Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers' Secrets





The morning of November 16, 1632 was foggy, so the mass killing could only begin after some delay. It wasn't until midday that the mist cleared, finally allowing the Protestant army of Sweden's King Gustav II Adolf to attack the Roman Catholic Habsburg imperial army led by Albrecht von Wallenstein. The slaughter lasted for hours in the field at the Saxon town of Lützen.

"In this battle the only rule that applied was, 'him or me,'" says Maik Reichel. "It was better to stab your opponent one extra time just to ensure there was no chance of him standing up again." The historian und former German parliamentarian for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) is standing at the edge of a field on the outskirts of Lützen. After the battles here, the ground was soaked with blood. "About 20,000 men fought on each side and between 6,000 and 9,000 were killed," estimates Reichel, who heads the museum in the city castle.

When the soldiers in the religious war clashed on the outskirts of Lützen, the road from there to Leipzig was not yet called "B 87," but "Via Regia." The Red Cross nursing home and nearby supermarket that now stand on the battle site also didn't exist back then. The past is only present here when one goes looking for it. So far archaeologists have examined about one- third of the battlefield, in total 1.1 million square meters (11.8 million square feet). Theoretically, only another one-third could still be examined. The rest has been covered by the nursing home, supermarket and small garden allotments....



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