Tagged / History

Sunken Nazi U-boat discovered: why archaeologists like me should leave it on the seabed

File 20180425 175054 1jvt9dj.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Sea War Museum

By Innes McCartney, Bournemouth University.

The collapsing Nazi government ordered all U-boats in German ports to make their way to their bases in Norway on May 2, 1945. Two days later, the recently commissioned U-3523 joined the mission as one of the most advanced boats in the fleet. But to reach their destination, the submarines had to pass through the bottleneck of the Skagerrak – the strait between Norway and Denmark – and the UK’s Royal Air Force was waiting for them. Several U-boats were sunk and U-3523 was destroyed in an air attack by a Liberator bomber.

U-3523 lay undiscovered on the seabed for over 70 years until it was recently located by surveyors from the Sea War Museum in Denmark. Studying the vessel will be of immense interest to professional and amateur historians alike, not least as a way of finally putting to rest the conspiracy theory that the boat was ferrying prominent Nazis to Argentina. But sadly, recovering U-3523 is not a realistic proposition. The main challenges with such wrecks lie in accurately identifying them, assessing their status as naval graves and protecting them for the future.

U-boat wrecks like these from the end of World War II are the hardest to match to historical records. The otherwise meticulous record keeping of the Kriegsmarine (Nazi navy) became progressively sparser, breaking down completely in the last few weeks of the war. But Allied records have helped determine that this newly discovered wreck is indeed U-3523. The sea where this U-boat was located was heavily targeted by the RAF because it knew newly-built boats would flee to Norway this way.

Identification

The detailed sonar scans of the wreck site show that it is without doubt a Type XXI U-boat, of which U-3523 was the only one lost in the Skagerrak and unaccounted for. These were new types of submarines that contained a number of innovations which had the potential to make them dangerous opponents. This was primarily due to enlarged batteries, coupled to a snorkel, which meant they could stay permanently underwater. Part of the RAF’s mission was to prevent any of these new vessels getting to sea to sink Allied ships, and it successfully prevented any Type XXI U-boats from doing so.

The Type XXI U-3008. Wikipedia

With the U-boat’s identity correctly established, we now know that it is the grave site of its crew of 58 German servicemen. As such, the wreck should either be left in peace or, more implausibly, recovered and the men buried on land. Germany lost over 800 submarines at sea during the two world wars and many have been found in recent years. It is hopelessly impractical to recover them all, so leaving them where they are is the only real option.

Under international law all naval wrecks are termed “sovereign immune”, which means they will always be the property of the German state despite lying in Danish waters. But Denmark has a duty to protect the wreck, especially if Germany asks it to do so.

Protection

Hundreds of wartime wreck sites such as U-3523 are under threat around the world from metal thieves and grave robbers. The British cruiser HMS Exeter, which was sunk in the Java Sea on May 1, 1942, has been entirely removed from the seabed for scrap. And wrecks from the 1916 Battle of Jutland that also lie partly in Danish waters have seen industrial levels of metal theft. These examples serve as a warning that organised criminals will target shipwrecks of any age for the metals they contain.

Detailed sonar scans have been taken. Sea War Museum

Germany and the UK are among a number of countries currently pioneering the use of satellite monitoring to detect suspicious activity on shipwrecks thought to be under threat. This kind of monitoring could be a cost-effective way to save underwater cultural heritage from criminal activity and its use is likely to become widespread in the next few years.

Recovery

The recovery cost is only a small fraction of the funds needed to preserve and display an iron object that has been immersed in the sea for many years. So bringing a wreck back to the surface should not be undertaken lightly. In nearly all cases of salvaged U-boats, the results have been financially ruinous. Lifting barges that can raise shipwrecks using large cranes cost tens of thousands of pounds a day to charter. Once recovered, the costs of conservation and presentation mount astronomically as the boat will rapidly start to rust.

