In World War II, a Russian-built T-34 tank was captured by the Germans, repainted and used as their own. It was either stuck in battle or abandoned by the Germans during their retreat.
The T-34 was a prime element of Soviet forces during the war. By its design, it was able to be refined continuously to meet the changing requirements of the Eastern front. The longer the war went on, the more capable the T-34 became. It also became cheaper and easier to produce.
Eventually, 80,000 of the tanks in its various incarnations would be produced by the Soviets. This allowed them to field steadily increasing numbers of the T-34s despite losing thousands on the battlefield.
In eastern Estonia, the 50 kilometer wide Narva front was the location of fierce battles fought from February to September 1944. An estimated 100,000 men were killed and more than 300,000 wounded during these battles. It is thought that the Germans used this tank and then drove it into a lake to prevent it from being retaken and used by the advancing Soviet army.
It settled in twelve feet of water and six more feet of peat and silt covered it. During a two-week period, volunteers from a local diving club washed the silt from the tank. Then the tank was pulled to the shore and the ammunition, 116 pieces, was removed. The T-34 was then taken to the war museum in the village of Gorodenko. They were able to start the diesel engine without needing any spare parts.
The restoration of the tank was completed in 2007. It is now on display at the museum.
The video shows the surprise and joy of the people when this tank emerges from the lake after 60 years.