The village of Denting in eastern France is split over whether to build a wind farm on the site of a former German prisoner-of-war camp where thousands of Soviet soldiers died.
Opponents of the project told French media it would be inappropriate to proceed with the construction and would risk digging up bodies.
“Putting wind turbines here is indecent,” said Gabriel Becker, vice president of the Franco-Ukrainian Association for the Defence and Rehabilitation of Ban Saint-Jean camp, who is campaigning for the site to remain untouched.
The local government decided to stop preliminary construction work in January after it sparked criticism.
An estimated 20,000 bodies are buried under the former Ban Saint-Jean camp, which held Soviet POWs during World War II.
Svetlana Joukova, the granddaughter of a Soviet prisoner who died in the camp, is also opposed to the project. “It’s impossible [to build wind turbines] where so many people suffered, where so many people died,” she told French TV, arguing it would be like forgetting parts of both France’s and Russia’s history.
Some local residents are supportive of the wind turbines, saying the project is looking to the future rather than the past and would produce green energy for the town.
“We should stop demonizing the project,” Roland Hamman, a pensioner, told local newspaper Le Républicain Lorrain.
The camp is spread over 100 hectares that are currently left unused because it’s a remembrance site. But the municipality of Denting is in favor of the wind project, which could bring in an annual €42,000 in revenues.
“I think we have to turn the page, keep a plot of land to remember, but we’re not going to mortgage our real estate for a site that dates from the last war,” said Christian Belvetti, Denting’s deputy mayor, arguing the municipality doesn’t want to jeopardize its real estate development potential. “We are the owners of this land, so for the moment we intend to develop it as we wish.”
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