Friday, 2 October 2015

How to "Recover History"from a battlefield?

Cały program wygląda jak to szlachetni
poszukiwacze z zachodu Europy przybywają
na dziki złodziejski wschód i wspaniale ratują
przed miejscowymi złodziejami skarby.
A płacz jednego
z przybyszów [g]dy odnalazł kości Niemca całkowicie mnie rozbroił.
Jakoś nie zadał sobie pytania skąd ten on się na tym polu znalazł.
[...] Sorry ale dla mnie to jedna wielka porażka".

Following up on his earlier post on the revival of the Nazi War Diggers series, Andy Brockman publishes in full a statement from a PR company in the name of TV production company "Clearstory" ('Clearstory Productions Issue Statement on "Nazi War Diggers", Sorry "Battlefield Recovery" thePipeLine October 2, 2015). Oh this is a laugh. Once again, the programme's critics are accused of being "misinformed" by what they see in the film already released. The statement says:
First and foremost it is important to reiterate that ClearStory, the cast and the local organisations, with whom we worked very closely, made these films for an entirely positive purpose – to recover artefacts, hand over excavated items to authorities for safe keeping, and bury the dead with honour.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of loose artefacts from the Second World War above ground and in collections the length and breadth of Europe, anywhere where the War was fought (the film shows a shedful). Why does a TV company think we need more? In my opinion as an archaeologist who has worked on burial sites, they may be burying some bits of some of the dead "with honour" but they are certainly not shown exhuming them with the proper respect, or methodology to ensure that all the remains are collected for above-mentioned burial. That is one of the points made in the earlier critique of the pre-released film clips. When we watch the full programme, we see nothing different.
every episode of the series features a repeated editorial line that warns against unlicensed battlefield looting.
As we have all seem "We are not night'awks" is a common UK justification for the hobby - totally missing the point that what is in question is best practice and responsible work. Clearstory miss that point too. As I say, I am not the only one who wants to see THEIR licences, can they show them please? Why are they so coy about this paperwork?
 We have produced a series that attempts to recover and explain history to a wider audience.
No you have not (and I have seen it). What do you understand by "explaining history"? The programme about the systematic examination of Treblinka which replaced your cancelled episode three explains not only history but "how we know", Nazi War Diggers showed/shows four fly-by-night amateurs with no local knowledge or background guessing before going off and having their "Call of Duty Moment" gleefully shooting off in a field a burst of rounds from another model of gun. Polish metal detectorists think this is an atrocious imposition - they do a lot more work on the records than your four numpties. You should have made the programme with the Polish searchers if you wanted to see how history can be (really) studied by metal detector users with access to the archives and the willingness to stick at it.
 a fair assessment can be made on the overall content and purpose of the programmes. 
My assessment, from watching it, is that overall content differs in no way at all from hundreds of gung-ho You Tube videos made by artefact hunters and masquerading as one thing or another. The purpose of the programme seems to me to quite clearly be to exploit historical battlefields to produce undemanding lowbrow entertainment to make money.

Andy Brockman's commentary on the statement he seems to have been asked to publish is well worth a read, touching as it does on a number of wider issues concerning our (archaeology/academia's) relationship with the media and public opinion.


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