Fortune hunters flock to Polish town after alleged find of Nazi gold train – by Kate Connolly (The Guardian – August 20, 2015)

http://www.theguardian.com/

A city in south-western Poland is in a state of high suspense following claims made by two men that they have found a Nazi train packed with gold. Local authorities in Wałbrzych said they were investigating the reports, as fortune hunters from around Europe were making their way to the town in the hope of enjoying some of the potential spoils – or at least witnessing the discovery of what could yet turn out to be a spectacular historical find.

The men, reported to be a German and a Pole, have appointed a lawyer to negotiate with the authorities for a 10% finder’s fee for the train and its contents. Local news site Wiadomości Wałbrzyskie said the train contained up to 300 tonnes of gold, as well as a batch of diamonds, other gems and industrial equipment. The men said only once they have secured their fee in writing will they reveal the whereabouts of the train.

“This is a find of world significance, on a par with [discovering] the Titanic,” said Jarosław Chmielewski, the lawyer who has written to the parish council on the men’s behalf, to Radio Wroclaw.

According to local legend, an armoured train packed with treasure from the then German city of Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland) was driven into a tunnel in a hillside near a medieval castle near Wałbrzych as the Red Army was approaching and the Allies were carrying out air strikes in the final days of the war.

Authorities seemed to be taking the claims seriously on Thursday evening, according to local media, despite warnings from some historians that they may be dealing with a hoax. Many in the city believe there may well be truth in the claims, not least because they would confirm rumours that have circulated for the past 70 years of the existence of gold and treasures in the tunnels and shafts of the mining region.

There are widespread reports that Nazis hid the spoils – many of which were stolen from Jewish families – in the final days of the war, when there was no chance to transport them west.

The council confirmed receipt of the letter, a copy of which was published on the local news portal. Local media reported that meetings have taken place between representatives of the police, fire brigade and military. Experts have warned that the train may be full of explosives and may also be mined. “We are on alert should we need to take any specific security measures,” a police spokeswoman told Polish TV station TVN24.

“If the train does actually exist, there’s a significant chance it is mined,” council chairman Jacek Cichura told the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. “It could also contain a large amount of methane gas”.

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