Scientists reported finding bunkers, rusted bullets and other relics dating from the Second World War
Russian researchers have just discovered a secret Nazi base in the Arctic, showing yet another way in which WWII made an imprint on our planet.
Known as Schatzgräber, or “Treasure Hunter,” the base was a weather station aimed to support Nazi efforts in the Arctic. The region was a crucial convoy route for Allied troops, with more than 1,000 merchant American, Canadian, French and British ships delivering supplies to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program. Schatzgräber was built to help U-Boats and German patrols hinder and sink these convoys, which it did with a mixed rate of success.
Conditions in Schatzgräber, only 620 miles from the North Pole, were brutal. Up and running in 1943, the station had to abandoned the next year when its crew were poisoned with raw polar bear they had to eat when they ran low on supplies. A U-Boat had to be tasked with picking up the seriously ill crew and the station was abandoned.
At least, that’s the official record. Much of Schatzgräber’s story is based in myth: the station first came to light in the records of a 1953 German book, but no evidence had been found until now. Then there’s that name. While “Treasure Hunter” could reasonably be interpreted as a attacking the Allied convoys, some believe that the station served a double purpose as a base for Nazi archaeological study, in search of Nordic artifacts for propaganda purposes. (Or maybe somebody just watched Raiders of the Lost Ark one too many times.)
The theory has some basis in reality. The Nazi government vigorously promoted archaeology as a means of propoganda, and under the direction of Heinrich Himmler the program became increasingly devoted towards the occult. A 1938 German investigation into Iceland failed, but showed that the government believed the Arctic was crucial to its propaganda work. Alas, no hammers of Thor nor portals to God were found at Schatzgräber. Rather, shoes, gas canisters, bullets, ruined bunkers, and a batch of paper documents have been maintained by the island’s icy climate.
It will take a further analysis of those documents before any definitive statements about the nature of Schatzgräber can be made. “Now we can enter this data in the scientific revolution, and, referring to the evidence, to expand and clarify the idea of the German army operations in the Arctic region during the Second World War,” said research team member Eugene Yermolov.