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September 29, 2015

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about a Nazi Gold Train But were Afraid to Ask...

For more than a month now ARCA has been fielding requests for interviews on what we think of the mysterious World War II era Nazi gold train.  Rather than try to regurgitate a synopsis of the reporting of 100 plus news agencies, we have decided we would just keep a running tally of what has been reported so far. 

This listing will be in chronological order from most recent to ancient past so please bookmark this page if you want to follow along.

December 23, 2015 06:00 GMT+1 - Professor Janusz Madej from Krakow's AGH University of Science and Technology said its geological survey of the site has found no evidence of a Nazi train rumoured to be carrying gems and gold.   In November, the Krakow AGH University team of geologists and engineers surveyed the site using magnetic and gravitation methods and believe that the anomalies of the ground point to possibly the remnants of a collapsed tunnel, but not a train in and of itself.

October 14, 2015 18:00 GMT+2  Peter Koper and Andreas Richter attended a meeting with Wałbrzych mayor, Romana Szełemeja at the city's town hall regarding an application on finds and mining.  The pair declared that they are ready for "permanent cooperation with the authorities of Walbrzych in all undertakings related to discovery" and suggested that their cooperation could take the form of a public-private partnership. Koper and Richter also proffered to carry out Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) site verification tests at their own expense. The meeting concluded with the mayor assuring the two treasure seekers that the city authorities would review their application carefully, along with the 11 other offers they have received, in furtherance of the exploration.  Both parties agreed to meet again sometime within the next two weeks.

October 05, 2015 09:00 GMT+2  Souvenir sellers have already moved in to cash in on Wałbrzych's sudden fame and tourism gold rush.  Chocolate candy gold bars, and t-shirts featuring a picture of a golden train are selling briskly at Książ castle in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship and a new book has been published highlighting the gold train frenzy.

October 03, 2015 03:00 GMT+2 Responding to journalists Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, says that army experts have handed over a "safe parcel of land" to Wałbrzych authorities having found no dangerous objects or substances on the surface of the site.  Both  the military and municipal authorities were tight-lipped about whether defence forces had found any hard evidence with which to corroborate treasure hunters' claims that they have located the train.  Siemoniak added "The army's job is done as we're not in the business of treasure hunting."

September 28, 2015 12:00 GMT+2 Twenty Polish sappers in Wałbrzych begin checking the area designated as the potential resting grounds for the train. The soldiers will do safety checks of the earth to ensure there are no mines or other unexploded ordnances from World War II.

September 25, 2015 14:00 GMT+2
One of the area where Nazi gold train is to be hidden in Poland has been cleared of bushes and trees by Polish Military forces.

September 23, 2015 07:00 GMT+2  Trainspotters Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper may face charges and up to 30 days in jail and/or fines for having not obtained permissions to use Ground Penetrating Radar.  “It is all about is to teach a lesson to their followers. We do not want to have a wave of treasure hunters ignore the rules - explains Barbara Nowak-Obelinda, quoted in Gazeta Wyborcza.

September 21, 2015 15:30 GMT+2  Finally a little somber reasoning is being interjected into the train frenzy discourse.  Tomasz Siemoniak, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and current Minister of National Defence has said that the discovery of new tunnels is not a sensation from the time of Pharaoh, but should be remembered for the death of thousands of people subjected to slave labor to have built it.

Siemoniak also underscored that the Polish military is not interested in finding treasure, but rather protecting human beings from threats.  Speaking to the Polish media he reminded the public that each day, World War II “souvenirs” are found, in the form of unexploded ordinances, which military sappers are then left to dispose of. 

September 19, 2015 21:00 GMT+1 News broke that the ladies have entered the gold rush. Saturday hobby historian Christel Focken (54) threw her own explorer hat into the ring with her male Nazi train hunter counterparts, staking her own claim to any finders fees should the Polish train turn out to be more than the wishful thinking of adventurers.  The Berliner, who according to offers on her website, offers guided visits to former Nazi tunnels and buildings built in the Owl Mountains has informed Polish authorities in Wałbrzych of four blocked up tunnels.

When asked if she believes trainspotters Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper’s hopeful claim that the train might contain the long lost Amber Room of the Russian Czars which was looted from a Russian palace by Nazi troops in 1941.  Ms. Focken laughed.

