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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. #41

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Can't help but wonder... although this was an interesting discussion it sure ended abruptly...? Hope I didn't offend anyone with my last post as I was only trying to bring out more than just the one typical side to this whole thing.

    Just wanted to make that clear in case there was any misunderstandings

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  3. #42

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Okey...warning...long babble approaching. My 2 and a half cents worth on the subject. Sadly, the fine line between battlefield relics and grave desecration actually has no definite boundary. One can play the old game of..."This helmet was found on a battlefield full of dead SS soldiers-is it okey? What if it has a bullet hole-still good? Okey...how about a bullet hole and a blood stain-is it still okey? What about blood stains and Brain tissue? How about a GI's trophy photo standing with his boot on the dead SS troopers chest while holding the helmet?" And on and on and on it goes. Unfortunately, there Is no printed guide book. What about ,for example, if you found a skeletal hand wearing a beautiful SS ring? No body, no nothing. Just a hand. Did it come off a corpse? Maybe it was blown off at the forearm by a grenade or shell and the soldier still Lived. Is it okey then? What if you found Just the ring-sitting there all by itself where the finger remains inside it have Completely vanished over time-no trace whatsoever? People have and will debate this very question forever. Soldiers have taken trophies from their fallen enemies for as long as there has been war. Every country that has seen battlefields occur on their soil have had people go out after the conflict and scavenge valuables, useables, weapons,monies, etc. One reads about it in accounts of ancient battles of Rome, Greece-you name it. I think it was Kitchener-if I remember right- who had the Mahdi's skull after Khartoum made into a tobacco jar until even he got embarrassed by it and disposed of it.
    One can carry this line of questioning into endless collecting fields, when you think about it. Antiques = dead people's stuff. Does that justify doing such things as sending home the skulls of Japanese snipers and soldiers for souvenirs? Making the infamous "ear belts" (and, yes-despite the deniers, they did,indeed, make such things). Certainly not . There has to be Some moral reckoning eventually. Collecting and ghoul digging should not be considered one and the same-despite the occasional ghoul doing just That. And, like I said, on and on and on it goes. This is precisely why old cemeteries had the high walls with spikes around them. This is why even today, it is strongly recommended by mortuary people that things of considerable high value be Not buried with your loved one. Bury the Hope Diamond with some foolish old rich woman sometime and see how many days it goes before it's suddenly being rumored that it's being sold clandestinely. As Lars said, personal things- wedding rings, family photos in your wallet, etc. Certainly. Leave them be. As for the rest....? Well...let's see what kind of moral turpitude we all possess and what boundaries our sensibilities put us under. Me? I like to think that I, at least, know what the basics of collecting are and what is Too far. We're not mindless animals and we should have the inherent decency to know the difference.
    William

    "Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."

  4. #43
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    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Although my name on this forum is relics, I do not collect "relic" condition items. I've stated that once before in another thread, but it must have been deemed inappropriate and was deleted.

    There was a pretty lively discussion on GHW on a similar thread about an older People Magazine article from 1998 called "Cheap Souvenirs " about grave robbing as a source of war relics. I posted my remarks below.

    "It is what it is, but that is the source of most relic items. Not for me, but I don't judge".

    "The only reason I do not judge is I honestly don't know where and when the line is crossed. If the bones are all gone and graves unmarked, is it archaeology or grave robbing. Way too gray an area for me to pass judgement, but as I've said earlier, just not for me and I do not collect relics as I am not comfortable with where they are coming from".

    As far as the statement that a blood stained helmet with a bullet hole is 100% evidence of a soldiers death, I say not so. I recall on a fairly recent thread in which a WW1 letter home was shared. The letter arrived either just before or after a mail home helmet did. The soldier that sent both instructed his relative to take the helmet out behind the house, put a bullet hole in it, and smear the liner with chicken blood. He also stated that he thought in doing so it would increase the value or authenticity ( I can't remember which, perhaps it was both).

    I agree with there being a difference between a war trophy and and a grave dug helmet. What happened in the moment or just after is certainly far removed from what occurs seventy plus years latter.

    People that experienced the horrors of war definitely viewed things differently than civilians that viewed it from a great distance. I believe they had every right to take whatever they deemed appropriate, but even among their peers and contemporaries, some things were considered heinous. The question is - Is it appropriate for us as collectors to own such historic items that we have no actual link to? Items that we as individuals deem appropriate, and how is our view of what is appropriate viewed in the eyes of our peers and contemporaries.
    Last edited by relicz; 09-11-2012 at 02:47 PM.

  5. #44

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Quote by relicz View Post

    As far as the statement that a blood stained helmet with a bullet hole is 100% evidence of a soldiers death, I say not so. I recall on a fairly recent thread in which a WW1 letter home was shared. The letter arrived either just before or after a mail home helmet did. The soldier that sent both instructed his relative to take the helmet out behind the house, put a bullet hole in it, and smear the liner with chicken blood. He also stated that he thought in doing so it would increase the value or authenticity ( I can't remember which, perhaps it was both).
    If you're referring to my statement you might want to re-read it and note that I never said that a liner smeared in blood is "100% evidence of a soldiers death":

    " -Whereas the non-relic with the bloodstained is more or less 100% from a wounded or possibly already dead soldier (i.e., a corpse) "

    And I somehow doubt that the smearing of chicken blood inside of a liner was a huge thing among veterans etc. It just sounds a bit silly to me, that's just my opinion of course and I reserve the right to have it

    What I do find fascinating at this point is seeing just how many people relate dug/found items almost exclusively with graves...
    I mean, if you have a metal detector and simply go out into your local park you'll be amazed at what you might find. People lose things ALL THE TIME while doing as simple and mundane things such as a picnic... or simply when just out strolling on a sunny and peaceful day.
    What do you reckon the frequency of soldiers losing/dropping/leaving behind equipment was during, say, a panicked retreat from a muddy foxhole... in essence fleeing for dear life? What about surrender sites where masses of captured soldiers got stripped of all their equipment? What about the short time a German (or any other nationality for that matter) had before surrendering to Soviet (or Axis) troops... would you want to for example be wearing an SS helmet/buckle or other related insignia when the time came to place your life in the hands of a possibly VERY hateful Soviet/enemy soldier?

