According to ancient Polish folklore, during the final days of World War II, Nazi officials dispatched a train filled with stolen treasure from what used to be the East German city of Breslau. They were hoping to protect it from the fast approaching Soviet Red Army.
But the train that is believed to contain over 300 tons of gold, as well as diamonds and firearms, never made it to Berlin. Instead, it got buried somewhere inside one of the several underground tunnels built by Germany during the war.
In 1945, as a result of the border changes following the war, Breslau became a part of Poland and was renamed Wroclaw, and the search for the train began. Theories of its whereabouts were sourced from two Polish residents. One asserted that he had seen a document revealing the train's location in Pienchowice, which lies 120 kilometers west of Wroclaw.
The other, a retired miner claimed that shortly after the war a German national living in the area had told him that the train was buried in a tunnel underneath the Ksiaz Castle in the mining town of Walbrzych, 70 kilometers southwest of Wroclaw. Both stories seemed plausible given that between 1943 and 1945, Germany had built an extensive system of intricate tunnels in the region.
However, despite valiant efforts by treasure hunters and even the Polish army, no one was able to find any evidence of the buried train. That is why the news that two fortune hunters may have finally located the elusive treasure is causing so much excitement. Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter, who announced their discovery in mid-August, said a 1926 railway map led them to a tunnel under the Ksiaz Castle where the train has been hiding for the past 70 years. As evidence, they have released grainy radar images of the train that they claim is buried under 80-feet of rubble.
Since the news came out, thousands of treasure hunters from all over Europe have flocked to Walbrzych hoping to locate the train. However, not everyone is convinced of the discovery. Local historian Joanna Lamparska said: "A handful of people have already looked for the train, damaging the line in the process, but nothing was ever found, but the legend has captured imaginations."
But her skepticism has not stopped Koper and Richter from approaching Walbrzych authorities and asking for a 10% cut of whatever is in the train in exchange for the exact location. The officials are currently evaluating the situation. Digging up the rubble is an expensive endeavor given that there is a possibility the whole thing is a hoax. Moreover, some experts believe that train could also be carrying hazardous material like the nerve gas Tabun. If so, excavating it could endanger the lives of the area's residents.
Though the fate of the train and the two treasure hunters remains undecided, the residents of Walbrzych are benefiting quite handsomely from all the publicity. According to the locals since the announcement, Ksiaz Castle has experienced a 200% increase in visitors, and the numbers will only go higher if the treasure is found!
Resources: mining.com, express.co.uk, guardian.co.uk