Archive for December, 2013

Missing in southern France

December 19th, 2013



August 15, 1944 , the U.S. First Airborne Division Parachute Task Force ( FABTF ) was dropped west of Nice, in southern France. Then there was a large-scale landing of Allied troops on the beaches between Cannes and Toulon .A few days after landing FABTF given the task moves toward the Italian border , and thus the liberation of parts of Nice. German units defending the area was 148 Replacement Division , made up mostly of troops from Silesia. The German troops were not strong enough to stop the Allied advance towards the border with Italy. Their task was only to delay the march of the Allies and to give time to prepare a better defense in the high mountains at the border. From 20 August to early September , FABTF go towards the border. German troops were occupied defensive lines only on particularly favorable positions , and after a few hours of fighting defense retreated .One such defensive skirmishes took place near Villeneuve -Loubet , a small town in which I live . The famous unit called the First Special Service Force ( FSSF ) , an elite team made up of Americans and Canadians come close to Villeneuve at night on August 24 . Germany prepared an ambush by the roadside , wounding several soldiers. It stopped the attack FSSF that day. Resumed until the next night. On the morning of August 26 Villeneuve was surrounded and attacked simultaneously from the front and from behind. Several German soldiers have been killed , but dozens of surrender. One group , which consists of about 30 soldiers led by a Pole , surrendered to the French teenager , who told them that it makes no sense to fight anymore .In the afternoon, Aug. 26 Germany attempted to counterattack on Villeneuve , but their allied soldiers carefully waited in hiding and were able to easily reject the enemy , killed in battle a few wehrmachtowców further . A Frenchwoman , a witness fights, saw Polish soldier running toward the Allied soldiers with a white flag , which was shot in the back by a German officer . Similar incident described in the report Americans and Canadians . Many Poles wanted to give up, but the officers were using all available means , I would stop them .When I asked older people living in Villeneuve about this event , I was very surprised by the findings : ” Why do you want to know? Are you looking for the Germans ? ‘. I discovered that all those German soldiers died Aug. 26, 1944 , they were buried in a mass grave in the woods right next to Villeneuve ! Body initially left lying on the ground, but after a few days had something to do with them as it began to decompose . Local residents dug a big grave and buried in the body. For some unknown reason no one has ever tried to find the grave after the war. Since I am a medical student and have always been fascinated by forensic science , I decided to find the grave .The most difficult task was to accurately determine its position when it really was not sure if he really exists. But I made it to all older people and everyone was asking the question what he knows about the tomb . Everyone said something different , so I had to choose the most reliable relationships . Some repeating things they had heard from others, but I needed to eyewitnesses .An older man , more than 90 -year-old , he worked in the field when the grave was dug in 1944 told me that the bottom was between fairly old tree , a small river . I tried to watch the ground, explore the metal detector , view aerial photos , but nothing resulted because the area looked normal, and aerial photos also did not ask anything . Research metal detector was difficult, because the whole area is full of metal scrap inherent in the ground. So I started to dig a meter deep pits in random places after dark. After digging ten of the pits I finally found a human bone. I was very pleased and surprised but also shocked because I did not know what to do now . I did not expect that I really find German soldiers buried in a mass grave in the middle of the Côte d’Azur . I was not sure what to do now .Finally, after a long series of thoughts and discussions , organized jointly with the exhumation Volksbundem ( German People’s Association for Care of War Graves ) . They organized everything so that was an official character , but I was allowed , and the archeologist and kilkorgu medycyjny students participate in the work . Dug grave 18 and 19 October 2006 In total we found 14 bodies in it lying at different random positions. They were just thrown into the pit and covered with soil . Some bodies were lying on his back , the other on your stomach . Many items were next to corpses – were helmets, ammunition belts, coins , combs and buttons . An interesting fact was that only one body lacked shoes , and all were deprived of bayonets (even though the bars were the vagina ) . French civilians took everything that could be useful . The tomb was also a second , loose pair of shoes that have been removed from the legs of the fallen soldier , and then thrown back into the grave. I thought it rather odd , until I looked exactly these shoes . They were cut into fragments . Apparently, a Frenchman wanted to take for himself footwear , but noted that it is destroyed , so he resigned from his plan and threw them back to the grave.A few are in grave helmets were damaged by shrapnel or bullets , allowing us to determine the direct cause of death. One of the helmets was particularly frightening because a large piece of the projectile fragmentation went exactly by that helmet , dog tags the way blew the head of the owner.Other discoveries were poignant ring on the finger of one of the killed and several immortals . One was particularly surprising. He was found stuck in the bridge of soldiers , with a bullet hole in the middle of the plaque.In total, we found seven immortals , which we sent to Berlin. It turned out that one of them is too damaged to read the inscription , while the second could not even decipher . Germany used the immortals with the code numbers instead of the names of the soldiers , so that when a document containing the assignment of a number konkretnymu soldier has been lost , it is not possible to identify the man. I was very disappointed that the dead soldier can not be identified by such technical detail .Employees WASt in Berlin were able to determine the personalities of five soldiers based on their dog tags , and searching archival documents also found the names of two more soldiers declared missing in the area of Villeneuve . It was, therefore , they had to wear them soldiers , whose dog tags could not be read. In 2007, all the bodies were transferred to the German ball chainsWar Cemetery in Berneuil in France.As mentioned earlier, 148 Replacement Division was composed mainly Silesians. Most of them were either very young or very old as soldiers . It turned out that among the seven identified four soldiers came from Upper Silesia , two from the Czech Republic , and the only one from the land belonging to Germany today – from a small town lying at the current Polish border.After sending a series of letters , with the help of Volksbund , made contact with members of the families of two soldiers from Silesia and one from the Czech Republic . They were all very glad , to learn the fate of missing loved ones . The son of one of the soldiers came to Villeneuve- Loubet in 2008 to meet with me and see previous burial place of his father. Remained in place for a few days, and one evening , just before leaving , he told me something that made my search suddenly seemed to make sense to me : ” Look here … I lost my father at this point , but I gained a friend … ” .

