Why Are Perfectly Preserved Bodies from WWI Popping Up in the Strangest Places?

Global warming is a subject that is still hotly debated, but this latest finding may convince some of the naysayers into believing that overall temperatures are actually rising.

A glacier in the Northern-Italian alps is steadily melting away. What’s most surprising about this is what’s revealed beneath the thawing ice. Corpses of soldiers from WWI are being found completely preserved, virtually mummified in ice. These bodies are nearly a century old but look as if they passed away just the other day.

Not only have bodies of soldiers been found, but letters — unsent ones, romantic ones from wives — and photographs of loved ones have been perfectly preserved too. All of these remains shed light on a historic battle called “The White War.”

This little known war began in 1915, 10 months into WWI. Italy was hungry to expand its borders to include some ice capped mountains so they waged war against Austria.

Because the territory Italy wanted to annex was in high altitudes, so was the fighting. Both sides often used fire mortar to cause avalanches. When soldiers died in this way, it was called “the white death.” Both sides lost thousands of lives.

Just this past September, two perfectly preserved Austrian soldiers, aged 17 and 18, emerged from the thawing ice with bullet holes in both of their skulls. Also, bodies of three Italian soldiers hanging upside down from an ice wall at an altitude of 12,000 feet were found recently too.


“The first thing I thought of were their mothers,” Franco Nicolis from the local Archeological Heritage Office told the Telegraph. “They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in. In all likelihood the soldiers’ mothers never discovered their sons’ fate.”

This was a forgotten war. Thanks to rising temperatures and the discovery of new cadavers, it’s a battle that’s being revisited today.

To date, more than 80 bodies have appeared from the depths of the melting Presena glacier. Archaeologists are certain there will be more. On the Italian side alone more than 750,000 soldiers died in battle, according to historian Mark Thompson, author of The White War.

In the summer of 2016, archeological teams will continue their search for more remains.