21 German soldiers corps perfectly preserved have been discovered in a grave of the First World War, 94 years after his death. The men were part of a group of 34, who were buried alive when a projectile belonging to the allies exploded above the tunnel they were in, generating a cave in 1918.
13 bodies have been recovered from the underground cavity, but the rest have had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to recover them. Almost a century later, French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave located in the area of the West Front during excavation work on a road construction project.
Many of the skeletal remains were found in the same position as they were at the time of the incident, prompting experts to compare the scene with Pompeii. A number of soldiers were discovered upright on a bench, one was lying on his bed and another was in a fetal position after being thrown down a flight of stairs.
As well as the bodies, too personal effects have been found such as boots, helmets, weapons, wine bottles, glasses, wallets, pipes, cigarette cases, and pocket books. The remains of a goat have even been found, which is supposed to provide a source of fresh milk for the soldiers.
Archaeologists believe that the objects have been preserved in such good condition because almost no air, water or light had penetrated in the ditch. The 300-foot-long tunnel lies 18 feet below the surface near the small town of Carspach in the La Alsace, France.
Michael Landolt, the archaeologist who directs the excavation, says: “It is a bit like Pompeii. Everything froze in seconds and is as it was at the time. As in Pompeii, we find the bodies as if it were the moment of their death. Some of the men were found upright on a bench, others lying down. One had been thrown down a flight of wooden stairs and was found in the fetal position. The shelter was filled with dirt. The objects have been kept in good condition due to the absence of air, light and water. The metal objects were rusted, the wood was in good condition, and we found some newspaper pages that were still legible. The leather was in good condition too, it was still supple. The objects will be taken to a laboratory where they will be cleaned and examined”.
The archaeologists They have also discovered wood paneling, floors, and stairs.
The dead soldiers were part of the 6th Company, 94th Reserve Infantry Regiment. All their names are known, including Musketeer Martin Heidrich, 20, Brigadier Harry Bierkamp, 22, and Lieutenant August Hutten, 37.
Their names are inscribed on a monument in the German war cemetery near Illfurth. The bodies have been turned over to the German War Graves Commission, but unless relatives find and claim the remains for repatriation, it is planned that they will be buried on Illfurth.
The underground tunnel was large enough to accommodate 500 men and had 16 sorties. It could have been equipped with heating, a telephone connection, electricity, beds and a pipe to pump water.
The French attacked the refuge on March 18, 1918 with aerial mines that penetrated the ground and blew the side in two places. It is estimated that more than 165,000 Commonwealth soldiers are found missing on the Western Front, during the complex times of the First World War.
With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.