What are Nazi “gold trains”?
The “Nazi Gold Trains”, also known as the Walbrzych gold trains, are legendary Nazi German-era trains, laden with gold and treasures, rumored to have been buried underground toward the end of World War II. At the time, Germans in Poland were in retreat from the advancing Russian army. Witnesses report seeing the trains being hastily loaded in Wroclaw (eastern Poland) and leaving in a south-western direction. According to legend, the trains left Wroclaw (named Breslau at the time) filled with gold, jewelry, and stolen artwork as well as documents and experimental military technology. The trains were never seen again.
Witnesses say it was apparent that whatever was loaded onto the trains was very important to the Germans. Intermingled between the carriage cars were rail-mounted military cannons and the cargo was loaded quickly under heavy guard.
Adding support to their claims, we now know that Germans routinely used trains to haul off valuable treasures and rare artwork. In fact, in 1945, US soldiers intercepted one such fleeing train and found twenty-four train cars filled with jewelry, gold bars, and stolen art surreptitiously appropriated out of Budapest. Since much of gold, jewelry, and artwork stolen by the Nazis has never been recovered, most believe there is indeed a large Nazi cache of stolen treasure – somewhere.
Where were the Nazi gold trains taken?
Given the location where the trains were loaded and the direction they were reported travelling toward, it is believed that the Nazi gold trains were driven into a complex system of chambers and tunnels under the Owl Mountains in Poland. This theory does not seem nearly so far-fetched when we take into account the top-secret Nazi project, Project Riese.
Project Riese – German Nazi’s build elaborate underground cities for unknown reasons
Project Riese (Project Giant) was a Nazi construction project consisting of at least seven underground structures located in the Owl Mountains and around Ksiaz Castle in Poland. Most official records associated with the project were destroyed at the end of the war. The purpose of the project has never been determined.
Some say Project Riese was intended to house top secret projects such as research into “wonder weapons”, particle cannons, anti-gravity devices, or time travel machines. Others, including some of Hitler’s top aides, believe the area was intended to become the impenetrable home of the Fuhrer Headquarters as well as a place to continue research and development inside underground structures safe from Allied bombing runs.
The vast network of labyrinths and chambers was built by forced laborers – prisoners of Nazi concentration camps such as nearby Gross-Rosen Camp and the legendary Auschwitz camp. Sadly, more than 5,000 of 13,000 slave laborers (all Jews) perished working on Project Riese. Almost all of those died from malnutrition, exhaustion, dangerous conditions, or executions at the hands of German guards.
Project Riese was ambitious, and many thought the attempt to build the enormous underground facility was mad. According to Nicolaus von Below, Hitler’s aide:
“The plans that we kept criticizing in those months [early 1944] included the construction of a huge new Headquarters for the Führer in Silesia, near Waldenburg, which was also to include Fürstenstein Castle within the estate of the von Pless princes. Hitler defended his orders and commanded that construction continue with the use of concentration camp prisoners managed by Speer. During the year, I visited this facility twice and each time had the strong impression that I wouldn’t see its completion. I tried to inspire Speer to somehow influence Hitler to give the order that the project be stopped. Speer said that was impossible. The extravagant work continued – at a time when every ton of concrete and steel was so urgently needed elsewhere.”
The Project Riese underground structures
Although many of the underground structures were left unfinished, areas that were completed were considered engineering marvels. Some believe that inside one of these mammoth structures can be found the hidden Nazi gold trains. The underground structures constructed as part of Project Riese include the following:
Ksaiz Castle was confiscated by the Nazi’s in 1941. Works on the structures underneath Ksiaz Castle lead to the destruction of many of the castle’s beautiful features. Elevator shafts were constructed leading to two levels of tunnels. Much of the underground is now filled with rubble and remains unexplored.
Located on the border between the villages of Rzeczka and Walim, Complex Rzecka was bored deep inside the Ostra Mountain. Three tunnels lead to a nearly completed guardroom and huge underground halls.
Located inside Wlodarz Mountain, the underground lair can be reached by four different tunnels. The structure consists of several large chambers and halls. Some parts are currently flooded but accessible by boat.
Located inside Osowka Mountain, Complex Osowka is accessible through multiple tunnels. One structure contains two dams and hydraulic equipment of unknown purpose. Aboveground structures are camouflaged by vegetation.
Located near the village of Sokelec, Complex Sokelec consists of two underground structures on different levels. Parts of the underground structures were bored into sandstone and have since collapsed.
Located in the village of Jugowice, various tunnels leading into the structure have collapsed and thus, much of the underground system remains unexplored.
Little is known about Complex Sobon. Located inside Sobon Mountain, exploration has only recently begun.
Jedinka Palace served as the general base of operations for Project Riese. Underground structures include heavily fortified bomb shelters with armored, gas-proof doors.
Gluszyca served as the location for many of the forced labor camps. Underground structures include air raid shelters and various tunnels connecting to other structures.
Where is the Nazi Gold Train treasure and what could it hold?
