History lovers from Koprzywnica (Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship) found the remains of a German Heinkel He 111 bomber. The explorers learned from local residents that in 1944 a German plane was shot down over Krzcin.
All that was known was that the plane was shot down in the summer of 1944 by Soviet troops. However, the exact location of the wreck was not known, so members of the “Wisła” Exploration and Historical Group from Koprzywnica, which had been existing for three years, had to go in search of it.
– No one could give the exact location. We managed to find it only by using metal detectors and analyzing maps on Geoportal. When the signal in one of the plots became very strong, we decided to explore this place – said Krzysztof Pitra from the “Wisła” Exploration and Historical Group from Koprzywnica.
The wreck burned for three days
Excavation work began in mid-October. The find was to some extent a surprise for the searchers, because they were looking for the remains of the plane. Only after unearthing the first parts there was no doubt that it was a Heinkel He 111, a Luftwaffe bomber. It was probably shot down on August 8, 1944, over Krzcin.
– We know from the residents’ accounts that the plane was flying very low and was shot down by Soviet soldiers. It soared and fell to the ground with great force, creating a huge funnel. Apparently it burned for three days. According to various versions, after a few or a dozen or so days after the disaster, the Soviets ordered the residents to collect the remains of the vehicle and throw everything into this funnel, Pitra said.
They found human bones and personal souvenirs
During the search, human bones, two dog tags, two wedding rings, a chain, an Iron Cross and two watches were found, one of them belonged to the navigator, a nameplate with the inscription Heinkel He 111 and two cabin guns.
Excavation works are still ongoing. Pitra emphasized that the group’s members operate in compliance with applicable regulations. They applied for permission to carry out the work from the owner of the plot and notified the provincial conservator of monuments about everything.
– We have informed the institution that is looking for descendants of German soldiers who died at the front. We are making efforts to ensure that all personal belongings go to the families of the soldiers who died in the plane crash, he noted. The preserved parts of the bomber are to be sent to one of Polish museums.
Main photo source: PAP/Piotr Polak