“We rely on the help of local eyewitnesses, which is a further aspect putting us under time pressure because these people are of course very old and we will not be able to ask them in 10 years’ time. We often come too late. Sites have often been plundered by people who searched the graves looking for items they can sell.
“Some people are happy when the dead are taken away from their land but occasionally we still encounter massive resentment by local people. The memory of the occupation by the Germans and of the war crimes is still very alive.”
Excavations of battlefields, field hospitals and prisoner of war burial sites are expected to slow in the next few years as the charity, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, struggles with dwindling resources.