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Old German dog tags

December 19th, 2013

About a hundred soldiers of immortals and thousands of personal items belonging to the former German prisoners of Stalag 1B Hohenstein War II , discovered during archaeological work in the construction of the S -7 near Olsztynek .When going to the end of October archaeological research found nearly 100 halves of immortals camp belonging to the Polish prisoners of war , Belgian and French , hundreds of soldiers boots , canteens , pipes , shaving gear and other personal effects .Out of the earth from the construction of the expressway also excavated a large number of glass dishes – beer bottles and wine bottles of perfume , plates and vials of drugs and various types of vascular medicine. Most of the objects found at the site of the now defunct pond, which at times served as a makeshift camp garbage .According to Hubert Augustyniak , who supervised the excavations near  , studied by archaeologists area was probably separated from the main camp area sanitary disinfection . dog tags embossed We discovered the foundations of the building, probably a former bath or hydrophone . Within the designated area of research we were able to find traces of the fence , defining the boundaries of the camp – said Augustyniak .In the coming weeks, which prepares the creation of the material finds. Items that have historical value are preserved . In the future probably will go to a local museum dedicated to the history of Stalag , which intends to create a commune  .On the traces of the camp encountered in April in the rabbit during the construction of the S -7 dog tags . Until the completion of archaeological research investment in this section was discontinued . Putting to use the route planned for summer 2012Stalag 1B Hohenstein was one of the largest POW camps in the former East Prussia. On the surface of 35 hectares were over 120 barracks. During the entire war in the camp of nearly 400 thousand . privates and non-commissioned officers . About 55 thousand . prisoners died of typhus epidemics , malnutrition and exhaustion hard work.

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December 19th, 2013

dog tags


Dog tags worn since the war in 1870. Were carried out in various forms, sizes and materials – there was no uniform pattern. Most were small, brass, round or oval, the top had two holes on the carrier string. For immortals quickly stuck the nickname “Hundemarke” (Pl. ticket for the dog). There were also versions for officers as jewelery with precious materials. Was commanded at least that on the dog tags were name and unit: engraved, etched, stamped or hammered. In 1915 was introduced the standard model Immortelle – galvanized plate with dimensions of 5 x 7 inches, above the name of the holder, a division of replacement / training and unit number less than half and the number of branch units – when changing stamped new and old strikeout.


In the end of year 1917 came the newest and latest in a model similar to the old in terms of size and material, but now had three long gap in the middle (where the target fracture) and below another hole. This formula has been used by the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht. Dog tags were worn on a string – his performance was not defined by law, but generally twisted rope used in the respective national colors.





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