The release of a seven decades-old map thought to indicate where Nazi soldiers stashed millions of Euros in treasure during World War II has set off a wild treasure hunt in the Netherlands — as history buffs and amateur detectives scramble to get their hands on the loot.
Equipped with metal detectors and shovels, sleuths descended in droves on the rural village of Ommeren, where a yellowed map suggests the Nazis buried four boxes of gems and precious metals following a bank explosion in Aug. 1944.
The map, which has been in the custody of the Dutch National Archive since the county was freed from German occupation in 1945, was released this week after a 75-year confidentiality period expired.
“I see groups of people with metal detectors everywhere,” Jan Henzen, 57, told Reuters during a break from his own search.
“Like a lot of people, the news about the treasure made me go look for myself. The chance of the treasure still being here after 70 years is very small I think, but I want to give it a try.”
National Archive spokeswoman Anne-Marieke Samson told the outlet that authorities are still unsure that the treasure even exists, though its origin story is thought to be “reliable.”
Despite several attempts to unearth the treasure in 1947, Samson explained, “they never found it.”
However, the loot “might very well have been dug up already,” she admitted.
Klass Tammes, the former mayor of Ommeren who now runs the foundation that owns the land where the treasure is believed to be hidden, said would-be gold diggers have come from all over the country.
“A map with a row of three trees and a red cross marking a spot where a treasure should be hidden sparks the imagination,” he said.
“Anyone who finds anything will have to report it to us, so we’ll see. But I wouldn’t expect it to be easy.”
With Post wires