Nazi-era tanks still stand in Bulgaria

16th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

16 August 2007, Fakiya, Bulgaria (dpa) - Taking a closer second look, a visitor to the village of Fakiya in south-eastern Bulgaria can just make out a rusting tank cannon some 10 metres off the side of a narrow road.

16 August 2007

Fakiya, Bulgaria (dpa) - Taking a closer second look, a visitor to the village of Fakiya in south-eastern Bulgaria can just make out a rusting tank cannon some 10 metres off the side of a narrow road.

It belongs to tank equipped with a Maybach engine, built in 1943 and delivered to Nazi Germany's World War Two army, the Wehrmacht. Inside, the tank is filled with spider webs and rust. Serial number, the stamp of the imperial eagle and a Nazi swastika are still easily recognisable.

Not far away, atop a small hillock, there is a second armoured vehicle. Beneath a stand of oak trees and now overgrown with weeds, the former military position set up on the edge of an abandoned vineyard has virtually merged into its natural surroundings.

There are still around 40 such tanks in the region along the border with Turkey, particularly the towns of Sharkovo and Voden. The barrels continue to be aimed at Turkey, whose border is only a few kilometres further south.

The vehicles are set up in dug-in positions. They were meant, up till the end of communism in Bulgaria in 1989, to protect the southern border of the erstwhile Warsaw Pact against Turkey, a member of NATO. Since 2004, Bulgaria itself has been a member of the NATO alliance.

"During World War II, Bulgaria was allied with Germany," explains Petko Yotov, director the Museum of Military History in Sofia. The weapons were never scrapped, but instead were employed, together with Soviet T-34 tanks, to secure the border after the war.

After 1989, the tank positions simply were forgotten.

"You can locate them along the boundary lines," says a border policeman who with a colleague still patrols the area in an all- terrain vehicle.

A former army master sergeant in the village tavern of Fakiya has more precise knowledge. But he shrugs off the idea of any mementos to be gotten from the tanks. He said all the moveable parts had long since been dismantled by collectors and scrap metal dealers.

The German tanks were meant to hold up the Turkish enemy until the arrival of the "fraternal Soviet air force," museum director Yotov says.

"Now we have no enemy to the south," adds Yotov, who himself had been a colonel in the Bulgarian army. And so the miltary equipment is finally to be scrapped this fall - while his museum is greatly hoping to acquire some new exhibit items.

Yotov says there are people willing to pay up to 50,000 euros for such a tank due to be scrapped.

DPA

Subject: German news

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