Scientists at the Russian Arctic National Park have unearthed the remains of a secret Nazi base on the remote island of Alexandra Land that was abandoned during the latter stages of World War II.
Due to this year’s warm Arctic summer, experts could fully explore the ground where the military weather station was located, finding more than 600 items.
“These artifacts unmistakably advise about the German identity of the station, and also suggest that its designation was both military and meteorological,” explained a spokeswoman for the Russian Arctic National Park, in an email to FoxNews.com.
Researchers found German mines, hand grenade fragments, cartridge boxes, cartridges for Mauser 98 rifles and boxes for MG-34 submachine gun feed belts. Parts of uniforms, overcoats, underwear, socks, and pieces of footwear, were also discovered, as well as sacks bearing the label of the German army.
Scientific items found include pieces of weather balloons, thermometers, astronomic tables, journals with meteorological data and textbooks on meteorology stamped with the seal of Germany’s Navy. Books of fiction such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” were discovered, as well as packages for food and even toothpaste.
The German weather station Schatzgräber (Treasure Hunter) was located on Alexandra Land, an island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, from September 1943 to July 1944, during which time it sent more than 700 meteorological reports. Military personnel at the weather station fell ill after eating polar bear meat contaminated with roundworms, forcing the base’s evacuation in 1944.
“The station was called ‘secret’ because during the Second World War its existence was unknown in the USSR,” the Russian National Park Service spokeswoman told FoxNews.com, noting that the abandoned station was spotted during an airborne survey of the area in 1947. “Starting from 1952, Soviet polar explorers were living there, waiting for the opening of a new weather station. In 1956, the German station was destroyed,” it added.
Soviet polar explorers living on the island were aware of the site, as were military personnel and border guards. A research fellow from the Russian Arctic National Park began reconnaissance of the former weather station and the abandoned items in 2012, with a more detailed analysis undertaken this year.
The artifacts have been taken to the park’s office in Archangelsk, where they will be studied before becoming part of an exhibition at the Russian Arctic National Park museum.
A topographical plan of the Alexandra Land site was also drawn up this year to show the base’s destroyed building, its meteorological facility and network of defensive structures.
“The work is not finished yet, some surface material which is of value for historians still remains untouched,” explained the Russian Arctic National Park spokeswoman, “Besides, it is necessary to study activities of the Germans in the archipelago in more detail. It will be necessary to contact German archives for this purpose.”
The Arctic was a key supply route for Allied Naval convoys during World War II. Laden with supplies and military equipment, the convoys sailed from the U.K and Iceland to northern ports in the Soviet Union such as Archangelsk and Murmansk.
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