Espenlaub Militaria - Top
Display your banner here
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Robbing the dead

Article about: Juts browsing YouTube, I keep coming across a (I presume Russian) metal detecting relics channel. Some if it is genuinely interesting, where almost pristine relics and dug out of swamps, or

  1. #1

    Default Robbing the dead

    Just browsing YouTube, I keep coming across a (I presume Russian) metal detecting relics channel. Some if it is genuinely interesting, where almost pristine relics and dug out of swamps, or from a frozen lake/tundra, but then they have the ones where they essentially dig-up fallen soldiers, rob them of any possessions the fell with, arrange the bones and skulls for their video image on YouTube and (presumably) just discard them afterwards.

    I may be wrong, and maybe they respectfully re-bury the bones, or hand them over to a official graves body of whatever nation, but I suspect they are just strewn back in whatever hole from which they have dug, or similarly disposed of. I find this disrespect for the fallen of whatever side completely unacceptable, and it saddens me that western collectors like us are essentially fuelling this grave robbing industry to get the artefacts and collectibles we so desire (many of which can only now be found from such excavations on former Eastern Front battlefields).

    A bit like people who practice Chinese and oriental medicine who buy the ivory from Africa, and tiger bones and skin from India and Indo-China, we are fuelling an awful sub-set of the Militaria industry and it saddens me. I'm not sure if there is an answer, and none of us is innocent of guilt by association buying relics, but I personally try to avoid any personal items like rings, watches etc. (or even badges) that may have come from a dubious source.

    Just randomly flagging this again, as I think it is healthy for us all to acknowledge and condemn this minority part of our hobby, and try to discourage it as much as possible...

  2. #2


    Well there are diggers who hand over the dead to the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraben and actively catalogue this. I have doubts that this is a majority of active diggers in Russia. Personally I do not like relic condition items so I never purchase from these type of sellers.

  3. #3


    I bet that you are just assuming that they are discarding the remains, and that they actually are handed over to representants of the Volksbund and getting a final resting place. Those of us that are involved in soldier recovery often get such accusations thrown at us from ignorants..

  4. #4


    Hi Inka - I am sure there are plenty of professional people searching for relics, like yourself, who, when they do come across the remains of the fallen, treat them with the respect they deserve. My post, as I think was made quite clear in my comments, was aimed at the almost (to me) shocking disrespect and careless way some others in this profession behave in the opposite way to the remains of fallen soldiers they find. I will not put a link into the YouTube channel I have been referring to, but a quick search will quickly find it, or one similar.

    It angers me to see this, and, like any other profession, it is unfortunately the 'bad eggs' that tar everyone with the same brush.

  5. #5


    The most important thing is that any item that might help identify the remains follow the remains. Very few doing this sort of work are educated archaeologists, and the conditions they work in are not as you would find on some french field, and they are most times working out of their own pockets. Even if the work might seem messy doesnt mean that it is bad and evil people doing it, and if you think you could do better Im sure a search group would welcome your help. Also, how dumb would one need to be to post your graverobbing for the world to see and find out who you are,inviting yourself for arrest and severe punishment (yes,even in russia that stuff is highly illegal ).And, there is often extremely little items of any value on bodies, and whats left is often corroded beyond recognition from the decaying body,,its common soldiers, not some Schytian warrior king graves we are talking about. I think it is extremely bad taste throwing around grave robbing accusations.

  6. #6



    As a professional EOD Officer and qualified and experienced archaeologist also I can talk with authority on this subject. Firstly, "any item that might help identify the remains follow the remains." When on WW1 battlefields our rule is all items that can be attributed to belong to that person stay with the remains. We have discovered that so often items that appear insignificant are not!

    Second, "Very few doing this sort of work are educated archaeologists, and the conditions they work in are not as you would find on some french field", it is simple if you can't do the job properly then do not do it. In Belgium none of my Government dig team were archaeologists but they were supervised and controlled by one, (me). If you have never seen what those areas look like when disturbed, either by war, trenches or archaeologists digging a trench Etc, then they are not in anyway ideal and exactly what you find in a French field. But using the correct techniques an efficient job can be done.

    Thirdly I agree that of course you are not grave robbing. I am sure not a single item from your sites go for sale? As is the standard industry rule, anything found on site goes for research or to the public repository. Of course the social media and web sites are watched and if crime is observed then action taken by those officials in that country.

    Remember the most important thing when recovering remains is the proper and detailed recording of the find and everything associated with it. This can make the difference between naming a person and not.

    Last my own personal biggest hate, the self appointed EOD expert. These are the most dangerous creature on earth. Normally functioning on pure ego and with sometimes a good identification knowledge but rarely any EOD knowledge which is essential. Over the last 4 decades plus of doing the job I have witnessed the results of these people too many times and often with the worst of consequences having occurred.

    Oh, and MG42UK, we do not search for relics! Whilst conducting excavations into a well thought out archaeological project design we come across items, (finds) that aid or help to interpret what we are looking at in the ground.

    Regards as always,

  7. #7


    Vegetius - some great points. But please be aware that my comments were not aimed at the professional historical researchers, I said a few times about a specific YouTube channel I have been watching which moved me to make my first post here. These guys are amateur chancers, digging grenades and shells using shovels and pick axes etc, no professionalism here at all, using the bones of the fallen as cheap props for their videos.

    @Inka - I think you have said more about yourself with your comments than you have in justifying some of the people you seem to be trying to defend or justify.

    I feel the point has been made, and I will not be commenting further here on this occasion.

  8. #8


    Keep the discussion healthy Gents
    It is not the size of a Collection in History that matters......Its the size of your Passion for it!! - Larry C

    One never knows what tree roots push to the surface of what laid buried before the tree was planted - Larry C

    “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill

  9. #9


    @Vegetius: I totally agree that this type of work should be done as clean and correct as possible, and I ve seen the team Im involved with develop from alittle bit "cowboy" to quite professional over the years, and none of the items we discover with or around a soldier goes for sale or into private hands. And yep, EOD "experts" are a risk not only to themselves but also anyone around them or who listens to them. That said I definately think it is better that "cowboys" finding remains dig them up, even haphazardly and "dirty" rather than some real graverobbers beats them to it, coz they are out there and take anything (even how little)they can and flog it for sale and the soldiers identity is lost forever. Because many times local officials or archeos do not have resources, time, or sometime even the interest in doing the work.

    "Very few doing this sort of work are educated archaeologists, and the conditions they work in are not as you would find on some french field", it is simple if you can't do the job properly then do not do it." actually most of the soldiers recovered on the eastern front are found and dug up by amateurs which I guess you would shun because of the not so clean job they do,but their work is fully accepted by the Volksbund and other War Grave Commissions. But again, I do agree that such work is best done in a cleanest way possible.

    But people throwing around accusations pisses me off as much as a grave robber pisses me off

  10. #10


    The reality is that there are other ongoing issues at the moment for majority of the people to care about the wars that took place decades or centuries ago even if they live in the areas affected by those conflicts. I have seen also some videos that may be questionable, but since I wasn't there I cant really make any objective conclusions, and there isn't much that can be done about it.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Robbing Scum!.....

    In Discussions
    02-10-2017, 08:52 PM
  2. 02-08-2013, 09:32 AM
  3. Relics and grave robbing

    In Relic German helmet forum
    09-17-2012, 03:22 PM
  4. 07-05-2012, 03:00 PM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Adlermilitaria - Down
Display your banner here