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Diving for Nazi Treasures to be Banned

The following story is provided as a courtesy by and was written by their staff writer, Sara-Lise Haith.

According to ABC News and other sources, Austrian nature experts are seeking a 99 year ban on diving in Lake Toplitz, which is rumoured to hold one of the last great secrets of World War II where countless crates filled with vast quantities of Nazi gold and other treasures.

In the spring of 1945, when Hitler’s Third Reich was beginning to tumble down, the Nazis were looking for a perfect place to hide their most valuables — diamonds and gold worth millions, stolen art, and also documents detailing the whereabouts of other Nazi treasures.  With US troops closing in and Germany on the brink of collapse, they transported the boxes to the edge of the lake, first by military vehicle and then by horse-drawn wagon, and sunk them.  It is not known exactly what was inside. Some believe they contained gold looted by German troops throughout Europe and carried back to Germany. Others that they contain documents showing where assets confiscated from Jewish victims were hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

The state company which controls the lake, Bundesforste AG, previously signed a contract with Norman Scott, an American treasure hunter, who hoped to solve the mystery.  In 1963 the Austrian government imposed a ban on explorations after another diver, led to the lake by an SS officer, drowned during an illegal dive. More recent expeditions have had mixed fortunes.  In 1983 a German biologist accidentally discovered more forged British pounds, numerous Nazi-era rockets and missiles that had crashed into the lake, and a previously unknown worm.

Treasure hunters have been flocking to Lake Toplitz ever since a group of diehard Nazis retreated to this picturesque part of the Austrian Alps in the final months of the second world war.  They believe that the real treasures remain where the Nazis allegedly sank them — on the bottom of the lake encrusted with a thick cover of logs and mud.

“Each year we’re catching at least 10 divers who come here hoping to discover the Nazi fortune even though it is strictly forbidden,” says Bernhard Schragl, the spokesman for Bundesforste AG, the authority in charge of the area.  The Bundesforste authority oversees Austria’s forests and Austria’s water authority, and have warned the government that the frequent dives are so disruptive that they risk losing species from the lake, in the province of Styria.

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