The quiet life in a German village near the Austrian border was recently interrupted – by a series of archaeological excavations and treasure hunters. The person responsible for this is a Dutch filmmaker who claims to have deciphered a map that leads to a cache of Nazi
gold – a map he says is hidden in the musical notes written on a page.
The man, Leon Giesen, 51, has already carried out three unsuccessful excavations in an attempt to find treasure he believes is buried in the Bavarian town of Mittenwald.
Legends of hidden gold hidden by the Nazis are quite common in Bavaria, where many of Hitler’s forces were gathered. For example, Heinrich Himmler planned to build a fortress in the Alps region from which his forces would fight, and in 1945, the Wehrmacht approved a plan to move part of the Reich bank reserves to Bavaria.
The program did come to fruition, but 100 gold bars, and bags of dollars and Swiss francs, were lost during the transfer.
According to legend, during the last days of World War II,
Martin Bormann, Hitler's personal secretary, hid the cache coordinates within the sheet music to "March Impromptu," a song composed by Gottfried Federlein who died in 1952. Bormann then handed the pages to a chaplain, who was to move the code to Munich, but it is said to have never reached its destination.
Decades later, sheet music supposedly containing the coordiates came into the hands of Dutch journalist Karl Hammer Kaatee. After spending years trying to decipher the code himself, last December he published the score in the hopes that someone else would have luck – and Giesen claims to be this man.
He says one segment of words, which mean "where Matthew plays chords,” actually refers to the town of Mittenwald and to Mathias Klotz, a famous violin builder who once lived there.
He also claims that one of the segments of notes chart a diagram of railway
tracks which passed near Mittenwald in the 1940s, and that the words "end the dance" which end the song, indicate that the cache is near the end of the old rail line. The Der Spiegel
newspaper reported this week that Giesen is now busy raising € 25,000 to finance continued exploration.
Comments from area residents range from irritation to amusement.
"I've never seen anything like this," said one, who then admitted he was actually curious to see the results of the search. However, a local historian said he doubted that the efforts would bear fruit. “It could be a treasure chest. But it could just be a manhole cover.”