24 February 2017

Nazi-grave robbers are not Nazi grave-robbers

The distinction is explained at Bloomberg Business Week:
In Latvia, it is normal for you to have dead soldiers on your yard,” Esmits said. “When people came back to their homes after the war, they saw there was a dead soldier here and a dead soldier there, and they just buried them.”..

During the final months of World War II, Latvia was the site of especially bloody battles between German and Soviet forces. Approximately 350,000 Nazis were cut off here from the rest of the German line in the autumn of 1944, in what became known as the Courland Pocket. In the months that followed, about 100,000 of them were killed...

... in recent years, the often illicit market in Nazi memorabilia has intensified, creating a new class of diggers across eastern Europe that is at odds with Esmits’s work. Of particular interest are relics... Some $50 million in military memorabilia is sold each year, according to an estimate by the Guardian, and Nazi items fetch a premium...

For the Volksbund, grave robbing remains a persistent problem, especially in Russia and Ukraine. “Grave robbers blight our work,” Kirchmeier says. Many illegal diggers dutifully give over information to officials if they come across a dead body, he says, but others “open graves and then take out anything they can sell—steel helmets, pieces of equipment, medals, belt buckles, personal mementos belonging to the dead, sometimes even the skull, leaving the rest of the bones on the forest floor.”

Yngve Sjodin, a Norway-based militaria seller who sometimes digs with Legenda, says he was confronted with a “black digger” during one of his first digs for soldiers in Latvia, in 2014. “He screamed at us that it was his forest,” he says, “and started attacking the guy next to me.” He adds, “The driving force for the black diggers is money, which they need to survive, or party, or whatever.”
Much more at the source.

Photo: German rifle grenades, a boot, drinking cup, mess kit lid, and gas mask recovered from a trench.  Credit: Reinis Hofmanis for Bloomberg Businessweek

1 comment:

  1. For those more deeply interested in the reason why so many forgotten graves exist:

    Latvia is still littered with unexploded munition and mines from WWII this is the reason why we can host such events:


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