September 18, 2015  19:00 GMT+2  Treasure Hunters Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper hold a joint press conference with prospector, explorer Tadeusz Słowikowski in Struga near Wałbrzych. They presented another ground-penetrating radar image but not of the acclaimed World War II Nazi train. During the press conference the trio also highlighted a new image of a potential location of the train, this one in a much more industrialised area close to Wałbrzych in south-west Poland near the Czech border.

September 16, 2015 12:20 GMT+2 Polish local authorities and National authorities not seeing eye to eye on who should be involved in the investigation.  Members of the delegation of the Polish Army Museum, along with Adam Sikorski, the author of a TV program and Robert Kmieć, an expert in GPRmwere not given access to the alleged hiding place of the train despite bringing with them their own sophisticated and noninvasive GPR equipment. The MALÅ X3M™ system is one of the most compact GPR system commercially available on the market and used still costs an eye-popping sum usually reserved for professionals.   The fact that the geologists from the museum brought their own equipment corresponds with their skepticism of the GPR images presented by Piotr Koper and genealogist Andreas Richter using the KS ANALYSIS GPR KS700.  Unfortunately, they were not permitted to put their own unit to the test.

September 13, 2015 15:57 GMT+2 Heritage humor on Twitter sardonically changes the hashtag from  #ZłotyPociąg to #SchroedingersTrain.
September 13, 2015 15:35 GMT+2 As Poland's "gold train" frenzy gains momentum city officials, explorers and treasure hunters turn their attention towards a 262 meter crossover railway tunnel in Unisław Silesia built in the mid 1800s. Authorities inspecting the area found an unauthorised hole punched and continue to remind those with gold rush fever that the pursuit of treasures and solving of mysteries can be dangerous and without proper authorisation, it is also illegal.

September 13, 2015 11:11 GMT+2 Military reconnaissance continues.  Polish Armed forces bring in chemical weapons personnel as a precaution.   Areas surrounding the potential train site are to be cleared of trees and shrubs.

September 11, 2015 15:00 GMT+2 Polish explorer, Mirosław Krzysztof Szpakowski and the Włodarz Depozyty III Rzeszy upload a Youtube documentary in Polish reporting on the gold train's developments.  The video has been viewed more than 31,000 times.

September 11, 2015 15:29 GMT+2 - In almost Paul Bunyon-like ever growing tall tale, Polish  TV TVN24 and Wałbrzych regional authorities hold a press conference with a third Polish explorer, Mirosław Krzysztof Szpakowski. Szpakowski believes his research shows that the Nazis built an enormous underground bunker to protect thousands of people in the area. The explorer bases his statement on research he has been gathering for decades elaborating that this research includes witness statements, old documents and an examination of the area by ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and.....dowsers.

Oh, and there might be three trains, instead of just one.

Szpakowski is the president of Poland's Riese Association. The name Riese stems from the Nazi code name for a construction project carried out using forced labourers and prisoners from concentration camps constructed between 1943 and 1945.  These underground structures and tunnels located in the Owl Mountains and Książ Castle in Lower Silesia.  Some of these tunnels have long been explored and documented, others have not as they are blocked with debris.

The Riese association's website says the association supports tourism and the protection of monuments, historical areas, building tunnels and land that form the complex Riese, in the macro-region Municipality of Nowa Ruda. Their website has been active since 2003.

September 10, 2015 19:24 GMT+2 - A image leaked to Polish newspaper Gazeta Wroclawska, which purports to be a radar image of the Nazi gold train appears to show a train with cannons. Academics also question this second image's authenticity. Curator Michal Mackiewicz of the Polish Army Museum says that he was approached by persons with this image in June 2014.  The image was apparently presented in relationship to three persons, not named, but who are not Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter. 

September 09, 2015 23:00 GMT+2 Images of the location where the Gold Train is supposed to be have been posted on Twitter by social media user @Exen.

September 09, 2015 14:25 GMT+2  - According to police in Świebodzice a 39 year old treasure hunter has died after falling several meters off the top of a listed mausoleum which houses members of the wealthy von Kramst family while looking for Nazi treasure.  His two companions have been charged with desecrating a grave.  The tomb is located approximately 5 km from the vicinity of the zone where the Nazi train is reported to be located.

