gestapo focused mostly on resistance fighters, prisoners of war, concentration camp inmates and forced laborers but also shot-down US pilots," it added.

The site originally contained hundreds of victims, but many were moved by the officer in charge of the wartime facility out of fears that he would be found responsible for the killing.

The exhumation and reburials were stopped, however, because of the approach of the Soviet Army.

While the relocated bodies were subsequently found and given a proper burial, about 70 of the dead remained unaccounted for until they were located by the probe.

The army statement said that the investigation also established the identities of two suspected perpetrators who subsequently fled to Germany and could still be alive. (ANI)

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