Twists and turns in the Nazi gold train story

The rumor of the Nazi gold train has sparked an invasion of treasure seekers eager to get to the reported location in Poland

Polish authorities have blocked off a wooded area near a railroad track after scores of treasure hunters swarmed southwest Poland looking for an alleged Nazi gold train.

The gold fever intensified after deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski said last week he had seen contours of the train on an image from a ground- penetrating device.

The alleged site is somewhere between the 61th and the 65th kilometer of the tracks that wind their way between Walbrzych and Wroclaw.

Provincial governor Tomasz Smolarz said Monday that police, city and railway guards are now patrolling the area and blocking treasure hunters to prevent any accidents with trains running on the tracks.

Source: Gold hunters blocked from site of alleged Nazi gold train

The mention from the culture minister suggests that the find may be real. No confirmation followed. But now, backtracking.

“There is no more proof for this alleged discovery than for other claims made over the years,” Tomasz Smolarz, governor of the southwestern region of Lower Silesia, told reporters. “It’s impossible to claim that such a find actually exists at the location indicated based on the documents that have been submitted,” Smolarz said, adding that he had set up a special unit including historians and geologists to scrutinise the alleged discovery.

Source: Poland backtracks on Nazi ‘gold train’ discovery

It’s difficult to tell if they are just trying to dissuade visitors or think there isn’t anything to this. Both options are plausible. Smolarz said Monday he had not seen any such image as described by the culture minister.

The embankment where the train was said to be buried was reportedly on fire.

This entire tale remains doubtful.

  17 comments for “Twists and turns in the Nazi gold train story

  1. Bob
    August 31, 2015 at 7:13 PM

    Sharon do you have a sense of whether or not ground penetrating radar would produce an “image” of a train complete with gun turrets, etc. I was surprised by the forcefulness of the Culture Minister’s assertion when I heard it on the BBC World service. Looking forward to seeing how this pans out. 🙂

  2. Ryan
    August 31, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    I’ve seen comments on other sites from ground penetrating radar techs and scientists experienced in its use that basically say no. Apparently the train would have to be directly buried in exactly the right orientation in just the right sort of soil. Any voids (say if it was sealed in a tunnel) or other debris would obscure it. And for details or particular features to be clearly visible on the radar image (like the turrets claimed) they’d have to be very large. Apparently improbably large. The impression I’ve gotten is that a best case scenario would only allow you to say there’s a large mass in there, it may be made of metal, and it’s proportions and layout are roughly in line with a train. Rather than the specific claims were getting.

  3. August 31, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    From my experience, GPR is only reliable for 10-20 feet below the surface. It can be blocked by a clay layer or some other simple thing. So, no, I would not rely on GPR. But, then again, I use it not to find trains but to find sinkholes. So, YMMV.

  4. CimPy
    August 31, 2015 at 10:39 PM

    Looks like a place got some publicity. Might be better than Holy statue…

  5. Adam
    September 1, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    I read the Telegraph (I know and I’m sorry) and the coverage of this story is nigh hysterical. Two days they’ve had a live blog of events. Another they had a video and article writing about some other tunnels to guess what this train tunnel might look like. Then there was a story about a fire on the tracks and mysterious guards.

    Basically they’ve extrapolated a possible find into actual news and then speculated off into other directions, supposition as fact and then making new suppositions based off those “facts”.

    I remember when the Telegraph used to be a real broadsheet. These days it’s competing with the Daily Mail and seems to have a similar fixation with all things Nazi / Hitler that looks suspiciously like unrequited love.

    As for the Polish authorities, I wonder if they’d be better handing over to the Muppets. How hard is it to keep a story like this secret until it can be positively confirmed or denied? I assume someone in Poland has a boring machine to drill a hole over the spot and run a camera through to see what if anything is on the other side.

  6. Karl
    September 1, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    Sounds like this will amount to another Bosnian pyramid.

  7. Nancy
    September 1, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    Will have delightful scenario of slightly hysterical Kermit reporting from the site complete with satellite interviews of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker running through my head all day. Thank you.

  8. September 1, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    This remotely recalls the periodical searches for the Nazi nuclear material around a certain lake in Southern Germany, repeating (and generating news) about every ten years. The searches are usually limited to tourists walking around the lake with Geiger counters. The locals don’t like it, and never anything is found, but ten years seem to be too long for a journalist’s memory, not speaking of the readers. (One of my Facebook acquaintances, historian by education, storyteller by profession, keeps posting the news of the gold train faster than I can hide them. And also the Wikipedia discussion pages of the Hungarian gold train make interesting reading.)

