• Germany's news in English

Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard

The Local · 15 Jul 2015, 11:40

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd