Nazi gold sparks Dutch village treasure hunt

OMMEREN, Netherlands (AFP) — Muddy holes dot the ground in a Dutch village where a map allegedly showing the location of Nazi loot buried in World War II has triggered an invasion of treasure hunters.

“It really fires up the imagination,” Klaas Tammes, president of the foundation that owns the land in Ommeren in eastern Gelderland province at the center of the search, said.

The Dutch National Archive unveiled the hand-drawn map in early January, featuring a tell-tale red “X” believed to mark the spot where German soldiers stashed their hoard.

Documents held along with the map include testimony that the Nazis buried four ammunition boxes filled with jewellery, precious stones and gold coins, believed to be worth 11 million euros ($11.9 million) at current value.

“That means that all kinds of people have come to Ommeren to search for it,” Tammes, 74, the former local mayor, said inside his home built on the remains of a former Nazi headquarters.

“But it hasn’t been found.”

Detectorists descend

The Nazis allegedly looted the treasure after the bombing of a bank in Arnhem in 1944, but are then believed to have buried it after the Allied “Market Garden” offensive near the town.

A few steps from his home there are muddy holes from the excavations, along a tree-lined path and a shallow ditch consistent with the drawings on the map.

So many people armed with metal detectors have flocked to the quiet village in recent days that the local municipality brought in a ban, and police began to move on treasure hunters as soon as they arrived.

But some persist.

“Our interest was immediately aroused,” Hendrik Hingstman, a detectorist whose father Lammert is one of the many who have come to Ommeren, said.

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