A Polish official said Friday he has seen an image made by ground-penetrating radar that seemed to prove the discovery of an armored Nazi train missing in southwestern Poland since World War II, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
Local lore says a German train filled with gold, gems and armaments went missing around the city of Walbrzych while it was fleeing the Red Army in the spring of 1945.
Fortune-hunters have looked for the so-called “gold train” for decades, and in thecommunist era, the Polish army and security services carried out apparently fruitless searches for it.
Just last week, two people in Poland claimed to have found the abandoned Nazi train from World War II, which they said is full of 300 tons of gold, precious stones and weapons.
During the war, the Germans built a system of underground tunnels in the mountainous region of Walbrzych and the city of Wroclaw, from where the train is believed to have departed.
The area was German territory at the time, but became part of Poland when the war ended, noted AP.
The two men who claimed to have found the train, a Pole and a German, acting through lawyers, demanded a financial reward for revealing the location of the train.
Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski told reporters on Friday the lawyers had been informed the train was over 100 meters long and called it an “exceptional” discovery.
He said he was shown an image — albeit a blurred one — from a ground-penetrating radar that showed the shape of a train platform and cannons, and added he was “more than 99 percent certain that this train exists.”
“We will be 100 percent sure only when we find the train,” Zuchowski said, according to AP.
Walbrzych regional authorities will conduct the search, using military explosives’ experts, in a procedure that will take “weeks,” he added.
A person who claimed he helped load the gold train in 1945 said in a “deathbed statement” the train is secured with explosives, Zuchowski said. The person, who was not identified, had also indicated the probable location of the train, he added.
Following the news of the discovery of the train that may contain property that may have been looted from Polish Jews by Nazi officials during World War II, World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer called for the property on the train to be returned to its owners, should it be found.
“To the extent that any items now being discovered in Poland may have been stolen from Jews before they were sent to death, concentration or forced labor camps, it is essential that every measure is taken to return the property to its rightful owners or to their heirs. We very much hope that the Polish authorities will take the appropriate action in that respect,” he said.
“If no such survivors or heirs can be found, any gold or other property that is found to have belonged to Jewish families or businesses must now inure to the benefit of Polish Jewish survivors who unfortunately have never been adequately compensated by Poland for the unspeakable suffering they endured and theircatastrophic economic losses in the Holocaust,” added Singer.