Monday, April 7, 2014

Nazi War Diggers Show Cancelled After Controversy

I apologize for the length of time in between posts, but this story brought me back to typing.  Last week, the National Geographic Channel announced the cancellation of a show about digging burials of World War II soldiers.  The show, set to air in the UK and parts of Europe in May, stirred critics.

I didn't know about this show until fairly recently, and I after learning about it, I became disturbed.  Clips of the show depict men using metal detectors to find burials.  Once specific clip I viewed showed one of the cast members (shown above) pulling out human remains from the ground.

There are many problems with this.  First, from a purely scientific standpoint, archaeologists NEVER pull anything out of the ground.  We dig around and make a type of plateau around any object so we could safely remove it.  Archaeologists do this because the act of pulling can disturb the stratigraphy, and destroy context.  What if that object was associated with something further down, and older?

From a human standpoint, (archaeologists by practice learn to respect cultural sensitivity) the act of pulling out the remains of someone killed in battle, and then handling them in a playful manner, is disrespectful.  Imagine if those remains happen to belong to someone you might know who died during WWII?

Many critics pointed out that none of the cast are archaeologists, and are in fact "treasure hunters".  One of the cast members, American Craig Gottlieb, discusses on his online forum the act of preparing a WWII Latvian soldier's helmet for sale.

I am glad that Nat Geo pulled the show, but the damage is done.  Even worse, Nat Geo defended the show (while also pulling it).  I just hope that people do not think this is right.  Profiting of human remains as a form of entertainment is morbid and disrespectful.

As always, your thoughts and comments on this topic or any other mentioned in my blog, are welcome.

Again, I apologize for the delay, and the somewhat short post.