An 84-year-old man in Germany has been hit with heavy fines after a Nazi-era tank and other weapons from World War II were discovered in his garage, according to a report from Germany’s DPA news agency. The tank and assorted weapons were uncovered after a tipster told authorities there might be art stolen during World War II in the man’s possession.
The man’s lawyers argued that the tank couldn’t be operated and pointed to the fact that it didn’t even have treads anymore. But the court found he was still in violation of the War Weapons Control Act.
The unnamed man, who can’t be named due to Germany’s strict privacy laws, received a suspended sentence of ten months. He’s also been ordered to pay a fine of €250,000, roughly $300,000 in U.S. currency.
The elderly man claimed to have purchased the 40-ton Panther tank in England and insisted it was just “scrap metal,” but it’s illegal in Germany to own tanks, weapons, and ammunition that would be considered instruments of war.
Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are illegal in Germany but many other guns can still be owned legally.
The weapons – a Panther-model tank, an 8.8-centimetre-caliber anti-aircraft gun, a torpedo, a mortar, machine guns, assault rifles, machine pistols and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition – were found during a search conducted in the summer of 2015.
The man has been given two years to find a museum willing to purchase the tank, and apparently an unnamed U.S. institution is interested, according to the BBC.
From the BBC:
In July 2015, it took about 20 soldiers almost nine hours to extract the Panther tank - which was without its tracks - from the residential property and push it onto a low-loader for transportation.
Local authorities were reportedly tipped off about the cellar’s contents by colleagues in Berlin, who had earlier searched the home for stolen Nazi art.
At 84 years old, the unnamed man would’ve been born in the late 1930s and too young to fight in World War II. And while the man’s political sympathies are unclear, it seems unlikely that anyone but a Nazi would want to own a Nazi tank and weapons for their home. In which case, good riddance.