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Archeologists Have Found a Holocaust Escape Tunnel Dug with Spoons

The underground tunnel is believed to have helped at least 12 Jewish prisoners escape from a Nazi extermination site in Lithuania.
The site of one of Ponar's mass graves.

Archeologists working at a site formally known as Ponar in Lithuania have uncovered a massive underground tunnel that Holocaust prisoners dug with spoons at least 70 years ago, the New York Times reports.

The tunnel—which runs 100 feet from end-to-end and is between five and nine feet underground—is believed to have been dug by at least 80 Holocaust camp laborers working for 76 days straight. They managed to make a break from the camp using the tunnel on April 15, 1944, but only 12 escaped gun fire from their captors, and 11 survived the war.

University of Hartford historian Richard Freund led the team that made the monumental discovery using special ground-penetrating radar technology at Ponar, a site that's believed to be one of the first places Jews were brought and killed during the Holocaust. The tunnel has been mentioned in multiple escape stories from Holocaust survivors, but was thought to only be a myth until now.

Freund told the Times that the discovery not only reaffirms accounts of the escape, but it also suggests that the same technology could be used to find many more tunnels or graves like it around Europe.

The tunnel's discovery will be featured on an episode of PBS's science series NOVA, which should air sometime next year.

Photo by Avi1111 via Wikimedia Commons