So exhibiting artifacts found at the surface is okay but anything from the wreck is ghoulish HOW

Feb 14, 2011
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I have noticed that some who oppose the recovery and exhibition of objects from the Titanic wreck feel such is ghoulish and grave robbery-
Yet some of those same critics have no problems with the exhibition of items that were found floating on the surface amidst the bodies, such as wreckwood, or items such as menues or paperwork found in the pockets of corpses.

If anything, the latter is even more ghoulish than the former.....

Personally, i favor the exhibition of anything from the wreck, whether it be from the wreck, or the surface- as long as it gets people talking about Titanic.....

How would the exhibition of a menu, from the pocket of a Titanic victim be acceptable, yet the exhibition of lets say a lantern from the wrecksite be 'ghoulish'?

i never understood the double standard....


regards


Tarn Stephnaos
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>i never understood the double standard.... <<

It's not that difficult to understand when the wrecksite itself is seen as a massive graveyard. The notion that graveyards are sacred is pretty well entrenched in human cultures everywhere.

Mind you, I'm not saying that I agree with it. Only that I understand it.
 
Feb 14, 2011
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The wreckwood (now on exhibition and in private collections) recovered by the Minia was found amidst corpses floating in the water..Some paper items that were recovered (and now on exhibition), such as a menu were found in the pocket of a body- HOW is the exhibition of material found on the surface so close to the actual victims (and sometimes on their person) acceptable to those who decry the exhibition of things from the wreck ghoulish?
I just find the double standard illogical..
Now I personally favor the exhibition of both types of items- i even own a small piece of wood from the grand staircase...

But if one is to regard items recovered from the wreck as having been stolen from a grave, then how could items recovered from the waters above the site,( in April 1912) not be concidered items from a grave?

Its seems to me if one is going to oppose the exhibition of items recovered from the wreck, they must be equally opposed to the exhibition of wreckage picked from the waters in the weeks that followed the sinking- Otherwise it's a total double standard..


regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I just find the double standard illogical..<<

People at large are not noted for always being logical or even clear thinking. The sentimentality at work may or may not be logical (Your milage as always, will vary) but it's there and won't go away any time soon.
 
Apr 3, 2005
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By that token, you can add the artifacts from land based tombs and such as they are in fact gravesites also. The same people who decry about grave robbing on Titanic usually won't give a second thought about going to a museum and viewing these artifacts.
The main reason people get up in arms on this subject is that it's the Titanic and she is very popular atm. You don't get this much debate (You do get some tho) on slightly less famous but equally tragic wrecks such as the Doria, empress of ireland,ect.
My own personal opinion is that these sites should be treated with respect and reverence but items that are irreplaceable or are of historical value should try to be saved. (Marconi room, Glass divider in First class suite, ect, are a few examples on titanic that could be of interest).
The whole ocean is a gravesite if you think about the countless wrecks there over the millenia.
The sea is an equal-opportunity destroyer if you don't treat it with respect.
 
M

Matt Pereira

Guest
I agree. I was on a myspace group dedicated to the Titanic, and I was having to put up with kids that was saying that what they read in the news paper about this couple wanting to get married above the wreck in a submarine was not right that it was wrong and disrespecting the dead. I think what it is, is that the majority of people don`t know have any brains to understand that its not wrong to get married at the wreck. And the retrevial of artifacts, well I made the point that if they want to talk bad about grave sites being sacred and you shouldn`t taken nothing what about the egyptian tombs that was raided and had even the mummies taken from them and are on display now. I even brought up the fact that I know of 3 man made lakes that i go to that was created by flooding a valley and that valley had no fewer than 4 cemeterys, If its so wrong to retreive artifacts from the Titanic why not complain about the other things that we do also that to me would be disrespecting the dead.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The sea is an equal-opportunity destroyer if you don't treat it with respect.<<

You got that right!

The Atlantic ocean is the grave of literally thousands...perhaps tens of thousands of vessels of all kinds from Viking Longboats to the largest liners. Some were casualties of war, but by and large, the Atlantic has killed more vessels without any help then all the military arms of the world managed to do on their best and bloodiest days!
 
May 1, 2007
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I've always been a bit on the fence about this. On the one hand, I think that we can and have learned quite a bit about Titanic and its historical context by studying what's left of her. I also think that artifact exhibitions can be very effective in getting people excited about history, and for that reason, I think it's a shame to see artifacts disappear into private collections or to never be recovered at all.

Having said that, I think it's important to show respect for the people who lost their lives and to not treat the wreck site like an amusement park.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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It's a misnomer to look upon the sea as a graveyard. A grave is a "place of burial". The victims are not "buried" which is why when a ship goes down the first thing the authorities will try to do is recover the bodies.
This is done of course so that families can then bury their loved ones in the traditional manner.

When it's not possible to recover or locate bodies the wreck site becomes a non tangible, spiritual place for the families of those lost.

The reality is that bodies could end up anywhere and in time cease to exist anyway. However as Michael and David state; an understanding and respect should still be shown and that is normally displayed by not "looting" a site.

