Art Crimes

Exciting Breaking News! Nazi Loot Found (Maybe)

The Amber Room panels, stolen from Saint Petersburg, Russia and still unrecovered. Branson DeCou [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

According to multiple news outlets, a train recently discovered deep underneath a Polish mountain, may contain Nazi-looted treasures, including the famous Amber Room panels. Once displayed at Tsarskoye Selo in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the panels were stolen during World War Two and disappeared without a trace until now; it was widely feared that they were destroyed near the end of the war. Although it is still unclear what the train cars can be expected to contain, Russia, Poland, and the World Jewish Federation are already squabbling over who should own or benefit from the contents. (1)

The train was first discovered by bounty hunters, who apparently received information about it from a dying man, and its existence has since been confirmed by Polish authorities. However, no one can access the train or verify its contents at the moment, since the original informant believed it to be rigged with explosives. For this reason, probably among others, the specific location of the train is being kept under wraps, although some details are slowly coming to light. According to The Telegraph, the existence of secret, underground Nazi train lines and at least two “ghost trains” full of gold treasures has been a well-known legend ever since the war, and treasure hunters have been looking for them for some time. (2)

Secret train cars, underground hiding places, and explosives have all made frequent appearances in the ongoing hunt for Nazi war loot. Many of the works of art and other treasures recovered just after the war were hidden in Austrian and German salt mines, often booby trapped, while others were loaded on train cars in an attempt to move them outside of Allied or Soviet control. The meticulous records kept by Rose Valland and the work of the Monuments Men led to the recovery of countless works, but it is easy to imagine how some caches are still out there waiting to be found.  I’m very excited by the possibility that the Amber Room panels, among the most famous and significant of the still-missing works, could be found intact. Heck, I’m excited about the possibility of anything being found after all this time. I spend so much time reading about the work of the Monuments Men and all these amazing finds that took place decades ago, but I never thought any of it would take place during my own lifetime. Who knows what could be inside those cars? I eagerly await further news and developments.


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2 thoughts on “Exciting Breaking News! Nazi Loot Found (Maybe)

  1. They did find an elderly collector’s stash of looted paintings in an apartment in Germany a year ago. There are similar rumours about treasure hidden by the Japanese in the Philippines; Neal Stephenson read up on them when he was writing “Cryptonomicon.”

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