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Man Who Kept Nazi-Era Tank in Basement Finds Out His Fate

It's a fine of $300K, plus a suspended 14-month prison sentence for German senior
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2021 9:15 AM CDT
Elderly Man Who Kept Nazi-Era Tank in Basement Fined $300K
In this May 28, 2021, file photo, an 84-year-old accused of possession of a World War II-era tank waits in court for the start of his trial in Kiel, Germany.   (Axel Heimken/dpa via AP)

(Newser) – In took 20 soldiers nearly nine hours to extract a Nazi-era military tank from an elderly German man's basement in 2015, just one of the many eyebrow-raising items found in his Heikendorf home. The man was also in possession of an anti-aircraft gun, a torpedo, machine guns and assault rifles, more than 1,000 rounds of ammo, and a bunch of Nazi memorabilia, including mannequins in SS outfits, swastika pendants, and a bust of Hitler, per Insider and the dpa news agency. The now-84-year-old, whose name has been protected under Germany's tight privacy laws, was convicted this week of illegal weapons possession, and his penalty is steep: a fine of nearly $300,000, as well as a 10-month suspended prison sentence. The sentence was originally 14 months, but four months were slashed from that due to how long it took to resolve this case.

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Per the court ruling, the man must sell or give away the Panther tank and the anti-aircraft weapon to a collector or museum within the next two years. The BBC notes that authorities were originally tipped off to the man's stash by Berlin colleagues who'd earlier gone through his home seeking art pilfered by the Nazis. The man claimed at the time that he'd simply bought the tank in the UK for scrap metal. Per Gizmodo, his lawyers also claimed the tank wasn't operational. Whether it still is is unclear, but at the time of the raid, Heikendorf's mayor told local media that the man had been seen driving the tank in the snow in 1978. The mayor had shrugged off the man's odd possession, noting, "One loves steam trains, the other old tanks." The man's attorney says a US museum has expressed interest in scooping up the vehicle. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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