Thankfully that does not happen with the Titanic and in view of the time passed it's correctly treated as a place of great archeological interest and as such everything taken is recorded etc.

My only caveat would be that any personal effects recovered and positively identified should be returned, where possible, to the descendants.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>It's a misnomer to look upon the sea as a graveyard. A grave is a "place of burial". <<

For a lot of reasons, this is a matter of some substantial disagreement. Not the least of which is that the sea is frequently used as a burial place by deliberate design. Then there's the matter of wrecked military vessels which are legally designated as War Graves.

>>The victims are not "buried" which is why when a ship goes down the first thing the authorities will try to do is recover the bodies.<<

Not exactly. There is the matter of families being able to bury loved ones, but there are also legal matters to be concerned with, not the least of which is that some national laws require that there be a body which is recovered and identified so that the death can be certified and probate of the estate can begin. If I recall correctly...and I might not...this was a problem that Spanish citizens who traveled on the Titanic had to deal with.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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Hi Michael

Yes the matter of "war graves" did cross my mind when I posted my comments. I believe the designation "war grave" by the military is more to do with preventing divers from snooping about their hardware than consideration for the human aspects.

My view is influenced by the fact that the military want to protect their wreck sites and keep divers away irrespective of whether there is a loss of life or not. For the military sentimentality comes below security in their list of priorities, understandably, so lets not be fooled.

Otherwise if ships are "graves" it could be argued that the Titanic should be designated a "peacetime grave" and given the same respect as the ships lost just 2 years later in the battle of Jutland that are now protected sites. After all why is it morally right to allow plunder of the titanic and not, for example, the HMS Invincible lost with over a thousand hands in 1916?

Of course Michael you are correct that by deliberate design people get what's called "buried at sea" but maybe the correct terminology that should be used by everyone is "committed to the sea".

There are no "graves" at sea no more than there is when a persons ashes are spread all over a football pitch. The pitch does not thereafter become a graveyard. The point I'm trying to make is that a "body" at sea does not remain in situ for too long - hence no grave.

Mount Everest has over 200 bodies spread about its summit. It is not looked upon as a graveyard with people encouraged to keep away. When bodies are stumbled upon enormous respect is given to them, as it should be. The same should apply to the issue of bodies at sea.

Thus, keeping half an eye on the original thread subject of accusations of "grave" robbery & being "ghoulish", it comes down to the same old contest faced in almost every issue that we face: emotions v practicality.

I always try to remain detached and look at issues from the practical viewpoint whilst respecting the emotions involved. Bit like a judge really. So lets carry on exploring whilst listening to and respecting the views of others, notably the two survivors and any first decendants.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I believe the designation "war grave" by the military is more to do with preventing divers from snooping about their hardware than consideration for the human aspects.<<

Can you tell me what classified equipment remains on either the HMHS Britannic or the HMS Royal Oak? I'm not aware of any and after between 60 to 100 years, you'll find there are few if any military secrets to protect there.

There is the security and even safety aspect that you mentioned, especially if a warship is loaded down with ammunition. However, don't rule out sentimentality as a factor. The military can be and often is coldly calculating and has to be. It's all in the nature of the beast. However, the military arms of any nation are composed of people with all the cultural baggage that comes with the deal. In that sense, it's unwise to rule out the sentimentality factor. I lived in the military culture all my adult life and I understand all too well where the respect for sentimentality and tradition comes from, and it's very deeply rooted.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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Hi Michael

Looking a bit closer I don't think "war grave" is the legal designation given to wrecks. The legal designation is one of either a controlled site or a protected place (irrespective of loss of life). The Royal Oak for example has controlled site status (according to the list as at June last year - see below)

"To date a total of 17 wrecked vessels, in military service when lost, have been designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. The places containing the remains of HMS A7, HMS Affray, HMS Bulwark, HMS Dasher, HMS Exmouth, HMS Formidable, HMS H5, HMS Hampshire, HMS Natal, HMS Royal Oak and HMS Vanguard are designated as controlled sites. The wrecks of HMS Gloucester, HMS Hood, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse, RFA Sir Galahad and the U-boat U-12 are designated as protected places." (source: hansard)

The wrecks of the fourteen British ships sunk at the Battle of Jutland have also been added. No sign of the Britannic having official protection though.

Survivor associations and other groups lobby the authorities to have their "war graves" designated protected places to prevent desecration of their vessels.

It begs the question why don't all military wrecks that incurred loss of life receive protected place status? If the authorities took the view that all such wrecks were "war graves" then surely they would take the necessary steps to protect them. After all, all lost military aircraft automatically receive protected place status irrespective of loss of life, even when they can't find the thing!!

This is what makes me suspect that maybe it's the machine involved (secrets or no secrets) and not necessarily the loss of life that holds sway.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The wrecks of the fourteen British ships sunk at the Battle of Jutland have also been added. No sign of the Britannic having official protection though.<<

Tell that to the expeditions which have to get permission from the owner (Simon Mills) the British government and the Greek authorities to dive on the wreck. I think they would take issue with you on that.

