Imagine cleaning up your family home only to find a secret cache of Nazi artifacts hidden in walls throughout the house.
Last month that’s exactly what happened to history teacher Sebastian Yurtseven, who uncovered the artifacts after torrential rains and flooding hit the region of Hagen, German.
“I got goosebumps,” Yurtseven told Westfalenpost, a German news outlet. “I didn’t think it would turn into such a huge discovery.”
After removing a loose piece of plasterboard, Yurtseven noticed a hole in the wall behind it. Inside were a trove of objects — including a newspaper from 1945, Nazi Party medals adorned with swastikas, a portrait of Hitler, a revolver, brass knuckles, gas masks and boxes of documents.
“The objects lay in a narrow shaft between two houses,” Andreas Korthals, an archivist at Stadtarchiv Hagen, told Live Science. “They were probably disposed of in this crevice in April 1945, when American troops marched in.”
According to Yurtseven, his family bought the home in the 1960s, unaware that the home was once used as a regional office for the National Socialistische Volkswohlfahrt (NSV). Run by the Nazis, the NSV helped determine who qualified for aid and welfare based on the strict racial and ideological goals of the Third Reich.
Little is known about the NSV, with many of its official documents and archives either destroyed or hidden following the Allied advance across Europe.
Founded in 1932, the purpose of the NSV “was to supplant organizations such as the Red Cross and church charities and to spread Nazi ideology through welfare work,” according to the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI). By 1943 the agency had about 17 million members with its activities including providing food and medical treatment to those displaced by bombing raids and evacuating children to rural areas.
Dr. Ralf Blank, Head of the Historical Museums and the Hagen City Archives, told Westfalenpost the discovery “is an incredibly important find. It throws a spotlight on the actions and activities of Nazi agencies at the local level.”
The objects found in the cavity of Yurtseven’s aunt’s home will be indexed and archived at the local museum in Hagen, Korthals told Live Science. Untouched for more than 75 years, some of the Nazi artifacts will be made available for research, while others will go on display in the city museum.