As It Happens

Danish father and son find Nazi plane on family farm — along with human remains

A teenage boy and his dad have found parts of a Second World War German plane — and what appear to be the pilot's remains — buried on his family's property in Denmark.
14-year-old Danish boy Daniel Rom Kristensen sits in front of debris from the wreckage of a Second World War German aircraft, which he and his father found last week on their family farm. (Henning Bagger/AFP/Getty Images)

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Daniel Rom Kristiansen is definitely getting an A on his history assignment.

The 14-year-old boy and his father have dug up the remnants of a Second World War German airplane — and what appears to be its pilot — on their family farm in Birkelse, Denmark.

Daniel's dad Klaus Kristiansen told As It Happens host Carol Off that his late grandfather had often recounted the tale of the German plane that crashed on their property in November 1944, seven months before Denmark was liberated from five years of Nazi occupation.

"[Daniel] had a school project and one evening when we were having dinner we were talking about it and then I said, just for fun, that we can go up and find the plane on the field," Kristiansen said. "Just for fun, because I didn't really expect to find anything."

We found bones and all his clothes. We were quite shocked.-  Klaus Kristiansen 

Kristiansen said he'd been to the field many times before and "never found anything up there, not a single metal piece."

But when he and Daniel headed over with metal detectors, the thing started beeping over a patch of swampy land. So they got an excavator and started digging.

Cigarette papers and condoms

About six to eight metres underground, they discovered thousands of pieces of wreckage from an ME 109 Messerschmitt — and what appears to be the pilot's remains.

This is where the Kristiansens discovered the aircraft wreckage and human remains. (Henning Bagger/AFP/Getty Images)

"We found bones and all his clothes. We were quite shocked," Kristiansen said. "Then we started looking at his pockets of his pilot dress — he had a pilot jacket and trousers — and we found amazing things in his pockets."

Those amazing things include a wallet with a Nazi insignia, German money, Nazi emblems, a soldier's handbook, food stamps, cigarette papers and three condoms — all of which, along with the wreckage, have been turned over to the Nordjyllands Historiske Museum.

"We thought maybe it would be a little notice in the local newspaper, but Tuesday morning everything went crazy and then all the TV stations came up here, journalists, helicopters in the air, and I was really in shock. Wednesday, people from all over the world start calling us," Kristiansen said. "At that point, we realized that we had found something very special."

IDing the remains

​The next step is to try and learn more about who the pilot was and why the Germans — who Kristiansen's grandfather said spent a week at the scene of the crash back in 1944 — left his remains behind.

Klaus Kristiansen says he and his son have found thousands of pieces of wreckage from the German plane that crashed into their family field during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. (Henning Bagger/AFP/Getty Images)

A spokesperson for Germany's embassy in Copenhagen said a German organization that takes care of war graves and keep records of deceased German soldiers was helping to identify the pilot.

Soeren Flensted, a Second World War historian specializing in German airplanes, said the pilot might have been someone with little experience who was on a training mission.

"There are records that someone in northern Denmark crashed into a mire in November 1944, and it would be impossible to get him up," Flensted told The Associated Press. "So that could be him."​

Kristiansen says he's keen to find out more about the pilot, but he's also learned an important lesson about his own grandfather.

"Unfortunately, he died 15 years ago, but I should have listened more to him when he was alive."

With files from Associated Press


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