WWII Mystery Unravels: Lost Finnish Plane Wreckage Discovered After 80 Years

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In a breakthrough that sheds light on a lingering World War II mystery, the wreckage of a lost Finnish passenger plane, shot down over the Baltic Sea by Soviet bombers, seems to have been finally discovered after more than eighty years of speculation and search. This gripping narrative began back in June 1940 with the ill-fated aircraft, filled not just with the breath of regular passengers, but with diplomatic couriers from America and France.

The plane, just days before the impending Soviet annexation of the Baltic states, was attacked and destroyed, extinguishing the lives of its nine occupants. Among these were an American diplomat, two Frenchmen, two Germans, a Swede, and a dual Estonian-Finnish national, in addition to a two-man Finnish crew.

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Setting their sights on the enigmatic mystery, a skilled diving and salvage team located remnants of the doomed plane, a Junkers Ju 52 operated by the Finnish airline Aero, now Finnair. Located near the minuscule island of Keri, near Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, at an embalming depth of 230 feet, the discovery sends a rippling excitement through historical circles.

The divers, guided by a unique approach and dogged determination, claim that this is indeed the elusive wreckage they have sought. Kaido Peremees, spokesperson for the divers, recounted the triumphant tale of beginning their endeavors from scratch and uniquely tackling the challenge, ultimately proving successful.

This pivotal scene recollects a terrifying time. The doomed flight named Kaleva, once a peaceful passenger plane, was shot down en route from Tallinn to Helsinki on June 14, 1940—a mere three months after Finland had brokered peace with Moscow. Its downing sent tremors of shock and indignation resonating through the Finnish dignitaries and scholars, and the incident was dubbed a ‘mysterious crash,’ albeit with quieter tones and hushed voices, to avoid antagonizing Moscow.

This eerily intriguing mystery, an emblematic piece of the Finland’s complex World War II history, has long plagued people’s minds. It evokes difficult memories of strained relations with Moscow and serves as an indelible trace of the tempestuous times when Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union was poised to seize the Baltic states.

The timing of the tragedy—a mere days before Stalin’s aggressive expansion—signified a grim prelude to the long chapter of soviet occupation that marked the fate of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for half a century.

Amid this war-tinged narrative, rises a fascinating character – a 27-year-old American diplomat, Henry W. Antheil Jr. His presence on the ill-fated aircraft and high-stakes mission to evacuate sensitive diplomatic documents from U.S. missions, branded him as one of the first U.S. casualties in World War II.

While the interest and thrill surrounding the documents he seeked to protect fuel most conspiracy theories, Geust suggests that Moscow’s task of downing a civilian Finnish passenger plane during peacetime might have been as arbitrary as the Soviet bomber pilots making a simple human error.

Despite past unsuccessful attempts to locate the wreck, the most recent dive seems to be promising due to clear underwater robot images of the Junkers’ landing gear, motors, and parts of the wings. The divers are resolute in their conviction that these parts belong to Kaleva, and endeavour to create 3D images of these remnants.

Should they succeed, they plan to carefully extract the items and, hopefully, the aircraft’s cargo and human remains. Both the U.S. and Finnish embassy expressed great interest in this find and continue to closely monitor the situation.

Reminders of this dark incident can be seen on a memorial plaque in Helsinki’s old preserved Malmi airport terminal building as well as a stone memorial situated on Keri. Today, as divers tread closer toward unfolding this mystery, a crucial chapter of aviation and wartime history waits to be written.