The KL Stutthof Archaeological Resources Protection and Preservation Program: Format and Methodology

The KL Stutthof Archaeological Resources Protection and Preservation Program is formed to reconstruct the past in the absence of written records and prevent archaeological site destruction caused by activities associated with natural forces, deliberate vandalism or looting, and through inadvertent and unintentional damage caused by site visitation. The archaeological resources are nonrenewable and fragile. More often these resources are being destroyed by so called detectorists or explorers who out of inadvertence, inquisitiveness or greed persist in vandalizing the part of our history for egotistic purposes. Looting of artifacts from WWII historical sites has become particularly destructive. As for example relic hunting has brutally impacted the archaeological context of historical material in the New Camp of KL Stutthof. Loss of archaeological data through vandalism, or theft is a crime against our cultural legacy. In attempt to address this growing problem the objectives of this program are:
- site discovery and evaluation
- preservation through documentation
- preventing looting and vandalism
- caring for artifacts collections
- site conservation
- enhancing public outreach

The “footprint” of the action involves preparation of preliminary site assessment (SA) and environmental assessment (EA). These reports should determine human or nature activities which have made significant impacts to the site and environment. Provided data will outline:
- nature of existing environment
- affected cultural and natural environment
- impacts consequences
- unavoidable adverse impacts
- cumulative impacts

The preservation of naturally buried artifacts and archaeological context depends on water, air, soil, groundwater chemistry, organic matter and the fauna. The outline of SA and EA will determine the methodology and scope of project research design, as well will provide evidence of preservation problems, potentially affecting a context. The ground penetrating radar (GPR) techniques will be used to record data in the field. The GPR method of data acquisition is been chosen to eliminate unnecessary ground disturbance as non invasive methods of subsurface analysis are vital in site conservation. Excavation methods will be limited to salvage excavations only. The geographic information system (GIS) based on spatial analysis software will examine buried structures within their spatial relevance and will generate three dimensional maps. This methodology will produce the record with no need to remove artifacts or destroy archaeological context. However, the knowledge of geophysical and spatial data will also benefit salvage excavations as trenches can be set out to the precise perimeters.

Conservation in situ and education are the most effective means of protecting archaeological sites over the long term. The benefits of archaeological research are in the information about the past that can be learned through proper investigations. Therefore the KL Stutthof Archaeological Resources Protection and Preservation program creates heritage and history public outreach campaign to work over the long term on prevention of archaeological looting and vandalism. Notably, archaeological sites are the places with their histories where real events took place. They are always associated with people, events and all dynamics of the past history. Consequently, oral histories have been recognized as a subsidiary to the archaeological record. To preserve the oral history The KL Stutthof Museum has established “The Last Witness” program which collects testimonies form former prisoners of KL Stutthof. The oral histories supported by written history and archaeological data will ensure that the words of these survivors live on to tell future generations about the German concentration camps and the system behind them.

Program archaeologist: RPA Member Antoni Paris
Museum public outreach coordinator: Marcin Owsiński

The KL Stutthof Archaeological Resources Protection and Preservation Program: Site Assessment Report