An Austrian Railway Construction Project has been put on hold as scientists check whether human ashes found near a station originate from nearby Nazi death camps, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
The ashes were uncovered after a skeleton turned up during construction at the Lungitz railway station near Linz.
While archaeologists determined that the skeleton was from Roman times or the early Middle Ages, they kept digging and found a layer of earth containing ashes with human remains.
“The proximity to the former concentration camps in Mauthausen and Gusen raises the suspicion that these are victims of National Socialism,’’ the Interior Ministry and the railway company, OeBB, said in a joint statement.
The two camps are each less than four kilometres away from the station.
The ongoing analysis involves the University of Vienna, Austria’s Jewish community, the Mauthausen Memorial, as well as the Mauthausen Committee, which represents victims of the camp.
Between 1938 and 1945, nearly 200,000 prisoners passed through Mauthausen and its affiliated camps that included Gusen.
Half of them were murdered or died as a result of the inhumane conditions in which they were held.
Prisoners included Jews, Roma and political prisoners from across Europe.