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Grisly evidence of how the Nazis massacred thousands of innocent women and young children has emerged from one of Hitler's “death quarries” in Russia.
Some 3,500 people were executed and dumped in mass graves at Salsk Brickworks near Rostov, southern Russia.
Diggers were especially appalled at the discovery of dozens of slaughtered boys and girls, including tots.
The bleak remains are now being unearthed after the declassification of documents from KGB secret service archives.
Digs are ongoing at multiple sites in Russia, but this location in the Rostov region has left excavators utterly horrified at the sheer barbarity of Hitler's killings.
Volunteer search squad Mius-Front reported key findings from their gruesome search so far.
They said: "Our expedition continues to work in the death quarry of the city of Salsk.
“Here, the Nazis killed 3,500 civilians in 1942-43.
“There were many children among them.
“Today, 15 children from one to ten years old were found and taken out.
"It is scary.
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"There is nothing more terrifying in war than seeing children die. Any war veteran will tell you that.
"We have already found 20 children in just one execution pit."
Unusually, not all the victims were shot.
One digger said: “For the majority, death came from blows to the head with a boot or fist.
“Perhaps the children's heads were smashed against the dried clay of the quarry.
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“We have not encountered this before.”
A few Red Army prisoners of war were among the dead but most were the old, the young, and a hugely disproportionate number of women.
Among 60 sets of human remains where DNA analysis has been conducted, 16 are women, and 19 children between the ages of two and late teens.
Dig head Andrey Kudryakov described the dark scene in a video of the search.
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He is heard saying: “This is a child’s boot, here is a very small collarbone.
“Here a tiny skull – broken.
“Nearby is probably his mum.
“A little four or five year old human.
“Together with mum in this dreadful execution pit.”
The excavations in the execution pits is “psychologically hard”, he said.
“This is not ordinary archaeology or search work.
“This is the establishment of historical justice.”
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This area – not well investigated previously – “is now revealing its terrible secrets”.
Andrey added there was a young pregnant woman with a Russian Cossack cross around her neck.
He said: “She clasped her head in her hands in horror so as not to see how she was being killed.
“Next to her lie the torn children, they tried to hide from death, but Hitler's executioners finished them off with bayonets.
The dead are believed to include Russians, Jews and gypsies.
The KGB had hidden the scale of the Nazi atrocity from its own people but the release of secret files from Soviet-era vaults is enabling searches for human remains to go ahead.
The hope is to match some victims by DNA to their modern-day relatives.
- World War 2
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