World War II battlefield relic hunters - Looting, discoveries and thefts.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Amazing Metal Detecting Finds, SS Daggers, Collectors, Relics of nazi leaders, Nazi Memorabilia, Mein kampf, Militaria: Replicas, Reproductions.
Polish gold-diggers robbed Jewish corpses at Treblinka after the war, claims a new book
A new book by historian Jan Tomasz Gross reveals how Polish relic hunters robbed Jewish corpses in Treblinka Nazi death camp after the war was over. "A Golden Harvest" could cause as much controversy as Gross's 2001 book "Neighbours" - which described a pogrom by Poles against Jews in Jedwabne (previously it had been thought that the Nazis had killed the Jews). A Golden Harvest is based on an article -- Gold Rush in Treblinka -- which describes how the Treblinka became a magnet for gold diggers.
Large collection of Third Reich memorabilia stolen in Minnesota, $1,000 reward offered
One of the biggest private collections of German WWII militaria in Minnesota has been stolen. History buff Doug Stoltzman says the collection, mostly items from Nazi Germany, is worth up to $100,000, offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the collection.
Former Swedish Neo-Nazi leader Anders Högstrom admits Auschwitz sign theft
The former neo-Nazi leader Anders Högstrom, charged with having ordered the theft of the "Arbeit macht frei" sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp, has admitted the crime after claiming throughout the investigation that he is not guilty. The Swede gained a lower sentence in a plea bargain, and he will be serving his 2 years and 8 months imprisonment in Sweden.
Relic hunters raid WWII remains for memorabilia like medals, insignia, badges and dog tags
German Military Grave Registration Service complains that the remains they discover are stripped of medals, badges, insignia and other items by relic hunter, who, armed with metal detectors, are feeding the huge WWII militaria industry.
Nazi tank thieves get 4 years in jail and a fine of 1 million euros in Maybach Trial
A German and a Bulgarian army officer have been sentenced to 4 years in jail for stealing a vintage Nazi tank and trying to steal another. Sliven Military Court sentenced Thomas Gmainer and the Bulgarian army officer Aleksey Petrov to 4 years in jail. The other defendant, German national Matheus Mayer, received a 3-year suspended sentence with 5 years on probation. Gmainer and Petrov will also have to pay 1 million euros in damages to the Bulgarian Defense Ministry, whose property the German WWII tanks are. The two Germans have been detained in Germany but were not extradited to Bulgaria and were tried in absence.
British soldier returns antique pistol his comrade seized from an Italian museum as a WWII keepsake
A 250-year-old antique pistol looted from an Italian museum as a WWII souvenir by a British solider has been returned, fulfilling his deathbed request. Stanley Parry served with the 8th Army in the Allied campaign through Italy. At the end of the was, while travelling back to Britain, he noticed a fellow private about to throw the 18th Century ornately decorated pistol into the sea, stopped him and put it in his rucksack as a keepsake. The coral and silver bodywork of the pistol had been too much of a temptation for the soldier and he had stolen it from the Stibbert Musuem in Florence in 1944.
Man unearths WWII POW camp - and 2,000 items like German dog tags - in his back garden in Hertfordshire, UK
Turning over the soil in his back garden, David Murray saw something shiny: a World War II dog tag from a German POW. Digging a little deeper he discovered a treasure trove of WWII memorabilia. The 2,000 items include coins featuring Nazi emblems, dog tags, uniform buttons and even a live grenade. The edge of his rented bungalow is on the site of a WWII POW camp that once contained 10,000 people. The Wynches Camp opened in 1939 and held Italian POWs, but later took Germans. It was also used for Allied training and housed American soldiers and Gurkha units as they prepared for war.
Stealing the German WWII tanks from Bulgaria - The case so far
Alexei Petrov used to be an officer, now he is accused of stealing a German WWII tank. In 2007 two Germans were caught as they were smuggling a Panzer IV tank (black market price 100,000e) out of the Bulgaria. At that time, Major Alexei Petrov was second-in-command at the unit guarding the WWII tanks in Yambol. Two months before the group was caught, the legendary Tsaritsa - a Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G assault gun allegedly a gift from Hitler to the queen Yoanna – disappeared near Fakia. After the buzz all the German WWII tanks (including Jagdpanzer ІV L48, an early Panzer IV Ausf. F) were dug out and relocated to Yambo.
