Close to the modern city of Wroclaw, in the erstwhile Southwest Germany, deep beneath the verdant Owl Mountains of Silesia, rests a legendary labyrinth of modern history. Engaging archives tell a thousand tales, invariably, adorned with the highly contested presence of a Nazi Gold Train in the cussed dungeon of disgrace.
The strategic deployment of forced labor from concentration camps helped sculpt the maze of tunnels in a war torn Europe. Supposed to be the arsenal for 'wunderwaffe' (magic weapons), it was especially designed to safeguard the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler - one of the most reviled figures in recent history, against nuclear strikes.
Housing one of Hitler's most promising projects - the Third Reich, this underground mystique dissident expanse is once again under limelight since 2015.
Two co-owners of a mine exploration company - Piotr Koper of Poland and Andreas Richter of Germany revealed that they obtained a death-bed confession about a Nazi gold train buried in the tunnel, next to a 4km stretch of track on Polish state railways. They went to the extent of using a KS-700 Ground Penetrating Radar System to get images from a man-made shaft at the depth of about 50 meter. Amusingly, just blurred reflections of unidentified elements evoked ripples of wonder amidst the intelligentsia, giving way to a huge media uproar.
In fact, secret information intercepted by Allied forces in 1945, dubbed as the Hungarian Gold Train, further consolidated the claim. It referred to a Nazi train, packed with captives to be sacrificed along with over 5 tonnes of gold, 700 pounds of precious gems and whooping number of oriental rugs, ransacked from estates in Russia. Historians believed, the wealth was a yield of plunder from Catherine the Great's palace in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, looted to beautify Hitler's Ksiaz Castle.
Besides the private investment of Richter and Koper, the Polish government issued a sanction for the excavation of the proclaimed treasure. Archaeologists were funded with millions of Euros for the treasure hunt in 2016. When days of relentless search ended in abject disappointment, they were compelled to admit - 'no train, no tunnel', and that the images were an indistinct reflection of natural rock formation of ice.
In order to further validate the claim and facilitate the search, co-hosts of the Science channel series- 'Secrets of Underground', Rob Nelson- an ecologist and Stefan Burns- a Geophysicist, deployed a range of high end technology. Use of GPR, electrical resistivity tomography as well as a magnetometer unfortunately failed to reap anything concrete.
Hairsplitting search, days on end, involving numerous volunteers barely brought in any substantial confirmation about the existence of a gold train. Though the interest gradually boiled down, with volunteers backing out, there were believers, whose quest was yet to be satiated. They claimed, the excavation was not satisfactory and that it should have gone deeper.
Well, the treasure hunt might not have yielded much fruit, but, the economic boost that the town of Walbrzych experienced is no less than phenomenal! With swarms of tourists, excavators and historians flocking the place- immersed in the aura of secrecy, tourism revenues went up by almost 44 %.
The publicity bestowed by the media coverage is worth a $200 million as confirmed by the mayor's office. The spokesman interestingly commented, whether or not the train is discovered, for Walbrzych, 'the train has arrived'! The craze has encouraged the City Promotion Office to set aside an incredible $3,80,000 as an annual budget.
To every treasure seeker's delight, a zesty group of individuals, back in 2016, began constructing a gigantic replica of the Nazi armored train solely for tourist attraction, 15 km away from the actual excavation site, zeroed in on by Richter and Koper.
Though Koper remains resolute in his aim to decipher the uncertain demeaning the exploration efforts to be half hearted, Richter decided on backing out early this August due to the overwhelming expense incurred already on the venture.