Sensational WWII discoveries uncovered at Westerplatte Peninsula
Buried since 1939, a string of sensational discoveries have been made at the Westerplatte Peninsula by archaeologists working at the historic site.
Made during the construction of a new Military Cemetery of Fallen Polish Soldiers, archaeologists that had been supervising the work unearthed a map template that could only have belonged to one of two people: Major Henryk Sucharski or Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski.
With the pair jointly leading the defence of this key military transit depot, it is unlikely that the template could have belonged to anyone else.
Used to mark troop movements on maps, military symbols and a ruler can clearly be seen on the crumpled plastic material.
Though measuring just 10 x 14 centimetres in size, the discovery has been hailed for its significance.
Speaking to Radio Gdańsk, Filip Kuczma, head of the museum’s Archaeological Department, said: “These type of templates were included in the bags of every officer of the Second Polish Republic, so the fact that this was found right next to the Officers’ Villa clearly indicates it belonged to either Major Sucharski or Captain Dąbrowski.”
Among other valuables uncovered was an ashtray, a bottle of Troika cologne, broken tableware, an ointment label featuring the address of a Warsaw pharmacy, a Dentosan toothcare hygiene box and the spine of an Ultima Thule encyclopaedia.
Kuczma said: “These are not anonymous objects. We know who they belonged to and who used them so extracting artifacts that can be attributed to specific people is a special experience for me as an archaeologist.”
“We assume that because these were not cheap things, that they also belonged to the officers.”
The archaeologists also came across three bomb craters dating from the first siege of WWII.
Thought to have been made on September 2nd, 1939, these holes – located in close proximity to the officers’ quarters – were later in-filled by the Germans (as well as Polish prisoners from Stutthof concentration camp) following the Polish garrison’s surrender on September 7th.
Joanna Jarzębska-Stąporek from the Archaeological Department of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, said: “After the capture of Westerplatte the Germans tidied up the area and poured rubble and debris into these craters.
“In these, we found objects of great historical and exhibition value. Above all else though, these discoveries have carried a huge emotional charge.”
Moreover, a slew of other discoveries have been made relating to Guardhouse No. 5 which was destroyed during the siege. Seven Polish soldiers are known to have died inside.
“We found two mess kits with bomb traces on them,” said Kuczma. “There is a fork, a spoon, and a medal featuring St. Stanisław Kostka – this possibly belonged to one of the soldiers posted in the guardhouse.”
Described as the most compelling objects so far found at Westerplatte, hopes have been voiced by the archaeologists that the shattered ceramic floor tiles and panes of stained glass that have been discovered could subsequently be stitched back together.
With the craters spanning five metres in diameter, and thought to run two metres deep, hopes are also high that more items could yet be recovered as researchers painstakingly sift through the layers of earth.
This is not the first archaeological dig to have taken place at Westerplatte, but it could prove to be the most memorable.
Aside from revealing all the remaining secrets that may yet lie contained within the craters, archaeologists hope that their wider work in the area will lead to the discovery of the remains of a legionnaire by the name of Mieczysław Krzak.
Moreover, Jarzębska-Stąporek has also stated the team’s ambition to look for a field cannon known as the Putiłówki.
“We know that this field cannon was active on the first day of fighting. Unfortunately, it was quickly tracked down and neutralised by a direct hit,” she said.
First initiated in June of this year, the ninth dig to take place at Westerplatte is scheduled to run until November.
Likewise, the new cemetery is set to be unveiled at the beginning of the same month.