Secret Nazi Weather Stations – A Fascinating Find

The secret missions undertaken by Admiral Doenitz’s U-Boat forces during the Second World War have always been a source of mystery, suspicion and rumour. Occasionally those missions are only revealed due to the persistent research of a single individual working with limited resources and the difficulty of tracing the movements and actions of U-Boats that were eventually sunk, taking their secrets and crew to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Such an individual was Franz Selinger, a retired engineer from Siemens. In 1980, Selinger was working on a history of the German weather service and was trying to discover whether U-Boats had managed to set up automated weather stations on the North American continent or not. He had found evidence of a plan to place Siemens designed, battery powered weather monitoring systems which were to form a ring of 21 identical stations reporting conditions in code from Norway to Greenland and Canada.

I’ll let the fascinating website Interesting Thing of the Day take up the story…

Two of the stations were destined for Canada. One of these was station WFL-26, code-named “Kurt.” On October 22, 1943, U-537 arrived in Martin Bay, Labrador. Its crew waited for fog to set in, and then surfaced and quickly ferried 10 large canisters full of parts to shore. On a hill about 300 meters inland, they set up the equipment, which had been labeled as property of the nonexistent “Canadian Weather Service.” They even left empty American cigarette packages lying around to further divert suspicion. Less than 24 hours later, after confirming that the station was broadcasting correctly, the U-boat snuck away. (The sub carrying the second weather station to Labrador the following year was sunk before it reached its destination.)

Soon after U-537 departed, however, something went wrong with Kurt. According to some reports, the station went mysteriously silent after a few days, or perhaps as long as two weeks. Other reports say the station continued to broadcast, but that its transmissions were jammed. Intriguingly, the Americans and Canadians apparently never picked up any of the signals, so the culprit may actually have been a German jamming station. In any case, the Germans got little if any useful data from the station, and having been known to very few people in the first place, it was soon forgotten.

Selinger was convinced the station must have been in place so he contacted the Canadian Coast Guard and, with their help, they managed to locate the long forgotten Nazi equipment still in place on the hill above Martin Bay in 1981. The remains are now on display at the Canadian War Museum, a rusted reminder of the only armed Nazi incursion onto North American soil.

Nazi Weather Station



2 Responses

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    • I have seen this weather station many times. Both as it is in the photo and in its now restored 1943 condition at the current CWM in Ottawa. The Curators have even used the camouflage white paint the station had on it just as the U-boat departed. Its worth seeing it.

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