Alleged Nazi Train in Poland Could Reunite Jewish Heirs With Stolen Art, Valuables
A Nazi train reportedly found in Poland and filled with looted treasure could reconnect stolen art, gold and other valuables with their Jewish heirs, Canada’s CTV News reported on Thursday.
Earlier this week, two men said they had discovered the train in Poland rumored to have disappeared in underground secret tunnels in May 1945, as the Germans retreated toward the end of World War II. They claim the train contains valuables that, according to Marika Tokarska, an official in the southwestern Polish district of Walbrzych, may be worth “well over a million dollars.”
The alleged discovery is said to have been made in Polish territory that formerly belonged to Germany. Local media outlets reported Tokarska’s assessment that the train could hold up to 300 tons of gold.
As Polish officials scrambled to verify the claims, Tokarska told The Associated Press, “We believe that a train has been found.”
Nazis typically used trains to transport stolen property back to the German Reich, Mary Kate Cleary of the London-based Art Recovery Group told CTV. She said her organization is preparing for the possibility of reconnecting Jewish families with their stolen valuables.
“If this train was one of those such trains, then it would contain materials from Eastern European countries, possibly dispossessed from Jews, victims of the Holocaust,” Cleary said. “We would hope that if these objects are in fact from victims of Nazi persecution … they could be identified and we at our recovery group, in addition to other organizations, could work to identify these objects and get them back to the victims or their heirs.”
Jerome Hasler, head of communications and strategy for the Art Recovery Group, said there were a number of “gold trains” used to hide stolen objects as the Soviets approached Nazi-occupied territories in the latter days of the war. He said some of the trains were stopped by Soviets, while others went missing.
“We have to exercise caution when assessing the validity of the claim, but everything is possible,” he said.
The two men who made the supposed discovery, one German and one Polish, hired lawyers who said their clients were refusing to reveal the train’s location without guarantees they would receive a 10 percent share of the treasure’s value, Tokarska told CNN.
Local authorities are discussing safe methods to reach the train if it is indeed found. If the train is sealed in an underground tunnel, methane build-up could pose a risk of explosion, Tokarska said.