  9. Kevin Fries
    September 1, 2015 at 1:09 PM

    The fact that the culture minister is the one making the statement leads me to wonder if this is not just a brilliant way to drive up tourism in the area. Where I am from, tourism and culture are a single ministerial portfolio. If you think of it that way, it is a brilliant, basically free, and almost guaranteed viral marketing message. And treasure hunters have no problems spending money – for them it is a sure fire investment opportunity.

    Of course, I say this mostly tongue in cheek, but the more I think of it, the better of an idea it seems.

  10. Christine Rose
    September 1, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    The only question I have is how the people who claim to have discovered it planned to make money off of their scam. My first thought was that after the government refused to pay them upfront they were planning to sell shares on Kickstarter. I am unconvinced that one manages to lose a whole train under the ground without something rather obvious being left behind.

  11. Ryan
    September 1, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    Most countries in Europe have pretty well laid out laws for this sort of thing. Usually anything found is automatically property of the nation. But there’s also a mandatory payment to the finder based on the estimated value.

    No idea if that’s how it works in Poland or what sort of age cut off there might be. But it’s usually a nice check on antiquities smuggling and for profit fossil/antiquities hunting.

  12. Christine Rose
    September 1, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    Apparently they are entitled to 10% by law. But they also said that they would not reveal the location without a “guarantee.” It’s all a bit vague but I am certain they are asking for something upfront somehow. Kickstarter might be hard to pull off (as the goal would be to steal a bunch of public treasure, i.e. an illegal act) but they may have some sort of plan which lets them get away with it all. I can imagine pictures of digging from “a secret location on private land” being privately distributed for a few months before everyone vanishes mysteriously.

  13. Ryan
    September 2, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Yeah I could see Poland being a little less reliable in terms of making these sorts of payments. But typically these systems require prompt reporting and turn over, to further reduce the chance of looting or theft. The whole with holding for a guarantee this (what better guarantee is there than a frikin LAW) makes it sound even sketchier. Its likely that withholding the info would be more likely to result in not getting a payment.

  14. Agata
    September 2, 2015 at 5:05 AM

    Hi there,

    I can tell you that I hope whatever is there, will remains in Poland and become national treasure. We had been smashed and wiped by nazi during the I and II WW, even Great Britain still have our gold from that time, and I dont mention how many of our posession have Sweden and Turkey. Who will give back those? Even Jews now state that train is theirs, oh lol. Yes, def the best and fun parts is when Jews always want more and more from us. Wonder why Germany is on top of EU after being defeated and still doing so F*** well.

  15. Ryan
    September 6, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    You are aware that a fair lot of “nazi gold” and “treasures” (particularly antiques and paintings) were seized from Jews during the holocaust? Either seized in the early stages and establishment of the ghettos, along with businesses homes and assorted financial assets, or more forcibly collected as people were rounded up for the camps? I mean there are photos out there of BARRELS full of gold fillings and teeth yanked from corpses at the camps. If and when old Nazi money and valuables are found there is always a better than fair chance that a good portion of it was seized from Jewish families. In fact many of the worst camps were in Poland. The death camps, the camps where they just gassed people fresh off the trains. And A LOT of that wealth stolen from targeted groups and camp victims was filtered through Poland.

    You might want to learn a bit about your own countries history. Germany is doing well right now for a variety of reasons. A portion of that is down to its war depts going unpaid (ignored or forgiven following new treaties), but there’s a lot more going on there. Remember that Germany was forcibly bifurcated and remained occupied and controlled by the Allied nations for a long time after the war. East Germany was a separate, desperately poor, Soviet nation until 1990. And the US still has a massive military presence in Germany as a whole to this day.

    In terms of all that stolen gold making them rich? Not likely IIRC standard practice is to return that money to wherever it came from. Sometimes this means sending to the nation who’s treasury it was looted from. Often it means attempting to identify the original owners and returning it to their decedents. A lot of physical goods end up in museums. In fact the only area I’m familiar with getting a direct economic influx from the Nazis after the war is Argentina (who are doing so well right now!) and maybe Brazil. A lot of former Nazis grabbed what they could and headed to South America to start business.

  16. Christine Rose
    September 10, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    News is now saying there is an actual tunnel, and the tunnel is confirmed to have been on maps made in 1926. A buried train is not the same as a tunnel though. Normally when one seals a tunnel up, one knows if there is a train inside. They are now saying that it is unlikely that the tunnel contains gold and may or may not contain a train at all. I obviously was unfair to the finders, who really did find something and may or may not have tried to pass it off as gold. I’m waiting anxiously for the outcome.

  17. Douglas
    September 14, 2015 at 3:24 AM

    I am very skeptical of this whole thing of course, but there is in the back of my mind a kind of a giddy feeling about how cool it would be to find something substantial that the Nazis left behind over 70 years ago. I mean hitherto unknown, abandoned works from WWII are found from time to time, granted they are usually decrepit husks but still…a guy can dream.

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