Nazi gold fever has struck a small Czech town where the hunt is on for chests of diamonds, gold and valuable old masters allegedly left behind by the fleeing Germans in 1945, a UK newspaper has reported.
Štěchovice, 20 miles from the Czech capital Prague, is the centre of the hunt, the Daily Express said.
A former SS pioneer school was based in the town and, according to amateur sleuth Josef Mužík, claims that there are more than 500 boxes of treasure worth around £50billion at today’s prices.
He and his partner claim to have found “solid evidence” in archives that Nazi General Emil Klein had built 540 boxes and filled them with gold, gemstones, paintings, and documents from the Berlin Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institute – a German scientific and medical foundation, the paper said.
Mužík began his hunt thirty years ago and recently teamed up with Sudeten German Helmut Gänsel, a former employee of the Czech intelligence service who interrogated General Klein after the war, it said.
“He has turned the hunt into a social media event, sharing updates of the search for the subterranean caverns where he believes the treasure lies on his Facebook page.
He hopes to crowdfund future digs at the site which will need substantial amounts of money for plant and equipment.”
The report said the story of the Štěchovice treasure has been bubbling away since the end of the war.
Based on documents found in 1993 in the Weimar area of Germany, many experts believe that the Nazis did hide the booty there.
“Gaensel claims that he possesses the original documents about the contents and has “exact knowledge of the location” where this alleged treasure is hidden,” the paper said.
“He says that he received these documents, additional information and a specific area map from Klein, the former SS general in command.”
According to the report, Gaensel worked for the Czech and other secret services. In 1964, he arranged the release of Klein from the KZ Valdice prison in Czechoslovakia.
During the 1970s, and as late as 1989, there were some attempts to recover the Štěchovice treasure under the control of the communist defence and interior ministries.
In 1992, Gaensel bought the relevant property and signed an exclusive agreement with the Czech authorities to obtain the sole rights to unearth the treasure.
He and Mužík hope to unearth it before the spring of next year.
The treasure is reportedly hidden by 16 ft of debris in the entrance of a cave.