On the trail for Nazi gold: Intrepid treasure hunter’s journey through Poland to uncover Hitler’s lost bullion
- Train thought to be packed with gold, gems and money from 1945
- The men lodged a claim to it and will claim 10 per cent of the fortune
From secret tunnels to forgotten palaces, fantastical tales of Nazi gold have long gripped the nation. With intriguing yarns of mystery, mayhem and even murder, for MailOnline’s Ed Wight it was like stepping into the pages of a real life Boy’s Own adventure novel.
But despite no gold being found anywhere, after eight years of covering every twist and turn, he says the surprises along the way were worth more than their weight in gold.
Intrepid treasure hunter and MailOnline reporter Ed Wight
I’d never considered myself an Indiana Jones type before, more a male equivalent of Bridget Jones.
But then I met a man called Mr Boczek, an affable, ruddy-cheeked gentleman who belonged to a collective of amateur detectorists called The Silesian Research Group.
And he said he had ‘information’ about the Nazi gold train. Meeting in a cafe in the town of Walbrzych, southwest Poland, as his story unfolded I began to feel a ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ moment.
Apparently discovering the train two years previously, his tale had everything: Nazis. Gold. Spies. Adventure. Proper Indiana Jones stuff. He led me to a forest where after several minutes of clambering through undergrowth he came to a stop and pointed to a hillock.
‘That’s where the train is,’ he said emphatically. It wasn’t, of course. Nor was it the typical Indiana Jones setting I’d had in mind. Rather than a snake-infested jungle littered with boobytraps and spear-carrying warriors, this was a raised stretch of earth in a clearing of rather bland trees.
On the hunt for Nazi gold: Ed Wight’s quest to unearth the gold bullion hidden since WWII
The Silesian Research Group member Andzrej Boczek (pictured) showed MailOnline reporter Ed Wight where he believes the treasure was hidden
Buried treasure: The train – which legend says disappeared in 1945 as the Nazis tried to get their stolen treasure to safety – is said to be buried underneath this hill in Poland
But as I took a photo and sat on a stump to write up the story, little did we know that as a consequence, the sleepy town of Walbrzych would suddenly be transformed into the centre of a global media frenzy.
READ MORE: Hunt for Hitler’s gold: From SS brothel to ‘booby-trapped’ train… interactive map reveals the locations both experts and amateurs have been scouring in the hopes of unearthing Nazi treasures
Sure enough, the next day madness broke out. Fanning the flames, Mr Boczek revealed he had more up his sleeve, a bag of Nazi regalia he said he’d found close to the hillock. These included some buttons, coins and other bits and bobs emblazoned with Swastikas.
Not exactly the holy grail, nor the tonnes of gold which had sparked a manhunt for the two unknowns who said they’d uncovered it. But it was something a Dutch journalist told me was the reason he was there. ‘My editor love this,’ he exclaimed.
Good for him. Then I met a sprightly 85-year-old named Tadeusz Slowikowski. Having spent half his life searching for the train, he said its location had been revealed to him in the 1950s by a German he had saved from being beaten up.
He even had a model train set showing the locomotive inside a tunnel. Taking me through his detailed maps and exhaustive research he explained that after he began searching for the train his dog was poisoned, his phone was tapped and his front door was smashed in.
‘These were classic tactics of the secret police when they wanted to intimidate people,’ he said.
This sounded more like the Indian Jones territory I was after. And that’s what I told the local TV people when they cornered me for a comment. And Radio 4’s Today programme.
All that was missing was a hard-drinking love interest and a Nazi-loving femme fatale. Instead I was approached by a portly middle-aged man who said Slowikowski’s research was ‘nonsense’ and offered me an ‘X marks the spot’ map in return for £300.
Another told me he knew of a secret cave where as a boy he had found a stash of looted art. Meanwhile, a confidante revealed he knew someone who had a secret recording of the Gold Train men claiming they had ‘more evidence’ and there could be TWO trains!
Treasure diary: A man turned up with a diary. A NAZI diary! Claiming it had been written by an SS officer, he added that it revealed the locations of 11 places where WWII treasure was buried
Just keep digging: It took a year before Roman Furmaniak pinpointed a former palace as being one of the locations where the treasure could be buried And another year to announce the start of digging
The gold: Mr Boczek revealed he had more up his sleeve, a bag of Nazi regalia he said he’d found close to the hillock. These included some buttons, coins and other bits and bobs emblazoned with Swastikas.
