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Desacration at the Douaumont Ossuary


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#1 Sly

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:57 AM

Hello,

very sad news yesterday, according to France3 Lorraine:

The Douaumont Ossuary was desecrated, skulls have been stolen.
According to the prosecution of Verdun, skulls and bones of unknown soldiers, German and French, may have been stolen in the Ossuary at Douaumont (Meuse) on the night of Wednesday, March 7, 2012 to Thursday, March 8, 2012.
the ossuary is under renovation, thieves have used a blowtorch to melt the windows glass and to enter into the ossuary.
The last desecration at Douaumont was in 1966.

I can't find words to express what I feel.
:devilgrin:

Sly

#2 RoyEvans

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:26 AM

Why on earth would anyone do something like that?

Roy

#3 ianw

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:40 AM

One would imagine that such things are stolen to be used in some sort of ceremony of the black arts - or possibly just to gratify some sort of perverse desire to own the forbidden.

#4 seadog

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:08 AM

Whilst I of course condemn such an act I never did understand why the bones of the fallen should be on display, seems somewhat irreverent to me. Also on my first and only visit to the Ossuary and Memorial I was surprised to find a gift shop in the basement another feature which I cannot understand. Perhaps a member can let us know whether such a shop is still there.

Regards
Norman

#5 PJA

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:29 PM

There is a cult of the Golgotha, or the Hetacomb, which might be associated with Catholicism. In Portugal, you can see churches which are largely built of human bones.
In parts of Italy, dessicated remains of the dead are openly displayed. I was shocked by the charnel houses at Solferino, where the bones of thousands of soldiers are arrayed in a manner which can best be described as literally macabre. I suppose the rather explicit display of bones at Douaumont - albeit only viewed through peepholes - is in accordance with that tradition.

Phil (PJA)

#6 The 26TH Yankee

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:47 PM

Whilst I of course condemn such an act I never did understand why the bones of the fallen should be on display, seems somewhat irreverent to me. Also on my first and only visit to the Ossuary and Memorial I was surprised to find a gift shop in the basement another feature which I cannot understand. Perhaps a member can let us know whether such a shop is still there.

Regards
Norman

I agree with you that it seems most irreverent. Why not just dig up the graves and let everyone look at the dead? Why aren't those bones on display worthy of a decent burial?

#7 truthergw

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:01 PM

I agree with you that it seems most irreverent. Why not just dig up the graves and let everyone look at the dead? Why aren't those bones on display worthy of a decent burial?


The short answer is because the men came from a different cultural background with its own attitude to mortal remains.

#8 Sly

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 06:03 PM

hi guys,

my message was just to inform you of the desacration of the ossuary.
-_-

Sly

#9 iain mchenry

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 06:24 PM

Hi Sly,

Very sad and upsetting news. I hope those that perpertrated this vile act suffer the full penalty of French law when they are caught. i will be there a week tomorrow with a group.

Regards

Iain

#10 PJA

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:20 PM

Has there been unequivocal official acknowledgement that the Douaumont Ossuary contains German remains ?

By their very nature, the ossuaries of the Great War are promiscuous, in so far as the bones of tens, or scores, of thousands - perhaps nearly 150,000 at Douaumont - are heaped together. It's hard to imagine how internment of German remains could be avoided. And yet, at Mt. Kemmel and elsewhere - above all at Neuville St Vast - there appears to be a distinct impression that the bones are those of French soldiers.

Wasn't Petain's body stolen by" Vichyites" in the 1960s ? Perhaps they wanted to inter his bones in the ossuary. He always said he wanted to be laid to rest with his soldiers at Verdun.

Editing here : I note in the news headlines over the past few days that there has been a lot of heated political debate in France about the meaning of being French. Perhaps some bizarre extremists see the possession of French soldiers' remains from Verdun as a momento that celebrates national pride.... a sick thing to contemplate, but not beyond the bounds of possibility. It was the anecdote about Petain's body that brought that to my mind.


