Heinz-Peter Haustein, the mayor of the small village Deutschneudorf in the mountainous Erzgebirge region of eastern Saxony, is bowed but not broken. The amateur treasure hunter has conceded that the search for the Nazi loot allegedly buried nearby will be temporarily halted on Friday after a drilling team failed to find anything. “We've misjudged things a little bit,” he said late on Thursday after discussions with two geophysicists.
The scientists will now attempt to locate the treasure underneath the village using modern geological methods instead of continuing with the random drilling the team in Deutschneudorf had been using.
“If we continue on the way we were, it will take forever,” said Haustein.
“We've managed to drill three holes a day, but would need to make probably over a hundred.” After making one last drilling on Friday at the coordinates determined by his colleague Christian Hanisch, they will turn over the search to the scientists.
Hanisch helped spread a bad case of gold fever in the region three weeks ago after he announced he had found the location for an underground treasure depot in items from the estate of his father, who had been a radioman and navigator in the closing days of the Second World War who allegedly helped hide Nazi loot in the Erzgebirge region. The treasure hunters thought their special equipment had located some 1.9 tonnes of gold and diamonds, but the drilling has yet to turn up anything.
“We have to calm things down a bit again,” said Haustein, explaining all the attention was starting to get out of hand and hobby treasure hunters were starting to turn up in the village. “I can't allow this to all become too ridiculous.” The local police have even been forced to set up a mobile unit near the Czech border.
The treasure hunt has piquedd global media interest since Haustein believes the depot is the resting place of the famed Amber Room that was stolen from Russia by Nazi troops in 1941. The room was a gift from Prussian King Wilhelm I to Russian Czar Peter the Great. German forces dismantled the spectacular interior and carted it off to Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, where it was then disappeared.