World War II collector finds GI's dog tag with metal detector in Netherlands
Melanie Trubey got the e-mail from the Netherlands one morning. A man called Felix de Klein was asking about her family history, writing: "Being a collector of WWII items and stories and... a great admirer of the American soldiers that liberated our country... I found while using my metal detector a Dog-Tag with the name: Milton S. Reese written on it." Is she Milton S. Reese's granddaughter, he asked. Is her mother Midge Trubey? Did Milton S. Reese serve in the U.S. Army and was he in the Netherlands? "You have found the right person and the right family," Melanie wrote back.
German WW2 militaria irresistible: Mint condition Nazi flag stolen from a New Zealand Museum
The widow of the war veteran who captured a nazi flag during World War II is devastated at its theft from the Raglan & District museum. Wyonne Wright's husband, Whitfeld, and his sherman tank crew from the NZ 18th Armoured Regiment seized the flag from a building in Italy in 1944. The Nazi flag was stolen along with a copy of a photo of the tank crew posing with the flag. The flag was estimated to be worth $1500 on its own but could be worth more with official descriptions and the period photograph. A flying helmet and German propaganda sheet were also taken the same day.
Nazi helmet raided from Chatham dockyard in Kent, UK
A Nazi helmet worth 1,700 Pounds has been stolen from The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent. The German SS camouflage head gear was seized from a stall in the dockyard's Main Gate Road on Sunday. The green helmet, which has a red flag with a white circle and a swastika painted on the side, dates back to the Second World War. Authorities are appealing for help in tracking down the German WW2 militaria.
World War II claims one more life as shell explodes killing a relic hunter in Niemegk
The most catastrophic conflict of the 20th century have claimed another victim, after the explosion of what appears to have been a WW2 shell. One man died and another was badly injured in the incident which took place in the small town of Niemegk. Many Germans have made a hobby of searching for and collecting Second World War relics. The victims, two good friends, are reported to have acquired a metal detector for just that purpose. It had not yet been found out if the men had sawed, drilled or tampered in any other way with the explosive.
Demand for World War II memorabilia has created a huge rise in thefts
A booming global market for WW2 militaria is straining the small museums that commemorate the 1944 D-Day landings, which are increasingly under the eye of immoral militaria collectors. Two recent thefts highlight poor security at the over 25 collections which draw visitors along the Normandy coast. In one case the loot included a rare "Enigma" encoding machine - thought to be ordered theft. In the other, scores of items were replaced by replicas. "In recent years there has been a huge increase in demand for anything from WWII: guns, uniforms, buckles, helmets," said Michel Brissart, who runs the Omaha D-Day museum at Vierville-sur Mer.
Surveying Nazi U-boats sunk off North Carolina during World War II
NOAA will lead a research expedition to probe the wrecks of 3 German subs sunk by U.S. forces in 1942 off the coast of North Carolina. The team will survey and photograph visible sections of U-352, U-85 and U-701 using non-invasive methods as the submarine wreck sites are war graves. The German U-boats are located in an area known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," which has shipwrecks from both sides of the Battle of the Atlantic at recreational diving depths (less than 130 feet). The wrecks are popular dive sites, but unfortunately U-352 and U-85 have been damaged by salvage operators and relic hunters.
Veteran has WW2 memorabilia stolen: M-1 Carbine used to defeat Axis
World War II veteran Vilas Walhood has lost his treasured memories. The uninvited guests walked off with 20 WWII weapons that he collected while he served in the military. One of Walhood's most prized possessions was his WWII issue M-1 carbine. The men didn't seize the military medal he got from that battle, though they did take a one-of-a-kind flag from the 276th regiment - most likely used to wrap one of the stolen guns.
Rare World War II combat weapon paratroopers wore stolen
A rare World War II combat weapon was taken from a exhibit at the Washington County Historical Society's museum. Described as a combination knife/brass knuckles that paratroopers wore strapped to their legs as part of their combat kit. The knife is also known as the "1918 brass knuckle knife," but its correct identification is actually the US Mark I, according to Historical Society information.
