Nazi Gold Train, 2015/2016
In August 2015, two men came forward claiming they had information about the location of a buried 'Nazi gold train,' obtained via a deathbed confession. The two treasure hunters entered into negotiations with the Polish government, requesting a 10% finders fee for anything discovered based on their information, which they supplemented with ground penetrating radar images that appeared to show an underground shaft with something in it. The claims sparked a worldwide media frenzy and were taken very seriously by the Polish government and military, which swept and secured the indicated area outside Wałbrzych, and conducted a non-invasive investigation of the site, ultimately concluding that no such 'gold train' existed. Undeterred, the two men behind the claims were able to secure permissions to dig at the site from Polish Railways - the owners of the land. The work began in August 2016, almost a full year after first coming forward with their claim, and was reportedly financed at a cost of 116,000 Euros by private sponsors. Work was halted after seven days when no tunnel, tracks, train or treasure were found, and the radar images thought to be the legendary train were revealed to be nothing more than natural ice formations. Nonetheless, for dozens of treasure hunters the search for the gold train continues in the mountains surrounding Wałbrzych, and the media publicity has lead to about a 45% increase in tourism in the area, leading one local tourist official to claim that, "Whether the explorers find anything or not, that gold train has already arrived."
Of the seven primary Riese sites, three are open to the public – in Walim-Rzeczka, Włodarz and Osówka. Run as tourist attractions by private companies, these sites do more to mystify than demystify the history, towards which they are at times insensitive. The Osówka complex is the largest and offers the most to tourists, while the Włodarz/Wolfsburg site features roadside tanks, a dodgy museum, and is commonly used as a paintball battleground; for a site where thousands of prisoners were worked to death or executed, to us that seems more than a little questionable. But judge for yourself.
The Osówka Complex: www.osowka.pl
The Walim-Rzeczka Complex: www.sztolnie.pl (Polish and German only)
The Gross-Rosen Museum in Rogoźnice: www.gross-rosen.eu
Książ Castle: www.en.ksiaz.walbrzych.pl
Project Riese: www.riese.krzyzowa.org.pl