WWII tank

In search of sunken treasure

German tank

By Dominik Jůn

Public broadcaster Český Rozhlas or Czech Radio is financing an unusual project – the attempted recovery of a WWII tank rumoured to be lost somewhere at the bottom of the river Labe (or Elbe). Diving teams are trawling through the river hoping to find a lost artefact from the past.

May 1945, Nazi military units are in turmoil as Soviet troops move across Europe from the east, and American troops move in from the west. Keen to avoid leaving any easy targets for the Allies to destroy, the Nazis either hid or destroyed most of their abandoned hardware in occupied Czechoslovakia.

Earlier in February, the Allied bombing of Dresden had forced many nazis to flee into Czechoslovakia.

This is where the legend of the lost tank was born. Czech Radio along with the River Elbe Administration and the Military History Institute have been following up on a specific report found in the radio archives of a man, now sadly deceased, who claimed that there was indeed a tank at the bottom of the Elbe.

The man, one Václav Patka had helped to clear the Labe river bed of military hardware right after the end of WWII. He stated that there was indeed a tank at a place called Dolní Zleb. Now, a team of specialists is trying to find out if this is true.