Nazi gold hoard uncovered in Germany

Amateur archaeologist leads experts to trove

Nazi Gold Hoard Uncovered in Germany
An amateur archaeologist has struck gold after uncovering a collection of gold coins worth around 45,000 euros (£30,000) in northern Germany.

Armed with a metal detector, Florian Bautsch found 10 coins in a hollow under a tree near the northern town of Lueneburg and professionals then excavated another 207.

They are of French, Belgian, Italian and Austro-Hungarian origin and date from 1831 to 1910.

Two aluminium seals featuring swastika crosses, eagles and the words 'Reichsbank Berlin 244' were also discovered under the field with the coins.

Germany's central bank was called 'Deutsche Reichsbank' during the Nazi era and an analysis of the metal in the seals suggests they were made sometime after 1940.

"This was all found under a pine tree that is around 50 years old ... and that must have grown afterwards ... so we know it must have been buried in the last days of the war or shortly afterwards," Mario Pahlow, a local archaeologist, said.

Coins probably stolen

He and other archaeologists analysing the trove say it was probably part of the Deutsche Reichsbank's gold reserves and the fact the coins were buried suggests they were stolen.

Edgar Ring, an archaeologist at Museum Lueneburg, said the culprit was probably an insider.

"It was either someone who worked at the Reichsbank and had access, which means it could have only been someone who was there in an official role, or somebody who took advantage of the situation when the coins were being transported," he said.

The coins have a diameter of 21mm and weigh 6.45 grams each. Pahlow said the coins, which are in "excellent condition" and have not yet been claimed, were worth between 190 and 210 euros each, reports the New York Post.