Nazi War Diggers: Error 404 – page not found


Choosing this month’s Blogging Archaeology banner, there could be only one… (No, not that one.)

Blogging Archaeology: moving the 2014 SAA blogging session to the blogosphere
(c) Scott Haddow, 23rd December 2013

My work on the Gaza “Apollo” is more widely read than my stuff on the Nazi War Diggers. My research into Occupy Gezi and the archaeologists’ uprising, the Syrian antiquities-for-arms trade and the Turkish state’s secret plan to attack a Turkish cultural heritage site (to excuse an invasion of Syria) is more difficult (and, arguably, more important).

But, in terms of professional engagement and public communication, the community’s collaborative work on Nazi War Diggers exemplifies the good of archaeology blogging; and, in terms of social impact, my work on Nazi War Diggers must be my best. (Rather sadly, my Unfree Archaeology support for whistleblowing may turn out to be my worst blogging, insofar as no-one has blown the whistle on anything.)

Nazi War Diggers? Error 404 - page not found.

Nazi War Diggers? Error 404 – page not found.

Obviously, the circumstances helped – the case was simply too dreadful for those responsible to protect – but we acted and succeeded as a multidisciplinary, archaeologist and metal detectorist, professional and community, international, multilingual group for culture.

Military historian Rob Schäfer (@GerArmyResearch) contacted the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK)), antiquities criminologist Donna Yates identified and contacted key individuals in the relevant companies, others Twitterstormed the companies and flooded the web with negative comment (undeleted instances of which include #NaziWarDiggers, British Archaeological Jobs and Resources, Archaeology Trowels and Tools and the Craig Gottlieb False or Misleading ‘Expert’ Claims Page [taken down]), titleunderconstruction and meanlouise documented the media/social media discussion…

Using my blogging as an example because I can trace it, when Paul Barford broke the news, I shared it and asked questions. The Daily Mail consulted me and quoted me in its report on the ‘gruesome’ preview video (and the show’s cancellation).

Those, and further questions concerning looting, were picked up by German media, German historians and Dutch chaps. When I highlighted the deletion of evidence, it got picked up by Spanish archaeologists, the Pink Agendist pointed out the dangers of (un)reality television, and These Bones of Mine considered the history and archaeology of the war. When I asked who would sell fallen German soldiers’ property, the Pink Agendist and Michael Schmalenströr asked who would buy Nazi militaria.

My querying of the ethics of Nazi War Diggers’ claimed professional partners secured the Latvian War Museum’s statement, which was a critical strike against the team. [Clarification: the Latvian War Museum has clarified its statement – it was ‘aware’ of Nazi War Diggers’ plans to excavate.] And, of course, Nazi War Diggers’ site is now an Error 404.

As for the last question in Doug Rocks-Macqueen’s tirelessly run carnival, ‘where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go?’ Hopefully, more people will see the power (and freedom) that we have and start blogging, whether it is campaigning, enlightening or entertaining. My blogging is going to change, but I can’t quite yet say how…

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