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Can the dismantling of Third Reich artifacts for research purposes be justified?

Article about: by HPL2008 Basically, I am opposed to destructive examination of period items, but under certain conditions, exceptions are acceptable. Period items (be they medals, badges, insignia, items

  1. #11


    Quote by HPL2008 View Post
    Basically, I am opposed to destructive examination of period items, but under certain conditions, exceptions are acceptable.

    Period items (be they medals, badges, insignia, items of clothing or whatever) are obviously a finite resource. If one is destroyed, a little piece of history is irreplacably lost.
    Also, in the case of awards and decorations that were actually conferred and worn (as opposed to unissued manufacturers' stocks, salesmen's samples etc.), they represent somebody's achievements or sacrifices. Thus, in addition to their historical significance, material value and artistic qualities, they have a special, symbolic meaning of a personal nature. When it comes to such items, we should consider ourselves as custodians and treat them with, for lack of a better word, respect.

    Having said that, I have no real problem with the actual case of the two Mutterkreuze over in the other thread. What makes this acceptable to me are two factors:

    1.) Jo has not vandalized the crosses just for the heck of it, but for purposes of serious, scientific examination. If some mentally-challenged new collector had pried off the roundels with the attitude of a child pulling wings off of dragonflies and the vague musing of "Gee, I wonder how them there thingies are stuck on..." it would be another story, but this is a case of a highly knowledgable collector and bona-fide expert doing it for a very specific reason in the course of extensive, thorough studies.

    2.) These particular items are still very common and readily available. I really cannot see bronze Mothers' Crosses becoming extinct anytime soon. Again, if this were a rare and valuable piece, like, say, a German Cross in Gold with diamonds or a German Order, it would be another story. Obviously, when it comes to destructive testing, we have to draw the line somewhere, but bronze Mothers' Crosses are not beyond that line.

    (Just to make it clear, in order for destructive testing of period items to be acceptable in my book, both factors have to be present: The serious, scientific approach by someone who knows what they are doing and can actually draw information from the process and the commonness of the item at hand.)
    A perfect summary!What more can be said!

    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

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  3. #12


    I completely agree with you HLP. However, the item didn't look unissued to me, and as you've stated, we are only custodians. IMO, which I admit is very grey, we were not issued these items, therefore we don't have the right to destroy them. With that said, I now can see the stance of the other side, and it too, is valid. Thank you, as you did a wonderful job explaining it.

  4. #13


    I think it probably depends a bit on the rarity of the piece and it's overall condition. I was going to buy a fairly badly damaged party badge for the explicit purpose of dismantling it further to try to learn more about the badges in general. They are common "pieces of history" and this particular one was going to be of more use being dismantled for study than for any other purpose in my opinion. I didn't end up doing it because I've been assured that the knowledge to be gained in doing this is included in the upcoming book by Jo, but that is the only reason I didn't. I wouldn't do this to a badge that could be attributed to an historical figure but a damaged badge that has little value to anyone it wouldn't worry me. As far as destroying a badge that I didn't earn goes, I can live with completing the destruction of an already damaged nazi party badge, I don't care who it belonged to.

  5. #14


    In order to say that the S-stamped HJ Leistungsabzeichen, are not made from cupal, and that you can "pull the copper backing off by hand", tests need to be done.

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    In order to be sure of the above claim, naturally the same tests that the fakes are exposed to, have to be attempted on originals, otherwise the first claim is nothing more than an opinion, supported only with pretty images.

    In order to say that the material used is of such a weak nature, that you can fold, or "roll" the badge up using your thumb and forefinger, tests need to be done.

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    In order to be sure that the above claim does not pertain to originals, naturally the same tests need to be conducted on originals, otherwise the first claim, remains a mere opinion, supported only by pretty images.

    In order to say that certain M1/63 fakes of the HJ Leistungsabzeichen, are made from zinn, and will melt as soon as you show them a flame, a test must be done.

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    In order to factually support this claim, the same tests need to be done on originals, otherwise the initial claim is nothing more than an opinion, based on the burning/melting, of one single post war badge.

    This lack of "hands-on" examining, is part of why we are, where we are today, lost, and content to rely on the opinions of others before actually "doing" anything ourselves.

