The tale of a legendary Nazi ghost train carrying gold which allegedly disappeared without trace in the dying days of the Second World War has taken a new twist.
Two men have filed a “finder’s claim” with a district council in Poland for an “armoured train” carrying precious metals, fuelling speculation the mysterious train has been located.
The claim was filed in the south-west Polish town of Walbrzych and could put an end to 70 years of rumour, myth and fruitless treasure hunts for the ghost train.
According to local media reports, two claimants – a Pole and a German – say they have found a 500-foot long “armoured train” with gun platforms and a cargo of “precious metals”.
The claim was lodged because under Polish law treasure finders can keep 10 per cent of the value of their find.
It is believed that towards the end of the war, as the Red Army closed in on the city of Wroclaw, Nazis loaded a train with gold and other treasure and sent it south west.
“Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this,” Marika Tokarska, an official at the Walbrzych district council, told Reuters.
“The area has never been excavated before and we don’t know what we might find.”
Photo: National Archives/Getty Images
According to local legend, the train vanished after heading into mountains straddling the current Polish-Czech border.
“In the region we actually two gold train stories,” Joanna Lamparska, a local historian, told Radio Wroclaw.
“One is supposed to be under a mountain and the other somewhere around Walbrzych.
“But no one has ever seen documentary evidence confirming the existence of such trains.”
Other historians point out that the Nazis dug miles of tunnels in the south-west mountains of what is now Poland in one of the biggest construction projects in the history of the Third Reich.
The reason for the tunnels remain shrouded in mystery, and some believers in the ghost train argue the Germans may have excavated secret railway stashes and hidden the loot in one of them for safe keeping.
The value of its cargo may also explain the lack of documentation of the train as the Germans could have put secrecy before paperwork, they say.
Photo: Hulton Archive
How the gold came into the Nazis’ posession also remains unclear. It has been suggested the treasure is linked to the Nazis’ monumental wartime looting spree, which stripped museums and private houses of their artworks.
Walbrzych local government has refused to comment on the matter other than to ask the claimants to come forward and give the location of the apparent find as it may have been boobytrapped with mines.
Taduesz Slowikowski, a treasure hunter who has searched for the missing train, said he was sceptical that the alleged find in southern Poland would still contain the treasure.
“They may have found the train, but not the gold,” he told Radio Zet, a Polish national radio station.