Skip to comments.German soldiers preserved in World War I shelter discovered after nearly 100 years
Posted on 02/14/2012 5:49:12 AM PST by Mikey_1962
The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when an Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in 1918 causing it to cave in. Thirteen bodies were recovered from the underground shelter but the remaining men had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to retrieve them. Nearly a century later French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave on the former Western Front during excavation work for a road building project. Many of the skeletal remains were found in the same positions the men had been in at the time of the collapse, prompting experts to liken the scene to Pompeii. A number of the soldiers were discovered sitting upright on a bench, one was lying in his bed and another was in the foetal position having been thrown down a flight of stairs. Related Articles 'World War One Pompeii' 10 Feb 2012 As well as the bodies, poignant personal effects such as boots, helmets, weapons, wine bottles, spectacles, wallets, pipes, cigarette cases and pocket books were also found. Even the skeleton of a goat was found, assumed to be a source of fresh milk for the soldiers. Archaeologists believe the items were so well preserved because hardly any air, water or lights had penetrated the trench. The 300ft long tunnel was located 18ft beneath the surface near the small town of Carspach in the Alsace region in France. Michael Landolt, the archaeologist leading the dig, said: "It's a bit like Pompeii. "Everything collapsed in seconds and is just the way it was at the time. "Here, as in Pompeii, we found the bodies as they were at the moment of their death. "Some of the men were found in sitting positions on a bench, others lying down.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Pretty fascinating. They’ll probably never run out of buried World War I artifacts in France and Belgium given the magnitude of what went on there.
Pickelhaube. Unless I missed a joke.
Unlikely. By 1918, the standard helmet was the stahlhelm - the German “coal scuttle.”
In any case, pickelhauben were usually made out of hard leather. They would have been in pretty bad shape after nearly a century in the dirt. Nothing would have been left except the furniture (brass).
Poor guys. Hope it was quick.
According to the article, even leather items were well preserved here. I don’t know how water was excluded from the site for a century but it apparently was.
All really quiet on the western front.
I guess this would be a German version of the Trench of Bayonets.
Cool. Then, if there was a pickelhaube, it would be preserved. Still, its pretty unlikely.
Water would in some circumstances actually aid in preservation, especially if the burial was in mud. The fine mud seals out oxygen. Water itself can be deoxygenated, and then also acts like a sealant, keeping atmospheric oxygen away from the artifacts.
World War I was a total disaster, and never should have been allowed to happen. Britain especially had no excuse for getting involved. The result was that hundreds of thousands of young men were killed, and a generation depleted. The loss of morale effected every participating country. Good governments were destroyed, so that in their place socialist dictatorships could arise. More wars then followed. All this was unnecessary.
The leaders of those days were total fools to let this happen. And we see little sign that modern leaders are any smarter.
Yep....horrifying to even contemplate the hell these young men were going through when they met their demise:
The true meaning of W. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is WAR: This is what WAR is.
No one even knew what the WAR was about. The two young people in the drama, caught in the tide of history, didn't care a whit what it was about. And the outcome--in Shakespeare's beautiful drama and in real life--is always tragic.
My sister visited France in the '70s and went out to Verdun. The farmers there were still plowing up duds and every year or so a couple got killed when they hit a live one.
Its a joke for a buddy who ALWAYS screws up the German language to a point that nobody knows what he is trying to say.
Ironically he is working in Germany now, and lurks in FR on a regular basis.
God help the engineers at TRW in Germany.
What is the difference between these guys and Oetzi the Iceman? Is it because we don’t know their names that we give them a proper Christian burial and we stick Oetzi in a padlocked freezer?
——What is the difference between these guys and Oetzi the Iceman? Is it because we dont know their names that we give them a proper Christian burial and we stick Oetzi in a padlocked freezer?——
This is a pet peeve of mine. I chalk it up to evolutionary theory. Some humans are worth less than others.
But who is worth less? I think it is the guys getting buried because there is nobody studying every inch of their bodies.
I disagree. The ancient people are seen as worthless, except as a means to satisfy some scientist’s morbid curiosity.
I hate the National Geographic treatment of buried ancients. Let’s dig them up and put them on display! It’s degrading and anti-human.
I would find it honorable if some society 10,000 years in the future found my burial place, exhumed, dissected, catalouged and then stored my body to get a more accurate picture of their history. Sign me up!
I visited the Trench of Bayonets in 82, my pictures show a lot more of the rifle barrel projecting from the ground. My father, who visited it with me, commented that sooner or later all the barrels would rust away.
“...Trench of Bayonets...”
That was at Verdun, if I remember correctly. Pretty gruesome.
The German Landsers and French Poilus beat the living hell out of each other over that ground.
Read “The Price of Glory” by Alistair Horne several years ago - talks about the Trench of the Bayonets in there.
The most chilling thing, to me, is that he interviewed General Falkenhayn (I think it was during the late 50s of early 60s), the German commander, and the man calmly smoked his pipe as he spoke of the deaths of literally millions of Germans and French, and said that Verdun had no strategic value other than “to bleed the French white”; and the ironic thing is that it also bled the Germans white as well. They lost nearly as many people as the French did.
I read an article in MHQ some years back called “Verdun: The Haunted Woods” or something to that effect. Said that French farmers were STILL getting killed from all the unexploded ordnance in that area - running it over with tractors, plows, etc.
Tragedy for all involved.
When we visited the Verdun battlefield there were many warning signs not to wander off the marked paths becaused of unexploded ordinance. The French Army maintains an EOD team at Verdun.
The article mentions that the German soldiers were identified and efforts were being made to contact any family members.
Verdun was a tragic waste of life on both sides.
Joffre should have been horsewhipped; Falkenhayne should have been shot.
The Germans called that offensive “Operation Gericht” - “Place of Execution” or something to that effect. Apt name, I’d say.
And then there’s the Brits - they lost 60,000 people on the first day of the Somme offensive. Charging sited, dug in Spandau and Maxim machine guns every thirty yards, tangle wire, craters, etc. They were destroyed coming out of the trench, “going over the top”...you have to wonder what those commanders were thinking sending men to be butchered like that.
My grandfather was a “Doughboy” in the Iron Division, otherwise known as the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry Division (the Bloody Bucket). He was in Meuse-Argonne and saw some heavy fighting there. Got pneumonia, and it plagued him for the rest of life till he died in 1935, from the flu.
RE French EOD Team: They’d have to, I guess - there were hundreds of thousands of artillery shells of all sizes lobbed into the area over the course of that battle. The ground had been turned into muck, and some of them just sank and did not explode.
One account I’d read said that the bodies that they’d manage to bury would be thrown up and uncovered from the shelling, so after a while, the French just left them in the open. The poilus were getting hit with pieces of the bodies - “beefsteaks”, they called them...grim humor.
Must have been a nightmare...an absolute, atrocious nightmare.
You’re right, any of these German unknowns (and it’s likely that there will be some) should be enshrined in Germany’s unknown soldier monument, if they have one or more of those.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
I highly recommend “The Myth of the Great War”, which is about the continued denial of high command stupidity by the British and (for a long while) the French. The propaganda about German casualty rates and losses being at a parity with that of the Allies is still believed and apparently still taught in British schools.
My Mother had an Uncle, my great uncle, Sgt. Herman Bremer, killed in action, and is buried in the US Military Cemetery at Bony. He was postumously awarded the Distinguised Service Cross, I have a copy of his citation at home.
The northeast of France today looks so peaceful and serene, it is hard to envision what it looked like 100 years ago. If you scan that area using google earth you can find military cemetery after militery cemetery.