Explorers in Poland have begun digging for a supposed Nazi train laden with treasure and armaments, undeterred by decades of fruitless searches and a scientific determination that no train is even there.
The search in south-eastern Poland follows a local legend claiming a Nazi “gold” train disappeared in a mountain tunnel as the Germans escaped the advancing Soviet army at the end of the Second World War.
As the dig got under way, a yellow excavator moved earth along rail tracks above the spot where two explorers believe the train is buried, images aired by Poland’s TVN24 show. The work is expected to last several days.
The two men claimed last year to have located the elusive train with radar equipment below ground in the city of Walbrzych, sparking a gold rush in that area.
A government official initially said he was “99% sure” the train was there, but geological experts using magnetic equipment found no train at the spot.
Historians say the existence of the train, which is said to have gone missing in May 1945, has never been conclusively proven.
Polish authorities have nonetheless seemed eager to check every possibility of recovering treasures that have sparked the imaginations of local people for decades.
Legend holds that the train was armed and loaded with treasure and disappeared after entering a complex of tunnels under the Owl Mountains, a secret project known as “Riese” – or Giant – which the Nazis never finished.
The area belonged to Germany at the time but has been part of Poland since the borders were moved in the post-war settlement.