WW2 tank found in German pensioner's basement

Whilst many people use their basements to store their collectables - rare vinyl perhaps, a model train set - one 78-year-old German man has pushed domestic subterranean storage to the limit after it was discovered he had stored a Second World War tank in his basement for over 30 years.

German police in the town of Heikendorf, northern Germany confiscated the 1943 Panther tank yesterday with the help of 20 soldiers, along with a torpedo, and an anti-aircraft gun, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

According to Deutsche Welle, the police were alerted to the stockpile of weaponry by prosecutors in Berlin who had previously searched the pensioner's home looking for stolen Nazi art pieces. The prosecutors were following a tip-off, after it had been reported that the man's home and garden were decorated with Nazi-era bronze sculptures.

It took almost nine hours for army personnel using two modern day recovery tanks to extract the vintage panzer from the man's cellar. Speaking to the Telegraph, Ulrich Burchardi, spokesman for the German army, described the difficult task of removing the tank without damaging the house as "precision work".

Prosecutors in Keil are now investigating whether the unnamed man has violated German weapons laws, which regulate the handling of knives, firearms and ammunition as well as acquisition, storage, commerce and maintenance of weapons.

The pensioner's attorney, Peter Gramsch, told a local news agency that all the items had been properly demilitarized and had also been formally registered. Gramsch also hinted that his client is considering legal action against the seizure, in order to claim compensation for the confiscation of the tank and also any damages that may have been to it during its removal.

The discovery of the Panther and the other weaponry did not come as a surprise to local residents, however, many of whom gathered outside the house to watch the whole furore. Locals claimed it was common knowledge that the man owned the tank and that he had previously used it to plow snow from the roads during winter.

Alexander Orth, the Mayor of Heikendorf, who was present during the tank's removal, told local media that the owner "was chugging around in that thing during the snow catastrophe in 1978".