Many of those graves stood unmentioned and untouched for many decades, and likely would have remained so, if not for the efforts of a French priest, Father Patrick Desbois.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Many of the witnesses haven’t uttered a word about the slaughter of their neighbors in more than half a century. In this documentary film, a woman explains no one was pushed into the pit of corpses.
"They killed them," she says, "and the Jews fell in."
Over the past decade, Father Desbois and his colleagues have discovered hundreds of mass graves and interviewed over 3,000 people across Eastern Europe. It’s an attempt to piece together what Desbois calls "the Holocaust by bullets."
Desbois’ organization, Yahad (In Unum), employs 22 people. Fifteen times a year, nine-person teams go from village to village, asking if anyone remembers what happened to the Jews. Desbois says 99% of the time, witnesses are willing to speak and be interviewed on camera.
The stories are chilling, yet Father Desbois wants to make sure the world knows of this under-told chapter of the Holocaust. As a clergyman, he says his role is not to judge.
Desbois knows the clock is ticking. As the number of witnesses tapers, he acknowledges there may be parts of the story that remain untold.
Desbois’ organization has begun researching Roma mass grave sites as well, further illustrating the atrocities of the World War II. Later this year, they hope to unveil an online interactive map, showing the world the final resting place of millions.