It’s the summer of 2018, and a team of volunteer archaeologists walk through the dense, isolated woods of Courland – a region in the west of the Baltic republic of Latvia. But these men seek something far more macabre than the tranquillity of the wilderness. This terrain, after all, was once the scene of ferocious fighting in both the First and Second World Wars.
But we’ll return to those men a little later, as to understand what they were doing there, we need to backtrack and take in some history. You see, the most violent battles of WWII were fought on the Eastern Front between Germany and the other Axis powers and the Soviet Union and its allies. And Courland itself was the site of much intense and deadly combat.
In addition, as many know, WWII began after France and Britain declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939, following the Nazi invasion of Poland. In this manner, a conflagration that would ultimately engulf much of the planet got under way. However, to understand the events that were to happen in Eastern Europe – including those in Courland – we need to go back to the days just before WWII started.