The U-boat U-534 was also sunk by the RAF in 1945, close to where U-3523 now lies. Its crew all evacuated that boat, meaning that she was not a grave when recovered from the sea in 1993 by Danish businessman Karsten Ree, allegedly in the somewhat incredible belief that it carried Nazi treasure. At a reported cost of £3m, the operation is thought to have been unprofitable. The boat contained nothing special, just the usual mundane objects carried on a U-boat at war.

U-534 after the rescue. Les Pickstock/Flickr, CC BY

Similar problems were experienced by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in the UK when it raised the Holland 1 submarine in 1982. In that case, the costs of long-term preservation proved much greater than anticipated after the initial rust-prevention treatment failed to stop the boat corroding. It had to be placed in a sealed tank full of alkali sodium carbonate solution for four years until the corrosive chloride ions had been removed, and was then transferred to a purpose-built exhibition building to protect it further.

The expensive process of raising more sunken submarines will add little to our knowledge of life at sea during World War II. But each time a U-boat is found, it places one more jigsaw piece in its correct place, giving us a clearer picture of the history of the U-boat wars. This is the true purpose of archaeology.


Innes McCartney, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Archaeology, Anthropology and Forensic Science, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

BU hosts international conference on the state of the world, fifty years after it was turned inside out (circa 1967) and upside down (circa 1968)

Association for Psychosocial Studies Biennial Conference

Bournemouth University, 5th-7th April 2018

‘Psychosocial Reflections on a Half Century of Cultural Revolution’

http://aps2018.bournemouth.ac.uk

A half century after the hippie counterculture of 1967 (‘the summer of love’) and the political turbulence of 1968 (‘May 68’), one aim of this conference is to stage a psychosocial examination of the ways in which today’s world is shaped by the forces symbolised by those two moments. It will explore the continuing influence of the deep social, cultural and political changes in the West, which crystallised in the events of these two years. The cultural forces and the political movements of that time aimed to change the world, and did so, though not in the ways that many of their participants expected. Their complex, multivalent legacy of ‘liberation’ is still developing and profoundly shapes the globalising world today, in the contests between what is called neo-liberalism, resurgent fundamentalisms, environmentalism, individualism, nationalisms, and the proliferation of identity politics.

A counter-cultural and identity-based ethos now dominates much of consumer culture, and is reflected in the recent development of some populist and protest politics. A libertarian critique of politics, once at the far margins, now informs popular attitudes towards many aspects of democratic governance; revolutionary critiques have become mainstream clichés. Hedonic themes suffuse everyday life, while self-reflection and emotional literacy have also become prominent values, linked to more positive orientations towards human diversity and the international community.

 

The programme is now available on the conference website:

http://aps2018.bournemouth.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Provisional-Programme.pdf

There are five keynotes and eighty papers, with presenters from all continents, as well as a number of experiential workshops. As well as examining the main theme of societal change, there is an open stream of papers on a wide range of topics. Methods of psychosocial inquiry are applicable to most topics. As an academic community, the psychosocial is a broad church defined only by a commitment to exploring and linking the internal and external worlds – the deeply personal and the equally deeply societal as sources of experience and action.

BU colleagues can attend the whole conference at the hugely discounted rate of £40, or £25 per day.

 

 

The Audience Agency – Digital Content Strategy for Dorset History Centre

Dorset History Centre  is carrying out research to find out more about what local people think about archives and how Dorset History Centre can improve its services.  As part of this research we are running four discussion groups, two in Bournemouth and two in Dorchester. Each discussion group will take up to 90 minutes and will involve an informal group discussion. Participants will receive £30 as a thank you for their time. We’re looking for people who have used or visited Dorset History Centre in the past and those who haven’t.

The discussion groups are scheduled to take place on Monday 8th May, 3pm and 6pm, Bournemouth Library (located in the Triangle, Bournemouth) ; and Tuesday 9th May, 3pm and 6pm, Dorset History Centre, Dorchester. 

We are currently collecting expressions of interest so if you’re interested in taking part please complete our short survey via this link http://research.audiencesurveys.org/s.asp?k=149155417809 . If you are selected to participate, our research agency will be in touch with more details.

 If you have friends who also might be interested, then please feel free to pass it on to them.

