Did you know a secret German base was defeated by a dead animal?

Remains of the long-lost German Schatzgräber weather station
(Photo: Yulia Petrova)
Here’s an interesting story to go with our recent article about the North Atlantic “weather war.” (Read our earlier article) Schatzgräber (“Treasure Hunter”) station was one of the many hidden German weather stations established in the Arctic region to gather meteorological data. Built on Alexandra Land, a part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago controlled by the Soviet Union, the station was brought low not by an Allied attack, but a dead animal.
Fragment of a bag found at the site of the station
(Photo: Yulia Petrova)
The station was built in late 1943 and manned by four civilian meteorologists and five soldiers. On May 30, 1944, the chief meteorologist and one of the soldiers hunted and shot a polar bear for food. The soldier, who was also the station’s cook, made “beef” tartare of the bear, which everybody ate, except for one vegetarian crewmember.
An Orthodox memorial cross (not related to the story) erected on Alexandra Land by Russia in 2023
(Photo: RIA Novosty)
The cook, who ate the most, was the first to report high fever and leg pain a few days later, and all the non-vegetarian crewmen followed suit soon after. The station went down with trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by roundworms present in the raw bear meat. The station’s evacuation was ordered.
A Focke-Wulf Fw 200 “Condor,” the type of plane first sent in to rescue the station crew
(Photo: Bundesarchiv)
A doctor was supposed to be flown in on July 7, but the plane’s pilot, who received contradictory reports from the delirious crew, decided to land on the island instead, damaging a landing gear in the process. A second aircraft, a seaplane had to be sent to fix the first one and evacuate the station personnel.
A Blohm & Voss BV 222 “Wiking” seaplane, the type used to evacuate the station
(Photo: Bundesarchiv)
After the war, former members of the troupe tried to warn the Soviet Union about the minefield left behind to protect the station, but were ignored. The mines were eventually disarmed by a Norwegian expedition in 1990, and artifacts from the station’s remains were recovered by Russian scientists in 2016.

Veterans Day Promotion

$500 discount on all tours

WWII veterans celebrated in Normandy
(Photo: Author’s own)
On the occasion of the upcoming Veterans Day, we are offering all our available tours with a discount of $500 if you book and pay in full until November 11, 2023. Note that this offer applies only in case of new bookings, and it cannot be combined with other special promotions. If you have any questions related to this promotion or our tours, please contact our travel consultants at info@beachesofnormandy.com
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