The Nazi Weather Station in North America

This video was made possible by CuriosityStream. Get an entire yearly subscription for only
$11.99 right now with their special holiday deal at World War II: Of all the world wars, it’s
definitely in the top three. While World War II had a lot of fighting,
there was very little seen in North America, apart from one Pearl-Harbor-sized exception. In fact, the lack of a German invasion in
North America is one of the first facts I learned about WWII in school, along other
basics: Nazis bad, America good, Russia good but then later bad, Churchill drunk but still
good, etc, etc. So you can imagine my surprise at discovering,
when I delved into the topic mines for a fresh new clickbaity title, that in fact, the Germans
did invade North America, once, in 1943, for 28 hours, in a mission that was then forgotten
about for over 30 years. It was all centered around weather—you know,
that app on your phone that says whether you should wear a jacket today. Back in World War II, cell service wasn’t
good enough for smartphone based applications, so if you wanted to know what the weather
was going to be, you needed to have your own weather predicting apparatus—and that was
where the Germans had a problem. You see, weather systems in the Northern hemisphere
generally move from west to east, for a lot of complicated reasons that I don’t have
time to get into—something something Coriolis effect. I don’t understand the link between Toyota’s
best-selling line of subcompact and compact cars and weather patterns either but that’s
what Google’s for. The point is, if you want to know what the
weather will be like in the Atlantic Ocean and Europe in a few days, you have to look
at what’s happening in North America now. It’s like how if you want to know what memes
will be trending on Instagram tomorrow, you should look at Reddit today. The Allies, because they controlled North
America and most of the land around it, had plenty of weather stations in North America,
Iceland, and Greenland, which meant they could predict what the weather would be like in
Europe before the Germans could. In the early stages of the war, the Germans
got North American weather reports from secret arctic stations, weather ships, weather aircraft,
and U-boats with weather instrumentation, but at this stage, their North American weather
stations were easily captured by the Allies because, you know, they were on Allied land
and weather stations can’t run very fast. The ships were also captured, and the aircraft
were very limited in what they could collect because every time they flew into the West
Atlantic they risked being shot down. Also, in order for the U-boats to transmit
weather data they would have to break radio silence, thus allowing them to be tracked,
which really undermined the whole, “not getting found,” part of being a U-boat. But the Nazis really needed accurate weather
data, because weather prediction is a super important step in creating a pan-German racial
state. Tides affect where ships can land; storms
affect where ships and aircraft can safely travel; fog, rain, and clouds affect visibility;
temperature affects what equipment and clothing troops need; and so on. In fact, D-Day was largely contingent on it
being a day with low tide, minimal cloud cover, light winds, and low seas, which would allow
the allied troops to see, avoid, and disarm the sea mines off the coast of Normandy. So, the Germans designed a secret weather
station, called the Wetter-Funkgerat Land. While, “secret Nazi weather station,”
sounds like the plot of a direct-to-video History Channel movie, this was actually totally
real. These secret Nazi weather stations were then
deployed in several key locations: 14 were put in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas, 5 were
placed around the Barents Sea, and two were intended for North America. However, only one of those two made it, as
the submarine carrying the other was sunk by a British air attack, which, you know…
good. It was a Nazi submarine, and sinking Nazi
submarines is what you’re supposed to do. The other station traveled in a U-boat, the
U-537, which left for North America from Kiel, Germany. In order to keep it secret, the station was
nicknamed, “Kurt,” which is kind of a weird choice—codenames are usually something
much cooler. Like, imagine if instead of being called,
“the Manhattan Project,” it was just called “Steve.” Doesn’t have the same ring to it. Anyways, the U-Boat, carrying Kurt, was badly
damaged on its journey by a storm—after all, they didn’t know the weather yet—but
despite a crack in its hull, and the loss of its anti-aircraft cannons, the U-537 made
land on October 22, 1943 at Martin Bay in Northern Labrador—and while some of the
crew stayed back to repair the sub, the rest got to work installing Kurt. Once they were done, they camouflaged it with
empty American cigarette packages, and because labeling it, “Secret Nazi Weather Station,”
would have raised some eyebrows, they labeled it as part of the, “Canadian Meteor Service,”
which doesn’t exist. Then, 28 hours after arriving, they left. While the station was expected to work for
six months, for unknown reasons, it stopped transmitting after one. Which, again, you know, is good—Nazis are
bad. Perhaps the strangest element of this story,
though, is the entire thing was forgotten for over thirty years. Until 1977, Weather Station Kurt just sat
there, unnoticed, until a geomorphologist—basically a landscape scientist—named Peter Johnson
found it while working on an unrelated project. Because it was labeled as part of the, “Canadian
Meteor Service,” he didn’t think much of it, but later, a retired engineer for the
German engineering firm Siemens, who had originally built the station, found Johnsons’ notes,
connected the dots, and got in touch with the Canadians, who pulled an Indiana Jones
and decided that it belongs in a museum—specifically, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where it
still sits today. To this day, this remains as one of the only
times where Nazi soldiers made landfall in North America. If you don’t have time to go all the way
to Ottawa to see Kurt, I’ve got a great way that you can still learn a ton about World
War II: Curiosity Stream. It’s a documentary streaming site with thousands
of top-quality films, including literally dozens on World War II, and right now, during
their special holiday sale, you can get access for an entire year for only $11.99. I just want to let that sink in: an entire
year of access for $11.99. That’s less than the cost of a chicken parm
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to incredible documentary films, plus that’ll also include access to Nebula—the streaming
site started by myself and a bunch of other creators and has loads of great original content. On Nebula, you’ll even find the documentary
that I filmed on the tiny, remote, south-Atlantic island of St Helena. You can sign up for Curiosity Stream with
this special pricing, and get access to Nebula included, at

