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A secret Nazi weather station in North America

By Curt Anderson
July 10, 2021 11:31 pm
Category: History

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In the northern hemisphere, weather systems in temperate climates predominantly move from west to east. That gave the Allies an important meteorological and military advantage over the German-led Axis alliance.

To minimize the Allied advantage, the Germans developed the Wetter-Funkgerät Land automatic weather station to gather weather information. Manufactured by Siemens (the German engineering firm founded in 1847), fourteen of these radio weather stations were established in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas. Two were intended for North America but the U-Boat carrying the second station was sunk.

On October 22, 1943 a U-Boat carrying the weather station, codenamed "Kurt" for the meteorologist, Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer, arrived near to the north-eastern tip of the Labrador Peninsula. A site as far north as possible was selected to minimize the risk of the station being discovered by Inuit people. Within an hour of dropping anchor, a scouting party had located a suitable site, and soon after Dr. Sommermeyer, his assistant, and ten sailors disembarked to install the station. Armed lookouts were posted on nearby high ground. The crew worked through the night to install "Kurt".

Empty American cigarette packets were left around the site to deceive any Allied personnel that chanced upon it, and the equipment was marked as the property of the non-existent and improbably named "Canadian Meteor Service" (the land was part of the then-Dominion of Newfoundland which was not part of Canada until 1949).

The Wetter-Funkgerät Land automatic weather station functioned for only a month before it permanently failed under mysterious circumstances, possibly because its radio transmissions were jammed.

The station was forgotten until 1977 when Peter Johnson, a geomorphologist working on an unrelated project, stumbled upon the German weather station. He suspected it was a Canadian military installation.

Around the same time, retired Siemens engineer Franz Selinger, who was writing a history of the company, went through Sommermeyer's papers and learned of the station's existence. He contacted Canadian Department of National Defence historian W.A.B. Douglas, who went to the site with a team in 1981 and found the station still there, although the canisters had been opened and components strewn about the site. Weather Station Kurt was brought to Ottawa and is now on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

It was the only known armed German military operation on land in North America during the Second World War.

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  1. by HatetheSwamp on July 11, 2021 8:27 am
    Nice article, Curt.

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