Phil (PJA)

#11 59165

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:12 AM

Whilst I of course condemn such an act I never did understand why the bones of the fallen should be on display,
Regards
Norman


You never been to Sicily then,Norman.
They aren't really on display,are they.You have to go looking for them,round the back of the house,so to speak.
As to you not understanding,it's simple.You are not French,even though you carry a very French name.They are not like us,never have been & never will be.
If you want to understand,come here more often.Learn the language & way of life.You can't get that from the Daily Mail.
You were missed at the Messines burial.Your anti heros,the CWGC, did an amazing job.They even got the Last Post,Ypres to play there.
David.

#12 seadog

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:12 AM

I regret that I cannot understand your post, Messines burial, Daily Mail, Sicily etc etc. However let me try to make my opinion a little clearer if that would help. If you think that it is acceptable for human bones to be on display then so be it, I do not. Perhaps you should also consider that if the human bones were not on display and were inaccessible then there is no doubt that this latest outrage would not have occurred. Perhaps you will be good enough to confirm if you can that there is still a gift shop selling various items including sweets and chocolate etc in the basement of this national memorial under which the human remains of thousands of unfortunates lay.

Norman

#13 Sly

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:24 AM

I was just reading on another forum that thieves could have been well informed: the ossuary contains human remains as well as parts of soldiers equipment . Apparently not many people know that, and there's no official inventory of what is exactly in the ossuary however it seems that there's a lot of "underground" things happening there.
Unfortunately the bad relationships between the different sites are also well known at Verdun.

Sly

#14 Keith Roberts

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:42 AM

This link might prove interesting on the subject of ossuaries

http://www.nothingto...onards_hyt.html

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#15 seadog

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:45 AM

Not that difficult to see and photograph the human remains if the image on the link below is an example. I have not posted the photo as a gesture of respect. There are many such images on the net. I wonder how members would feel if these were British or Anzac remains?.

Ossuary Verdun

There are more images on this link.

Norman

#16 Sly

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 09:11 AM

I wonder how members would feel if these were British or Anzac remains?


They're not, and it's not the question. I wouldn't do any comment or judgement on what another country does for his dead. Question of respect.
To be honest with you Norman I think this thread is not the place to do this sort of comment.
Maybe you should start a new topic like "what do you think of the Douaumont ossuary" ?


Sly

#17 seadog

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 09:22 AM

Let me try and put this as simply as I can, if the human bones were not on display and could not be viewed through glass windows at the back of the memorial then there would not be the opportunity for the idiots concerned to break said windows and for skulls to be stolen as you yourself record in the initial post. I care not for how the French or any other country other than the UK treat their war dead but it is obvious that by making the viewing of the bones some sort of attraction as evidenced by the photos freely available on the net then this has led to the present situation. This was the subject of the topic as posted by you and my reply is addressing that issue. Before you ask yes I have visited the battlefield of Verdun twice and the Ossuary once.

Norman

#18 PJA

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 09:31 AM

Unfortunately the bad relationships between the different sites are also well known at Verdun.

Sly


By "sites", do you mean the different ossuaries, Sly ?

They are, I suppose, gigantic reliquaries of a national ordeal. I find them horrifying. But there is a cultural difference in the way people choose to commemmorate their dead, which one must respect. There is also a practical reason for the establishment of ossuaries which allows for faster battlefield clearance etc.

Phil (PJA)

#19 seadog

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 09:50 AM

Phil this is not a discussion on how another country treats its war dead and of course that is entirely up to them. This topic relates to the display of human remains which are viewable by the public from the car park of the memorial (yes I know that the view is sometimes curtained off) and which is accessible for all both to stare at and photograph, though why anyone would want a photo of such a scene is beyond me. Surely it would be better in these modern times to block the windows and perhaps have a specimen display of bones and skulls within the memorial itself with explanatory details informing the casual visitor just what these remains signify. If done properly using modern display techniques then this could have a greater impact on the visitor than the present peep-show which has directly led to the latest problem.

Norman

#20 bob lembke

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:02 AM

I happen to possess a piece of my father's left upper arm bone, blown out of his arm by a French 75 splinter,
at Verdun (Dead Man's Hill), put in a little paper envelope by medical staff after an operation, with "bone
splinter, Georg Lembke" written on it (in German, of course). My father gave it to me. He also had the shell
splinter, but a nurse tidying up his night table while he slept threw it away.

