Nazi gold train

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Coordinates: 50°49′22.07″N 16°18′27.01″E / 50.8227972°N 16.3075028°E / 50.8227972; 16.3075028 (Location of the Nazi Gold Train excavations in Wałbrzych)

One of unfinished tunnels of Project Riese in the Owl Mountains

The so-called Nazi gold train and Wałbrzych gold train concerns a local legend of a Nazi German-era train buried in a tunnel underground in Lower Silesia in January 1945 toward the end of World War II.[1] The area is now part of southwest Poland, but was then in southeast Germany. Many searches for the train have been conducted since the Second World War with no evidence of a train found.

A search in 2015–2016 received global media interest, culminating in a dig involving the Polish military, local and state officials, but turned up only dirt. According to historians, it has never been proven the train ever existed.

Legend[edit]

The train is believed to be near the Polish city of Wałbrzych, which until 1945 was the German city of Waldenburg.

According to local legend, the train left Breslau (now Wrocław) laden with gold and other treasures. It was driven into a system of tunnels under the Owl Mountains that were part of an unfinished Nazi secret Project Riese (German for "giant")[2] near Wałbrzych. There it was buried in a warren of tunnels and mines created by the Nazis. The train is rumoured to hold up to 300 tonnes of gold, jewels, weapons and masterpieces.[3][4][5]

Searches[edit]

In Poland's Communist era, the Polish army carried out fruitless searches.[6] According to historians, it has never been proven the train ever existed.[2]

Koper and Richter 2015–2016[edit]

Alleged hiding place of the Gold Train in Wałbrzych
Railway embankment at "Zone 65", near the crossing of Uczniowska Street, Wałbrzych, where it was claimed the Gold Train was hidden
Traces of track near "Zone 65"

In late August 2015, news stories began circulating about two unidentified men who had obtained a death-bed confession about a buried gold train.[6] The two were later identified as Piotr Koper of Poland and Andreas Richter of Germany,[1] co-owners of the mine exploration company XYZ S.C.[7][8] Using lawyers as an intermediary, the two men opened secret negotiations with the Polish government for a "finders' fee" of 10% of the value of the train in return for information leading to its location.[6] They would reveal the exact location once the documents were signed.[9] Koper and Richter would later claim information about their discovery was leaked by someone within the government, resulting in a worldwide media circus.[8] "The media uproar around the 'gold train' was unleashed not by us, finders, but because of the leak of confidential documents that were filed in state offices."[8]

On 28 August, Polish Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Żuchowski announced that ground-penetrating radar images taken by Koper and Richter confirmed with 99% probability that a train of 100 metres in length had been found.[6][10] However, on August 31, Tomasz Smolarz, Governor of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, told reporters that "There is no more proof for this alleged discovery than for other claims made over the years," saying, "It's impossible to claim that such a find actually exists at the location indicated based on the documents that have been submitted."[11]

On 4 September, Koper and Richter went public for the first time, breaking their previous anonymity. They announced that the precise location of the train had been given to Polish authorities.[9] In a bid to assuage doubters,[8] they also released images they had taken with a KS-700 Ground Penetrating Radar system that appeared to show a 50-metre-deep man-made shaft with something in it.[12] Koper and Richter believed the train was buried next to a 4-kilometre (2.5-mile) stretch of track on Polish State Railways' Wrocław–Wałbrzych line at kilometre 65.[13][5][14]

Polish authorities sectioned off woodland in the area of kilometre 65, as well as deploying police and other guards in order to prevent access to the numerous treasure hunters who had arrived armed with detection equipment.[14] In late September, the Polish military, acting at the request of the regional governor, began to clear the surface of trees and search for booby traps and mines.[15] The military confirmed on October 4 that no explosives or other dangers existed, down to a metre's depth.[16]

In mid-November, two different teams were cleared by city authorities in Wałbrzych to make a non-invasive assessment of the site.[17] The first team was Koper and Richter. The second team were mining specialists from the Kraków Mining Academy headed by Janusz Madej. On 15 December, the second team announced that a survey had found no evidence of a train, though possible evidence of a collapsed tunnel.[18] Koper and Richter stood by their claim of a train to which Madej responded "It's human to make a mistake, but it's foolish to stand by it."[19]

In May 2016, despite outside expert opinion that no train existed, Koper and Richter secured permission to begin digging at the site from the owners of the property, Polish State Railways.[20] The excavation commenced on 15 August 2016 with a team of 64 people, including engineers, geologists, chemists, archaeologists and a specialist in military demolitions.[21] The excavation reportedly cost 116,000 euros or $131,000 and was financed by private sponsors, and with the help of volunteers.[22]

