Earlier this week, two people, a Pole and a German, said they may have found the legendary, long-lost Nazi train rumored to be full of gold, gems and guns, i.e., the prize possessions of years of Third Reich plunder, that disappeared just before the end of World War Two. As BBC first reported, the train was believed to have gone missing near what is now the Polish city of Wroclaw as Soviet forces approached in 1945.
It is said, the Mail adds, that Nazis loaded all the valuables they had looted in Wroclaw, then called Breslau and part of Greater Germany, to escape the advancing Red Army. According to a local website, the train was 150m long and may have up to 300 tonnes of gold as well as unknown "hazardous materials" on board.
A law firm in south-west Poland says it has been contacted by the two men who have discovered the armored train: their demand to unveil the precise whereabout of their discovery: 10% of the value of the train's contents. Since the contents of the train has been said to be in the billions, such an agreement would make the two discoverers rich overnight.
The two men who claim to have found the long lost gold train
According to local news websites the apparent find matched reports in local folklore of a train carrying gold and gems that went missing at the end of World War Two near the gothic Ksiaz castle, which served as the Nazi's headquarters in the area during World War II. The claim was made to a law office in Walbrzych, 3km (2 miles) from Ksiaz castle.
Ksiaz castle, Nazi headquarters during World War II
Some of the locals are skeptical, perhaps because all previous searches for the train had so far proved fruitless: Walbrzych's local leader Roman Szelemej said he doubted the supposed find but would monitor developments. "Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this," Marika Tokarska, an official at the Walbrzych district council, told Reuters.
Still this time may be different: Joanna Lamparska, a historian who focuses on the Walbrzych area, told Radio Wroclaw the train was rumored to have disappeared into a tunnel. "The area has never been excavated before and we don't know what we might find."
At this point the story turns bizarre, because the latest discovery - if it is indeed that - may not be genuine: according to the Mail, a group calling itself The Silesian Research Group insists that it in fact found the legendary train here over two years ago. The group claims the duo who made the news this week by filing the discovery claim with local authorities pilfered their information.
There is a second group of treasure hunters who claim to have found the train.
Andzrej Boczek, one of the members, showed MailOnline where he believes it to be hidden
One group member, who asked not to be identified after receiving threatening phone calls from a 'mysterious man,' told MailOnline: 'About two or three years ago we carried out extensive research of the area using geo-radar and magnetic readings. We came across an anomaly about 70 metres below the surface and further investigation revealed this was most likely a train.
'It is well-known that the Nazis built a network of railway lines under the mountains.
'And we know that in May 1945 gold and other valuables from the city of Wroclaw were being transported to Walbrzych when they disappeared between the towns of Lubiechow and Swiebodzice.'
Resting at the foot of the Sowa (Owl) mountains in woods three miles outside of the town of Walbrzeg in western Poland, is the alleged train, filled with gold, possibly diamonds and maybe even masterpieces stolen from Polish noble families and museums. Specifically, according to the researchers, the actual train is now resting somewhere under the surface of the hill shown in the photo below.
The "gold train" is said to be located under this hill
The researcher went on: 'During the war, there used to be an SS barracks here which was heavily guarded. And just behind the railway bridge was the entrance to the tunnel. We recorded our findings and marked the location on a map as well as storing the information on computer records."
Here the researcher's story becomes even more bizarre: "We were and are convinced that this is where the gold train is. But, soon after our discovery, the map and data for the area went missing. At first we thought it had been mislaid, but then we heard about the findings of these two people and we realised they must have got hold of our information."
He then added that he had been 'warned off' talking about the subject or investigating it further" adding that "last night I received a phone call from a mysterious man who warned me to stay away from the story and to not get involved.
"A lot of dangerous people are interested in finding this train, this could have been a warning from one of them. This man who called me knows that I know something."
Joanna Lamparska explains that there are two main theories about the gold train. "One is that is hidden under the mountain itself. The second is that it is somewhere around Wa?brzych. Until now, no-one has ever seen documents that confirm the existence of this train."
The story is given credence because under the local hills is a mammoth subterranean project called RIESE - German for giant - which was the construction of a honeycomb of tunnels, bunkers and underground stations begun in 1941.
Stretching from the gothic castle of Ksiaz overlooking the town of Walbrzeg they built the labyrinth deep into the surrounding mountains. The idea was to move supplies, factories and workers underground in the event of Allied bombing.
One of a series of tunnels the Nazis built in the mountain
Local explorer and treasure hunter Andrzej Boczek, who is also a member of the Silesian Research Group, guided MailOnline to the site where he says the train is buried. He said: 'We think it is here because first of all it is between the two places were we know it disappeared. And it is just 2.37km from Ksiaz castle which was the German headquarters during the war. That's where all treasures were taken.'
The 55-year-old, who has been searching the region for 25 years and has already found numerous artefacts, said: 'Also, this path used to be where the path ran down to the tunnel,' he says pointing at a dirt track leading towards the woods. "We don't know where the entrance is as we need permission to dig. But we have carried out tests and we know something is there. During the war this place was open to the public and then it suddenly was closed by the Germans, they clearly had a secret to hide. A man who lived nearby told me he used to see strange activity at night with trains rolling in and disappearing into the tunnel."
Two other locations identified by local media in Poland have since been rubbished by experts. One is close to the town of Walbrzych the other in the town of Walim, 17km away. Historian Mrs. Lamparska added: "These two areas are very well known and have been well-researched. The chances of the train being there are zero. It is likely that they found something, however, whether this is the gold train is a different matter."
But while the latest rumor that the legendary train has been found may end up being a red herring once again, people in the region have woken up their Indiana Jones and are rushing into the area: the news of the possible discovery has sent people from across Germany and Poland to the area with metal detectors. Germans piling on to trains the spoils of their carpetbagging in foreign lands towards the end of the war was not a rare occurrence. And the Reichsbank in Berlin, many of its buildings and vaults shattered by intense American and British air raids, used precious Deutsche Bahn rolling stock to hide treasure in regional towns, often in the cellars of fortified post offices.
The loot was destined for a number of purposes: getaway money for high-ranking war criminals, the basis for a German resistance movement called 'Werewolf' intended to fight the occupiers; and to become the pension funds for generals whose vast estates bequeathed to them by a grateful Fuhrer in the east which fell into the hands of new, unforgiving owners.
That is why the story of the 590-foot long train which steamed into the tunnel long ago has fired the imagination of many. But it also comes with many caveats, as expressed by Focus magazine in Germany, which asked: 'Is there really a train and is it mined?
Real or not, the story may be enough to provide an aspiring screenwriter enough ammo for the next Indiana Jones, or at least American, er European, Treasure sequel.
Finally, for those looking for real treasure, forget the Third Reich's plunder, which by 1945 had been mostly spent, but focus on trains and other vehicles operated by the Bank of International Settlements: the discovery of even one such train should be enough to keep a small country funded in perpetuity.