Covering the mass graves at the Belzec Death Camp, Poland; geotechnical perspectives
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The Belzec Death Camp in south-east Poland was used by the Nazis for about ten months of 1942, to murder between 500,000 to 600,000 people, mostly Jews, together with some thousands of Gypsies. The bodies of the victims were interred in mass graves within the camp site. In late 1942/early 1943 the Nazis returned to the camp, dug up the bodies, burned and then crushed them in a large bone-crushing machine before re-burying the bodies in existing and new mass graves. Approximately 50% of the area of the camp is covered with mass graves. In 2003 to 2004 the American Jewish Committee together with the Polish government constructed a new Memorial to the Jewish Victims of the Nazis at Belzec, including a cover layer of blast-furnace slag, so that no plants will grow across the site. Subsequently it became apparent that the proposed solution for covering the site was not adequate. Among the problems encountered was the fact that ash and human bone fragments were moving across the surface of the site, as a result of soil erosion and rainwater washing across the site. The paper briefly describes the new Memorial, and provides a detailed description of the geotechnical aspects of the site, and the solution finally constructed. 2007 Taylor & Francis Group, London.
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