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In 1942, Karlheinz Treu, an architecture student from Hannover then a conscript in a Luftwaffe antiaircraft unit, disappeared. With his unit, he had followed the guns deep into the Caucasus region of the Soviet Union, the pinnacle of the German advance. A distant cousin of Joe's, it is unknown how he died- killed in action or by accident, murdered, catured, starved or worked to death in a labor camp. All that is known is that one day he was in the ranks of a modern air force, and next he no longer existed. He is, by no means, unique in his war or most others before or since. The idea for his small casket came from some articles read online about efforts, well-intentioned and otherwise, to recover the remains of missing soldiers of both sides on the old battlefields of the former Soviet Union. The "remains" in this case consist of fragments of the appropriate uniform, boots and eyeglasses that have been seen, archaeologically speaking, to last longest when buried in the soil. The buttons and belt buckle are actual items, purchased in their distressed condition on Ebay. All other material has been fabricated and distressed using a variety of methods. The photograhs are artificially antiqued reproductions of the two portraits of Karlheinz from Joe's mother's family album, one showing him dapper in his student attire before his conscription, the other showing him in uniform, with a markedly different countenance, just before his departure for the war. His imagined remains should stand, in one spirit, for all of those who disappeared and continue to disappear as he did, as well as those who waited and continue to wait for their missing. In another, they should stand for those responsible for making such things possible.
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