We're going to hold our hands up and admit it: this is a blow. But we're not giving up just yet.
Almost a year to the day that the Polish Culture Ministry held a press conference to all-but confirm the presence of a lost Nazi "gold train" near the Polish town of Walbrzych, the two explorers who had originally claimed that it existed have now changed their mind.
In August 2015, Piotr Koper of Poland and Andreas Richter of Germany, the co-owners of the mine exploration company XYZ S.C., said that tests they had conducted with earth-penetrating radar confirmed the existence of a train, seemingly buried next to a four kilometre stretch of track along the Wroclaw-Walbrzych line, towards the Walbrzych end.
They passed the location and their radar images to authorities, who were sufficiently impressed for the Polish head of national heritage Piotr Zuchowski to state, "I'm certain the train exists", adding 'with 99 percent probability' that a train of 100 metres in length had been found. There were all kinds of speculation about its contents, given that Zuchowski said, "The fact that it is armoured indicates it has a special cargo."
Local legends about the existence of a train filled with gold and valuables hidden by the Nazis in a secret tunnel as they fled from the advancing Soviet army at the end of World War II have abounded since the end of the conflict, with some speculating that it could even be below Książ Castle (pictured above).
However, the pair's week-long search, aided by a 64-strong team including engineers, geologists, chemists, archaeologists and a specialist in military demolitions, ended this week with no glorious discovery - other than the fact that what initially appeared on radar images to be a train carriage was, instead, a natural rock formation created by underground ice. They were forced to admit that they had found “no train, no tunnel”. The search reportedly cost $131,000 (£100,000) which was financed by private sponsors.
While this is naturally, devastating for those of us hoping for a secret find, it's not been all bad news for Walbrzych, as it's seen an influx of tourists, intrigued by the story and 'discovery'.
“The publicity the town has gotten in the global media is worth roughly around $200 million,” said Arkadiusz Grudzien, spokesman for the mayor of Walbrzych and head of the City Promotion Office. “Our annual budget for promotion is $380,000, so think about that. Whether the explorers find anything or not, that gold train has already arrived.”
There has even been talk of naming a roundabout after Koper and Richter, "in thanks for their services to our town", following the 44 per cent rise in tourism.
So is that the end of the track for the Nazi gold train? Well, as the explorers' spokesman Andrzej Gaik told The Associated Press, "hope dies last", as he said that another, smaller search using probes will resume at a nearby site in September.
Perhaps they were simply looking in the wrong place...
We still believe guys. We still believe.
(Image: Złoty Pociąg)