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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Treasure Hunters in Poland begin to dig for Nazi "ghost" train.

Searchers in Poland begin to dig for Nazi "ghost" train believed to be full of treasures. (LiveScience).

Treasure hunters broke ground today in Poland, hoping to find a legendary train said to be filled with gold and hidden by Nazis near the end of World War II.

But some scientists doubt that such a train ever existed and said it's unlikely the team will find the gold they're looking for.

"We're entering the sphere of almost urban myth," Tony Pollard, a battlefield archaeologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, told Live Science. "From my own experience as an archaeologist, I'm highly dubious about it, and I think most of the archaeological community shares that opinion."

According to local lore, the Germans hid a train loaded with gold and other loot in a secret tunnel as the Soviet army advanced in 1945. Government-sponsored and private efforts alike had attempted to locate this fabled treasure trove over the past several decades.

Last summer, a pair of amateur explorers, Piotr Koper and Andreas Richter, claimed that they had identified the spot where the train was buried, in the town of Walbrzych in Poland. [Images: Missing Nazi Diary Resurfaces]

The announcement touched off a frenzy. Treasure hunters and tourists reportedly flocked to the region. Some Polish officials even backed the claims; Poland's deputy minister of culture said he was "99 percent" certain the train existed after seeing Koper and Richter's ground-penetrating radar images, which supposedly showed an armored train buried underground.

Excitement over the discovery dampened just a few months later, after a scientific commission from AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Poland, attempted to verify the findings and found no evidence for the train. "There may be a tunnel, but there is no train," Janusz Madej, a geology professor who led thecommission, reportedly told a press conference in December 2015.

Koper and Richter, however, pressed on. This week they began digging in the spot where they say they found a train-shaped anomaly in their radar scans. Photos from the site showed that the team has already started clearing large amounts of dirt with an excavator. The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that the team plans to initially dig 20 feet (6 meters) deep.

  Pollard noted that he was especially skeptical about Koper and Richter's radar images, which purported to show the underground train in great detail. "I've worked with ground-penetrating radar experts, and these are like no results that I've ever seen," he said, adding that radar images of buried archaeological features typically look more abstract

He added that he was also disappointed that much of the discussion surrounding this treasure hunt was about the possibility of striking gold and its value. "I certainly don't want people to think this is archaeological research," Pollard said. "Archaeology's raison d'être is to answer questions about the past. If there is indeed a train laced with Nazi gold, it could raise a lot of questions."

Even the discovery of an empty tunnel could be an interesting turn of events. In this part of southern Poland, the Nazis used forced labor to build a vast network of tunnels called the Riese complex ("riese" is the German word for "giant").  Read the full story here, More here.

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