An amateur archaeologist has discovered a hoard of gold in northern Germany, which experts suspect was buried close to the end of World War II.
The gold coins were excavated from under a tree near Lueneburg and are estimated to be worth more than $65,000.
Experts said they were from French, Belgian, Italian and Austrio-Hungarian origin and dated from 1831 to 1910.
Mario Pahlow, a local archaeologist, said the trove was probably part of the Deutsche Reichbank’s gold reserves and the fact the coins were buried suggested they were stolen.
“It’s hard to work out what these coins were worth back then using today’s standards but it’s reasonable to assume that you could buy a very good suit, including a waistcoat and top hat, with one of these coins,” he said.
Two aluminium seals featuring swastika crosses, eagles and the words “Reichsbank Berlin 244” were also discovered in the historical loot.
Germany’s central bank was called Deutsche Reichsbank during the Nazi era and an analysis of the metal in the seals suggested they were made some time after 1940.
The trove of coins was found last October but has only now been made public because archaeologists have conducted research into them.
They will be displayed at Museum Lueneburg later this week.
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.