Scientists have unearthed a secret Nazi base code-named ‘Treasure Hunter’ on Alexandra Land in the Arctic Circle built on diktats of German dictator Adolf Hitler about 1,000 km from the North Pole, now in Russia.
Built in 1942, a year after Hitler invaded Russia, the matereological station was bandoned in July 1944 when the crew were poisoned to death after being forced to eat raw polar bear meat with no supplies for months.
Now after 72 years, researchers have come across over 500 relics, including the ruins of bunkers, discarded petrol canisters and some paper documents, which were well-preserved due to the island’s freezing climate. Even bullets, scraps of tents and personal items such as shoes were found and some of them marked with the swastika.
“Before it was only known from written sources, but now we also have real proof,” said Evgeny Ermolov, a senior researcher at the Russian Arctic National Park. The met station was in operation from September 1943 until July 1944.
Alexandra Land, named in honor of Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna of Russia, is also home to Nagurskoye military base, Russia’s northernmost military base. Way back in 1914, Russian navigator Valerian Albanov of the Svyataya Anna reached Cape Mary Harmsworth in Alexandra Land after his ordeal on the polar ice. The polar bear, Ursus maritimus, is found on Alexandra Land and it is genetically distinct from other polar bears.
During World War II the Germans built the ill-fated meteorological station on the island, called Schatzgräber (Treasure Hunter) but hardly did it turn out to be one. Most of the crew members were stricken with trichinosis after eating raw polar bear meat and the survivors were removed and the project abandoned.
The base has a 1,500 m (4,921 ft) snow runway and in 1996, an Antonov An-72 cargo aircraft crashed while landing at Nagurskoye.