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6 November 2017
Disposal of the Wreckage of Halifax III NA-240 Z5-V

The following information would not have been located without German assistance. Archivist Lars Freiberg diligently searched the Delitzsch, Eilenburg and Leipzig Archives for Zaasch records, and located the Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda relating to the aircraft disposal. Lars also acted as guide, translator and photographer during my visit to Germany in May 2005. Thomas Frey translated the document in Australia. Thank you Lars and Thomas.

Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda of 5 December 1945 – English translation.

Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda of 5 December 1945 – German document (scan of original copy, reproduced here at smaller than original size).

Advertisement from October 1945, which includes details of "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)".

The site of the former "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" photographed on 13 May 2005.

Google Earth aerial map showing the route from Zaasch to Rackwitz.

Comments relating to the aircraft disposal.

Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda, 5 December 1945 – English translation. Marks on the document due to its age, and the quality of the handwriting makes interpretation of some of the words difficult. Where exact spelling is not certain, comments in italics and question marks have been added. Formatting as per the original has not been attempted. Item 1 on the Agenda relates to the disposal of Halifax III NA240 Z5-V. Items 2, 3, 4, and 5 do not appear to have any relevance to the aircraft disposal.

Page 37

Proceedings took place
Zaasch, 5 December 1945

Present:

Mayor:
Karl Franke

“I Beigeordnete” (deputy or assistant mayor or assemblyman?) – crossed out.
“II Gemeinderate” (community councillors?) – crossed out.

Other Council members (assume they are not in the 2 categories listed above?):
Nicklisch, Fritz (?)
Anders (?)
Krone-Nietsch, R. (?)
Schönbrodt, A. (?)
Sack, Paul (?)
Grundmann, Franz (?)

The Mayor opened the session at 8 o’clock (20 hundred hours).

He stated that the Councillors had been summonsed (or invited) from the …………… (undated)
with indication (or advice) of the Agenda, according to rules.

Not present, but on leave
…………………… (blank)
Not present, but not on leave (absent for other reason)
………………… (blank)

Following on, the points of the Agenda were discussed, with the results of the discussion as follows:

Point

1.             Aeroplane sold to Rackwitz.
Removal within a fortnight (or 14 days).
2.             One person to deal with the written tasks
of the office, mentioned was Miss Lübeck.
The agreement (or acceptance) from Miss Lübeck had been obtained.
3.             Night-watchman for the 2 distilleries
Gross wage: 30 marks/week, before deductions, half each W & H.
4.             Röhricht.
5.             Milk delivery in lieu of non-delivered eggs!

End 10 o’clock (22 hundred hours).

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October 1945 advertisement for Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz, where the wreckage of Halifax III NA240 Z5-V was disposed of in December 1945.

 

Advertisement for the Leipzig Product Exhibition from the 18 to 21 October 1945. "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" had the largest entry in the advertisement along the lower edge. This sections has been cut and pasted below. A literal translation is "Leipzig light metal works Rackwitz".

This advertisement was photographed on 13 May 2005 from a historical display at the Leipzig Stadtarchiv – thank you to Archivist Frau Birgit Horn-Kolditz for allowing this. The display at the Leipzig Archives was to represent the aftermath of WWII in Leipzig.

Anecdotal evidence from Archivist Lars Freiberg, who at one stage lived in Rackwitz the LLW was a factory which recycled planes (among other things) by melting down and extracting the metal. He recalls seeing the wreckage of planes there as a teenager in the late 1960s. At one stage the factory had approximately 5000 workers, but closed after 1990.

Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg.

 

October 1945 advertisement for Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz, where the wreckage of Halifax III NA240 Z5-V was disposed of in December 1945.

"Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" section of the advertisement for the Leipzig Product Exhibition from the 18 to 21 October 1945. (From a historical display at the Leipzig Stadtarchiv on 13 May 2005, full advertisement above.) Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg.
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LLW Rackwitz, in May 2005, showing some of the 1945 structures, pic 1.

A section of the former "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" photographed on 13 May 2005. The original brick supports in the reconstruction are pre-1945.
Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg.

 

 


LLW Rackwitz, in May 2005, showing some of the 1945 structures, pic 2.

A section of the former "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" photographed on 13 May 2005. The original circular brick tower is pre-1945.
Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg.

 

 

LLW Rackwitz in May 2005, pic 3.