IHPRC celebrates 5th birthday

The International History of Public Relations Conference (IHPRC) celebrated its fifth birthday on the first day of the 2014 conference on Wednesday, July 2.

The conference chair, Prof Tom Watson, was joined in cutting the celebration cake by Prof Don Wright (BostonUniversity), Associate Professor Meg Lamme (UniversityofAlabama) and Associate Professor Natalia Rodriguez Salcedo (UniversityofNavarra), who were members of an advisory panel consulted on the establishment of the conference in 2009.

 The conference, which was opened by the Dean of The Media School, Stephen Jukes, has been attended by delegates from more than 12 countries. Some 33 papers and a Keynote Panel have been presented.

More than 150 papers have been offered by delegates from 30 countries in the past five years. The conference has established the field of PR history and spurred a big growth in journal and book publishing, with two more books launched at the 2014 conference.

 Planning is already beginning for the 2015 conference to be held on July 7-8.

(L-R) Prof Don Wright, Prof Tom Watson, Assoc Prof Meg Lamme & Assoc Prof Natalia Rodriguez Salcedo

 

PR education history archive now online

An insight into the first decade of PR education in the UK has just been posted online. It is the archive of the Public Relations Educators Forum (PREF) from 1994 to 1999, its most active years. It can be found at: http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/historyofpr/files/2010/03/PREF-Archive-1994-1999.pdf

Catalogued by Professor Tom Watson of the Media School, it illustrates the growth of PR education which began in 1987 in Scotland and a year later in England. PREF was founded in 1990 to bring the new cohort of PR educators together and help negotiate the academia-industry connection. As Bournemouth University (then Dorset Institute of Higher Education) was one of the first two UK universities to launch undergraduate studies in PR, the PREF archive also adds to university history.

It wasn’t an easy relationship with particular tension in the mid-1990s over industry’s attitude to the quality of graduates and its desire to impose a skills-led training curriculum on universities. This was resisted by PREF, as correspondence and evidence of meetings shows.

“This archive shows the teething pains of new academic-led education faced with industry’s desired for trained technicians. The positive news is that PR was an academic area in which women took leading roles from the outset,” Prof Watson said. The online archive contains copies of PREF’s newsletters and membership lists which show the rapid expansion of PR education in the UK.

The PREF archive is one of several projects to advance scholarship in public relations history being developed by Prof Watson during his Fusion Investment Fund-supported Study Leave.

 

Fusion supports Euro PR History Network advance

Delegates to the EPRHN Planning Meeting

With financial support from the Fusion Investment Fund, the European Public Relations History Network (EPRHN) held its first planning meeting at BU on Wednesday June 26.

The network was founded virtually in 2012 by Prof Tom Watson of the Media School and drew interest from 33 academics and practitioners in 11 European countries. It was approved.as a project by EUPRERA (Europe’s PR education and research association) in autumn last year.

Its aims are to develop and produce information about the history and historiography of public relations in Europe through the identification and formation of archives, transnational research, joint research bids and the production of publications in print and online formats.

The meeting of EPRHN’s core group brought seven historical researchers from Germany, Romania, Spain, Scotland, Turkey and Bournemouth. Fusion assisted their attendance through travel bursaries.

Among the actions to be progressed are a bid to the EU’s COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) scheme, which was facilitated on Wednesday by Paul Lynch of RKE; a second edition of its Archives Record publication; and a panel session on ‘developing the history of European public relations’ at EUPRERA’s annual conference in October.

Prof Watson, who was supported by Dr Tasos Theofilou in the organisation of the meeting, said it had been highly productive. “There’s a limit to what we can achieve by email and Skype. The EPRHN made a big forward step because FIF helped bring key members together”. It will also assist Prof Watson and Dr Theofilou to fully launch the group at the October conference.

“At present, 13 countries are represented in the network. We hope to widen that base and engage many more historical researchers in its activities”, said Prof Watson.

For more information about EPRHN and BU’s contribution to the burgeoning field of PR history, go to: http://historyofpr.com.