Remains of 145 Soviet soldiers unearthed in western Latvia

Take note – story published 6 years ago

The remains of 145 Red Army soldiers have been unearthed in Pampāļi, western Latvia during road works; it is thought there are more to be discovered. The soldiers had died during the Courland Pocket battles in World War II. The burial site is large and part of it goes underneath a local road, reported LTV April 23. 

On April 22 members of a grave site search group looked through a meadow and roadside at a site where construction workers had been working earlier. 

"They are lying in pits in multiple layers; people's bodies are one on another, it's very haphazard," said Tālis Ešmits, head of the Leģenda organization that looks for soldiers' remains. 

He said it's very likely there are more remains to be found at the site. 

Fifteen years ago, the remains of 140 soldiers were found at a nearby site the opposite side of the road, as a field was being ploughed. No info about the site was found in war archives. The currently found burial site extends under a road which is undergoing construction and which will have to be dug up.  

"It's an old road. It dates back to the Soviet times," said Pampāļi parish head Gints Homanis. He said that as workers were digging ditches during reconstruction, they noticed people's remains and contacted specialists.

At least five of the dead soldiers will be able to be identified as they were carrying war honors with them. It's likely the soldiers buried at the site had been reported as missing. 

"We found a spoon made in Finland. And there is no way it could have come here if not from Red Army soldiers who had been on the Finland front. They were there during the whole war until war on the Finnish front ceased and then they were sent here," said Ešmits. 

It may be possible to find some of their relatives after research and identification. Russia will be informed according to an international treaty. The soldiers are likely to be reburied next year at the Pampāļi parish brothers' cemetery. 

This summer, the Leģenda organization will also go to Russia to locate and take home the Latvian soldiers who had died there. 

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