Third WWII Maybach battle tank stolen in Bulgaria
The turret of a third Maybach tank from World War II had been stolen. The tank had been buried over 50 years ago in the region of Elhovo and served as a firing point. It is the third Maybach tank theft in Bulgaria. In Dec 2007, military counter-intelligence arrested a gang, who had stolen one WWII tank and tried to seize a second one. The Maybach produced the engines for the Panther and Tiger tank, highly valued by collectors. Tank-theft seems to be profitable as in mid-January 2008 3 men were captured from the Momina Tsurkva, after they sold parts of the turret of an unknown tank for scrap metal.
Metal detecting relic hunters: For every diamond ring, there are hundreds of rusty nails
When you lose your ring, Dan Dawson is the one who may find it. He's a "hunter", hobbyist who listen to the earth through metal detector's earpieces. During the World War II, heavy metal detectors that ran on battery packs and vacuum tubes were used for locating mines. After the war surplus metal detectors were purchased by relic hunters. The oldest coin Scott Rosenke, another hunter, has found is an 1897 U.S. Indian-head cent. He found his first gold ring at Trout Lake. The best finds are reported to hunting websites. Serious relic hunters, like Chris Turner, have made a living out of discovering ancient relics.
Stolen World War II tank - Bulgarian army major, 2 Germans arrested (Article no longer available from the original source)
Bulgaria's authorities apprehended two Germans and a Bulgarian army major over illegally taking a vintage Maybach tank. In November the group dug up the old German battle tank from the time of the World War II, put in the ground near the southern Bulgarian border in order to be used as a stationary gun. In December they attempted take another buried up Maybach near the town of Yambol but the authorities stepped in. Military experts said there are few tanks of the same type in the world still outside the military museums and the raiders could gain a good profit by selling the machines to collectors.
Vintage guns, military uniforms stolen - $5000 offered for return
When guns and 50 U.S., Japanese and German uniforms were stolen from the Palmetto Storage building 35 years of collecting was put on hold. Roy Griffin is offering $5000 for the return of the vintage WWI and WWII military uniforms, guns and accessories. He has poured "every spare penny and extra cent I`ve had for 35 years" into the collection. "I have a military museum. I just don`t have a building. I`m 45 years old. I wouldn`t live long enough to do this again." The collection has been featured on Veteran`s Day at Cleveland Mall in recent years, at Gateway Festival and in "every museum within 30-40 miles."
General Patton ID stolen - Vintage heirloom valued around $20,000
In a plastic container on the top shelf of her closet, a woman had been keeping a piece of military history. But several days ago she realized that someone had come into her home and stolen the military id card the War Department issued to Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in 1941. She had recently been contacting auction houses to determine the value of the ID, however she never gave out her address. Letters of Patton`s have been sold for $20,000, and the ID would probably be worth much more. Nicknamed "Old Blood and Guts" Patton was known for carrying pistols with ivory handles and regarded as one of the most successful U.S. field commanders.
Hundreds of WWII weapons, explosives found in home
An extensive search of a suspected drug dealer's home revealed hundreds of weapons, including a World War II-era machine gun, land mines, grenades and an 81 mm bomb shell. A further search of the house found 50 to 100 weapons and more than 200 potential explosive devices. David R. Plonowski was a collector of World War II "memorabilia." The weapons found also included rifles, among them an AK-47, as well as a grenade launcher and handguns.
A war memorabilia collection including Nazi medals stolen
A war memorabilia collection including distinctive Nazi medals have been stolen in Warwickshire. A silver German Mothers Cross, with distinctive Nazi symbols and given to women who bore six to seven children during World War II, was taken in the burglary on 24 August. Also taken were wound medals given German soldiers who were injured in combat along with cap badges from British and German soldiers.
Zbiroh castle hides Nazi treasure - A persistent local rumour
Every week team abseils into a well of a Czech Zbiroh castle in search of a secret passage or the Nazi treasure. Around 60 metres down they discovered Nazi documents. A local rumour has it that the castle hides Nazi treasure. "We know from witnesses that a Nazi aircraft landed and large cases were unloaded and taken to the castle. We know that the last SS fled on foot without their uniforms and without taking anything. No one has found any trace of the cases and no one knows what was in them." Castle has a series of tunnels and secret passages but closed off behind cement by the Nazis. Some dream that the "amber room" could be stashed somewhere in labyrinth.