September 09, 2015 13:14 GMT+2 - A World War II-era railway tunnel with a multi-level complex of underground corridors is located near the village of Walim, 19 km (12 miles) from Wałbrzych,  by the same to treasure hunters, Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper. 

Richter and Koper used a 1926 railway map, linked here, that led them to the tunnel near to the former railway station in Walim.

September 06, 2015 - Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter have been expelled from their local history society, the Lower Silesian Study Group.  The South-west Poland study group study the area’s wartime past and archaeology.  Until the expulsion Koper acted as the group’s vice president. Richter writes a blog post calling for a motion of censure against the board of the historical society.  Petre Koper, Andreas Richter’s son Christian and Paul Dill, Peter Koper’s son all withdraw from the group in solidarity.

September 05, 2015 14:59 GMT+1  Edward Zbierański grants an interview to Polish news agency TNV24.  He says that when he was 14 years old he lived and worked on a farm located just outside the railway line.  During the war he recalls his sister telling him that she had heard a German woman said that prisoner of war had pushed part or all of a train into a tunnel and were never seen again. He also said that there were rumours that the train cars where booby-trapped with toxic gas. 

September 05, 2015 - Richter and Koper give credit to retired miner Tadeusz Slowikowski, from whom they first learned of the Nazi train's possible existence. They also say the fury over their claim surrounding the trains discovery was not of their doing, rather the leaking of documents submitted to Polish authorities that found their way into the press. Both claim they have backers to fund the extraction and recovery of the train and the exploration of nearby territories while protecting the nearby environment and want to build a museum to bring tourism to the area. Richter and Koper post a statement to their website reiterating what was read over the polish news service. 

Screen grab of graphic taken with a
GPR KS-700 reportedly showing train and nearby terrain.
September 04, 2015 09:00 GMT+2 - Builder Piotr Koper from Walbrzych, Poland, and genealogist Andreas Richter from Germany, revealed their identities for the first time reading a statement on Polish news service TVP.INFO where they declared “As the finders of a second world war armoured train, we, Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper, declare that we have legally informed state authorities about the find and have precisely indicated the location in the presence of Wałbrzych authorities and the police.” 

After reading their statement, the men released an image purportedly taken with ground-penetrating radar that seemed to show the armoured Nazi train, not in a tunnel, as previously thought, but buried under ground.  The authenticity of the image is greatly debated. 

September 03, 2015, 18:26 GMT+1 - Retired miner Tadeusz Slowikowski, 84, believed to be the main living source of the nazi train legend admits to knowing the two "engineers" who have purportedly found the train but will not release their names. Mr. Slowikowsk says that the two had visited his home to review prewar German maps of the area, current photographs and a model that he built which indicates the spot where he personally believes the train disappeared.  

September 02, 2015 11:03 GMT+2 - Minister of Defence Tomasz Siemoniak says Polish military reconnaissance team will help Nazi train search near Wałbrzych.

September 01, 2015 12:00 GMT+2 Koper and Richter write their first two posts on their website page.  The first is titled "GPS Survey of Tunnel During the Second World War." Post shows a floating image supposedly taken from a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) test performed using KS ANALYSIS Ground Penetrating Radar KS700 device.  Company website for device says it is commonly used by archaeologists and metal detectors.   Second post states that it is an image of a fifty meter shaft where the Nazi train is located.

September 01, 2015 - Train fever escalates.  Treasure hunters, some equipped with metal detectors, and curious locals have swarmed into the wooded hills and Owl Mountains . Governor Tomasz Smolarz deploys police to block entry points into the woods along a four kilometer-long track of rail so that treasure seekers do not attempt to walk along the still active train tracks where they could be injured.  

August 31, 2015 - World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer calls for any Holocaust-related valuables found to be returned to their rightful owners, or their heirs. “To the extent that any items now being discovered in Poland may have been stolen from Jews before they were sent to death.....It is essential that every measure is taken to return the property to its rightful owners or to their heirs.” 

August 30, 2015 - The train is said to be located in an underground tunnel constructed by the Nazis along a 4km stretch of track on the Wroclaw-Wałbrzych line. However, its exact location is still being kept hiddenwhile being investigated through a careful operation conducted by the Army, Police and Fire Brigade.

August 28, 2015 13:50 GMT+  - Piotr Koper from Walbrzych, Poland, and genealogist Andreas Richter from Germany open their "company" website.  

