The remnants of a clandestine Second World War German base have been rediscovered on an island near the North Pole by a team of Russian scientists.
The wartime “Schatzgrabber”, or “Treasure Hunter”, weather station was constructed by the German military in 1943 on Alexandra Land, one of the remote Franz Josef Land islands situated greater than 680 miles north of the Russian city of Arkhangelsk.
The islands are snow-covered and icy for most of the year and the location was last traveled to in the 1980s, the scientists said. But in August, a Russian archaeological team was capable of exploring and cataloging the remnants of the weather station the very first time.
“This summer in the Arctic was very warm, so the entire area of Schatzgrabber was completely free of snow and ice, which made it possible to explore the area fully,” team leader Evgeny Ermolov, a researcher with the Russian Arctic National Park, said in a statement.
What did the Nazis do at this base?
Approximately 10 German meteorologists and workers were positioned on the island from 1943, as part of a clandestine network of Arctic weather stations to provide warnings of bad conditions over the northern oceans and northern Europe, which were considered crucial to the German war effort.
Ermolov said the study team retrieved over 600 items from the remnants of buildings, a supply depot and an emergency aircraft landing strip. These artifacts have been delivered to the Arctic National Park museum in Arkhangelsk for additional study, the scientists said.
Ermolov said the very dry and nearly microbe-free ecosystem of Alexandra Land also helped to protect the wood, leather and cloth items at the locations, as well as bits of books and documents, including naval manuals, meteorology books, weather documents, magazines and a copy of Mark Twain’s classic novel “Tom Sawyer.”
The German base on Alexandra Land was forgotten after the war. A few of the structures were utilized by the Soviet military until a more permanent air base was constructed on the island in the 1950s.
A group of German military specialists also traveled to the islands in the 1980s to expunge the minefields that had been placed around the wartime base to guard it from an assault.
Ermolov noted that this summer was the first time the location has been thoroughly studied and documented since it was deserted.
Image credit: Evgeny Ermolov/Russian Arctic National Park
offers Science, Space, Technology, Health news, videos, images and reference information. For the latest science news, space news, technology news, health news visit redOrbit.com frequently. Learn something new every day.”