A section of the former "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" photographed on 13 May 2005. This section appears to be post-war construction.
Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg.

 

 

LLW Rackwitz in May 2005, pic 4.

A section of the former "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)" photographed on 13 May 2005, also appears to be post-war construction.
Photo copyright 2005 L.Freiberg. Return to top of page.

Route from crash site of Halifax NA240 Z5-V at Zaasch, to disposal site at Rackwitz.

This aerial photo is taken from Google Earth with north at the top and south at the bottom. Halifax NA240 Z5-V crashed on the northern outskirts of the village of Zaasch (purple arrow). The purple line shows the route by road from Zaasch, travelling south-south-east bypassing the western side of the town of Delitzsch, and on to Rackwitz (purple arrow), where the aircraft wreckage was sold to the "Leipziger Leichtmetallwerk Rackwitz (LLW)". The distance by road from Zaasch to Rackwitz is 19.2 kms (11.9 miles). Zaasch to Delitzsch is about 3.5 km (2.2 miles). Also labelled is the airport at Halle, and the northern area of the city of Leipzig. The Bomber Command target for the night of 10 April 1945 was the Wahren rail yards on the north western side of Leipzig. (Google Maps imagery 01/01/2010, from an altitude of 31.02 km.)

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Comments relating to the disposal of the wreckage of Halifax NA240 Z5-V.

Information from Ortschronist Herr Hans Dedek (Village Historian) from Zaasch, as emailed by German Archivist Lars Freiberg .....

"The Halifax with the crew of your father crashed into a barn. The barn belonged to the family Horn. The farm of Mr Krone was located at an angle opposite. Mr Krone was probably the only person who was witness at that time. However, we don't know whether he has helped your father or has seen him. Mr Krone had no children and also no inheritances for his farm. He gave his whole farm to the administrator of this farm, Mr Nitzsch in the year 1946. The administrator and his family had the surname of Krone-Nitzsch now. It was namely a law at that time that a farm owner had to accept the name of his predecessor. The families Krone and also Krone-Nitzsch went 1951 to Western Germany. The daughter of Mr Nitzsch only lives on the two families today. Mrs Krone-Nitzsch was born 1942 though and can remember nothing certainly."

The information from Herr Dedek can be linked to two documents.
1. The Crash Investigation Report of 14 October 1947 lists the interrogation of the sole witness, Herr Krone, a farmer from Zaasch. As advised by Herr Dedek, a Mr Krone lived in the farmhouse opposite the crash site, and was probably the only witness. One could safely assume that both men named are the same person. The witness stated that ....

"About three or four weeks after the crash the entire wreckage was removed by German officials to an unknown destination."

The Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda was dated 5 / XII 1945 – the XII (with bar above and below) being the Roman script for 12. According to German format, this therefore dates the document as 5 December 1945. This was 8 months after the crash, not 3 or 4 weeks. The Agenda point 1 lists the sale of the aircraft to Rackwitz, with the removal within a fortnight. From that statement, it would appear that the wreckage was still in its original place in December 1945. However it is possible the wreckage had been collected a month after the crash and placed in local storage for later sale and disposal. Alternately, Herr Krone may have simply misjudged or forgotten the actual timing of the events when he was questioned in Oct 1947, 2.5 years after the crash. As noted in the discussion on the Crash Investigation Report page, Herr Krone was recorded as describing the crash "at about midnight on 12 April 1945" – in error for the correct date of 10 April 1945, either by incorrect memory recall, or by typing error in the report.

2. On the Zaasch Bürgermeister's Meeting Agenda of 5 December 1945, one of the Council members listed as being in attendance was R. Krone-Nietsch. Herr Dedek's advice was that Mr Krone's farm was taken over by Mr Nitzsch in 1946, with the Nitzsch family then assuming the new name of Krone-Nitzsch. Is the Councillor R. Krone-Nietsch (Dec 1945) and the farmer Krone-Nitzsch (1946) the same person? This is possible as Zaasch is only a small village, and the differences in spelling may simply be errors. The time lines and dates of events appear incorrect, however these may have blurred over time and the farm may have changed ownership in late 1945 rather than 1946.

Herr Dedek advised that both the Krone and also Krone-Nitzsch families moved to West Germany in 1951, and as the last living descendent was only about 3 years old at the time of the crash in April 1945, it is not likely that any further anecdotal information will be found.

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