A deputy mayor in Poland says lawyers for two men who claim to have found a Nazi gold train have told him that it is somewhere in the southwestern city of Walbrzych.
Walbrzych deputy mayor Zygmunt Nowaczyk said the lawyers have not offered any proof of the alleged find.
Nonetheless, he said he will pass on the information to the national government because if found, the train would be state property.
A Pole and a German allege that they have found a Second World War German train with armaments and valuables, and are demanding a reward for revealing its location.
According to Polish lore, a Nazi train loaded with gold, art, and weapons vanished into a mountain at the end of the war, as the Germans fled the Soviet advance.
Historians say that the existence of the train has never been conclusively proven, but officials are not passing up this chance at possibly recovering treasures that locals and the government have sought for 70 years.
“We believe that a train has been found. We are taking this information seriously,” Marika Tokarska, an official in Walbrzych, said.
She said her office received two letters this month from a law firm representing the men, who have chosen to remain anonymous, saying they are seeking 10% of the value of the train’s contents for revealing its location.
The documents from the lawyers say the train is 150m long and loaded with guns, valuables, and precious metals, but do not specify where it is.
Authorities say they are willing to pay the reward if the information pans out.
A lawyer for the men, Jaroslaw Chmielewski, compared the find to the “wreck of the Titanic” in a radio interview.
Tokarska said that hiring a law firm gives a degree of credibility to the two men’s claims, as do indications that they are familiar with the train’s contents.
But there are also reasons for caution: The first letter included some references to the area’s topography that indicated they might not know the area very well.
Joanna Lamparska, an author who has written about the train, says she believes it could be a scam.
“We have had a lot of stories like that in the last few years with people claiming they know where the train is . But nothing was ever found.”
Local stories say a German train left from the German city of Breslau (today Polish city Wroclaw) in April 1945 and headed west towards Waldenburg (now Walbrzych.)
At some point in the 60km journey it vanished.
During the war, Adolf Hitler had started creating a secret underground system in the area under the Owl Mountains .
It was probably intended to be a military headquarters, though the project remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved