Forensics lecturer throws new light on events of the Holocaust

Tuesday 5th February 2013

A forensic investigation into the events of a former death camp during the Holocaust formed part of commemorative Memorial Day lecture held at Staffordshire University.

It was widely believed that evidence of the extermination camp at Treblinka, in north-east Poland, was destroyed by the Nazis before being abandoned in August 1943.

However, research carried out by Forensic Investigation lecturer Dr Caroline Sturdy Colls using non-invasive geophysics, topographic surveys and advanced GPS has revealed the location of deep pits – potential graves – and structural remains that tie in with witness accounts of where gas chambers were located.

Caroline said: "The research has taught me a lot and hopefully contributed to the narrative of the Holocaust in terms of finding physical evidence which either supports or challenges what we think we know so far.

"The Holocaust is still in living memory - some people even knew the people who were lost in the Holocaust and for some of the third or fourth generation relatives, the hurt will always be there.

"If archaeology can do anything I hope it is to try and bring closure for all the families affected and provide a concrete place of remembrance for future generations," she added.

Because Jewish Halacha law prohibits disturbance of human remains, Caroline and her colleague used alternative survey methods in the first scientific examination of the death camp.

However Caroline is hoping that her work with the Treblinka museum authorities and the Chief Rabbi of Poland will enable her to continue her research.

"I'm looking to continue to do this research at as many different sites as possible where this will be of help, especially at lesser known sites where we may know the name or location but where its characteristics and mapping would be uncovered for the first time."

Find out more about Forensic and Crime Science at Staffordshire University