Wasn’t Heinrich Himmler the person behind the SS and the Holocaust? Surely he wasn’t in command of the Eastern Front?! Well if that is what you thought you were mostly right; however, even though Himmler was anything but a general, Hitler made him an Army Group Commander, not once but twice!
He was not to command some backwater either. On January 25th, 1945 Hitler made him the commander of the forces directly responsible for stopping the Russians from reaching Berlin. As can be expected, he was terrible at it, and that helped shorten the war considerably.
In December 1944 Himmler was appointed the commander of the Army Group Upper Rhine. Army Group Upper Rhine was responsible for defending the Rhine in the Alsace-Lorraine area. Hitler appointed Himmler to command the army group in December 1944. The army group launched Operation North Wind in January 1945, the last major German offensive in Western Europe – it left a trail of death and destruction.
As we know 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.stalingradfront.com
In the UK there was a program 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.
Whatever your views are on relic recovery it is always fascinating to see how much is still out there on WWII battlefields, below is a selection of what is being found:
It would take many life times to clear these battlefields.