In January 2017, old photographs of a giant catfish appeared on social media along with the recycled claim that the remains of a Nazi soldier were discovered in its belly. The claim was buttressed by separate photographs of bones alongside Nazi memorabilia.
The images are all real, but they are not connected to one another; the bones and Nazi paraphernalia were not found inside the catfish. These images were first associated with one another when World News Daily Report published a hoax news article in April 2015:
A pair of Polish fisherman made an amazing discovery when they opened the belly of the 410 pound catfish they had just caught in the Oder river. The stomach of the monstrous fish contained fragments of human bones, as well as German military artifacts dating back to the Second World War.
Alfons Brzozowski and Marek Zdanowicz were fishing near the Oder’s confluence with the Bóbr river on April 6, when they made an astonishing catch: a gigantic Wels catfish, measuring 12 feet (3.68 meters) and weighting 413 pounds (187.5 kg).
Their celebration was rapidly transformed into interrogation, and then disgust, when they opened the animal’s belly. Among a large quantity of half-digested fish, they discovered an old metal insignia dating back to Nazi Germany, as well dozens of human bone fragments.
World News Daily Report is a well-known purveyor of fake news that has a long history of publishing fictional stories, such as this one. In addition to this rumor’s dubious source, an examination of the images show that these pictures are not related.
The photograph of the bones, shows human remains that date back to well before Nazi Germany. The photograph actually shows 17th-century human bones that were excavated from James Fort, Jamestown. The photograph of the World War II medal has been circulating since at least 2009, when it was auctioned off by the Dotta Auction Company.
The photograph of the catfish is also real, and like the other photographs, has nothing to do with Nazis. This image is actually of a 280-pound catfish that was caught in the Po Delta in Italy. The fisherman, Dino Ferrari, published several additional photographs to prove that the fish were real. None of those photographs indicated that the catfish’s stomach contained any human remains, Nazi or otherwise.
“Forensic Analysis of 17th-Century Human Remains At Jamestown, Va., Reveals Evidence Of Survival Cannibalism.”
Smithsonian Insider. 1 May 2013.
“World War II memorabilia from Nazi Germany creates ethical dilemma for sellers.”
LeHigh Valley Live. 15 November 2009.