I have mentioned this on this forum, and was rather heartily attacked for possessing it. I am not sure what the
critics thought what I should do with it, perhaps have a service at a dustbin.

I might mention that Jereamy Bentham still is a member of the board of directors of London University, and at every
board meeting his corpse is wheeled up to the meeting table to sit with the others. (At least I was told that by
a woman graduate student I dated at Cornell University, who was a graduate of Oxford. I might add that my wife,
while she still was an American high school student, audited a course in physical anthropology at Oxford. She says
that she prefers working with "the dry stuff" (dry bones), rather than what she calls "the wet stuff" (the wet stuff).)

Bob Lembke

#21 Sly

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:17 AM

By "sites", do you mean the different ossuaries, Sly ?


No, I meant that there is strong rivality between sites (like Douaumont, Vaux, Verdun memorial, etc...) who are run by different people: army, conseil général, tourist office. It seems that the relationship between them is pretty "unfriendly" from what I've heard from several people since a long time.
That theft is maybe not as simple as that. Another point, there's many different ways to get bones and skull, much easier than in the Ossuary at Douaumont. So...

Sly

#22 PMHart

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

Phil this is not a discussion on how another country treats its war dead and of course that is entirely up to them. This topic relates to the display of human remains which are viewable by the public from the car park of the memorial


Is this car park and memorial in another country? I presume from Norman's post that it is in Little England?

Confused Pete

#23 SteveMarsdin

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 11:45 AM

Phil this is not a discussion on how another country treats its war dead and of course that is entirely up to them.

This topic relates to the display of human remains which are viewable by the public from the car park of the memorial

Norman



Norman, aren't you contradicting yourself here ?

I don't think it is right to judge the cultural practices of another country but if you need a specific refutation of your point of principle: if they'd been buried with headstones, they are liable to vandalism (see the other unfortunate cases recently reported), are you suggesting we shouldn't have headstones to avoid them being vandalised ?

Keep away from Marville :thumbsup:

#24 ph0ebus

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 04:22 PM

I regret that I cannot understand your post, Messines burial, Daily Mail, Sicily etc etc. However let me try to make my opinion a little clearer if that would help. If you think that it is acceptable for human bones to be on display then so be it, I do not. Perhaps you should also consider that if the human bones were not on display and were inaccessible then there is no doubt that this latest outrage would not have occurred. Perhaps you will be good enough to confirm if you can that there is still a gift shop selling various items including sweets and chocolate etc in the basement of this national memorial under which the human remains of thousands of unfortunates lay.

Norman

Norman,

While I share your sentiments to a degree re: display of the dead, even when bodies are 'properly' buried (a term I agree is culturally loaded), if someone wants to engage in grave robbing, they will do it no matter what the burial circumstances.

The gift shop, IMHO, is just wrong.

-Daniel

#25 healdav

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 04:52 PM

Phil this is not a discussion on how another country treats its war dead and of course that is entirely up to them. This topic relates to the display of human remains which are viewable by the public from the car park of the memorial (yes I know that the view is sometimes curtained off) and which is accessible for all both to stare at and photograph, though why anyone would want a photo of such a scene is beyond me. Surely it would be better in these modern times to block the windows and perhaps have a specimen display of bones and skulls within the memorial itself with explanatory details informing the casual visitor just what these remains signify. If done properly using modern display techniques then this could have a greater impact on the visitor than the present peep-show which has directly led to the latest problem.

Norman



I'm sorry, but you are not French, do not live in France, and, frankly, have no right to go on about other people's cultural practices. I, for one, can't understand the great British cultural practice of going out on Saturday evenings with the express intention of getting paralytic. Other countries don't understand the British practice of completely ignoring a burial after the funeral and never going to the cemetery again. Where I live every family grave is regularly washed and scrubbed and flowers and a blessing is given every November 1 and 2 with entire families present right across the cemeteries).


There are probably German remains in the ossuary, how would there not be and how would you tell; a bone is a bone.

Yes, there is a shop in the ossuary sort of basement. They sell maps and postcards and books, and you can go up the tower if you want and pay the fee. So what?

Westminster Abbey have some sort of shop, so do most cathedrals in Europe.

If you are offended, don't go. Don't try to force your feelings on other people.