Photo Gallery German WWI Shelter Unearthed in France

Archaeologists in France recently discovered the remains of 21 German soldiers from World War I in an underground shelter that hasn't been touched since the day it was destroyed by French shells 93 years ago. Pocket books and prayer beads tell stories of life in the trenches -- but Germany doesn't want to hear them.
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The remains of individual soldiers killed in World War I are still frequently found during construction work on the former Western front battlefields of France and Belgium, but the discovery of so many soldiers in one location is rare. The untouched tomb, poignant and grisly, sheds light on the lives of the 21 soldiers found inside it. It was unearthed as part of road construction work near the small town of Carspach in the Alsace region.

Foto: dapd
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The foot of a German soldier protruding from a boot. The German War Graves Commission is holding out little hope that it will be able to track down the descendants of the dead, even though all their names are known.

Foto: dapd
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In addition to boots, helmets and weapons, a wine bottle and a mustard jar, the archaeologists have found personal items including dog tags, wallets, pipes, cigarette cases, spectacles and pocket books. A rosary was also found, with a French bullet threaded in among the prayer beads, evidently fashioned as a souvenir.

Foto: dapd
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The tunnel, six meters underground, was built with German thoroughness, equipped with heating, telephone connections, electricity, beds and a pipe to pump out water. It had 16 exits and was big enough to hold up to 500 men in an emergency. It shows how static the fighting was for most of the war, in which both sides built vast trench systems that stretched 440 miles from the Swiss border to the North Sea.

Foto: PAIR
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A stairway into the tunnel. The men were from the 6th Company of the "Reserve Infanterie Regiment 94." Their bodies were left in the dugout because retrieving them was deemed too dangerous after parts of it were destroyed by French artillery. A total of 34 men in the shelter were killed in the attack. Troops managed to haul out 13 of the dead at the time.

Foto: PAIR
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The presence and location of the "Killian Shelter," 125 meters meters long, have long been known. Excavation work for a nearby road building project made it viable for the regional French archaeological authority, PAIR, to begin a thorough dig, which is expected to be completed in mid-November.

Foto: PAIR
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