Historic day

By: Arjen Drost

Sep 04 2015

Tags: , , ,

Category: History, Photography, Polar

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Aperture:f/8
Focal Length:70mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/4000 sec
Camera:
Haudegen weather station

Summer 1944: William Dege lead a small German naval meteorological unit that was brought ashore by U-boat at Wordiebukta in the inner parts of Rijpfjord on Nordaustlandet. They were to record the weather and sent daily weather reports back home. There were three more of these stations on Spitsbergen, but this one, called Haudegen, was the most remote one and had the harshest climate. The Germans needed those weather reports to make a forecast for the northern sea route that the Allied forces used to transport weapons to Murmansk. Dege and his team were supposed to be relieved in the summer of 1945.

September 1945: With the war in Europe ending in the beginning of May 1945, the weather forecasts were not needed anymore. However, as the mission was very secret and remote, no ship arrived to pick up Dege and his party. As the summer came and went, the Germans started to prepare for another cold winter on Nordaustlandet. They tried to make contact with the allied and Norwegian forces in Tromsø, but nobody seemed to come.

Until September 3rd, when a Norwegian sealing vessel found the plywood cabin and its inhabitants. The Norwegians welcomed the Germans on board and offered to take them back to civilisation. On September 4th, today exactly 70 years ago and almost 4 months after the war was officially over, William Dege handed over his revolver to the Norwegian captain as an official sign of surrender, making this unit the last German unit to surrender after WWII.

30 August 2015: During our cruise we have a landing at the Haudegen station. This hut is the only of the four weather stations that is still standing and  is in relatively good state. In recent years the Sysselman have done some maintenance on the hut to preserve it for later generations. It’s really special to walk around in an area like this. Even today only very few ships visit this fjord and see this place. I feel privileged to be on one of the few ships that made it this year.

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