We spent Thursday morning, June 9, continuing our search for the escape tunnel. Everyone familiar with Paneriai (Poneray) has a different notion in which direction the Burners' Brigade built the tunnel. Ken Bensimon (with beard on left), an architect who designed prisons so as to prevent tunnel escapes, did the background research to direct us to the proper quadrant, or so he thought. Jurijus Greismanas (with hat on right), one of the two curators of Paneriai, believes Ken is at least 90 degrees off. Every tour guide that comes through, of course, has a different idea, or states that no one knows. One person that did know was another Jurijus, Jurijus Farber (soldier in uniform on left), a Russian engineer whose idea it was to escape through a tunnel. For such a demanding infrastructure project in a low budget environment, Farber reportedly had a skill far more useful than being an engineer...he was a thief. Farber died in 1983 at the age of 75.
The picture below shows Pit 6 in 1942. The Burners' Brigade lived in the pit beginning in the second half of 1943. Not only was the pit surrounded by two barbed wire fences and a mine field, but it was guarded day and night by 80 soldiers.
If the tunnel location was known, Dr. Alastair McClymont and I would not be looking for the escape route. Our approach is simple. We slice up the site with geophysical surveys, map the anomalies with GPS and drones, and hope that the dots connect in a line leading back to Pit 6. The main technique we are using is electrical resistivity tomography. If the tunnel is open and air filled, we would expect the tunnel to appear very electrically resistive. If the tunnel were acting like a drain, collecting and trapping infiltrating water, the tunnel would appear more electrically conductive than the surrounding sands. Of course, this may be easier said than done as the tunnel is now likely filled with sand, and a sand filled tunnel in a sand filled glacial outwash plain is never an easy target. And the tunnel was very small, and may be 9 m in depth or greater. But we do know a bit more now, on day 3 than we did on day 1.
Blogging by Paul Bauman