Stage VII

Time: March 11th - June 7th, 2021; Area: Archaeological research - 756.3 m²; digging work combined with archaeological surveillance - 59,900 m²; geophysical surveys - 52,870 m². Outcome: Exposing and examining relics of guardhouse No. 5 and the officer's villa, locating relics of ammunition bunker No. 8, and Polish and German firing positions.

The seventh stage of the project took place from March 11th to June 7th, 2021. Its goal was to document the relics of two buildings that were part of the Westerplatte Military Transit Depot: guardhouse No. 5 and the officer's villa. These studies were essential for the detailed design of their permanent protection and exhibition as part of the construction project of the Westerplatte and the 1939 War Museum. This project aims to revitalize the historical monument of the Westerplatte battlefield. According to the plans of the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, the remnants of both buildings were to become important elements of the Polish Army Cemetery on Westerplatte. The research would also help confirm or exclude the presence of additional burials in the area adjacent to the graves of the nine defenders of the peninsula discovered in 2019. 

During this stage, on plots 25/2 and 3/5, under archaeological supervision, soldiers from the Engineer Company of the 2nd Engineer Regiment from Kazuń Nowy carried out digging work. Their goal was to clear the area of explosive materials and military hazards to ensure the safety of museum staff and tourists visiting Westerplatte. Simultaneously, searches for historical artifacts were conducted in this area.


During this stage, an area of 756.3 m² was thoroughly examined, and digging work was conducted over an area of 59,900 m². The archaeological work began with the dismantling of the military cemetery, which had been in existence in its current form since 1989. Traces of its earlier stages were also recorded. Each of them had to some extent damaged the guardhouse No. 5 located below. Only the concrete floor and walls, not exceeding 80 cm in height in the basement, were preserved from the exposed building. The guardhouse was built in 1933-1934 as one of the elements of the new defense system of the Westerplatte. It was constructed in the shape of a rectangle with sides measuring 7.75 m × 5.1 m. Its walls were made of reinforced concrete cast in wooden formwork. Analysis of the preserved relics allowed for the reconstruction of internal divisions and the layout of combat positions in the basement. In the southeast corner, remnants of a combat cabin and the foundation of a heavy machine gun (HMG) fortification were recorded, with a shooting slit located in the eastern wall. One of the two light machine gun (LMG) firing positions was located in the western part of the northern wall, and the other must have been in the northern part of the eastern wall, adjacent to the HMG shooting position. Near the guardhouse, concrete foundations of a Ledóchowski fence, built in 1939, were exposed. Traces of a German air raid on September 2nd, 1939, in which at least seven Polish soldiers inside the building were killed, were also registered. They were visible in the form of a destroyed southwest corner, displacement of reinforced walls of the HMG combat cabin, damage to the basement floor, and a layer of soot. A crater from a 50 kg SC-50 bomb that destroyed the southwest corner of the building was also documented. After the end of the hostilities, the Germans used Polish civilian prisoners to recover bodies from the ruins of the guardhouse and to demolish its above-ground parts. The remains of the fallen Polish soldiers were discovered by archaeologists from the Museum in 2019 during the fifth stage of archaeological research. They were buried at the new Polish Army Cemetery on Westerplatte.


During the investigation of the officer's villa, the ground-level parts of its walls were exposed, and the internal divisions and stages of reconstruction were identified. The building, known as the Sonnenbrodt Villa, was constructed during the time when the resort was in operation, at the end of the 20th century. In 1919, it was unofficially bought by a representative of the Polish government, Mieczysław Jałowiecki, and designated for housing for Polish officials. After Poland took over the peninsula in 1926, the building was adapted for the needs of the officer corps of the Westerplatte Military Transit Depot (MTD). During the research, evidence of this adaptation was documented in the form of basements and a veranda built on the north side. In the basement room, remnants of a chimney flue and a layer of coal dust left after stored fuel were documented. The villa, partially damaged during the September attack, was demolished to its foundations during cleanup work after Westerplatte was occupied by the Germans. Bricks obtained from this demolition were used to expand the Stutthof camp.


In the vicinity of the cemetery, fragments of the sewage system built for the Westerplatte Military Transit Depot were exposed, and not far from it, the remains of two German soldiers who died in the spring of 1945 were found.


During digging work under archaeological supervision combined with searches for historical artifacts, test pits were excavated, allowing for the location of relics of ammunition bunker No. 8 and the Polish firing position at the "Fort" facility. In the vicinity, on a small area, a significant number of Polish Mauser rifle casings were also found. All items obtained during the work were inventoried and geodetically traced in real-time, allowing for precise planimetry. The analysis of the distribution of individual artifacts also made it possible to locate, among other things, three German firing positions from 1945. During the digging work, over 600 explosive and militarily hazardous items of military origin were found and disposed of, including a 50 kg aviation bomb, artillery shells ranging from 20 to 150 mm, mortar and hand grenades, fuses, and numerous small-arms ammunition components.


During this stage of research, almost 7000 items were acquired, of which over 4000 were considered artifacts of high historical, exhibition, or historical value. Among the most valuable items are elements of Polish weaponry found inside guardhouse No. 5: a defensive grenade wz. 1933, a box for the wheel sight of the Browning optical sight, an ammunition box, a gas mask filter, and a significant amount of Polish Mauser rifle ammunition. One of the finds was also the stabilizer of a German SC-50 bomb that destroyed the building. During sapper work, elements of an MG rifle and Panzerfaust grenade launchers, a Mannlicher rifle, an MP 35 submachine gun, a fuel barrel, elements of the MTD railway infrastructure, and numerous projectile fragments, including those fired from the Schleswig-Holstein ship, were also obtained.


As part of the seventh stage, geophysical surveys were also conducted on plot 68, covering an area of 52,870 m². The results of these works will be used to identify future archaeological research areas aimed at exposing objects related to the history of the Westerplatte Military Transit Depot.