>>It begs the question why don't all military wrecks that incurred loss of life receive protected place status?<<

Because not all were lost as a consequence of wartime action. In any event, they do recieve a protected status in one fashion or another. Under the law, a sunken warship remains the property of the government which built her.

>>This is what makes me suspect that maybe it's the machine involved (secrets or no secrets) and not necessarily the loss of life that holds sway.<<

What machine? Cut it any way you like, you're still dealing with people and everything that comes with it. Just because they happen to be in government service doesn't automatically make them cold calculating automatons or even entirely logical. There's no particular reason beyond a desire to keep people from blowing themselves up to protect any military wreck, but it happens nonetheless and sentiment has a lot to do with it.
 
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As I understand it, "Designated Status" can be given to the area around an unclaimed wreck which is considered to be of archaeological, historical or artistic interest. All unclaimed British wrecks are regarded the property of "the crown" under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894. This is entirely separate from the concept of a "war grave", which is presumably a wreck site that is recognised as such a grave by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A wreck on the sea bed can, presumably, be both a designated site AND a war grave.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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Michael

I did say The Britannic does not have "official" protection. That's a fact however many "issues" can be raised. To highlight the difference please see the words spoken last year by a Government minister regarding the 14 ships sunk at the battle of Jutland:

"...we will be offering additional protection against disturbance and desecration to the British wrecks lost in the North Sea 90 years ago. Under the Protection of Military Remains Act we will designate the fourteen British wrecks as protected places, which equates to a "look but don't touch or enter" regime for sea users. This will preserve the final resting place of those who gave their lives so bravely to defend their country."

Now this final sentence is interesting. Shouldn't it apply to all such lives? What about the Britannic with 30 lost lives as a result of hitting a mine? I appreciate your point that she has a "degree" of protection anyway from the owners but I assume the penalties for breaking the Act are more severe than for simple trespass and theft.

If we're content with exploring and recovering artifacts from the final resting place of 1496 souls lost on a ship in peacetime then on the basis that all lives are equal (at least in my eyes) in does not seem right that selected vessels should be made "out of bounds" just on the basis of "sentimentality".

Just to clarify by "machine" I meant the hardware involved, trying to illustrate that it's the equipment that seems to rank higher in the pecking order. If a plane or vessel was considered "dangerous" the government would designate the area a "controlled site" rather than just a "protected place" to keep people away altogether.

Stanley

It appears that designation status is afforded by the The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 for vessels of historical & archaeological importance in the U.K.

Many different bodies can determine sites as war graves. However my understanding is that for U.K ships it's only if the Government designate the site, under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, as Protected or controlled will legal protection be in place above and beyond any owners rights.
 
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>>I did say The Britannic does not have "official" protection. <<

Actually, she does. That appears to be the point that you're missing here. You don't find yourself in a position to need the permission of the owner as well as two seperate governments for something that has no official protection.

And like it or not, logical or not, Titanic has official protection as well. That's why RMSTI has to answer to an Admiralty court in the United States for it's activities, and the reason that anyone else going down there can look, but not touch.
 
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Michael

The British Authorities have no legal jurisdiction whatsoever over the Britannic. The 1998 Britannic diving expedition confirm in an account of their preparations that they had to seek the permission of the owner and a licence from the Greek Authorities (no mention of seeking permission from the British Government)

The post of 26/7/03 on the Britannic thread (salvage her) containing the words of Simon Mills confirm that it's only for moral reasons that referral (not authorisation) is made to the British authorities (see extract below)

"There are also the moral considerations, and the British “Protection of Military Remains Act”￾ (1986) should be enough to indicate that sites considered to be war graves are still of considerable sensitivity to certain organisations. To some this excuse may seem like something of a sham, in which case I would wager that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion (the equivalent of the American War Veterans) would be happy to take issue with you."

There is no official, ie with legal status, list of maritime war graves, other than the list of ships that have protection under the 1986 Act. The Britannic does not have that designation.

If the ship is in international waters then even the owner appears to be limited in his protection rights - see article below which illustrates this point:

"Campaigners have warned that a legal loophole is enabling divers to desecrate the war graves of hundreds of British servicemen killed at sea, including those who died on Sir Galahad.

Companies are taking divers inside battleships, such as HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse. Items taken from the ships have also appeared on eBay and some DVDs have even included footage of human remains. Although HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse and Sir Galahad are designated war graves under the Protection of the Military Remains Act 1986, this act only applies to British citizens.

There is no law preventing foreign nationals from diving on wrecks in international waters.

Baroness Crawley said the Government was continuing to raise the issue with foreign governments and also aimed to educate diving companies about the historic importance of the wrecks." (Source: CDNN - 21/12/06)

Without getting too legal do you know exactly What jurisdiction the US admiralty courts have over the Titanic bearing in mind it's in International waters?

With regards to official protection there was a short thread in May 2006 under "court proceedings" about ownership with no real conclusion. A year on has anyone managed to shed some light on the Titanic ownership issue?