Tales of lost treasures and priceless artifacts have a certain mysterious charm and mystique to them that have enthralled humankind for centuries. The idea that somewhere out there is a trove of priceless treasure just sitting there gathering dust is irresistible, launching countless discussions and attempts to find them. Among the many modern legends of lost treasures a good number originate in the battlefields of World War II, during which chaos reigned supreme in many parts of the civilized world. During all of the bloodshed and war, some intriguing artifacts and other treasures seem to have just faded away, vanishing to leave deep mysteries that have gone unsolved to this day, and which many still find themselves obsessed with finding.
Many of the legends of lost World War II treasure revolve around missing Nazi gold. Throughout the years of the tumultous war, in addition to stealing countless priceless pieces of art and artifacts, the nefarious Nazis also straight up pilfered massive amounts of gold, much of it which sort of just disappeared in the years after hostilities came to an end, and which in many cases has gone on to birth various shadowy legends. One of the more well known of these is the story of the vast hoard of stolen gold supposedly sunken to the bottom of Lake Toplitz, deep within the remote and scenic Austrian Alps. The lake itself is rather small but deep, just one mile long and 300 feet deep, and is nestled among sheer, steep limestone cliffs in the Salzkammergut region in Austria, making it a breathtakingly beautiful, but very inaccessible and isolated locale. Yet it is here where Nazis would allegedly dump a veritable fortune of gold and other valuable items in the last days of the war.
The story of the Lake Toplitz gold begins in 1945, in the final months of the war when a desperate and defeated Nazi regime was taking its last, dying gasps. They still had massive amounts of gold, having melted much of it down to make into bars stamped with the mark of the German central bank, the Reichsbank, and they were keen to make sure that this vast wealth did not fall into Allied hands. In their opinion, it was better to make the gold just disappear rather than let the enemy have it, and to this end in February of 1945 the president of the Reichsbank ordered a huge cache of the amassed treasure to be laboriously moved through the mountains to the small village of Merkers, to then be hidden in an enormous underground cavern that was the remains of a potassium mine. Unfortunately for them, the Americans would find it and confiscate an estimated $520 million dollars of loot, but this was not all of it.