A Swiss couple who went missing in the Alps as World War II was raging in Europe may have been found, thanks to a shrinking glacier that gave up the mummified remains of two people and some of their possessions.
If DNA confirms that the bodies belong to Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, the discovery would end a 75-year mystery surrounding their disappearance. According to NPR, the pair had gone off on foot on an August day in 1942 but never returned, leaving behind their seven children. A worker for a ski-lift company, however, spotted the bodies side by side at the Tsanfleuron glacier, more than 8,500 feet up, a few days ago.
The mummified pair was also found with a backpack, a watch and a book, among other items.
According to the report, the two appeared to have died in an accident a long time ago. Their clothing was from the WWII era.
A DNA test is still pending.
Their youngest daughter is 79 years old now, and expressed relief that her parents might have been found.
“Mom and dad will finally have their burial,” Marceline Udry-Dumoulin told Le Matin. “We spent our lives searching for them, relentlessly. We did not think we could ever give them the funeral they deserved. I must say that after 75 years of waiting this news calms me deeply.”
According to Le Matin, the father, 40, was a shoemaker and the mother, 37, was a teacher. They walked from their village Chandolin toward a mountain pasture to feed their cattle but never came back.
Udry-Dumoulin said it was the first time the woman went with her husband on a trip like that, because she had been pregnant for his other excursions.
The seven Dumoulin children were given homes with different families and became estranged for a time. Udry-Dumoulin stayed with an aunt and told Le Matin that she had never given up on finding her parents, a few times returning to the glacier to search for them.
“I kept wondering if they had suffered and what had become of them,” she said. “I have the pleasure of having answers to these questions from now on.”
Chandolin is in southwestern Switzerland. The bodies found a few days ago that could belong to the Dumoulin couple were of people who appeared to have been heading north through the mountains, toward the canton of Bern.
According to another report in Le Matin, the ice kept the bodies nicely preserved.
It isn’t the first time melting glaciers have revealed preserved bodies. The newspaper notes that three brothers named Fidelis, Cletus and Johann Ebener disappeared in 1926 but were found five years ago. British climbers came across skulls, bones, clothing and equipment on the Aletsch glacier that was later connected to the brothers, who were between 22 and 31 years old at the time of their disappearance.
“For the funeral, I will not put on black,” Udry-Dumoulin said. “I think white will be more appropriate. This represents hope, which I have never lost.”