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Old 05-15-2018, 04:30 AM   #16
Yubari
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wishing you good luck guys...! Very exciting hobby with deep meaning
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:47 AM   #17
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Well done Manuel, a very challenging excavation for sure. But perhaps some closure at last for some families of the missing.

Best wishes,
Simon
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Old 05-15-2018, 05:00 AM   #18
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That's exactly the reason why we go there, Simon!
Our motto is: "Let's take them back to home".
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:11 AM   #19
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Some more pics of the digs...
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:16 AM   #20
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The Kitchen, where we had (russian) lunch and rested a bit.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-16-2018, 09:38 AM   #21
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Other relics found in the grave...
The small alluminium case is a german "Marsch Getraenk", a soluble energy drink.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-16-2018, 09:39 AM   #22
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More...
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-16-2018, 09:41 AM   #23
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Italian M1929 mountain boots...
Many of the italian soldiers that have been found were "alpini".

Some more pics to come soon
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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http://www.napv.it/missione-kirov/

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Old 05-17-2018, 03:30 AM   #24
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Summing up the whole story...
The thousands that are resting in the mass graves were taken prisoner in the December 1942 - January 1943 in the Don pocket and maybe also in Stalingrad. The soviets didn't expect a so great success in their Winter offensive. They made 3-400.000 prisoners in few weeks. While the Red Army had to advance toward the enemy, it also had to handle a great mass of men that were in great part wounded or sick. They needed to be fed, healed and protected from the great cold (-30°C and even less). The soviets tried to evacuate them as soon as possible from the battle area, for two reasons: firstly, to avoid their liberation in case of a counteroffensive, secondly to take them to Siberia and make them work as forced labourer in the camps. We must not forget that most of the russian manpower at the time was enlisted in the Red Army, and workers were in great demand.
So the big mass of prisoners was evacuated. They had to walk in the snow for long distances in order to reach the railway. Many died on the way, receiving the coup the grace with the bayonet from the guards. I think that there was no other way for them in that situation. In other cases war crimes were commited when groups of prisoners were killed without an appearent reason. However, although the Commands didn't care too much about the faith of the pows, killing them all was not their objective, they intended to use them as forced workers. When the prisoners arrived at the trains, they were sent northwards to the Transiberian railway, and from there, to Siberia. Thousands died inside the trains for the complete lack of cares. On the convoys, the last two wagons were left empty and who died in the other wagons was thrown there. When the trains arrived to Kirov, the survivors that could still be saved were healed in the hospitals. The wagons with the bodies were taken in a secondary line in the countryside and in a prefixed place the deads were dumped in big holes made with the explosive in the frozen ground. The burial was very quick because typhus epidemics were feared.
The peasents in the area had to be rather poor. Shortly after this burials (made between January and March 1943) they went to the place and robbed the graves, looking for valuable objects and for clothes. Fortunately the plunder was only partial and regarded, as far as we could ascertain, the surface of part of the graves.
The worst aspect is that the robbed part of the graves was completely destroyed, with all the bones and the objects belonging to them that went mixed up. This will prevent any identification of the men burried there. The next part of the grave we are going to dig this Summer looks like untouched, so we have big expectations.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-17-2018, 09:23 AM   #25
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Thanks for posting these photos. The bones seem to be in poor condition, but some items are well preserved.
I hope you are photographing all found ID tags so you can do your won research for families. If you wait for Russian authorities to collaborate with Italian authorities, you may be waiting for very very long.


"The peasents in the area had to be rather poor. Shortly after this burials (made between January and March 1943) they went to the place and robbed the graves, looking for valuable objects and for clothes. Fortunately the plunder was only partial and regarded, as far as we could ascertain, the surface of part of the graves.
The worst aspect is that the robbed part of the graves was completely destroyed, with all the bones and the objects belonging to them that went mixed up. "

If the bones were all mixed up by this plundering, it means some of the grave robbing was done at least a year or two later, otherwise the bodies would not have been squeletonised yet.

In Russia I was told there were three generations of grave robbing. The first shortly after the war to find jewels and gold teeth, the second later to find weapons and ammunition, and finaly the last stage to find militaria.

JL
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Old 05-17-2018, 01:16 PM   #26
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Bones were in good conditions, I've just avoided to post pictures where you can see them clearly. I think it's a sign of respect.
Yes, I tought the same, probably the grave was plundered some time later. For sure the robbers looked for valuable items, and maybe (but I have no proofs) someone came more recently form militaria. For sure there were no weapons in the grave, since the deads were pows.
Regarding the tags, everything is in russian hands, we have the names of the italians but are not allowed to divulgate them bacause (by law) this must be done by italian authorities. However, I think that the russians have already forwarded the informations to their counterparts abroad.
I have a few more pictures to share, I will post them in some days
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-29-2018, 10:39 AM   #27
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As said, part of the mass grave have been plundered shortly after it was created (a few months or years later), so many bones and objects were spread around in great confusion. The association of italian volunteers (note: not the single volunteers!) was allowed by the russians to bring to Italy some of the relics that were found not directly connected to a specific body (these object were not useful to any sort of identification). Of course the relics found on the bones were all put in the single bags with the remains, in order to prove some sort of identification (if not a complete one, at least of the country of provenance).
Needless to say, the volunteers did not bring home anything for themselves from the grave! Everyone had to sign a paper declaring this before leaving to Russia.
The relics taken to Italy were cleaned, treated for preservation and used to build up an exhibition intended to illustrate the recovery mission to the public opinion and to raise funds for the next excavation campaigns. That's because all the costs have been sustained by the volunteers and by the association, without any help from the state.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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Old 05-29-2018, 10:41 AM   #28
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Field boots. Note the one that was wrapped in wool clothes to keep the leg warm.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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http://www.napv.it/missione-kirov/
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:43 AM   #29
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First showcase: italian pants.
Second showcase, small part of uniforms; half are hungarians, half italians. You can clearly see the different colors.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/foru...d.php?t=911775

http://www.napv.it/missione-kirov/

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Old 05-29-2018, 10:50 AM   #30
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The exhibition has been projected to be itinerant: in order to reach as more people as possible it will be transferred in different locations in the next months.

Here, the exhibition displayed in Trento a couple of weeks ago, during the "Adunata Nazionale degli Alpini", the annual national mountain troops meeting.
It was much appreciated by the institutions and by the "alpini" themselves. After all, nearly a half of the circa 80.000 italians that died in Russia were mountain troops. And many former alpini that came to visit the exhibition had a father, a grandfather or an uncle that fought in Russia and (in many cases) died there.
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Supporting the italian recovery mission in Kirov...

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http://www.napv.it/missione-kirov/
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