Two intrepid treasure hunters have begun digging for a mythical Nazi gold train, despite one expert saying there’s no proof it exists.
The gold train has been at the centre of feverish speculation since Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter said their research led them to believe it was buried nine metres down in a railway tunnel in Walbrzych, south west Poland.
The dig finally began today at 7am using heavy equipment.
Legend had it the train was packed with £250million worth of gold and gems which were hidden from the approaching Red Army by the retreating Germans in the dying days of WWII.
In December Professor Janusz Madej, a Krakow-based scientist who conducted a search at the site, said his team had found no proof of the train’s existence.
‘The tunnel may be there, but the train is not,’ he said.
Undaunted, the pair hinted at ‘anomalies’ produced by a ground-penetrating radar and said they would resume the hunt.
On Friday project spokesman Andrzej Gaik said: ‘The train isn’t a needle in a haystack, if it’s there, we’ll find it.
‘Even if we find a tunnel, that’ll also be a success. The train could be hidden in it.’
Mr Koper, a Pole, and Mr Richter, who is German, say the Nazis made prisoners of war dig a network of tunnels in the area, and some locals have claimed the Germans tried to spirit the gold away as Russia’s Red Army closed in.
The intrigue has been further fuelled by the site’s proximity to a massive network of secret underground tunnels built by the Nazis, some of which are around the massive Ksiaz Castle where legend has it the Third Reich stashed looted valuables.
The pair insist the excavation is more than just a treasure hunt.
They believe the site may also have been used to hide the bodies of thousands of forced labourers.
Legend had it the locomotive set off from the western city of Wroclaw (then known as Breslau) before mysteriously disappearing around Walbrzych (Waldenburg at the time) while fleeing the Red Army in 1945.
Fortune-hunters have looked for it for decades, and in the communist era the Polish army and security services even carried out apparently fruitless searches for it.
Last year Poland’s Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski said he was ’99 per cent convinced’ the train was buried beneath the ground in Walbrzych after seeing ground-penetrating radar images.
He added that the images seemed to show a train equipped with a gun and turrets.