    How many forum threads have you seen, how many published books have you read, that "claim" this and that? Many. Would you afford the poster/author any time at all, if you were aware, that they had never even entered a medal/badge manufacturers, or even seen any period tooling. If you were aware that they have only inspected one item, superficially, and reached a wild and in many cases absurd claim, based solely, on a shallow analysis of that one item - and that everything else they claimed, "period items are not made like this...."(for example) was factually supported by... nothing!

    The previous thread that this one sprung from, is evidence enough of our underhand & irrational way of reasoning and discussing. Picking bits and pieces out of posts (or literature) that suit our feelings or opinion at that time, and ignoring everything else - regardless of it`s factual content.

    How would we know, that the fake laser printed festabzeichen, are nothing more than 2 modern self adhesive labels stuck together, unless we actually took one apart?

    By not taking a closer look, by not doing all we can today to assist future generations of people who will take an interest in what we "claim" to be interested and indeed knowledgeable in, is a graver injustice to those who helped shape history, than breaking a few cheap badges is. Cheap badges, that in many cases were discarded, defaced and destroyed by their original owners anyway after the war. I dont create artwork out of melted badges, or mosaics from shattered enamel, then sell them on eBay.

    When a cheapish, yet damaged item is shown, (on this forum as well) the verdict is usually something like: "Mate, those are a dime to a dozen, good original but poor condition, i would wait until a mint example comes up for sale, cheers xxx" I have never ever, read the following:

    Mate, we have to respect the people who wore these things, so you have to buy it, cherish it, and wrap it in muslin just to be on the safe side. Anything else would be disrespectful
    When i see these damaged, but genuine items, i see a way to help many people, with a relatively low financial loss on my side. I see a way to "see behind" the curtains, to reassure myself that what i have learnt on a theoretical level, correlates with what is found on the practical level. Why invest billions of dollars in crash tests, on dummies and vehicles? Surely with our technical abilities today we have pc program's that could do the tests for us, without the need to ram new car after new car into a wall? We have simulators... why? Because a practical test needs to be done, in order to back up the theoretical tests. Breaking badges, items, in order to better understand, is an absolute necessity. And whether you agree with me on a personal level or not about this issue, is of no importance to me, personally, at all I have paid for all the badges that i destroyed, most times they were already damaged anyway, and i reserve the right to do with my property, what i want to.

  6. #15


    I would simply like to thank Jo for his time, diligence and result.


  7. #16


    No flared temper or hissy fits from me, i just don't agree with destroying a historical object to see how it's constructed, i'll bet it's all been done in the past so no need now...
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  8. #17


    The following 4 fake badges, are all being sold as original to this day. Only after they were damaged, only after all the enamel was removed from their cheeky faces, was it possible, with 100% certainty, to say that they all, come from the same forger. I covered these in the book though, so cant show any more images at the moment other than the ones that follow. If i had not broken them, my opinion of them being from the same forger, would remain just that, one of thousands of weak, personal assumptions based on what a quick Google search shows me, coupled with what i think i know, and supported possibly by outrageous "collectors" books where some of these are shown as genuine.

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    So the money i invested, coupled with my "willful destruction" of historical artifacts (which in this case were post war creations), are going to save many collectors lots of money, and afford GOOD, genuine badges of this caliber, their correct place in history. In time you will see, it is a necessity to do what i am doing. If this kind of research was done decades ago, the fakers would still be sitting on their stock. There will always be "collectors" who dont care to buy books or inform themselves, collectors who in fact do not have the slightest regard for history or those who played a part in it. But, to shoot down collectors like myself, who have a passion for it, and a passion for what they do, and a passion for the truth, and correct, historical facts, just because you personally dont agree with breaking an old medal or badge ? well.......... that is just not going to happen - from my side anyway . I will continue to break, burn, melt, shatter - PUT ON TRIAL - any badges or items that i feel i need to, in order to help. The financial loss is on my head, the benefits are global.

  9. #18


    I think a lot of the time collectors mistaken believe they are custodians of history rather than mere collectors of "things".
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  10. #19
    CBH is offline


    This makes a scary hobby even scarier ! Until someone comes up with a way to carbon date metal , this is the only way to find out the truth .
    We should consider our selves lucky that TR medals were not made out of precious medals (or very rarely) as so many allied silver medals were
    simply melted down for there silver content , not there historical content .
    Cheers Chris

  11. #20


    Well, many may not agree with me but if You have something You are free to do anything with it. If You wish to destroy it - it is up to You. For example some people do not care much about III Reich items and just throw them away. Are they barbarians? I do not think so.

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