It sounds like something picked from a thriller, but a score of amateur treasure hunters currently scouring the whole of the Netherlands are hoping that it is quite real. A map dating back to before the end of World War II and thought to have been made by Nazi soldiers who had looted a bank in the summer of 1944 was recently made public by the Dutch National Archive.
That set off a treasure hunt seeking millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds, gold, rubies, and many other pieces of precious jewelry.
Reuters reported that the treasure is allegedly hidden in four boxes, buried somewhere in a field in rural Ommeren after an explosion and robbery at a Dutch bank towards the end of the war. When the war ended, the map was taken from a German soldier by a Dutch institute trying to trace sources of German capital within the Netherlands.
It remained under lock and key for 75 years, after which its legally bound confidentiality ended and it fell into the public domain.
As for the treasure itself, it is not in the public domain, no matter how long it has been buried in the ground. As Klaas Tammes, the head of the notable foundation that now owns the land where the treasure might be buried and the former mayor of Ommeren, put it:
“A map with a row of three trees and a red cross marking a spot where a treasure should be hidden sparks the imagination…Anyone who finds anything will have to report it to us, so we’ll see. But I wouldn’t expect it to be easy.”
Interestingly, a 75-year-old map does not essentially mean the treasure even exists, let alone is still in its original hiding spot. It was not found during previous trials to locate it in 1947 before it was stored away in the Dutch National Archive. However, who can resist a good treasure hunt? Not 57-year-old Jan Henzen, who spoke to reporters in between his attempts to find the lost treasure:
“I see groups of people with metal detectors everywhere…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.”
One Dutch Archives spokesperson said that the treasure might well have already been dug up years ago, but the hope of striking it rich on buried loot is quite enticing to just let it go without a try. Now, the race is on to see who will be the first to find it – the movie rights to their story alone should be worth a fortune.