Friday, 28 March 2014

Nazi War Digger Brings Back 'Ground dug in Latvia' Helmet: "No Trouble With Customs"

National Geographic insists that all the artefacts dug up by the team they sent to Eastern Europe to dig up wartime "Nazis" were sent to museums Is that the case? When was this filming secretly done? Questions surely must be raised by this thread: a thread "Ground Dug in Latvia" on the "" forum started by Craig Gottlieb06-11-2013, 07:09 AM #1 note: now listed as 'Expelled')  boasting:
 Here's one for you. While mostly known for more well-preserved specimens, I found this in the terrain where it fell in 1945. Pretty cool, to know the history of the helmet all the way back to then! [Attached Images File Type: jpg helmut.jpg] [...]  I'll bring it home and decide what to do with it. If I decide to clean, I'll definitely get help from some new friends who know what the heck they're doing. But, I sort of like it as-is. What do you think?
"james m" 06-11-2013, 07:37 AM :
Let us know if there are any issues getting this thru Latvian customs when you leave the Country.
Craig Gottlieb 06-15-2013, 04:14 PM #4
Nope. I flew back to Finland.
kyles bullets 06-15-2013, 06:09 PM #5
Nice helmet! I hope one day I can go to a battle field and search for relics just like you did. I would never sell it just like you!
Craig Gottlieb 06-17-2013, 12:27 AM #6
I found another one sticking 1/2 way out of the mud (on it's side). I was sure I had found a soldier, but there was NOTHING else in the mud - even the other half of the helmet was missing!
Then there are a few posts on cleaning the object, professional stuff like vinegar, lemon juice... Then: Craig Gottlieb 06-17-2013, 08:37 AM #8
[...]  I also brought back two Russian mortar tails, and will be turning them into a pair of candlesticks. I will probably go for the "ultra modern" look and have them cleaned and plated, so my wife doesn't complain about rusty bits on the dining room table. Also, I got a beautifully ripped-open shell fragment given to me by my friend Viktors, and I'll probably do the same thing ... modern art. 
More: Craig Gottlieb 06-17-2013, 09:47 AM #11
For the helmet, I'll probably leave it alone. Cleaned, it'll look like a junky helmet. Rusted out, it looks like what it is ... a helmet found in the Kurland Pocket!
Just in case this goes the way of much else associated with "Nazi War Diggers" exploitive escapades in eastern Europe, here's the Google cache of the page.

There is a whole thread on the same forum devoted to former member Gotleib's involvement in the programme (and much else): 'Craig Gottlieb & "Nazi War Diggers"'. It seems that even many WW2 relic collectors view the NatGeographic escapade with some distaste.

UPDATE 29.03.14
There is a pretty thorough follow-up piece on this on Sam Hardy's Conflict Antiquities blog which is worth reading (he saved the screenshots in case the forum is asked to by National Geographic in damage-control remove this information)


Anonymous said...

And 'I was told by my friend Stephen'. I wonder who that could be... (or his new friends from his time there, etc., etc., etc.). Good find!

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm trying to understand your interest in this subject. WWII relics do not fit the UNESCO definition of cultural property because they are not 100 years of age. I can see the concern if human remains are also uncovered. In that case, one would hope the authorities and/or the German and Russian Embassies would be notified. However, let's assume as is probably the case, that is not the typical situation. Please explain why you are making such an issue of metal detectorists finding this material. Do you maintain valuable context is being lost, finding and preserving it somehow glorifies Nazism or perhaps Communism or is it something else? Just trying to understand where you are coming from.

Paul Barford said...

CPO, it may be difficult for you to comprehend, but there are those of us who see heritage issues as a little bit more than narrowly proscribed by a blinkered view of the CCPIA...

This is very much connected with notions of "relics", their collection, what they are 'for' (Gotlieb).

A major issue for me here is the involvement of UK metal detectorists, and what PAS negligence of discussion of "best practice" can lead to. It's one thing to allow trashing of sites in the UK, it's quite another to take those lackadaisical attitudes to another country.

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