The narrative was, perhaps, just a little too good to be true. When news broke last month of the so-called “buddha from space” – a swastika-emblazoned statue, apparently 1,000 years old, that had been carved out of a meteorite and looted by a Nazi ethnologist – the world was enthralled.
There were only, it turns out, a few slight catches. According to two experts who have since given their verdict on the mysterious Iron Man, it may have been a European counterfeit; it was probably made at some point in the 20th century; and it may well not have been looted by the Nazis. The bit about the meteorite, though, still stands.
According to Buddhism specialist Achim Bayer, the statue bears 13 features which are easily identifiable by experts as “pseudo-Tibetan” – and which sit uneasily with speculation by researchers last month that it was probably made in the 11th-century pre-Buddhist Bon culture. Read more.
A state appellate court in Brooklyn has ordered the family of a Holocaust survivor to return an ancient gold tablet to a German museum.
The decision turns on its head the familiar scenario of Holocaust victims suing to reclaim property stolen or extorted from them by the Nazis. But in this case, according to court papers, the precious 3,200-year-old Assyrian artifact had been looted, not from the survivor, but from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, at the close of World War II.
It is not clear how the survivor, Riven Flamenbaum, came into possession of the tablet after his liberation from Auschwitz in 1945, when he was sent to a displaced persons camp in southeastern Germany.
But when Mr. Flamenbaum immigrated to the United States four years later, he arrived in New York with a wife he had met at the camp and the inscribed gold tablet, which is about the size of a passport photo.
Only after Mr. Flamenbaum’s death in 2003 did his children discover that the thin golden square had been stolen from the museum. Read more.
The tunnel, named George, was shut down in 1945, when the Prisoners of War of Stalag Luft III were led off at gunpoint by their Nazi guards as the advancing Red Army closed in.
Its location at the camp, immortalised in the Hollywood blockbuster The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Donald Pleasance, remained a mystery until experts arrived in August and spent three weeks excavating the relics.
George was built by men bitter that they failed to escape through a tunnel named Harry on the night of 24 March, 1944, which had been dug by Allied PoWs at the prison. Harry and two other tunnels, named Tom and Dick, were dug beneath the feet of the Germans in what was intended to be the biggest breakout of the war, with more than 200 men set to escape. In the end, only 76 got out through Harry - and 50 of them were murdered by the Gestapo. Read more.
A Cambridge University Archaeologist, originally from Guernsey, is hoping to unlock secret files containing historically valuable accounts of Nazi persecution against islanders and their resistance against it.
Dr Gilly Carr is one of just three experts on the war in the Channel Islands in Europe and she is back in the island to research a book on resistance efforts during the Occupation.
The islanders’ stories are currently being kept in closed files by the Foreign Office and Dr Carr wants islanders’ help because she needs authorization from individuals involved in these testimonies so she can access potentially invaluable information for her work.
They will show how some islanders defied their Nazi occupiers.
Dr Carr has been told by the Foreign Office she needs to obtain letters from the individuals concerned in order to authorize her to see the testimonials and it will consider its decision on a case by case basis. Read more.
Shot down as the Battle of Britain raged, the German bomber disappeared beneath the murky waves never to be seen again – or so it seemed for 70 years.
In fact, the doomed Dornier 17 has weathered the ravages of time and tide far better than it did our fighter pilots’ machine guns.
New underwater images show the plane lying 50ft deep in the English Channel, remarkably well preserved except for damage to the forward cockpit, observation windows and propellers. Some of its undercarriage tyres are still inflated.
Military historians are ‘incredulous’ at the discovery of the plane – the most complete surviving example of its type – off the Kent coast. It is now hoped it can be raised and put on display to the public.
Yesterday Ian Thirsk, head of collections at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north-west London, said: ‘This aircraft is a unique aeroplane and it’s linked to an iconic event in British history, so its importance cannot be overemphasized, nationally and internationally. It’s one of the most significant aeronautical finds of the century.’ Read more.