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Has a mysterious WW2 train been found and was it carrying tonnes of gold image www.crimefiles.net

Has a mysterious WW2 train been found and was it carrying tonnes of gold?

Warsaw: Two people in Poland say they have found a Nazi German train cloaked in mystery since it was rumoured to have gone missing near the end of World War II while carrying away gold, gems and guns ahead of advancing Soviet Red Army forces.

Local authorities in Poland’s south-western district of Walbrzych said they had been contacted by a law firm representing a Pole and a German who said they had located the train and were seeking 10 per cent of the value of the findings.

“Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this,” Marika Tokarska, an official at the Walbrzych district council, said. “The area has never been excavated before and we don’t know what we might find.”

Sobibor train station in Poland in 2009. The Nazis killed at least 250,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp during the Holocaust.image www.crimefiles.net
A view of the Sobibor train station in Poland in 2009. The Nazis killed at least 250,000 Jews at the Sobibor death camp during the Holocaust. Photo: ReutersLocal news reports said the train in question went missing in 1945, packed with loot from the-then eastern German city of Breslau, now called Wroclaw and part of Poland, as the Red Army closed in at the end of World War II.
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One local media report said the train was armoured and belonged to the Wehrmacht (Nazi Germany’s military).

Radio Wroclaw cited local folklore as saying the train entered a tunnel near Ksiaz Castle in the mountainous Lower Silesian region and never emerged. According to that theory, the tunnel was later closed and its location long forgotten.

Other media said the train could have been carrying some 300 tonnes of gold.

According to Radio Wroclaw, the 150-metre-long train was carrying guns, “industrial equipment”, gems and other valuable treasure. Tokarska said she did not have any details on the location or the contents of the missing train.

Some sceptics say there is no evidence that it ever existed.

“A handful of people have already looked for the train, damaging the line in the process, but nothing was ever found,” Radio Wroclaw quoted Joanna Lamparska as saying, describing her as a connoisseur of the region’s history.

“But the legend has captured imaginations.”

Trains were indeed used to spirit Nazi loot back to Berlin as US-led Allied and Soviet forces surged towards the German capital from the west and the east in the winter and spring of 1945.

In the case of the so-called “Gold Train”, Nazi forces sent 24 freight carriages from Budapest towards Germany filled with family treasures including gold, silver and valuable paintings seized from Hungarian Jews and estimated to be worth up to $US200 million ($273 million).

That train was intercepted by US soldiers, who, according to a later US investigation, helped themselves to some of the loot.

Reuters
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Hunt for Holocaust loot goes online

Visitors stand underneath pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust during a visit to the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem.Visitors stand underneath pictures of Jews killed in the Holocaust during a visit to the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. Photo: AMIR COHEN

THE first internet database of more than half a million pieces of property lost by Holocaust victims has gone online to begin another chapter of restitution.

After years of quiet diplomacy that accomplished little, organisers of the new project, financed by the Israeli government, said the idea was to use new technology in the struggle and to make as much noise as possible.

”This is an activist approach,” said Bobby Brown, executive director of the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce, known as Project Heart. ”We believe there are no secrets any more about the Holocaust.”

Mr Brown said the idea of property restitution had to be pushed through Twitter and Facebook, although negotiations with countries where property was located ”do not have to be made public right away”.

The project, a non-profit global campaign of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a quasi-governmental body, has set up offices in Milwaukee and Brussels.

This is the first worldwide list of property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust era to be made available to survivors and their heirs. Compiled from hundreds of European archives, including tax records and voter registries, it includes real estate and land, moveable property such as art and jewellery, and intangible personal property such as stocks, bonds and savings accounts.

The project has already invited potential claimants to submit their details to the website, which is in 13 languages. Many of the properties in the database are listed with the names of the original owners, and sometimes their professions – information from the public records to help potential claimants find a match. About 650,000 pieces of property were uploaded this week, and Mr Brown hopes that the list will grow to a million by the end of the year.

Other Jewish organisations have also dealt with restitution. The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany has focused on Germany and Austria. The World Jewish Restitution Organisation was established in 1993 to focus on Eastern Europe after the collapse of the communist governments.

There has been progress in the issue of community-owned property but none on personal property, Mr Brown said.

About a third of the 750,000 Israelis who are retirement age are Holocaust survivors and many live in poverty.

Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said the Holocaust ”was not only genocide but it was also the greatest theft in history”.

Associated Press

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