Lviv, Ukraine
Lviv, Ukraine iStock

A digging team in the Ukrainian city of Lviv has discovered a hiding spot in the sewer system where Jews escaped to during the Nazi occupation.

Local historian Hanna Tychka told Reuters that out of the city’s more than 100,000 Jews at the time of World War II – one third of Lviv’s population – most were killed by the Nazis but a few were able to escape from the Jewish ghetto by tunnelling into Lviv’s sewage system.

These survivors included Ignacy Chiger and his daughter Krystyna Chiger who later wrote a book about their escape.

Tychka and a team of diggers recently discovered the exact spot where in the sewage system where the Chigers hid from 1943 until 1944.

Ignacy Chiger dug seven yards under his ghetto barracks in order to build a tunnel that would reach the sewer, breaking through the sewer’s 35-inch thick concrete wall, the historian explained.

“They had to work quietly so that Nazis would not find out that digging activity was happening in the barrack basement. The Jews used a hammer wrapped in a [dusting cloth],” Tychka told Reuters.

In the underground hiding spot, where out of an initial group of 21 Jews only 10 survived, the researchers found relics they said were used by the Jews hiding there, including a rusted plate and traces of lantern fuel. They also found bits of glass stuck between bricks in the wall that they believe were placed to stop rats from eating their food.

Tychka also discovered a pipe that she said was used by the group for drinking water.

With the group in constant danger, several people could not cope with the horrible conditions in the sewer and left.

David Lee Preston, son of Halina Wind Preston, who was in her early twenties when she hid with the others in the sewer, told Reuters that the team’s research shows "a great desire by many young Ukrainians to set straight the history and prevent it from being corrupted.”