Attic Find: MP40

Construction workers in Eastern Europe recently stumbled across a vintage SMG left over from World War II. 

The Lesser Poland (Małopolska) regional headquarters of the country’s Policja, or national police force, last month posted images of a recovered German-made MP40 sub gun, complete with its 30-round magazine and packets of tarnished 9mm ammunition. 

According to the post, the WWII-era maschinenpistole was made in 1941 and had been recovered by workers in the historic Old Town tenements in the southeastern Polish city of Tarnow. Workers found the MP40 first, wrapped in rags, while dismantling a wooden roof, then the bullets, hidden in the rafters. 

Tarnow, which had been part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire after the 1772 partition of Poland, became part of the reunified Polish nation in 1918. It was occupied by the Germans during WWII in 1939, then by the Soviets in 1945. During the occupation, members of the city’s Jewish population– almost all of which were deported to extermination camps at Auschwitz and Belzec– mounted an armed underground resistance to the Germans. 

“Contrary to myth of Jewish passivity, many Jews did fight back during the Holocaust,” notes 2A scholar and attorney David Kopel in his work on armed resistance to genocide. “They shut down the extermination camp at Sobibor, rose up in the Warsaw Ghetto, and fought in the woods and swamps all over Eastern Europe. Indeed, Jews resisted at a higher rate than did any other population under Nazi rule. The experience of the Holocaust shows why Jews, and all people of good will, should support the right of potential genocide victims to possess defensive arms, and refutes the notion that violence is necessarily immoral.”

The Policja stated the recovered MP40 will be either donated to a museum to be preserved or destroyed. We are hoping for the former.

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