Aircraft was shot down by German forces days before the Soviet army liberated the Nazi death camp


A view of the Auschwitz death camp in Oswiecim, Poland (YouTube screenshot)

WARSAW, Poland — A Polish carp breeder found fragments of a Soviet bomber aircraft from World War II when he drained his lake near the former German Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, local history buffs announced Friday.

“The discovery was made just before Christmas… He contacted us immediately,” said Dagmar Kopijasz from the Foundation of Memory Sites Near Auschwitz-Birkenau (FPMP), which collects items related to the camp to save them from oblivion.

“It was really tough to recover the parts. We sifted through every square metre of the lake in the search for the smallest fragments, in mud during winter temperatures,” he told AFP.

He said the Ilyushin Il-4 aircraft had been shot down by a German anti-aircraft defence unit on January 19, 1945, just days before the Soviet army liberated the camp.

Kopijasz believes the parts, which bear Cyrillic writing, only surfaced this year because of land movement in the mining region.

Nazi Germany built the Auschwitz death camp after occupying Poland during World War II.

The Holocaust site has become a symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million European Jews, one million of whom were killed at the camp between 1940 and 1945. More than 100,000 non-Jews also died there.