MINSK, 17 May (BelTA) – The first findings of the investigation into the genocide of Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War tentatively suggest that the official data on the number of civilian victims will be much higher, Belarus' Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said in an interview with the Belarus 1 TV channel, BelTA informs.
The investigation launched by the Prosecutor General's Office involved a great amount of effort, including excavations, searches and interviews with eyewitnesses, the study of archival materials with the involvement of well-known historians, etc.
According to Andrei Shved, the evidence unearthed in some places of mass extermination of Belarusians suggest that the scale of the tragedy is not completely known.
“At first we inspected the place of mass extermination of our citizens near Logoisk. Guided by archival data, we were supposed to find one ditch with murdered women, children and old people there. However, a forensic study showed that there were many more such ditches there, up to five meters deep. The number of victims is much bigger than archives and other sources suggest. I will say more: when we started working there, even experienced investigators, prosecutors, criminologists were petrified by what they saw there. Layers of people, mothers who hug their babies with bullet holes in the back of their heads - all this is so disturbing ... It shows cynicism, cruelty of fascism, Nazism and any idea that pursues extermination of people, associated with genocide. It shows the scale of the tragedy and the fact that the official historiography of our country does not actually reflect the true losses incurred by Belarus,” Andrei Shved stressed.
He noted that there is no place in the country unaffected by this tragedy. “Today we have data on hundreds of places of mass execution that were previously unknown or little studied," the prosecutor general said. People reach out to the investigative bodies, send letters, give their testimonies. Therefore, there is still much work to be done to process the information and identify all such sites and the total number of people killed.
"We also have the information about the still living Nazi criminals who were on the lists and who took part in the activities of punitive battalions. First of all I am talking about the Lithuanian SS battalions and the Home Army battalions. Now we are preparing the relevant materials and a request on legal assistance to be sent to these states so that appropriate law enforcement agencies could launch the procedural actions in the criminal genocide case in respect of these persons (they are still alive, we know their places of residence)," Andrei Shved added.
He recalled that genocide has no statute of limitations: criminals must be held accountable.
The Prosecutor General's Office also plans to submit "sufficient evidence to the international tribunal soon to begin the procedure of official recognition of the genocide of the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War."