• 10:42
  • 19.08.2017
Greed upends Nazi gold hunt
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19.08.2017

Greed upends Nazi gold hunt

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A collection of Nazi treasure valued at over £500 million pounds has been pinpointed in a Bavarian wood.
But it cannot be excavated because the treasure hunter who has found it has fallen out with the landowner — whose permission he needs to extract it.
Hans Glueck, 76, who has quested after the hoard of gold, diamonds, artworks and rare postage stamps for two decades — claims the owner of the land wants the treasure for himself.
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But without the map and coordinates he has obtained down the years, “he is as blind as a mole”, says Glueck.
He has lodged a claim with the German finance ministry to receive a reward of ten per cent of the treasure’s value should someone get to it before him.
And he is appealing to the Central Council for Jews in Germany to put pressure on Berlin for a dig to go ahead — as property looted from Jews during the war is among the loot buried in old.
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In the dying days of the Third Reich SS chief Heinrich Himmler greenlighted for his brutal deputy Ernst Kaltenbrunner to empty the Berlin Reichsbank of loot and send it south on a train to the Alps.
The plan was for the train to cross the border at Passau into Austria and the loot to be stored in a salt mine.
But Allied air attacks and advancing Russians made the train with its valuable cargo hide for three days in a tunnel at Tittling in Bavaria.
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The SS had a functioning radio post in the forest at Arrach. This, says Glueck, was where it was to end up — and where it still lies.
A few days after the transport, Soviet troops were able to intercept a Nazi radio statement: “Command executed. Transport of guards taken over and stored in BSCHW. Ask for further instructions.”
The abbreviation is thought to be a reference to the Bavarian Forest — Bayerische Wald — and the SCH a reference to schacht, or shaft.
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Kaltenbrunner made it to his Austrian homeland where he was arrested on May 12, 1945 by a US military patrol.
In the garden of his villa, buried among the beetroot, was found 76 kilograms of gold in six bars — a small portion of the train’s cargo.
On October 1, 1946, three days before his 43rd birthday, Kaltenbrunner was found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg, sentenced to death and executed on October 16 without revealing the whereabouts of the loot.
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In 1995, Glueck, from Heidelberg, was giving an interview to Bavaria TV about his various worldwide treasure hunts that had taken him to Greece, Portugal and America and made him well known among the world’s metal detecting fraternity.
Afterwards he was contacted by a man who said he had an old map that he might find “interesting.”
The map, he was told, had belonged to an SS officer captured by the Russians and shipped to Siberia.
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“Presumably he had sewn the card into the lining of his coat,” says Glück.
The SS man was doomed, and he knew it: the Russians shot most of them out of hand.
Before he was executed, says Glueck, he handed the map with the details of the Arrach treasure on it to a Wehrmacht soldier POW in his camp called Willi Jahnke.
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Jahnke survived his harsh captivity to return to his home which lay in what was to become Communist East Germany.
He kept the map and dreamt of one day going west to look for the treasure.
When wall fell, Jahnke “wanted to use his chance for wealth at last,” said Glueck.
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In 1990 he stood with his wife in the Bavarian Forest and poked around in the ground. But he did not understand the map and the markings upon it.
Locals, however, told him of the “night and fog” action that took place there early in May 1945 when Polish forced labourers had to reload heavy ammunition crates on to 20 available hay carts.
The inhabitants of Arrach had to stay in their houses, keeping the shutters closed.
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Those who did not obey the order were punished — like a teenager who had crept into the forest and was later found shot dead.
The twelve forced labourers who had brought the laden wagons into the forest were shot in Arrach three days later.
Willie Jahnke was also unlucky. In 1995 he died after an operation, poor as he had always been. The SS treasure map was given to the owner of the forest before his death.
Over two weekends in May 1995, after being contacted by the landowner, Glueck went to Arrach for the first time.
He discovered glass phials and a metal box containing part of a map annotated with additional notes and markers: a cross, a few dots, lines, and the numbers 600, 900, 750.
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Glueck said the glass phials were signalling: “This is a warning. The treasure is secured with three mines. But what the codes mean — no idea.”
Over the next two decades he drove 15 times a year to Arrach searching for the treasure. And he says it came to him in the Autumn of last year.
In the spring of 1945 there was still snow in the forest. The forest path marked on the map is steep and inclined uphill.
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If the SS had driven the heavily laden wagons uphill the horses would not have made the climb. But further down the slope is a narrow path leading to a flat clearing.
“I was electrified,” he said. “I knew at that moment I was in the correct place.”
He said the numbers matched survey coordinates. Using a device that can be used to measure the Earth’s magnetic field, indicating when metal is under the ground — a Geomagnetometer — Glueck said he discovered something buried below.
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“It came from the iron fittings of the ammunition crates,” he said. In April this year a ground radar search conducted with friend and technical ally Rudiger Brede turned up a cavity where he says the loot must lie.
But the forest is privately owned. According to Bavarian law, anyone can search for treasure anywhere — But digging requires special permission and the landowner has refused to give it.
Glueck said: “He wants to find the treasure himself, but won’t succeed because I hold all the cards.”
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