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Ah finally this topic, i never came to suggest it to you. While i was researching for a History exam in a library in munich i came across a little side note in a book about this Base, and after some research in the Internet it was my favourite History fact of ww2 thanks to make a Video about it

  2. I would be wary about CuriosityStream. They have no obvious way to cancel a trial and you cannot remove or even change your creditcard details. The cancel button handily appears after the first payment has been made, though. I suggest using a one-time creditcard if you want to check it out. Just a heads up.

    I will keep posting this as long as people keep shilling for those weasels.

  3. I don't think you even have to mention Pearl Harbor as an exception. I mean, it's thousands of miles away from the North American continent and not on it's continental shelf.

  4. Fun fact: My town has a hydroelectric powerplant that dates back from the 1930s and came from Nazi Germany. I wanna see it but I don't know its name lol

  5. I saw this at the canadian war museum, never knew about it till I saw it there. Really interesting how something like nazis in north america happened but no one knew about it till we found some rusty barrels in northern labrador, and even then it took another person finding evidence of such a mission to realize what the barrels really are. Also, this is left out of the video but, the crew of the u-boat all died when they got sunk later and almost all record and memory of the mission was lost with them. Thats why it took so long for someone to stubble upon a random document mentioning the mission for someone to realize it happened.

  6. slight correction here, the nazi had kind of invaded north America on another occasion, the island of st Pierre & Miquelon wish is located on the border of Quebec is a french territory, long story short, the germans sent spies on the island to monitor some s*** until general de Gaule sent his fleet to tell them who was now in charge…

  7. But what if you live a 10 minute transit ride from the Canadian War Museum (when the LRT is functional)? How could I possibly watch a documentary in that time?!

  8. Newfoundlander here: They knew about it for years before, they just didn't connect the dots. Also, this was really an attack on North America:

  9. Hawaii isn't in North America lol. You could've mentioned the invasion of parts of alaska or the shelling of the west coast by Japanese subs but you went with the one not on the right continent. There were also German weather stations that were manned in Greenland. There's a fascinating series of battles between Nazi weather station operators and the Sirius patrol aided by the US army air Force throughout coastal Greenland.

  10. Nazi U-boats also attacked iron ore boats In conception bay, Newfoundland which is now Canada and always was North America

  11. If you wanna leave but feeling a bit lazy then just move up north. USA! this is such a pathetic joke. Does the Canadians really want so much leaves?

  12. What is wrong with the leave? It is even in the Canadian Flag! This is so not funny but why is it a joke? Do you really want a joke or be a joke? You think I am kidding with you folks?

  13. @5:18 “one of” the only times Nazi soldiers landed on North America… in addition to Operation Pastorius and Magpie!

  14. 0:46 Actually if you did your research you'd know that in 1939 they also had a secret base in Mexico which they used to try to awaken ancient Aztec vampire gods.

  15. If the Manhattan project was called Steve the after action reports would have been amazing…

    After being dropped from a plane, Steve destroyed the entire city of Hiroshima in an instant without being caught by the Japanese military

  16. I like that Newfoundland wasn’t even part of Canada then, so the name should have raised some eyebrows if anyone found it.

  17. Did he say, ''the allies because they stole north America and most of the land around it''? Bravo! Stick it to the man!

  18. HAI: says Pearl Harbor was the only attack on North America during World War II

    Me: Just wait til he finds out about Japan's balloon bombs…

  19. The SS were Nazi soldiers, those guys who built up the weather station were Wehrmacht soldiers, its like calling american troops in Afghanistan Republican soldiers

  20. No one realised that America lost the war cause the Nazi's disguised their primary attack as "income tax" which made it to law.

  21. What about the 5000 killed on the East Coast by German Submarines?????
    The attack known as ‘Torpedo Alley’…
    Here’s a video about this Very successful German Attack here in the Americas::

  22. Everyone what are your thoughts on the German Attacks on US soil known as Torpedo Alley??? 5000 killed by Uboats..
    Watch this vid and comment!

  23. Churchill is a murderous psychopath, he killed millions of indian people by single handedly causing the Bengal Famine during the British rule. We, Indians hate him to the core.

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