The dig was halted after seven days when no tracks, tunnel or train were found.[23] The radar images thought to have been the train were revealed to be natural ice formations. An official from the town admitted tourism was up 44% for the year, and said "the publicity the town has gotten in the global media is worth roughly around $200 million. Our annual budget for promotion is $380,000, so think about that. Whether the explorers find anything or not, that gold train has already arrived." The town mayor was considering naming a roundabout after Koper and Richter.[23] The search would continue, according to Koper and Richter, in other nearby locations.[24]

Replica[edit]

In 2016, a group of enthusiasts began construction of a full-size replica of a Nazi armored train in an old paper mill located about 15 km from the site of the Koper and Richter embankment dig. It is designed to become a tourist attraction.[25][26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Day, Matthew (September 4, 2015). "Polish soldiers seal off 'Nazi gold train' location as finders reveal their 'clear evidence'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  2. ^ a b Associated Press (August 20, 2015). "Men claim to find Nazi train loaded with treasure in Poland". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  3. ^ Elgot, Jessica (August 28, 2015). "Deathbed confession may have revealed location of 'Nazi gold train'". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  4. ^ "Poland radar image 'almost certainly Nazi train'". BBC News. BBC. August 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  5. ^ a b Drury, Flora (August 29, 2015). "Nazi gold train may contain 'Amber Room' given by Tsar Peter the Great to King of Prussia". Daily Mail. DMG Media. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  6. ^ a b c d Gitau, Beatrice (August 28, 2015). "Deathbed confession reveals location of Nazi train that might contain gold". Yahoo! News. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  7. ^ "XYZ Spółka Cywilna". Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  8. ^ a b c d Wight, Ed (September 4, 2015). "Is this really proof that the Nazi gold train exists? Two men who sparked global frenzy release radar image in bid to silence doubters". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  9. ^ a b Gani, Aisha (September 4, 2015). "Men tell Polish TV they have 'irrefutable proof' Nazi gold train exists". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  10. ^ "Generalny Konserwator Zabytków potwierdza istnienie ukrytego pociągu". Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego. August 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  11. ^ "Poland backtracks on Nazi 'gold train' discovery". Yahoo! News. AFP. August 31, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-31. 
  12. ^ Day, Matthew (September 4, 2015). "Polish soldiers seal off 'Nazi gold train' location as finders reveal their 'clear evidence'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-09-04. 
  13. ^ Alexander, Harriet (August 28, 2015). "Did a deathbed confession reveal the location of Nazi gold train?". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 2015-08-29. 
  14. ^ a b "'Nazi gold train' draws treasure hunters to south-west Poland". The Guardian. AFP. August 31, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-31. 
  15. ^ Berendt, Joanna (September 29, 2015). "Possible Nazi Tunnels Fuel Treasure Seekers in Poland". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  16. ^ "Polish military says site of alleged Nazi gold train is safe". Radio Poland. October 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-01. 
  17. ^ "Two teams cleared to find 'Nazi gold train' in Poland". Radio Poland. November 5, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  18. ^ "Nazi gold train: 'No evidence' of discovery in Poland". BBC News. December 15, 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  19. ^ Berendt, Joanna (December 15, 2015). "Hopes Dashed Again in Hunt for Fabled Nazi Gold Train in Poland". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-16. 
  20. ^ Day, Matthew (9 May 2016). "Nazi gold train hunters defy sceptics and begin digging for treasures". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  21. ^ Berendt, Joanna (August 18, 2016). "Nazi Gold Train May Not Exist, but That Doesn't Stop Diggers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-21. 
  22. ^ Wojcik, Nadine (August 23, 2016). "Why it doesn't matter whether the long-lost Nazi gold train is ever found". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  23. ^ a b Berendt, Joanna (August 24, 2016). "Hunt for Nazi Gold Train Digs Up Nothing but Dirt". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-24. 
  24. ^ Skarzynski, Janek (October 20, 2016). "Polish 'Gold Train' Hunters Start Searching for Nazi Underground Factory". Sputnik News. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  25. ^ Care, Rosie (October 5, 2016). "Nazi gold train replica being built in Poland". AOL Money UK. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 
  26. ^ Lydia Batham (October 3, 2016). "Video: Legendary Nazi gold train replica being built in Poland". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-10-25. 

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