Nazi treasure mapped as WW2 artefact hunters still searching

Nazi Germany’s complacency allowed Alan Turing to crack Enigma

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Since the end of World War 2, when the Allies defeated Adolf Hitler’s facist regime, experts and amateurs have found a stunning array of Nazi gold the brutal soldiers stashed away. In fact, as early as April 1945, just days before Hitler is reported to have taken his own life in Berlin, US troops descending on Germany stumbled upon a stash of gold worth a staggering $238million (£194million) in the Merkers salt mine in centre of the country.

The Americans smashed through the walls to the vault of the mine to unveil more than 7,000 bags of Nazi gold piling high. Among the treasure was also jewellery, coins and gems looted from Jewish Holocaust victims, and valuable art works that were sent over via rail to the Merkers mine.

An inventory showed that altogether, there were over 8,000 bars of gold bullion, British gold pounds, nine bags of valuable coins, 1,300 boxes of Reichsmarks, and 20 silver bars. 

The large bulk of the Nazi treasure was sent to the mine by Walter Funk, the president of Germany’s Reichsbank, following the bombing of the bank’s headquarters US Air Force bombing raids on Berlin. 

Skip ahead to present day, and treasure hunters are still on the search for stashed-away Nazi artefacts. A diary that was reportedly written by an SS officer, surfacing in 2019, was a source of major intrigue, in which it was claimed that an 18th century palace in Poland had 10 tonnes of Nazi gold worth £200million hidden in its grounds. 

In an estate close to the Polish village of Minkowskie, SS officers were said to have used the building as a brothel during the war. It has been said that SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the gold to be stolen and buried in a small orangery in the grounds. Eager treasure hunters began digging for gold in the surrounds in May 2021.

Then, back in August, the Silesian Bridge Foundation were granted permission to raise a buried canister that they suspected could contain the hidden treasure. 

The canister was thought to contain the so-called ‘Gold of Breslau’ that went vanished from police headquarters in what is now the Polish city of Wroclaw. It is also believed that jewellery and other valuables from the private collections of rich Germans are hidden inside.

The following month, workers who discovered German coins marked with Swastikas argued that Nazis were sure to have been at the palace.

This month, experts have raised doubts about the validity of the story, with some even arguing that the diary was likely a “complete forgery”. Historians from the Discoverer organisation also claim there is “conclusive proof” that the document was a fake. 

This is despite a group of WW2 treasure hunters called the Silesian Bridge Foundation claiming it found the buried canister using a geo-radar after pinpointing the location via the SS diary.

The group says the canister measures between 1.3 to 1.5 metres long and 50cm in diameter. Foundation head Roman Furmaniak told TFN that the description of the object and its location was a match with the information contained in the war diary. 

He said: “The shapes and colours show anomalies, in other words human interference in the ground. Metal has a different density to earth, and this is shown as a darker colour in the images.”

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There is also the famous story of the The Gold Train, which reportedly left Budapest full of stolen Nazi gold, jewellery and silver stolen from Hungarian Jews. 

The train was en route to a Nazi stronghold somewhere in the Alps, but it stopped in Böckstein, Austria, hidden in the Tauern tunnel. The loot was taken and buried in different sites across Tyrol in western Austrian and Feldkirch (a medieval town in western Austria). It was later unearthed by local farmers and the French military at the end of the war. 

But 80 years after the war ended, and the hunt for Nazi gold still goes on. The National Archives of the Netherlands released a batch of documents as well as a map to the treasure in the hopes of finding a hoard of gold coins and jewels buried by Germans in the middle of the dutch countryside. 

The trove is said to include four ammunition cases laden with coins, watches, jewellery, diamonds and other artefacts. It is expected to have been worth at least 2million or 3million Dutch guilder back in 1945. This is around £15.85million today. 

Researchers suspect that the treasure was buried in April 1945, when the Allies were on the verge of liberating Arnhem in the eastern Netherlands. 

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