Rusting Nazi Panzer tank is discovered in a Polish river nearly 80 years after it sank during retreat
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A lost Nazi tank has been dragged from its watery grave after nearly 80 years, revealing the only surviving Panzer of its kind in the world.

For decades, local legend said that the Nazis lost several tanks retreating across the Czarna Nida river near Bieleckie Młyny, southern Poland, in 1945.

The legends were proved to be true when two incomplete Panzers were dragged from the river in 1990 and 2003 respectively, but there were still reports that there was another to be discovered.

Now that vehicle has been found too, with history buffs unearthing a unique Bergepanther – a tank that tows tanks – which may be the last of its kind.

And the tank could be worth a fortune, with a similar model fetching €15m (£13m) in Germany two years ago, according to local media.

The tank being pulled from the water. History buffs unearthed a unique Bergepanther – a tank that tows tanks – which may be the last of its kind

The tank being pulled from the water. History buffs unearthed a unique Bergepanther – a tank that tows tanks – which may be the last of its kind

The tank after it was dragged onto the shore. The vehicle could be worth a fortune, with a similar model fetching €15m (£13m) in Germany two years ago, according to local media

The tank after it was dragged onto the shore. The vehicle could be worth a fortune, with a similar model fetching €15m (£13m) in Germany two years ago, according to local media

Michał Kęszycki, technical manager of Panzer Farm – which organised the salvage operation – traced the discovery back 30 years.

He said: ‘The story begins in the early 90s when an old man showed my uncle the place where the vehicle sunk. The story was, that there was a tank which pulled other tanks.

‘The old guy knew a little about German tanks and he told my uncle it was a Panther tank without a turret.

‘The guy was old and he just showed the place, but not exactly. We found the exact place a few months ago with a magnetometer.’

The rusted tank. Michał Kęszycki, technical manager of Panzer Farm, said: 'There are only a few existing Bergepanther tanks in the world, but this version is the only one'

The rusted tank. Michał Kęszycki, technical manager of Panzer Farm, said: ‘There are only a few existing Bergepanther tanks in the world, but this version is the only one’

The tank being dragged out from the water. The Bergepanther was introduced in 1943 because of the difficulties faced by the Nazis recovering lost tanks

The tank being dragged out from the water. The Bergepanther was introduced in 1943 because of the difficulties faced by the Nazis recovering lost tanks

He continued: ‘The wreck of the Bergepanther Ausf. D from Siebert factory is the only one existing in the world – as far as I know.

‘There are only a few existing Bergepanther tanks in the world, but this version is the only one.’

The Bergepanther was introduced in 1943 because of the difficulties faced by the Nazis recovering lost tanks.

Up to that point, they had struggled to recover their Panzers with trucks, and other tanks were banned from helping lest both vehicles should be lost.

The Bergepanther, however, boasted a winch capable of pulling even heavier tanks, and sufficient armour to allow it to operate under fire.

Local historian Konrad Maj said there were five such Bergepanthers stationed in the area from late 1944, where the Nazi’s 16th Armored Division was awaiting a Soviet attack.

But by mid-January 1945, the Germans found themselves surrounded, and in the rush to retreat some tried to cross the Czarna Nida without finding a bridge.

The lost Nazi tank. Local historian Konrad Maj said there were five such Bergepanthers stationed in the area from late 1944, where the Nazis' 16th Armored Division was awaiting a Soviet attack

The lost Nazi tank. Local historian Konrad Maj said there were five such Bergepanthers stationed in the area from late 1944, where the Nazis’ 16th Armored Division was awaiting a Soviet attack

Mr Maj said: ‘In desperate attempts to get out of this trap, some tankers tried to ford Czarna Nida.

‘During one such attempt, the Bergepanther which was recovered sank.

‘Soviet engineering troops reported that the ice on Czarna Nida allowed only lighter vehicles to cross – it was not suitable for tanks.’

The tank will now remain at the Polish Army Museum in Warsaw, which called the vehicle an ‘absolute rarity’.

Mr Kęszycki lamented that the Panzer Farm, a museum and vehicle restoration company, would not get to keep its discovery.

However he said that the recovery itself was a ‘dream experience’.

He said: ‘This type of recovery proves some historical messages that went through a few generations of local people – another legend came true!

‘It also gives a rare opportunity to get access to the patterns of the parts of this rare vehicle.’



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