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Relics and grave robbing

Article about: by slados28 I don't really think there's much to argue about there... What I find interesting about this whole fear of relics being brought out of graves/taken off of corpses is that this re

  1. #21

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Lars does make some good points in the comment about the actual people that are digging particulary in the east , now they are aware of a market for relic military items many folk who are poor and seek not to become the next Oligarch but to put food on the table and wotka in the bottle have become involved without any real historical interest or knowledge , it's basic economics !! Unfortunately this also means that the human side of the tragedy of the war goes out of the window.

    Dan also makes a good point many diggers years ago excavated for two things scrap metal , particulary aluminium and weapons for the same economic reasons , many of the items that are now top of the relic collectable tree , SS Helmets, FSJ Helmets , awards etc were literally just chucked away !!!! Yes it's true !!!

    This can be a very emotive subject but is one that has been around in human history for thousands of years and to be honest the claim for Archaeologists that historical evidence is being lost does make me laugh a bit , i know for a fact that " Time Team " or the " Trench Detectives " are not going to be seen anytime soon in some mosquito invested swamp in the remote areas of the Wolchow pocket !!

    The issues around whether bodies should be excavated legitimately for possible identification or left where they fell can be another emotive issue but as this is still actively encouraged by the War Graves Commisions of many countries about their own countrymen then i can't see what the issue is , from my own personal experience the recovery and identification of the fallen and the restoring of them to a known burial place , giving their remaining families somewhere to remember them instead of them still being MIA in some god forsaken spot has been one of the most rewarding l things i have been involved with during my 52 years !!
    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

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  3. #22

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    A quick explanation on the criminal diggers.

    Criminals of different kinds at times contact people in the villages offering them very low prices for handing over relics of different kinds. At times even providing detectors. This does not happen so much any more because people have found out over the years that they can get better prices dealing with others. So what do they do? They hire some simple workers like people from Tajikistan etc. These people are found in some Moscow suburbs in example, where they stand every day waiting for somebody to come and hire them to do whatever kind of work. Clearing snow, digging holes for drainage and so forth. "Day hire workers" like in the old day. The "gangs" doing illegal digging is of course not big Moscow, St Petersburg gangsters but mostly people from the SNG states. They hire these workers and dump them in the forest for X amount of time. We have met such poor guys at one occasion. This can't possibly be profitable by any imagination. I also doubt it happens very much. What can be a problem is that some black diggers sell functional weapons and explosives(from grenades etc) on the black market. There have been a few cases. Also this is a total different matter than the article states. It of course not represent the digger community as a whole. Most people are enthusiasts, collectors etc. Back in the 90's when many trenches were untouched it was a different matter. You can still find un-dug trenches but it's much harder now, and not all contains interesting items.

    Listen guys. Digging is difficult and takes experience. The environment is tough, almost no matter what time of year you go there. Yes, when we have found good area we search it and come back and search again, and we sell some of the items found. The income vary of course. I doubt that the profit on one or two seasons all in alll is very profitable, if at all. It cost money to go there.

  4. #23

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Just updated my post.

    Regards, Lars

  5. #24

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Ohh Paul. I have heard horror stories from villagers going to the forest as kids with sheet metal "scissors" and hack saws cutting up air planes, selling the aluminum for Kopeka's/pennies. Plane after plane. I almost cried listening to this. One guy told me his mother sent him to the forest. They did this even in USSR times. How they sold the metal i am not sure.

    Btw. The guy driving us last time , as seen in the video, in his "T-34" truck is a metal collector. Not a digger.

    Regards, Lars

  6. #25

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Twenty four detailed posts in 3 hours of forum time! ...... Doug, you certainly know what revs us up!!!
    Cheers, Dan

  7. #26

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Quote by Danmark View Post
    Twenty four detailed posts in 3 hours of forum time! ...... Doug, you certainly know what revs us up!!!
    Cheers, Dan
    Yes sorry I was not able to stay on top of it, busy at work today and read the article during morning breakfast and thought it was worth a good discussion. As Adrian said, keep it on topic and civil. Just thought provoking enough and we can enjoy a civil discussion of it.

    For my part one reason I avoid relics because I am paranoid a grave was robbed to get it. That really bothers me. Dug in a field of battle, that is one thing. Not knowing for sure is my concern. I have nothing against the guys here that do legitimate digs, but the ones who desecrate the graves for profit no matter how motivated takes relic collecting to an unsavoury level for me, just a personal viewpoint and wondering what the guys here think?

    Not judging or casting stones, simple adult thoughts and conversation.


  8. #27

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    As for grave robbing it's of course unacceptable. On the occasions when i have seen the result of this it makes me wonder what kind of a guy/guys have done this. But let us try and define the term for a second. You find X number of KIA's with everything. Equipment, helmets, weapons, canteens, personal items dog tags and so on. You collect the KIA's and put them in boxes or bags with dog tags, wedding rings, necklaces with family pics. Personal items. They get a burial with their comrades at a war cemetery. Are the helmets, weapons and equipment grave loot? Will belt buckles be loot? Uniform buttons? Who do you give this to? If you turn all this in, it will most likely disappear. Here it will anyway. Personally i will have no problem keeping these items, as long as it's not personal items and medals earned in combat. I would have done the right thing and gone through a lot of work getting them out of the forest or wherever. Equipment is/was Werhmacht or Red Army property anyway.

    What i mean here is the the term grave robbery relics is a bit off in some way, if the KIA's was treated respectfully. So in my optics the relics will become loot if you just dig up the KIA's and keep whatever you find and leave them. Not if you turn them in.

    Let me hear some opinions.

    Regards, Lars

  9. #28

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    I tend to agree with you there Lars. I think grave robbery needs to be defined alittle. To dig and find a KIA happens but it's what you do after that I think defines the term. If you hand it over with all personal items including medals to authorities I don't thinks it's a problem. To take all items and leave the body is terrible!

    Equipment, to me anyways, if buried with a body should be kept with a body, but should it be elsewhere on the field I don't have a problem with it.


  10. #29

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    The funerals i have seen, the KIA's are either buried in relatively big boxes but about 8 KIA's in one such box. Others in very small boxes. Both examples way smaller than a normal casket. I might be able to find some pics. I have not seen any buried with anything actually. German or Soviet. I have seen USSR soldiers buried with not as much as a button. Dug up by state archaeologists. You could of course dump everything on top of the caskets, but then you will just have some people digging them up again. I am almost sure it would happen here if the word got around. Equipment, helmets the whole nine yards from 20, 30, 100 soldiers on a remote cemetery. It will happen for sure. Sadly. I think most personal items are turned over to relatives. Someone will correct me if i am wrong.

    If they get shipped to Germany it would be another story. Not all do. I do not know the Volksbund policy on shipping helmets, weapons and so forth. If they would even want to pay for it. I am almost sure KIA's found in Germany are not buried with their equipment either.

    I would look at it like this. The KIA is found because i happened to be there and he will be buried because of that. If i was in a position to ask "Can i keep your helmet or weapon", the answer could be yes. If i ask "can i keep your wedding ring and photo of your wife and daughter", i am sure the answer will be no. I am also sure he would be happy to see his brothers in arm again.

    I perfectly understand that some would not like to own such items and some would not bother.

    Regards, Lars

  11. #30

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    For me the respect has to be shown to the fallen. Digging up and casting the bones away is not right.

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