A small gimpse of what's waiting to be found...
"In the chaos of a disintegrating Germany some of the cultural treasures and gold were recovered by the Allied soldiers. News of the recovered stolen gold and treasures were quickly and sensationally published across Allied news channels and in printed in vast books cataloguing the inventory of ill-gotten gains. Comprehensive German made lists of the ‘transfers’ of stolen goods were added to by the Allies in the hope that if the owners were still alive they would be able to come back and collect their possessions. Stories from surrendered Axis soldiers talked about trains loaded with gold bars hidden in caves and tunnels. In 2012 alone $1.8 billion horde of art work was found in hidden in a basement in Munich. Other treasures no matter how large simply vanished. On large haul included such as the 93 million dollars of silver hidden around Heinrich himmler's SS base in the castle of Wewelsburg. It is still documented as simply ‘missing’. In the Jonas Valley in Central Germany lies an important piece of the Nazi. The town of Ohrdruf contains the former site of the S-III Fuhrer headquarters which is believed to have an underground tunnel systems leading into the surrounding mountains containing numerous lost art masterpieces and tons of Reichsbank gold just waiting to be unearthed. US authorities who liberated the town classified all of the 1945 documents relating to the tunnels due to the dangers above and below ground of huge numbers of unexploded ordinance. The authorities today regular still play cat and Mouse with treasure hunters willing to risk their lives in the sealed off area. Lake Walchen is believed to be 100 million dollars richer in gold. Local lake-side residents in reported seeing soldiers on the shoreline in 1945 ditching crate after crate into one of the Alp’s largest and deepest lakes. Another similar story has another alpine Lake of Luener hiding 84 million dollars of jewels and gold taken from the victims of the Dachau concentration camp in the depths of its waters. After the concentration camp was liberated 1,200 suspected Nazi war criminals where held there in preparation for war trials. Lake Luener’s story was officially documented by Allied military investigators who routinely and secretly recorded the inmates’ conversations including SS officials discussing their treasures. When an imprisoned SS officer let slip about a fortune in ‘gold bars, rare stamps and jewellery’ another gold fever was set in motion. In another camp similar stories where recorded but not all searches went well. A US intelligence officer planned an expedition in the 1950s to retrieve the treasure allegedly buried under an Alpine Hut but was defeated when in 1956 a new dam in the area cause a water level to increase and submerge the lands around the lake."'
An example of how great friends are important...
"It was time to deploy the mini submarine again and use its precious battery life to find something other than the many rusty nails from long sunk boats or rusty oar locks.
Eventually, through the underwater reeds and soil murkiness of the water, an object came into view. It was wrapped in black bin bags and plastic. It was wrapped tightly, long and thin. We suggested all sorts of ideas about the contents of the plastic bag. It was clearly metallic for the magnet to make a solid contact with it. Everyone knew what the thing could be as they squinted at the images from the submarine on their mobile phones. It was an axe, it was a dead body covered in metal jewellery, it was a family pet hidden from tearful children...the comments continued.
The item was a metal item. The magnet fastened itself to the item through the plastic covering. The object was a fresh item, black and weed free. It was also logged tight at one end under a rock.
We moved the submarine for a better look. Sam pulled the rope. Nothing happened. The rope stayed tight to the magnet and its undersea cargo. Semi-drunk after four hours of drinking, Sam stood upright in the boat and yanked the rope hard. The stern of our boat quickly tipped towards the water. Sam fell back against the rope and the stern of the boat dipped under the water.
The air turned blue as lake water poured over the back of the rowing boat Ryan and Andy moved fast away from the impending soaking, sending Sam over the top of me. Now the water poured in from the front of the boat. We were sinking and sinking fast.
Almost in unison all of our group raised their phones high in the air to protect their phones. The air turned blue as the reprimands and recriminations started.The boat quickly descended into the lake.
The boat sank. Luckily for us, our heads and all important mobile phones were just out of the freezing water. Everything below our shoulders were in the cold lake water, only Ryan and his height meant he was marginally drier.
The water was cold. Bitterly cold. Colder than even the reservoir I’d practiced diving in. Ironically I was now wet through again despite my very clear plan to avoid actually getting in the water myself. Now I was as soaked as if I’d gone diving again but this time in my clothes and surrounded by the floating remnants of our lunch wrappers and bottles.
Rick passed his phone to me. He reasoned that being soaked through we might as we find out what had caused our sinking other than Sam."
Sometimes you just need visit to an Austrian bar...
"The bar was in the centre of the old town overlooked by the imposing fortress of Salzburg. The bar was quiet during the day time with the odd coffee drinker sat reading in the warmth of its fires under the wooden beams of yesteryear.
The painting was there. Proudly displayed above a well-worn sofa and lit by a lamp on an old dark, wooden table. The painting stood out from its bare stone background. It had a heavy and ornate gold frame. And it was large - about a metre and a half wide and a metre tall.
I went to look more closely at the painting. The hairs on my arms stood up as I came face to face with a familiar looking old friend. The painting could be familiar due to its highly publicized lost. The Commission of Looted Art in Europe and its collaboration with the UK’s National Archives and German Federal Archives project to display and recover stolen art meant I might have seen the painting many times. The painting could have been on the Monument’s Men website - better known as US Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program website of the USA to return stolen treasures. I could have seen it anywhere in my research and internet searches. But like a small boy with football playing cards, out of countless cards and in this case paintings I knew I had seen this painting before. And probably the third generation owner since the war had no idea of its origins and now proudly displayed the masterpiece in plain view.
I went to reach for the painting, to look at the name faded into the bottom of the shepherd’s flock.
I turned round to see a young waitress. I was clocked as English straight away.
“What are you doing? "
"I have an unusual story to tell you.." I replied."