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University of Hartford Archaeologist to Present on Holocaust Tunnel Discovery and More


Posted 10/07/2016
Posted by Mary Ingarra


Using non-invasive techniques, the research team located the contours and direction of the tunnel that lies under the burial pit.

Using non-invasive techniques, the research team located the contours and direction of the tunnel that lies under the burial pit.

University of Hartford Jewish History Professor Richard Freund is presenting on his international research team’s discovery of an escape tunnel in Lithuania, hand-dug by 80 Jews during the Holocaust, on Thursday, October 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the University’s Auerbach Auditorium in Hillyer Hall. This summer Freund led the team that found the exact location of the 100-foot long underground tunnel. The discovery was the subject of hundreds of stories worldwide, including in Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN and the BBC.

The talk will include the showing of a brief trailer from a documentary about the discovery, which is scheduled to air on the PBS science series NOVA in April 2017, as well as a preview of future research projects.

Freund, who also is director of the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, used non-invasive archaeological methods to find the entrance to the tunnel, as well as previously unknown burial pits in the forest adjacent to the site. Only a dozen of the prisoners survived to tell the harrowing story of their dangerous escape after digging for 76 nights using only their hands, spoons and small-fashioned tools.

In addition, Freund also will present the team’s work on the nearby rediscovery of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, by using the non-invasive electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) technique. The synagogue was a five-story high building and compound that was established in the 16th and 17th centuries and was home to the greatest rabbinic scholar of the pre-modern and modern periods. It was believed the structure was destroyed in the Soviet era, but in reality the main prayer area was preserved more than six feet below ground.

The talk is free of charge. For more information or to reserve a seat, call 860.768.5018, or email mgcjs@hartford.edu.

Using non-invasive techniques, the research team located the contours and direction of the tunnel that lies under the burial pit.

Using non-invasive techniques, the research team located the contours and direction of the tunnel that lies under the burial pit.