Polish authorities have blocked off a wooded area near a railway line after scores of treasure hunters swarmed south-west Poland looking for an alleged Nazi gold train.
The city of Wałbrzych and its surrounding wooded hills are experiencing a gold rush after two men, a Pole and a German, informed authorities through their lawyers that they had found a Nazi train with armaments and valuables that reportedly went missing in the spring of 1945 while fleeing the Red Army.
Inspired by a local legend about the gold train, people with metal detectors and ground-penetrating equipment are combing the area and its still-used railway tracks. Some of them have arrived from Germany.
The gold fever intensified after the deputy culture minister, Piotr Żuchowski, said last week he had seen contours of the train on an image from a ground-penetrating radar device.
Deathbed confession may have revealed location of 'Nazi gold train':
The alleged site is somewhere between the 61th and the 65th kilometre of the tracks that wind their way between Wałbrzych and Wrocław.
The provincial governor, Tomasz Smolarz, said on Monday that police, city and railway guards were patrolling the area and blocking treasure hunters to prevent any accidents with trains running on the tracks.
“A few hectares of land are now being secured. People have been barred from the woods” surrounding the site, he said.
“Half of Wałbrzych’s residents and other people are going treasure hunting or just for walks to see the site. We are worried for their security,” said police spokeswoman Magdalena Koroscik. People walking down the tracks could not escape “a train that emerges from behind the rocks at 70km/h [43mph]”, she said. A man taking a selfie on the tracks reportedly narrowly missed being hit.
Smolarz, the regional governor, expressed serious doubts about the train’s existence. “There is no more proof for this alleged discovery than for other claims made over the years,” he said.
“It’s impossible to claim that such a find actually exists at the location indicated based on the documents that have been submitted,” Smolarz said, adding that he had set up a special unit including historians and geologists to scrutinise the alleged discovery.
Smolarz is also asking the military to examine the site with earth-penetrating equipment to look for any hidden train.
Authorities said numerous previous reports of a find had only yielded rusty pieces of metal.