Poland Reopening Inquiry Into Auschwitz Atrocities

Investigation stopped in 1970 because of difficulty in obtaining testimony from outside Communist bloc to which Poland belonged during the Cold War.

WARSAW - After more than 40 years, the Polish Institute of National Remembrance is renewing its investigation of Nazi atrocities at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

The investigation was stopped in 1970 because of the difficulty involved in obtaining testimony from outside the Communist bloc, to which Poland belonged during the Cold War.

Testimonies from 500 survivors will be taken during the first stage. The questioning will take place in Krakow, which is near the site, and will be conducted in full cooperation with the management of the Auschwitz Museum and both Polish and foreign organizations that deal with documentation and research of the activities in the concentration camp.

Though the investigators want to bring those who collaborated with the Nazis to justice, they say few can be expected to be found alive.

"We'll have to make do with an exact reenactment of the work methods of the criminals at Auschwitz," said institute chairman Lukasz Kaminski. "We want to document all the methods of execution, all the types of medical experiments conducted on prisoners by Dr. Josef Mengele and his aides, and establish the exact ways that prisoners were transferred from Auschwitz to other camps before they died."

"Full and authorized documentation of this type will be a historic achievement," Kaminski said.