The map showing where the Nazi loot was reportedly buried in Ommeren, near Arnhem, is seen at the National Archive of the Netherlands in The Hague, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. A hand-drawn map with a red letter X purportedly showing the location of a buried stash of precious jewelry looted by Nazis from a blown-up bank vault has sparked a modern-day treasure hunt in a tiny Dutch village.
AP Photo/Peter Dejong
A tiny Dutch town had to ask people to stop trying to dig for looted Nazi jewelry in their backyard.
Researchers released a map from 1944 with a marking appearing to show where jewelry was buried.
People with shovels and metal detectors were met with the threat of old landmines instead.
Treasure hunters searching for jewels looted by Nazis marked on an ancient map have been blocked in their pursuit by another World War II relic: unexploded bombs and landmines.
In January, after the Dutch National Archive released an old map appearing to show Nazi markings for where stolen jewelry was buried, amateur excavators equipped with metal detectors and shovels descended on Ommeren, a Dutch town of 715, according to The Associated Press.
Part of the Dutch National Archive’s annual publishing of archived historical documents this year included a hand-drawn Nazi-era map of Ommeren. The sketch includes a central road, and three trees, with a red X marked beside one of the trees, a detail that set in motion the treasure hunt.
“Yes, it is of course spectacular news that has enthralled the whole village,” resident Marco Roodveldt told the AP. “But not only our village, also people who do not come from here.”
National Archive researcher Annet Waalkens told the AP that the origin of the map and treasure story dates to 1944, when the Nazis occupied nearby Arnhem as well as Ommeren. When a bomb hit a bank in Arnhem, cash and jewelry was catapulted onto the street, leaving German soldiers scrambling to grab goods to line their pockets and their weapons boxes, per the AP.
The soldiers decided to bury those boxes in Ommeren, and so far Dutch authorities have failed to locate it, AP reported.
“Four ammunition boxes and then just some jewelry that was kept in handkerchiefs or even cash money folded in. And they buried it right there,” Waalkens said. According to the AP, Dutch authorities believe it was already removed shortly after being buried.
As people swarmed the town to make the first discovery attempt in decades, officials eventually had to ban them from digging, seeking to protect them from more sinister things left behind.
“Searching there is dangerous because of possible unexploded bombs, land mines and shells,” the municipality that governs Ommeren said in a statement, per the AP. “We advise against going to look for the Nazi treasure.”
Some local residents did not enjoy the renewed attention either.
“If they hear something, they’ll head toward it,” a resident told the AP. “But I don’t think it’s good that they just dug into the ground and things like that.”