Press pressure: As I took a photo and sat on a stump to write up the story, little did we know that as a consequence, the sleepy town of Walbrzych would suddenly be transformed into the centre of a global media frenzy
Network: It is thought the train went into one of a series of tunnels the Nazis built in the mountain, like this one
Everyone in Walbrzych, it seemed, had a story. And everyone seemed to know someone who knew someone who knew a ‘secret’.
But the two men with the biggest secret of all, the location of the gold train, were at that point still a mystery. They, it turned out, were a local builder and a German genealogist who later appeared on telly having struck a deal with a local broadcaster.
The same day, a mysterious black van guarded by police showed up at the location they said the train was hidden. As I crouched in bushes taking discreet photos, a burly officer came over. ‘Get away from here,’ he said.
‘The whole area is sealed off. Go now and don’t come back.’ I didn’t go back. But what was this van? Secret Service? According to one man, the answer was yes.
‘The whole area is sealed off. Go now and don’t come back.’ I didn’t go back. But what was this van? Secret Service? According to one man, the answer was yes
Sitting in the hotel bar on my last evening, he appeared dressed in camouflage gear and wearing what appeared to be a fake moustache. Introducing himself as ‘a friend of interest’, he squeezed his throat, to disguise his voice he said, and in a Stephen Hawking timbre told me that the train was packed full of chemical weapons and dead bodies.
EXCLUSIVE A family brutally murdered, secret police threats and deadly booby traps: Treasure hunter who spent 40 years searching for Nazi gold train reveals its dark secrets, READ MORE
According to him ‘a secret pact had been made with the CIA’ to keep the train’s loot safe.
And so there, I thought, my Indiana Jones days had come to an end. No weapons, no train, and sure as hell no gold. The closest I got was a gold train T-shirt from the local council.
And a mention in a book. Penned by a local historian, in a chapter headed ‘Where is Indiana Jones when you need him?’ the opening paragraph said: ‘Ed Wight has a beautiful English accent, perfectly ironed shirts with blue stripes and a cheerful persona.’
Yay me. In the years that followed, there were a couple of flurries of follow up excitement. A secret bunker containing an Amber Room looted by the Nazis from St. Petersburg? Nope! A sunken ship containing the same Amber Room? Nope! And then a man turned up with a diary. A NAZI diary! Claiming it had been written by an SS officer, he added that it revealed the locations of 11 places where WWII treasure was buried.
‘Cometh the hour,’ I muttered. If I had a hat I would’ve grabbed it. The man in question was Roman Furmaniak.
Tall and enigmatic with bushy eyebrows, he had an air of 19th century nobility about him. But not much more. It took a year before he pinpointed a former palace as being one of the locations where the treasure could be buried And another year to announce the start of digging, which turned out to be nothing more than a group of men sifting through mud with hand trowels.
Loot: An American soldier pictured with a box full of rings discovered after the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. Huge hauls like this one were found by the Allies when the Nazis fled
Fairytale: Local legend has it the train disappeared not far from Ksiaz Castle, which was the Nazi’s headquarters in the area, which was under their control during the Second World War
The closest Ed Wight got to Hitler’s lost bullion was a gold train T-shirt from the local council.
In the meantime, rumblings were beginning to circulate within the Gold Train gang.
READ MORE, Pictured: Loot found by treasure hunters above Nazi gold train tunnel – as secret agents set up hi-tech equipment ahead of search… but digging won’t start until the SPRING
‘Lamps’, a shrewd WWII historian and investigator, said she had also received the diary and it was ‘complete tosh’.
Another said the name of the SS officer didn’t exist and nor did the woman called Inge he’d entrusted the gold to.
A German woman did remain in the area after the war, ‘Lamps’ explained, but she wasn’t called Inge. Another year dragged by and then Furmaniak revealed he had uncovered a buried canister.
But as proper digging got underway, all his team managed to find was a handful of Nazi era coins.
My thoughts turned briefly, and fondly, to Mr Boczek and his hillock.
The dig then ran out of money and started a crowdfunder, but by then it was too late to avoid the incoming missile.
An historical group Furmaniak had given the diary to for analysis revealed large sections of it had been copied verbatim from a book published years after the war.
I’ve not heard from Furmaniak since, and nor do I expect to. But, and this is a but with a big B, I genuinely believe Furmaniak thought the diary was real.
And if he was duped, the question is: who by and why…? As I stumble back into my Bridget Jones lifestyle and ‘perfectly ironed shirts with blue stripes’, I’ll keep my imaginary Indiana Jones hat on standby, just in case…
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