• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard

The Local · 15 Jul 2015, 11:40

Published: 15 Jul 2015 11:40 GMT+02:00

The dream of every treasure-hunter came true for Florian Bautsch last October when he found 217 Nazi-era gold coins in Lüneburg, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday.

Bausch – a certified metal detectorist – was exploring old burial mounds in the town south of Hamburg when he stumbled across the first gold piece.

After a further search under the foliage uncovered nine more coins, Bautsch did a survey of the area and got in touch with local archaeologists.

A two-week long excavation followed, unearthing a further 207 gold coins – with a material worth estimated at around €45,000.

Archaeologists also found remnants of pasteboard with two seals bearing the swastika, imperial eagle and the stamp: "Reichsbank Berlin 244".

The find was exhibited in Lüneburg Museum on Tuesday – and caused considerable excitement among experts, according to Lüneburg archaeologist Edgar Ring.

Despite the value of the coins coming to €45,000, Bautsch is only set to receive the relatively small sum of €2,500 as his finder's reward – but explained his honesty by saying that the most important thing for him was furthering scientific knowledge.

'A stroke of luck'

Although similar finds have been made in the past, almost all have lacked archaeological context, with illegal metal detectorists often destroying crucial clues as to the coins' origin.

The fact this find was made by someone so well-informed was a stroke of luck, Lower Saxony state archaeologist Henning Haßmann told the SZ.

It means the trove can be dated back to the time period immediately after the Second World War.

The coins had originally been placed in two separate pouches, of which only the seals now remain.

They were buried under about a metre of earth, around the foot of a tree – but were scattered around the area when the tree was later uprooted.

Story continues below…

Of the coins, 128 bore Belgian stamps, while 74 originated in France and 12 from Italy. The final three bore Austro-Hungarian stamps.

All have a diameter of 21mm and weigh 6.45 grams, with an overall weight of 1.4kg, and most were minted between 1850 and 1910 – with the oldest dating back to 1831.

Chemical analysis of the pasteboard remains and seals showed that the coins were likely packaged up sometime between 1940 and 1950.

Ring said that he was certain the gold had belonged to the Nazi-era Reichsbank (central bank) and was a collection of stolen coins.

According to Haßmann, the coins would have been produced as limited editions, to be used as investment pieces for banks and private investors.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record as wins Berlin marathon
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,753
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd