In 1945, World War II was all but lost for Nazi Germany. As the Allies advanced on the West and the Soviet army advanced on the East, the Germans sought to consolidate their valuables deep within the territory they still controlled. One particular train, supposedly full of gold and treasure, departed from what was then the German city of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) but then disappeared somewhere in southwestern Poland.
For decades, rumors have flown about the train's possible location. Some speculated that it was hidden in one of the many tunnels dug near Owl Mountains and Książ Castle as part of Germany's POW-powered Project Riese, which was never completed. Since the war ended, parts of this underground network (pictured above) have been excavated and even opened to the public, but much of what is presumed to be there has never been explored.
For more than half a century, treasure hunters—some even supported by the cash-strapped Polish government—have searched for the missing train. But no one had ever uncovered the missing train—until now. Maybe.
A few weeks ago, two anonymous men (one Polish, one German) sent a letter to authorities via a law firm claiming to have found the train. According to the Associated Press, the letter from the lawyers describes a train 150 meters (490 feet) long full of weapons, valuables, and precious metals. An anonymous source close to the men say they spent several years searching for the train and that it's buried some 70 meters (230 feet) underground. But they’re not revealing the exact location of the train yet. By law, the train and anything in it—be it 300 tons of gold, as one local paper is reporting, or nothing much at all—are the property of the state. But the finders are looking for a fee, namely, 10 percent of the overall value.
Some locals are insisting that the rumors are just that. Joanna Lamparska, an expert on the area’s history, told the AP that similar stories have never panned out. According to The Daily Beast, she also called in to RMF24, a radio station in Wroclaw, to caution that, "I don’t know of any confirmed account that states that these trains really existed.”
But the local officials are taking the reports of the train very seriously. Marika Tokarska, a member of the Walbrzych district council, told the AP that the law firm lends credence to the story and that the council believes the train has truly been found. If the information proves accurate, she said that officials are willing to pay the finders fee. Tokarska also told Reuters, "Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this. The area has never been excavated before and we don't know what we might find.”
The emergency responders will be on hand not just for what they hope to find onboard but also what they fear might accompany such treasure. The excavation team will need to be prepared for the likelihood that such a train would have been protected by explosives.