A weather station on the island of Alexandra Land in the Arctic Circle is involved in a story concerning secret Nazi science projects and meteorologists poisoned by polar bear meat. The story is so strange, it’s often dismissed as an odd war-time myth. But some 72 years later, Russian researchers have stumbled on the site of this lost weather station, along with a handful of wartime relics from the 1940s, according to the Russian Arctic National Park.
“Before it was only known from written sources, but now we also have real proof,” said Evgeny Ermolov, a senior researcher at the National Park, in a statement.
The station, known as the Fortune Seeker or Schatzgraber, was a secret Nazi-era meteorological station that was operated by Germany on the Franz Josef Land archipelago during the Second World War.
It was reportedly abandoned and destroyed in July 1944. The story goes that all of the scientists on the island became severely ill with trichinosis, after being forced to eat infected polar bear meat during a stint of low supplies. The meteorologists were rescued and the camp was thought to be actively destroyed. The following decades of harsh Arctic weather were also thought to have eroded what was left of the settlement.
Among the artifacts discovered on the island are objects bearing Nazi insignia and swastikas. Most importantly for the researchers, many of the items also appear to be marked and dated to give further confirmation that this is the real deal. They now hope to take the objects back to the mainland where they can be archived, studied, and eventually put on public display.
“About 500 items of historical value have been collected on the grounds of the former Treasure Hunter German station that operated on the Alexandra Land island of Franz Josef Land from September 1943 until July 1944,” National Park press secretary Yulia Petrova said in a statement. “They include munitions and military equipment, everyday items, personal effects, and fragments of meteorological devices.