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Researchers in Ukraine uncover hiding spots in sewers used by Jews during WWII

Artifacts from the group of 21 who were fleeing the Nazis are found in a large cave under Lviv’s streets; local historian tells Reuters they dug a tunnel from the ghetto

Researchers are seen inside the sewer system under Lviv, Ukraine, September 25, 2021. (Screenshot: Youtube)
Researchers are seen inside the sewer system under Lviv, Ukraine, September 25, 2021. (Screenshot: Youtube)

Under Lviv’s cobblestone streets, Ukrainian researchers have uncovered new hiding places in the city’s underground sewage system that housed Jews fleeing from the Nazis during the Holocaust, according to a Tuesday report.

The researchers found a small cave that they believed was used by the fleeing Jews in 1943 on their first night before moving to a larger shelter area, Reuters reported.

The larger cave was scattered with artifacts, which researchers say were used by the hiding families. The items included a corroded plate, the figurine of a sheep, and traces of carbide used for lanterns, according to the report.

Over 100,000 Jews, around a third of the city’s population at the time, were killed by the Nazis, local historian Hanna Tychka told the news agency.

Tychka explained that some of those who managed to escape, including father and daughter Ignacy and Krystyna Chiger, managed to dig into the sewage system from the Jewish ghetto.

She said Chiger dug a seven-meter-long (23 toot) tunnel from his ghetto barrack, breaking the sewer’s concrete wall, which was around 90 centimeters (35 inches) thick.

Researchers are seen inside the sewer system under Lviv, Ukraine, September 25, 2021. (Screenshot: Youtube)

Twenty-one people had fled into the sewers, but only 10, including the Chigers and a woman named Halina Wind Preston, survived, said her son, David Lee Preston. Some left due to the conditions in the sewers.

In one tragic incident, a baby born to one of the women in the group, whose husband had been swept away by the water, had to be suffocated for fear that its crying would give away their location, according to Preston.

The remaining group left their hiding place when the city was taken back by the Soviet Army in 1944, according to the report.

The discovery comes as Ukraine recently marked 80 years since the mass shooting of nearly 34,000 Jews at the Babi Yar ravine just outside of Kyiv on September 29-30, 1941.

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