Timur and his grave

There are many strange tales about WWII, stories caught between documented facts and myth that echoes thru decades to be told again and again. This one is about Timur (Tamerlano for italians), his tomb, an archeologist and the nazi invasion of Russia.

I’ve got a date, a very bad one for russian history. 1941, June the 22nd. Keep this date in mind.

In Uzbekistan, in the legendary town of Samarkand, russian archeologist Mikhail Gerasimov achieved a life-long ambition and proceeded to open the tomb of Timur, the founder of the Timurid dynasty. It’s a great moment, Stalin himself ordered the mission to discover the grave.

Gerasimov already found other tombs of relatives and descendants of Timur, this was his triumph. There was an inscription on the grave: “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble.”; other sources reported different words, roughly of the same meaning. Unconfirmed sources claim that there was another inscription, this one inside the grave: “Who ever opens my tomb, shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.


The grave was opened in 1941, June the 20th. Two days after (remember the date set before?) nazis started the invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa. With a 22-million death toll it can be easily stated that Hitler was a “more terrible invader” than Timur. WWII was the worst conflict in history, so the words “the world shall tremble” applies too.

This is already a creepy story but it’s not over yet.

Timur was reinhumated with all the islamic honors in the month of November, 1942. Two days before of the start of Operation Uranus, the brilliant attack of Red Army that ended with the complete cut-off of the 6th Wehrmacht army. That was the turning point of the battle of Stalingrad, for many the turning point of the whole eastern european front of the WWII.

Is it a real story? A good mix between historic facts and legends?

3 thoughts on “Timur and his grave

  1. I think the bit about the tomb inscription is apocryphal.
    But the whole thing is certainly suggestive.
    Great post – I’ll link it back from my blog, if you don’t mind.

  2. L’ha ribloggato su Karavansarae ha commentato:
    Absolutely excellent post by my pal Angelo Benuzzi.
    I thought I should share it with my readers (and it’s also a great wayto test the “reblog” function).

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