By Martin M. Sobczyk
The search continues for a Nazi-era train laden with valuables, and tourism and the vodka industry are benefiting
WALBRZYCH, Poland—After nearly a week of excavation work in this former mining town, a group searching for a Nazi-era train purportedly loaded with gold and gems said their efforts have been fruitless but vowed to keep digging.
Despite a lack of historical and scientific evidence, a duo of treasure hunters from Poland and Germany maintain that they found the site where retreating Nazi troops buried a trainload of valuables in the chaotic final stages of World War II.
Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter, who made the claim a year ago, have brought heavy equipment to Walbrzych and began chopping down trees and removing earth on Monday.
“We’re still looking,” Andrzej Gaik, a geologist and spokesman for the group, said on Friday. “We’re going 30-feet deep.”
The treasure seekers can be credited with some success. Wedged between Wroclaw and Poland’s border with the Czech Republic, Walbrzych has become a major tourist attraction. The legend of the gold train has also prompted a rush of competing claims and led to the production of a “Gold” vodka.
But they face a highly skeptical scientific community. A team from Krakow’s AGH University of Science and Technology has surveyed the site using detectors, cameras and radars. Earlier this year, they concluded: there is no train.
Messrs. Koper and Richter aren’t deterred.
After notifying authorities of their suspicion about the train’s presence in Walbrzych, they spent months securing various permits to search underground. They say they have budgeted $40,000 of their own money for the digging work.
The beginning of the week brought nothing, with machines hitting solid rock.
“There’s more work than we had planned,” Mr. Richter said at the site on Thursday.
Like all of Lower Silesia, Walbrzych was part of Germany before the war. In the aftermath of the conflict, borders changed and Poland received the region as compensation for territories it had lost to Soviet Union in the east.