Recently in the UK there was a programe on TV that had caused outrage in the academic world and beyond. Channel 5 had been accused of ‘disrespecting’ the war dead, after it decided to show a controversial TV series that has already been scrapped for being too distasteful. Nazi War Diggers was cancelled by the National Geographic channel in 2014, and by Foxtel in Australia this year, after archaeologists slammed its gruesome content.
The series follows two metal-detecting enthusiasts, a Polish relic hunter and an American military antiques dealer as they excavate battlegrounds across Eastern Europe.According to Clearstory, the London production company which made the show, it aims to ‘recover battlefield artefacts…and bury the dead with honour’.However, respected archaeologists and campaigners are furious over the way they approach the excavations. A preview video posted on the National Geographic website showed presenters removing body parts from a grave in Latvia. At one point, the men mistook a leg bone for an arm bone, after wrenching it from the ground. ‘It comes across as ghoulish,’ said Dr Tony Pollard, director of the centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University, who was one of a number of leading academics who called for the show to be scrapped.
The war on the Eastern Front, known to Russians as the “Great Patriotic War”, was the scene of the largest military confrontation in history. Over the course of four years, more than 400 Red Army and German divisions clashed in a series of operations along a front that extended more than 1,000 miles. Some 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians and nearly 4 million German troops lost their lives along the Eastern Front during those years of brutality. The warfare there was total and ferocious, encompassing the largest armored clash in history (Battle of Kursk) and the most costly siege on a modern city (nearly 900 days in Leningrad), as well as scorched earth policies, utter devastation of thousands of villages, mass deportations, mass executions, and countless atrocities attributed to both sides.
The Eastern Front was a gigantic battlefield and comes as no surprise as to the amount of relics lost and buried on this battlefield. The images below are just a ‘few’ from the Facebook page The Ghosts of the Eastern Front. There is always a debate to the digging of battlefields and that will continue forever. If you are a collector then you can buy relics from their website www.kurlandmilitaria.com
The two powers invaded and partitioned Poland in 1939. After Finland refused the terms of a Soviet pact of mutual assistance, the Soviet Union attacked Finland on 30 November 1939 in what became known as the Winter War – a bitter conflict that resulted in a peace treaty on 13 March 1940, with Finland maintaining its independence but losing parts of eastern Karelia. In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and illegally annexed the three Baltic states—an action in violation of the Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907) and numerous bi-lateral conventions and treaties signed between the Soviet Union and Baltics. The annexations were never recognized by most Western states.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact ostensibly provided security to Soviets in the occupation of both the Baltics and the north and northeastern regions of Romania (Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia) although Hitler, in announcing the invasion of the Soviet Union, cited the Soviet annexations of Baltic and Romanian territory as having violated Germany’s understanding of the Pact. The annexed Romanian territory was divided between the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet republics.