In September of 1940, Hitler and his henchmen marched into to Paris. He took one look – literally one look – at the Eiffel Tower and said, “Yes, I’ll take that….”
More than 70 years later, historians are still scratching their heads of the sheer scope of the Nazi Third Reich. Leaving a wake of destruction, death, oppressive tragedy and the greatest inhumanity known to man, the Nazis took great pleasure plundering art, castles and anything that glimmered bright. One of them is called Książ, a castle in Wałbrzych in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland. Built in 1288, this castle that graces the hillside is actually just thirty minutes from my grandfather’s village.
I discovered this exquisite castle built in 1232 last summer when we were treated to an overnight stay in the servant quarters. It was blistering hot and I was delighted to have eight windows of my own that I immediately opened to enjoy the mountain air. We were only there for a brief overnight, but the castle completely captured my imagination. The Nazis had taken over the lovely castle which they decided would be ideal for protection in case they had to flee Berlin before the Allies. They created a bunker beneath the castle to shelter the Fuhrer and a series of tunnels which were to connect to an underground weapons factories built inside the Owl Mountains. I had just visited the Reise Bunker Project earlier that morning. There are miles of these secret tunnels that are still being discovered some 70 years later. They housed as well a complete munitions factory built and operated by the grueling slave labor from the nearby concentration camp, Gross Rosen. And it was discovered that they were constructing the V2 bombers which pulverized London. As our guide said, “We have only scratched the surface of what the Nazis were up to…”
Needless to say, I had to come back. And unbelievably, this morning this is where I am.
And if that isn’t enough, this is the location where two treasure hunters discovered the location of the tunnel that they say will lead them to a treasure train, which was supposed to be hidden at the end of World War II by the Nazis. In four days, a team of around 35 diggers will start excavating the embankment with a live stream from a German news agency.
I am expected in Jelenia Gora on Sunday so I won’t be there for the excitement, but today as I explore the castle and take a guided tour through the tunnels, I may just keep on eye open for the Nazi Gold Train…..