    Just trying, once again, to point to all the other instances wherein a soldier would have left behind equipment for one reason or another... as I see it there's LOADS of other more than plausible explanations for this, not just the one popularly referred to (a grave).

    In the end we all collect historic artifacts and just as long as you're doing it with a level-headed conscience and some sense of basic morality I don't really see a problem with it... museums are FULL of artifacts from similar events up through human history, they even have corpses/human skeletons on display.
    Just think about it; what's the real difference between a museum respectfully displaying historical artifacts and a private amateur historian/collector doing more or less exactly the same thing? The license of the digger which says "archaeologist" and the sign out front saying "Museum"?

  6. #45

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Blood stained kit! I distinctly remember sussex armoury catalogue in the 1980's selling korean war battledress with blood stains.

  7. #46

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Is it the digging for profit which causes upset? Or digging without recording , even rudimentary which may place remains with a name?

    - - Updated - -

    Oh, and I have been called a grave robber, when digging (excavating) on a Neolithic site in Scotland!

  8. #47
    ?

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Quote by slados28 View Post
    If you're referring to my statement you might want to re-read it and note that I never said that a liner smeared in blood is "100% evidence of a soldiers death":

    " -Whereas the non-relic with the bloodstained is more or less 100% from a wounded or possibly already dead soldier (i.e., a corpse) "

    And I somehow doubt that the smearing of chicken blood inside of a liner was a huge thing among veterans etc. It just sounds a bit silly to me, that's just my opinion of course and I reserve the right to have it

    In the end we all collect historic artifacts and just as long as you're doing it with a level-headed conscience and some sense of basic morality I don't really see a problem with it... museums are FULL of artifacts from similar events up through human history, they even have corpses/human skeletons on display.
    Just think about it; what's the real difference between a museum respectfully displaying historical artifacts and a private amateur historian/collector doing more or less exactly the same thing? The license of the digger which says "archaeologist" and the sign out front saying "Museum"?
    I believe you are splitting hairs in regards to my paraphrasing " more or less 100% from a wounded or possibly already dead soldier". The example of the battle damage and blood stains vs bullet hole and chicken blood points to nothing being an absolute. Was it done often, probably not but who knows for sure.

    But as grave robbing does occur, how can an artifact be distinguished from "a throw away" that was never found, swallowed by the earth, and recently discovered using a metal detector. Things can be justified anyway one wants to make it more palatable, it all depends if someone finds it necessary to justify something in the first place.

    IMO if a helmet is battle damaged with blood staining and a cut strap, it has very good chance of being a kia war trophy. Relic helmets stand a very good chance of being taken from some soldiers final resting place (also IMO).

    Not judging the merits or morality of collecting either, just pointing out the way I see it.
    Last edited by relicz; 09-11-2012 at 10:33 PM.

  9. #48
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    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Here is the 1998 article I mentioned that was posted on GHW by Bob L as a nostalgic look at media articles about military collection and such. Not trying to stir the pot or rate the articles accuracy, just thought there may be some interest in how the media reports things.

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  10. #49
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    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    It's how the media report things that started this debate , the article you have posted just shows that even back in 1998 the same sensationalist journalism was taking place.
    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

  11. #50

    Default Re: Relics and grave robbing

    Quote by relicz View Post
    I believe you are splitting hairs in regards to my paraphrasing " more or less 100% from a wounded or possibly already dead soldier". The example of the battle damage and blood stains vs bullet hole and chicken blood points to nothing being an absolute. Was it done often, probably not but who knows for sure.

    But as grave robbing does occur, how can an artifact be distinguished from "a throw away" that was never found, swallowed by the earth, and recently discovered using a metal detector. Things can be justified anyway one wants to make it more palatable, it all depends if someone finds it necessary to justify something in the first place.

    IMO if a helmet is battle damaged with blood staining and a cut strap, it has very good chance of being a kia war trophy. Relic helmets stand a very good chance of being taken from some soldiers final resting place (also IMO).

    Not judging the merits or morality of collecting either, just pointing out the way I see it.
    Ok, I did say more or less 100% from a WOUNDED or dead soldier... thus making room for the "chicken blood" theory (which I'm not doubting happened that one time) and such. I'm not really the one splitting hairs here..
    And I never said, nor did I imply, that there was any kind of absolute to this present.... far from it. I was trying to put forth a different perspective in an objective manner on it as many seem to think that a relic helmet automatically equals something dug from a grave --- there's a lot of gray areas, as I've said earlier in this thread, in this field of collecting... just like there is in in collecting the non-relic stuff.

    That article seems like it's more or less in the same vein as the one that started this thread, sensationalistic/tabloid stuff --- this is the only part of this they'll ever care to showcase. The good consequences of soldiers being found and getting a grave, a LOT of ordinance being dug up and FINALLY disposed of, artifacts and history that would otherwise have been lost forever is preserved etc. are positives that are of no interest whatsoever because they do not sell more copies... sadly. Thanks for taking your time posting it though.

    Anyway... we agree on some issues, others perhaps not so much... but still, probably more so than not. I'll leave it at that

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