Secret German weather base uncovered after 72 years
Sunday, October 23, 2016, 1:29 PM - Russia has announced the discover of a secret German weather station in its territory, 72 years after it had been evacuated.
Known as "Schatzgraber" (Treasure Hunter) the manned base was apparently in operation 1943-1944, coinciding with Nazi Germany's invasion of the then-Soviet Union. It was located in Franz Joseph Land, an Arctic archipelago north of Russia.
The base's name may be more appropriate than the secret invaders expected: Surveyors have recovered around 500 artifacts from the site.
"They include munitions and military equipment, everyday items, personal effects and fragments of meteorological devices," Yulia Petrova, a spokeswoman for Russia's national resources and ecology ministry said in a release.
Russian researcher Evgeny Ermolov said in a ministry release the base's existence had been previously deduced from written records, though its exact location was unknown until now. During its operation, it transmitted about 700 weather reports.
The artifacts recovered so far are only fragments of what would have been functional, manned base, not only due to the effects of the harsh Arctic climate in intervening years, but also because the base was purposefully destroyed when it was evacuated.
The ministry says the staff of the station took ill after eating polar bear meat infested with roundworms. An aircraft was sent to parachute a doctor in, but its pilot decided to attempt a landing, which damaged the plane. However, the crew managed to repair it, and the sick meteorologists were flown to Nazi-occupied Norway in July of 1944, abandoning the site.
Germany established weather stations in far flung locations as part of the country's war effort, including on what would be Canadian soil.
In October 1943, German U-boat U-537 arrived at Martin Bay in northern Labrador, part of the Dominion of Newfoundland, according to Heritage Daily. Its crew set up Weather Station Kurt, which unlike this year's find, was unmanned.
It was the only known German weather station clandestinely set up in North America, and it apparently only transmitted for a few days. It was located by archaeologists in 1977, 28 years after Newfoundland joined Canada, and is currently on display at the Canadian War Museum.