During World War II, three percent of the world’s population perished in the conflict. Those kinds of massive casualties are so large that they can defy comprehension.
Thankfully, those who did survive shared their stories. The memories of the war, both good and bad, live on in writing, human testimonials, and in collections of artifacts from the battles themselves.
Though the memory of the war lives on, there are still unanswered questions and soldiers who never made it home. Amateur archaeologists in places like Russia often visit battlefields and recover amazing clues to help unlock the past, which is exactly what two men did while on a hiking trip in the Russian countryside.
Sixty million people died during World War II. It’s a number so large that it can be difficult for most people to comprehend. Even now, decades later, people continue to search for closure and understanding among the artifacts. There are still missing soldiers and so many unanswered questions…
Recently, two friends went exploring in the Russian countryside at the scene of a few major battles of the war. They had only just started digging when they began to unearth shocking items, such as this handgun, which was perfectly intact.
Before too long, they stumbled across explosive devices, like this grenade. (A word to the wise: If you ever find a grenade, do not touch it! Instead, report your findings immediately to authorities. These are dangerous weapons, and they can still be live.)
At first, the two friends weren’t sure who had owned these guns and explosives… but then they found this German crest. The text, which was in German, read: Meine ehre ist treue. That translated roughly in English to “My honor is loyalty.”
The grenade was not the only dangerous artifact they found during their exploration of the site. They also discovered this land mine in almost perfect condition. They had no idea if it was still live, so they decided to snap photos of it and (wisely) leave it alone.
Another mine was still planted—with a trigger in place—deep underground. Though these men weren’t professionals (and no one should do this without experience!), it was good that they found this mine so that no one would accidentally set it off.
The two men couldn’t believe the wealth of World War II memorabilia they stumbled across in a single location. Many of the guns were still in perfect working condition. The ones that weren’t, such as this gun, were corroded with rust. Still, they were fascinating relics.
One of the reasons it’s not advised for amateurs to go digging at old battle sites is because these locations also double as graves for soldiers who fought and died during the war. The two men accidentally unearthed one such soldier’s remains; he was still wearing his boots.
The two men continued to find more weapons, explosives, and equipment designed to enhance the weapons’ performance on the field. They had no way of telling whether or not these grenades were still live, either!
In addition to all of the grenades and live charges they uncovered, they also found boxes upon boxes of machine gun and rifle ammunition that seemed to be totally untouched. When they unwrapped the boxes, the munitions inside looked brand-new.
The two men knew that the items they found—including this impressive array of automatic and semiautomatic weapons—would have incredible monetary value. They also knew that their historical value was probably even more important.
Some of the items they found were so scary-looking that even this brave duo didn’t risk actually touching them. When they unearthed this pile of unused grenades that seemed to have leaked out a toxic substance, they knew it was best to step away.
The two men couldn’t believe it when they found this machine gun. Weapons like this one weren’t made anymore, and while this one would be impossible to get into working order, it was still an amazing and important find.
It wasn’t just guns and grenades that the two men found, either, though those were plenteous. They also discovered plenty of old helmets, meal kits, and even soda from that era that remained unopened.
Some of the items provided a chilling inside look into the terror of World War II. These images of a gas mask and a pouch used to holster a gun, along with a few rusted silencers, served as potent reminders of all the dangers that come with going to war.
This gun was one of a few identified by World War II buffs who investigated the men’s photos when they first surfaced. This one is a scoped Mauser, and while the gun itself was useless, it would be possible to restore the scope.
There were more reminders of the human beings who wielded all of these weapons. Hidden beneath an old chamber pot that the two men found in the field was a soldier’s wedding band. While everything around it had tarnished, the ring itself still shone brightly.
This unearthed gun was another one of the weapons found in the area. This gun was a Luger, a popular handgun that was carried by most German officers. The gun remained, but the man who carried it was, of course, long gone.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding expeditions like the one these two men shared. On the one hand, it gave families answers to haunting questions about their loved ones. Naturally, others believe that the bodies should be left undisturbed.
While the debate may go on, these findings are undeniably important keys to understanding and remembering the course of human history. Hopefully everyone learns from the mistakes of the past and nothing like this ever happens again.
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