Relic from a sunken World War II German submarine (Article no longer available from the original source)
Earl King was unaware a relic he retrieved from a sunken World War II German submarine may be an object of interest to the German government and could have a value in the thousands. He managed to recover a gyrocompass from the sunken hull of a German U-58 submarine in a dive off Block Island on July 4, 1973. He did not disclose an exact amount, but said the gyrocompass is a rare object and would have "high value" to the German government, which would want to place the gyroscope in a museum. Under salvage ownership laws King probably has ownership right now, but German officials might see things otherwise.
Ghouls loot war graves and battlefields for WW2 militaria like medals, helmets
Thieves are looting graves of German soldiers killed in Second World War and selling body parts on the internet. The ghouls are digging up Russian battlefields where many of the two million dead are buried in hope of a WW2 militaria. And a sinister black market has grown on US auction websites for military uniforms, medals, bones and even helmets with the skulls still inside.
Military men arrested after treasure hunt of WWII gold (Article no longer available from the original source)
A new rush for gold and other treasures believed to have been left behind by Japanese soldiers during World War Two has led to the arrest of a retired air chief marshal and two captains. But more than 10 people fled into the jungle and escaped capture. Police seized a four-wheel-drive vehicle and digging tools as evidence, and found that wide areas of the mountain had been excavated. The area has long attracted Second World War treasure hunters because there are several caves, some of which house monasteries. Local villagers told someone found three gold bars in a cave about 10 years ago.
U.S. veteran scours Okinawa's caves for relics of bloody 1945 conflict (Article no longer available from the original source)
For the past 21 years, Ron Fuller has been digging into the past. His mission is to find remains of Japanese victims who perished in the fierce Battle of Okinawa. But the relics are not keepsakes. Here in the deep caves, where Imperial Japanese Army soldiers and Okinawan civilians fled for their lives, Fuller tries to imagine what they thought and felt during those frantic last moments. The so-called Typhoon of Steel raged across the island for 3 months. About 200,000 Japanese were killed. Many of them were terrified civilians who committed group suicide in caves rather than be taken prisoner by U.S. soldiers.
The hunt for Nazi gold - Toplitzsee lake (Article no longer available from the original source)
The search for gold stolen by the Nazis has resulted in a stream of films, books and treasure hunters. Now German television has produced a new documentary about the search for the hidden treasures of Hitler's Third Reich. A word to treasure hunters: forget about it — at least if you're scouring Toplitzsee lake. This is the message from German biologist, Professor Hans Fricke, the man who more by chance led the underwater research of the 107-metre deep lake in the Austrian Alps. Originally setting out to discover biological secrets of the unique lake, the professor instead got caught up in the mystery about vast sums of Nazi Germany's hidden gold.
History tours: Germany turns the relics of its Nazi past over to tourism
Lately many sites of importance in the Third Reich have become tourist magnets. In Ravensbruck, 8 of the 23 former SS guardhouses will be converted to cater. Thousands of people traipsed through a museum carved in the air-raid tunnels of the mountain at Berchtesgaden where Adolf Hitler had his summer residence Eagle's Nest. In the forests of Karinhall, the country seat of Hermann Goering, amateur treasure hunters rake the ground each weekend for lost artefacts. For every foot of building above ground in Berlin, there are three below; secret tunnels and bunkers begun when Hitler came to power in 1933.
Nazi-hunters mount search for lost loot (Article no longer available from the original source)
A team of US divers is to search a lake in Austria for boxes of gold and art objects stolen by Nazis. It is believed that Lake Toplitz, could also hide boxes of forged money and documents intended to help Nazis escape to South America. The documents, experts believe, could also reveal how assets seized by the Third Reich were deposited in Swiss banks; show how the Vatican aided in the transfer of funds to South America. It might also be revealed just how the SS planned, in Operation Bernhard, to counterfeit billions of fake pounds sterling for dropping over Britain, in an attempt to destabilise the British economy.