Seventy years after the end of World War II Nazi activities around the world remain shrouded in myths and rumours. It turns out the truth can be stranger than fiction when it comes to this particular period of history.
National Geographic offers a look at some of the most intriguing rumours that still boggle the minds of historians and researchers to this day.
Where is the golden train?
Since the end of WWII, rumours have been persisting in Lower Silesia about the whereabouts of the so-called ‘Nazi gold train’, which left Wroclaw in 1945 and mysteriously disappeared in the south-west of Poland. This train was loaded with works of art, precious stones, arms and more than 300 tons of gold, including the Amber Room from Königsberg. The existence of this ghost train was never proven without a doubt – Polish miners said they were told about it by German miners, who were told about it by some alleged eyewitness. This has never stopped treasure hunters from trying to find it. Last year, a Polish and German treasure hunter submitted a request to Walbrzych (Poland) authorities regarding the cargo of allegedly found train cargo. They found the train by using earth-screening radar.
What actually happened to Anne Frank and her family?
The story of Anne Frank and her diary is well-known. However, historians are still worried about one question – who was it that handed over the Frank family to the Gestapo? For the longest time it was believed it was Willem van Maren, who worked at a warehouse situated close to the family’s hideout. Up to his death in 1971 van Maren claimed he was innocent. Two new theories surfaced in 2002: it may have been Anton Ahlers, Otto’s business partner and old friend who simply needed money. It is also possible the family was handed over to the Nazis by Lena Hartog van Bladeren, who feared being deported and losing her husband. Other warehouse workers also knew about the hideout.
Did Spanish general Franko hide Hitler’s loot?
Another golden train left Germany in 1940. It is possible that Spain was its destination. It is also possible that General Franko kept that train and its loot safe for years. At least that’s what CIA veteran Trenton Parker told Radio Free America in 1993. He said the stolen gold was in Franko’s possession up until 1975. Later the gold was smuggled from the country in counterfeit goods and delivered to USA. According to other conspiracy theories, this gold was sunk in one of Switzerland’s lakes.
Did the Nazis organize a secret Illuminati meeting in Antarctica?
In 1938, Nazi Germany organized an expedition to the western part of Antarctica. Its goal was to expand whaling territories. Conspiracy territories claim the true goal of that expedition was completely different. Allegedly, the Third Reich discovered a network of underground hot springs and caves in Antarctica. One of those caves was allegedly 50 km deep, which allowed German engineers to build an underground city. New Berlin or Base 211 housed meetings of high-rank SS officers, the Illuminati and members of the occult.
Just how many works of art did Nazis steal?
In 2012, German authorities found 1,280 paintings in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich. This includes paintings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall. Those paintings were stolen from Jewish families and museums from across all of Europe. Another 200 works of art were found in Gurlitt’s apartment in Salzburg (Austria). He had inherited paintings from his father Hildebrand Gurlitt, who under orders from Joseph Goebbels, was in charge of exports of works of art. Relation of five paintings with Nazi crimes has been proven so far. It is unknown how many more works of art remain lost.
What did the Nazis hoped to find in Tibet?
Nazi Germany had organized multiple expeditions to Tibet from 1926 to 1943. Officially, expeditions led by hunter and biologist Ernst Schäfer performed research in sports and zoological fields. However, it is believed that those expeditions were intended to discover mythical locations like Shamballa and Agarti.
Could the ‘lonely nut theory’ be true?
Conspiracy theorists claim Hitler had only one testicle. Hitler was wounded in the Battle of the Somme in WWI in 1916. Sources claim he was wounded in the groin. A book published in 1968 mentions an autopsy report compiled by Russian doctors on Hitler’s body. Among other things, the report mentions the absence of a single testicle. Whether or not that report is real or not is unknown.
Did Hitler really die in Argentina in 1962?
Many researchers, including British journalists Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan, claim Hitler did not commit suicide in his bunker in Berlin in 1945, but rather fled in a submarine to Argentina. According to the journalists’ version, the fragments of the skull used to confirm the fact of suicide had actually belonged to a young woman. Stalin, Eisenhower and Hoover had all known there was not sufficient evidence to prove Hitler’s death. Contents of declassified FBI documents mention several possible sightings of Adolf Hitler in South America. Journalists claim Hitler and Eva Braun hid in the Andes for 17 years and had two daughters.
What did Nazis sink in Lake Toplitz
For decades treasure hunters have been diving into Lake Toplitz in Austrian Alps in hopes of finding the treasures Nazis had supposedly hid in its depths. When the Allies came close to Germany, the Third Reich supposedly sunk metal boxes with unknown contents in the lake. Some believe boxes contained documents detailing assets stolen from Jewish families. In 1959, divers found a silver pound Sterling in the lake. This coin was part of Hitler’s secret counterfeit operation aimed at weakening the British economy. Many still believe there are countless treasures remain hidden in Lake Toplitz.