Explorers in Poland started excavating Tuesday for a legendary Nazi train considered to be loaded with armaments and treasure.
They are not deterred by years of unproductive searches, a scientific determination that no train is there and warnings by historians that this kind of a train may not even exist.
The search in southwestern Poland shows the power of a local myth alleging a Nazi “gold train” vanished in a mountain tunnel as the Germans escaped the advancing Soviet army during the last days of World War II.
As the excavation kicked off, a yellow excavator moved earth along railroad tracks above the location where two explorers, Piotr Koper, a Pole, and Andreas Richter, think the train is buried. Koper and Ritcher, joined by a few other volunteers, hope the search to last several days.
The two men alleged last year to have located the hard-to-find train using radar gear deep in the earth in the city of Walbrzych, sparking a triggering a gold rush to the castle city and the surroundings.
A government official at first stated he was “99 percent sure” the train was there, aiding to feed the frenzy. The influx of curiosity seekers and treasure hunters from across Europe provided a welcome financial boost to the coal mining area of Silesia that has had a hard time since unprofitable mines in the region were shut down after the fall of communism.
In 2015, geological specialists from a university in Krakow, using magnetic equipment, saw no train on the spot.
However, the explorers declined to quit.
Andrzej Gaik, a spokesman for the search team, stated six independent firms using numerous radar devices have found anomalies showing the shape of a tunnel underground on an elevated spot running along railroad tracks.
Historians state the presence of the train that is believed to have gone missing in May 1945, never has been conclusively confirmed. Polish authorities nevertheless have appeared keen to pursue any possibility of recovering treasures, which have triggered the imaginations of local people for many years.
At the height of the frenzy in 2015, the World Jewish Congress reminded Poland’s authorities that, with regards to a discovery of a treasure-laden train, any possessions, which belong to Jews killed in the Holocaust should be returned to their rightful owners or even their inheritors.
Legend holds the train was armed and packed with treasure and vanished after entering a complex of tunnels under the Owl Mountains, a top secret project referred to as “Riese”, or Giant that the Nazis never completed.
The region belonged to Germany at the time; however, has been part of Poland since the borders were shifted in the postwar settlement.
A man credited with being the primary living source of the legend is a retired miner, Tadeusz Slowikowski. He In 1970, he heard from a German man of a train, which left the German city of Breslau (nowadays Poland’s Wroclaw) in the spring of 1945, as the Soviet army approached. He stated the man informed him the train vanished before ever making it to Waldenburg (currently Walbrzych ) some 45 miles to the west.
But Pawel Rodziewicz, a local historian, said last year that documentation leaves no doubt that gold in Breslau was moved to the German central bank in Berlin and elsewhere, therefore there might have been no reason to move any to Waldenburg, where it would be located by the approaching Soviets.
He believes it’s impossible that a secret railway tunnel might have been constructed into the hill close to railroad tracks in regular use. No records have ever been discovered to show such a project was carried out, while records exist even for the most top-secret projects of the Third Reich, which include some of the subterranean tunnels underneath the subterranean Ksiaz Castle in Walbrzych, Pawel argued.
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