The rumored location of the Nazi gold train is somewhere near Owl Mountains in Lower Silesia, now part of southwest Poland (at the time, it was part of southeast Germany). Most believe the trains are buried near the city of Walbrzych, previously known as Waldenburg. In Poland’s Communist era, the Polish army carried out many fruitless searches for the lost treasure in the area.
The trains are believed to hold up to three hundred tons of gold, jewels, and masterpieces. Missing artifacts and treasures that we know Nazi Germany once possessed but have never been recovered, include:
- About 16,000 works of art including masterpieces by Matisse and Chagall, Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Michelangelo, Johannes Vermeer
- Hitler’s vast diamond collection
- The entire gold reserves of the Reichsbank – billions of dollars’ worth of gold
- Contents of the “Amber Room”, a stunning chamber at the Tsarskoye Selo palace that was lined with solid gold panels
- Various pieces of jewelry and currency taken from citizens during Germany’s conquest
Researchers claim to have found the Nazi Gold Train (2015)
In late August 2015, rumors began circulating about two men, Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter, who had obtained a death-bed confession from a soldier who claimed he helped bury the Nazi gold trains. The men researched the area the man described and found the man’s claims bore merit.
Using intermediaries, the men opened negotiations with the Polish government eventually agreeing to a “finder’s fee” of 10% of the value of the train.
News of the talks leaked, and a media firestorm erupted, debaters on both sides arguing over ownership of the find. As a result of the leak, Koper and Richter publicly acknowledged their discovery. According to Koper, the leak came from within the Polish government:
“The media uproar around the ‘gold train’ was unleashed not by us, finders, but because of the leak of confidential documents that were filed in state offices.”
With word of the discovery already public, later that month, Polish Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski revealed that the two men had used ground-penetrating radar to capture images of the train, which measures about one hundred yards in length. The images appeared to show a 50-yard-deep man-made shaft with something sitting within.
With the public clamoring to reach the site of the discovery, Polish authorities blocked off a section of the woodland surrounding the area. Tall fencing was placed around the site and 24-hour guards were posted on the premises.
By September, Polish military personnel began clearing trees from the area and searching for booby traps and mines. No explosives were found, and researchers were cleared to pursue the site further.
Two teams of independent researchers arrived and began surveying the area using magnetic field detectors, thermal image cameras, and ground radar machines. On December 15, 2015, researchers announced they had found no evidence of a train, though possibly there was indeed a collapsed tunnel. Koper and Richter stood by their claim saying, “It’s human to make a mistake, but it’s foolish to stand by it.”
Despite the researcher’s findings, Koper and Richter secured rights from the Polish State Railways to dig on the site.
Location of Koper and Richter’s site
Koper and Richter’s site is believed to be next to a 2.5 mile stretch of track on Polish State Railways’ Wrocław–Wałbrzych line. Some sources state that it is at “kilometer 65” while others give the location as kilometer 61 and 65.
Pictorial gallery of Nazi loot
Below are pictures of Nazi treasures and the storage facilities they used to hide them in.
In-Article Image CreditsComplex Osówka via Wikipedia Commons by Chmee2 with usage type - Creative Commons License. May 25, 2014
Complex Rzeczki via Wikipedia Commons by Wulfstan with usage type - GNU Free. March 10, 2005
Part of Project Riese via Flickr by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland with usage type - Creative Commons License
Bundesarchiv_Bild_175-T00-01676A_Schloss_Furstenstein_Schlesien_2 via Wikipedia Commons by German Federal Archives with usage type - Creative Commons License
U.S. soldier inspects bags of money and gold taken by Nazis via ABC News by National Archives with usage type - Public Domain
General Dwight Eisenhower inspects gold bars taken by Nazis via ABC News by National Archives with usage type - Public Domain. 1945
Art stolen by Nazis hidden in underground salt mine via Wikipedia Commons by Lukas Web; Art in Flanders VZW with usage type - Public Domain. 1945
Altaussee Salt/Art Mine discovery after WW II via Wikipedia Commons by Lukas Web; Art in Flanders VZW. 1945
General Dwight D. Eisenhower inspect art treasures stolen by Germans via Wikipedia Commons by National Archive with usage type - Public Domain. April 12, 1945
Gold jewelry stolen by Nazis and stored in underground cave via Live Science by Department of Defense with usage type - Public Domain. 1945
Gold wedding rings stolen by Nazis during WWII via Live Science by US National Archives with usage type - Public Domain
German armored train via Smithsonian Magazine by Bundesarchiv with usage type - Public Domain
Nazi train via Business Insider with usage type - Public Domain
Complex Osówka, part of underground town build by Nazi Germany via Wikipedia Commons by Chmee2 with usage type - Creative Commons License
Complex Osówka, part of underground town built during the project Riese via Wikipedia Commons by Chmee2 with usage type - Creative Commons License
Location of Nazi Gold Train in Walbrzych via Wikipedia Commons by RafalSs with usage type - Creative Commons License. 2015
Old Nazi train tracks near location of Gold Train in Walbrzych via Wikipedia Commons by RafalSs with usage type - Creative Commons License. 2015
Featured Image CreditNazi train via Business Insider with usage type - Public Domain