August 28, 2015 15:00 GMT+2  - Deputy Culture Minister of Poland, Piotr Zuchowski says images appeared to definitively show a train equipped with gun turrets. He also states that the two treasure hunters received information about the train’s location in a deathbed confession from a man who reportedly helped hide the train some 70 years ago and wanted to pass on his knowledge before he died.  Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski warns of the danger to civilians and amateur cave spelunkers and treasure seekers of entering the disused World War II tunnels around Wałbrzych. Authorities say it will take weeks for the area to be secured and the suspected location explored.

Wałbrzych's deputy mayor, Zygmunt Nowaczyk relays that the train's is located within the his city’s administrative zone but that the location was not being disclosed. Authorities in Poland's cultural ministry continue to state that the site may pose a risk to "foragers" and urges World War II and Train buffs to stear clear of the area as they risk harming themselves.

August 24, 2015 Authorities in the southwestern district of Wałbrzych, where the 495-foot-long train is said to have been found, reportedly hold an emergency meeting and warn treasure hunters that the train is 'probably mined'.

August 21, 2015 - Artnet news speculates that if the contents of the train do prove to include Holocaust art returning the valuables to their rightful owners and heirs will likely be as contentious as the ownership debates surrounding the Cornelius Gurlitt's art hoard, or the dispute over Adele Block-Bauer's, Gustav Klimt collection. 

August 20, 2015 19:42 GMT+2 - Marika Tokarska, an official at the Wałbrzych district council says the two treasure hunters claim they have found a 490-foot (150-meter) train seventy meters below ground which they believe may contain Nazi treasure that could be worth "well over a million dollars.” The pair still won't reveal the train's location without a guarantee of a percentage of the finds. Despite warnings from academics that they may be dealing with a hoax or dangerous chemicals, fortune hunters from Europe begin flocking to Poland.  With stars in their eyes, some begin speculating if the train could contain the 8th wonder of the world, the long-lost Czarist Amber Room from the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg or if the finds might reconnect Jewish heirs with stolen art never recovered after the war. 

August 19, 2015 15:56 GMT+2 - Reuters breaks the news of the possible Nazi train claim for the first time in English. Interviewing local authorities in Poland’s southwestern district of Wałbrzych, the world learns that city officials had been contacted by a law firm representing two individuals, one Polish, and one German, who claim to have located a German train and who are also seeking 10 percent of the value of any findings.  Under current Polish law, any valuables found from that era would be state property.

August 19, 2015 09:25 GMT+2 - During an interview with Wałbrzych District Head Jacek Cichura, a public official, Polish Radio Wroclaw breaks the news to Polish listeners in its morning audience that a letter of demands has been received at the District Office in Wałbrzych on August 13th informing authorities that individuals have information on a purported armoured Nazi train still loaded with its original cargo. There is no precise indication of the location released during the broadcast.

August 12, 2015 14:01: GMT+2 - In an eery premonition, British newspaper The Daily Mail presents an article titled “Abandoned guns, forgotten munitions carts and peeling paint: Inside the eerie military shelters in Poland where children were forced to dig tunnels to help the Nazi military machine”  No mention is made of a lost Nazi Train or the frenzy that is about to erupt a few days later.

May 2015 - Unauthorised drilling and georadar testing in May leaves six large holes in the ground somewhere near Walim, a village about 12 miles west of Wałbrzych.

Image Credit Reuters -Tadeusz Slowikowski, retired miner 
Date Undetermined-  A second "Nazi Train source, Tadeusz Slowikowski, is cited as a retired miner from Wałbrzych, who said that just after the close of the Second World War a German living in the area had informed him that there was a train hidden near the 13th century Książ Castle.  He has been following up on leads regarding the mystery train's existence for half a century.

Date Undetermined - The train legend can be traced to at least two different Polish sources. The first was reported to be a deceased businessman known only as Mr. Posibirski, who said he saw a document locating the train near Piechowice, a town in Jelenia Góra County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, located in south-western Poland, 104 km from Warsaw.

Date Undetermined - It is believed that a Nazi train, “went missing” in 1945 as the Red Army closed in during the final days of World War II. Said train was purportedly filled with a variety of contents, possibly gold bullion, originating from the Lower Silesian capital of Breslau (now Wroclaw) then eastern Germany, now Poland.

By Lynda Albertson