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Polish city cashes in on 'Nazi gold train' mystery

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 30.08.2015 16:14
'Golden package tours' have been launched for English-speaking tourists in the wake of the media hubbub over a supposedly treasure-laden Nazi train that may have been located in Wałbrzych, south west Poland.
One of the underground chambers constructed in the vicinity of Wałbrzych during World War II by the Nazi German regime. Photo: wikimedia commons/Chmee 2One of the underground chambers constructed in the vicinity of Wałbrzych during World War II by the Nazi German regime. Photo: wikimedia commons/Chmee 2

The museum at the city's Książ Castle is taking reservations for all-inclusive three-day tours that explore the legacy of Project Riese, a Nazi operation that saw the construction of extensive underground chambers in the vicinity of the Lower Silesian town.

“Discover Wałbrzych and along with it mysterious underground, unexplained histories and hidden treasures,” the castle's website enthuses in the blurb for the newly hatched tour.

“It was here that the Nazis dug a network of tunnels underneath the city whose purpose to this day remains one of Europe’s biggest enigmas.”

Speculation about the train reached fever pitch on Friday after Poland's deputy minister of culture Piotr Żuchowski said he was '99 percent' sure that an armoured train had been pinpointed, thanks to ground penetrating radar (GPR).

The location was apparently revealed in the deathbed confession of a German man who helped hide the train 70 years ago.

A German and a Polish citizen filed a claim with town authorities in mid-August, calling for 10 percent of the value of the find.

However, Deputy Minister Żuchowski has stressed that technically, whatever is found belongs to the Polish state.

Amber Room theory

Increasingly colourful theories are now emerging regarding the contents of the as of yet undiscovered train.

British writer Tom Bower, author of the book Nazi Gold: the Full Story of the Fifty-Year Swiss-Nazi Conspiracy to Steal, has said that the train may contain the fabled Amber Room, an 18th century chamber looted from the Soviet Union by the Nazis.

“If it is an art train, there will be paintings, there will be perhaps diamonds, there will be rubies and precious stones and also, the one thing that's always been missing, the Amber Room,” he told Sky News.

The Lower Silesian city of Wałbrzych was part of Germany prior to World War II and named Waldenburg.

As Germans fled the advancing Red Army at the end of the war, innumerable valuables – many of them looted - were evacuated from across Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe.

The Soviets took Waldenburg (Wałbrzych) on 8 May 1945, and Poland's borders were shifted west following the war, and the city became Polish.

Most ethnic Germans were forced to migrate west to within Germany's new borders, although some remained in Wałbrzych.

The World Jewish Congress has declared an interest in the find, as has a Russian lawyer who has speculated that property looted from the Soviet Union could be on board the train.

Poland's ministry of culture maintains a website with a list of thousands of pieces of cultural heritage lost during World War II. (nh/rk)

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