To the general public, it seems like an archaeologist’s job is never routine. One day they’re digging up an Egyptian tomb, and the next they’ve uncovered some seriously sinister artifacts of unknown origins.

Legenda, a Latvian military archaeology organization, explores battlefields in its native country to search for lost and missing soldiers. During a recent dig, the group uncovered something completely unexpected. You have to see what they found…

Legenda is a Latvian military archaeology organization dedicated to scouring battlefields and uncovering the remains of soldiers lost and killed during World War II.

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In 1944, between the Baltic Sea and Soviet lines, roughly 200,000 Germans became trapped on Latvia’s Courland Peninsula, when Hitler denied them their evacuation. By mid-1945, the soldiers had surrendered and half of 100,000 of them were killed.

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Legenda unearths corpses from this battle and identifies the fallen soldiers using their dog tags. Over the years they’ve uncovered more than 1,000 bodies. The group turns the names over to the German War Graves Commission if any of the discovered bodies are German soldiers.

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Legenda unearths these bodies, because they believe that everyone has the right to be buried in an actual grave. “There are lots of people who want to clear up their relatives’ fates… many of these descendants are 70 years or older and in a phase where they want to clear up these questions and find some inner peace,” said Fritz Kirchmeier, a spokesman for the German War Graves Commission.

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Legenda alerts authorities if the soldiers are of Soviet descent. Then all of the bodies are gathered, and in April of each year they have a memorial for these soldiers near the Latvian capital of Riga. The events are attended by officials from both Latvia and Russia, as well as by any remaining family members of the fallen.

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On a recent dig, however, Legenda unearthed something completely unexpected. It wasn’t a body, but five rusted containers with unbroken seals.

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Inside of the canisters were French pistols, Russian grenades, and explosives that were disguised as coal.

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Some of the tools inside were noticeably of German descent…

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Legenda noted that the weapons inside of the canisters seemed to be in pristine condition, especially considering how long ago they’d been buried. 

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Legenda has grown accustomed to unearthing extremely worn out and rusted weapons. so they were delighted to find such beautiful artifacts.

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Legenda concluded that the weapons had been left behind by German saboteurs, or Nazis, who were sent to take on the Soviets.

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Legenda also noted that none of the weapons had never been fired, and some of the tools used for survival were never even opened. They presumed that the Nazis were killed by Soviets before they were able to complete their task.

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The contents of the canisters were shrouded in mystery. Legenda questioned whether they were actually German items because Germany and the U.S.S.R. had both invaded Latvia during the war.

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Many Latvians welcomed the Nazi party into Riga when they arrived, as they saw them as emancipators, instead of the hateful and violent group they actually were. 

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Roughly 35,000 Jewish people and Latvians were forced to deport the country when communists took over. Some were even sent to prison camps in Serbia where they were killed.

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When Hitler broke his non-aggression treaty with Stalin in 1941, 75,000 Latvian Jews were killed in what was referred to as “The Final Solution.”

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Altogether, roughly 200,000 Latvian Jews were killed in the conflict.

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The Nazis eventually surrendered, though, and were forced into Soviet prison camps. Latvia once again fell under control of Soviets. 

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When Latvia eventually gained its independence in 1991, groups like Legenda came together to find the bodies of  lost soldiers. Many refused to acknowledge the bodies of Nazi soldiers, perhaps suggesting why these particular canisters were left untouched.

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The owner of the containers has yet to be named, though Legenda will continue to work hard to properly identify whom they belonged to.

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It’s amazing that memorabilia from World War II is still undiscovered. It makes you wonder what else may be out there…

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