The wreckage of a World War II era German fighter plane has been discovered in a small Danish farm by a fourteen-year-old boy and his father while they were doing research for his history class.

Daniel Kristiansen grew up hearing stories from his grandfather about a Nazi warplane crashing on their land as a child, but even his grandfather believed the occupying Nazi forces in the region had reclaimed the wreckage.  Now, more than seventy years later, the boy and his father have uncovered what appears to be a Messerschmitt fighter plane, complete with the remains of the pilot still inside.

“We went out to the field with a metal detector,” Klaus Kristiansen, the boy’s father, told CNN. “I hoped we might find some old plates or something for Daniel to show in school.”

Soon, they found bits of debris that seemed to belong to an aircraft.  Intrigued by the discovery coupled with Daniel’s grandfather’s stories about crashing Nazi warplanes, they borrowed an excavator and began digging.  They found more bits of debris as they dug until, more than twenty feet below the ground, they stumbled across what appeared to be human remains.

“At first we were digging up a lot of dirt with metal fragments in it. Then we suddenly came across bones and pieces of clothes,” Kristiansen said. “It was like opening a book from yesterday.”

According to Daniel Kristiansen’s grandfather, he was making Christmas cookies with his young uncle and grandmother in 1944 when they saw a Nazi plane come careening out of the sky and crash into their small farm.  As he told the story, the Nazis soon arrived to reclaim the remains of the aircraft – but it would seem that was never the case.

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“I mainly thought it was just a good story,” Kristiansen said, never truly believing they might uncover a piece of the nation’s war-torn history in his own backyard.

Image courtesy of Henning Bagger/Scanpix

Because there is a possibility that there is still live ordnance aboard the craft, local law enforcement has assigned an explosive ordinance disposal team to aid in uncovering the remains of the airplane and tasked with removing or securing any ammunition or other dangerous materials.  The pilot’s remains and most of the aircraft have already been transferred to the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland, where the museum curator is confident that they may soon be able to determine the pilot’s identity.

“We found the pilot’s papers, and I think we have a name,” Torben Sarauw, curator and head of archaeology at the museum, said.  He believes that the aircraft came from a training base in Aalborg, a city not too far from the site of the crash.  The pilot’s wallet was found in the craft, which contained three condoms, two Danish coins and food stamps for the canteen in the Aalborg air base.

The boy and his father say that they hope the family of the pilot can be located and that the man’s remains can be returned to Germany.

“Maybe he can have a proper funeral,” Kristiansen told reporters.

The German embassy has been notified of the find, but have yet to make any formal statements regarding the plane’s discovery or an effort to locate family members of the deceased.

“Luckily my son has something to write about in his assignment now. He’s actually been given the day off school today so that he can watch the police and bomb disposal people working. It’s quite exciting for all of us.”

 

Images courtesy of Getty Images