World War II History: The Hunt for Poland’s Buried Nazi Gold Trains

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Last summer, explorers in Poland claimed to have discovered tunnels built for trains carrying plundered Nazi gold, only to be debunked a few months later. But for the true believers who’ve been hunting for this treasure for decades, this merely proved what they’ve thought all along: Inside these mountains are secrets and stories that some would rather stay buried.

On a drizzly afternoon in February outside the town of Wałbrzych in Lower Silesia, Piotr Koper strode purposefully across the thawing ground and came to a triumphant halt. “We were scanning this hill, first, in this direction,” the portly, ginger-haired construction company owner told me, pointing to a tree across from us marked “69” with orange spray paint. “Then another scan, this way to the bridge,” he waved diagonally to an overpass about 100 yards from us, “and then we checked here, exactly here, and that’s where it was.” Roughly 30 feet below our muddy boots was one of Europe’s greatest mysteries.

We were standing on a median strip, a kind of island between parallel railroad tracks. The tracks were sunk deep into the earth, creating steep cliffs of conglomerate rock on either side, except for at one spot, where there was a half-moon of dirt — Koper said this was the entrance to secret tunnels that were dug into the island we were standing on. According to Koper’s ground-penetrating radar (GPR) readings, under us were two long tunnels where Nazis hid a train at the end of World War II. The train would have curved off into the tunnels before the Nazis closed them, camouflaging their work with dirt and debris. Across from where we stood was a small black-and-white sign that read “65 kilometers,” the distance between the town of Wałbrzych and the larger city of Wrocław to the northeast.

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