In the early morning hours of May 1st, a group of excavators in the small Dutch village of Ohé en Laak set out to find a stash of Nazi loot that had been buried there. The hunt was based on a map that marked the location of the treasure, which had been made public earlier this year by the National Archives of the Netherlands. The treasure was said to include coins, watches, jewels, and gold bullion, looted by Nazi soldiers as they retreated in 1945, and estimated to be worth over $26.5 million.
Despite the excitement and anticipation surrounding the hunt, the excavation turned up empty-handed. The team of archaeologists and historians dug multiple holes based on the map and used metal detectors to scan the area, but they only found scraps of metal from World War II, such as shells and wire.
The map had been released to the public earlier this year as part of the declassification of over 1,300 documents related to World War II. The hunt drew attention from local residents and people from across the Netherlands, who came with their own metal detectors and shovels, hoping to strike it rich.
The hunt was not the first attempt to find the Nazi treasure. In 1946, the Dutch government had launched three separate expeditions to find the stash, but none were successful. The recent hunt was based on a new lead from the map, which appeared to be a more precise location of the treasure.
Despite the lack of success, the treasure hunt drew attention to the history of Nazi loot in the Netherlands and the efforts to recover stolen property. Many objects looted by the Nazis remain unaccounted for, and their discovery could provide closure for families whose belongings were taken during the war.
For now, however, the hunt for the Nazi treasure in Ohé en Laak has come to an end. As one historian involved in the excavation remarked, “The treasure is not here.”