WARSAW, Poland, Aug. 26 (UPI) — A Soviet fighter plane and Jewish tombstones are among artifacts exposed by a drought that has reduced water levels in Poland’s Vistula River.
The 651-mile river, which runs northward from the southern Polish border to the Baltic Sea and passes through the capital city of Warsaw, is at its lowest level since measurements began in the 18th century because of a prolonged drought. It has exposed much of the river bed and objects of Polish history.
Among them is a Soviet fighter plane, believed to be a World War II-era IL-2, found in a dried lake near Warsaw and the Vistula. The remains of the crew and their aviation artifacts were still within the plane, which likely was shot down by German troops in 1945.
“For now we have managed to find the instrument panel, the engine, a wheel and a well-preserved radio set,” says Zdzislaw Leszczynski of the Vistula River Museum Wyszogrod. “The plane was so battered that it’s impossible to determine which model it is for the time being.”
Parts of Warsaw’s early 20th century Poniatowski Bridge , blown up by Nazi troops in 1944, have been discovered.
Fragments of Jewish tombstones have also been found on the dry river bed, likely from Warsaw’s Brodno Jewish cemetery, where only 300 tombstones of 3,000 original gravesites remain; the rest were pulled up and used to construct riverbank reinforcements during World War II.
“The Vistula River is hiding no end of secrets. They are everywhere,” said Jonny Daniels, of the Holocaust remembrance group From the Depths. “Jewish history is buried in the Vistula.”