(JTA) – Two men claim to have found a Nazi train full of stolen treasures, but won’t reveal its location until they are guaranteed a 10 per cent finder’s fee.
Marika Tokarska, an official at Poland’s southwestern district of Walbrzych, said that the men, one German and one Polish, approached the district council last week with news of a find worth “well over a million dollars” and that the council is taking the claims “seriously,” the Christian Science Monitor reported.
The train, reportedly found in Poland, is believed to be one that reportedly disappeared in 1945 loaded with gold, gems, art and guns bound for Berlin, one of several trains the Nazis used in an attempt to save their war plunder from the approaching Allies. According to local lore, the train vanished after entering a network of tunnels under the Owl Mountains.
Documents that the men provided the council through their lawyers did not specify where the train was found, according to the Associated Press (AP). Officials said they are willing to pay the 10 per cent reward if the discovery is legitimate.
A lawyer for the men, Jaroslaw Chmielewski, compared the find to the “wreck of the Titanic” in an interview on a local radio station, the AP reported.
Joanna Lamparska, an author who has written about the train and the region’s history, told the AP that 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,” Lamparska said. “But nothing was ever found.”
The missing train has been a local legend for decades after a Polish miner said German miners told him they had seen it being pushed into one of the tunnels.
The district governor has organized firefighters, police, military and others to determine how they can safely handle the train if it is found, since it may be armed with explosives.
“It could either be nonsense or they got the information directly from the Germans,” local rescuer Krzysztof Szpalkowski told the private broadcaster TVN24, according to the AP. “Maybe one of these men is a descendant of people who took part in this action.”
As officials work to verify the train’s existence, Mary Kate Cleary of the London-based Art Recovery Group told CTV News Channel that her group is preparing for the possible chance to reconnect the stolen property with its rightful owners.
“The Nazis were notorious plunderers of art, cultural property and other valuables,” Cleary said.