A mystery has enraptured Germany since this summer, when a gold bar was uncovered by a teenager in a lake located in the Bavarian Alps.
This is a fascinating find, which has led to all kinds of speculation about its origins, for a couple reasons.
Firstly, the serial number that would definitively identify the gold bar was scratched off before it was chucked into Lake König (or Koenigssee), the Local reported.
Was it possibly stolen booty from a bank robbery, disposed of (quite effectively) in a quiet lake? Maybe.
But the second theory of the loot’s origins is even more tantalizing.
This particular spot just so happens to be located a mere two miles from a summer home called Berghof, famous because Adolf Hitler spent much of his time there during World War II.
This has led many people to speculate that the find is actually some Nazi loot, hidden at the bottom of the lake since the war.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 4, 2016
For one very lucky 16-year-old girl, it doesn’t really matter where it came from. Thanks to one leisurely swim during a summer vacation, the teen is now $18,000 richer.
Back in August, the teen, who has asked not to be identified and repeatedly turned down interviews with local media, was on vacation in the Bavarian countryside in the southern part of Germany, near the “picturesque” town of Schönau am Königsee, the Independent reported.
One relaxing day, she went for a swim close to the shore, and spotted something on the lake bed, BBC News added.
About six and a half feet down into the water, the teen found what ended up being a gold bar that weighed one pound. And in a remarkable display of self-control and morality, the teen did not rush back to her hotel, hide it in her suitcase, and keep the amazing discovery to herself.
Instead, she did the right thing and took the treasure to the police. Commissioner Günther Adolph thanked her and her parents for “not simply taking the gold bar,” he told local paper Berchtesgadener Anzeiger.
“It is a great example for others. That they can now keep the valuable find is even better.”
According to German law, the rightful owner of any lost property, including an ingot hidden at the bottom of a lake for who knows how long, has six months to come forward and claim it. So the gold bar was kept in a vault at the town hall (officials there afterward inundated with press attention), but no one really believed that someone would speak up.
After all, it could be stolen loot or long-lost Nazi gold. And the only thing officials knew about it for sure was that the bar was made by a company called Degussa. Further identification was impossible since its serial number had been scratched off.
And indeed, no one piped up to admit that they had misplaced their fortune in a Bavarian lake. So this week, the girl learned that the $18,000 gold bar was now hers, making her a very wealthy 16-year-old. Officials restored the defaced treasure, and the teen is expected to reclaim it soon, although the handover is being kept secret from the public for obvious reasons.
So what about those rumors that the treasure actually once belonged to the Nazis? Experts have swiftly discounted that possibility, saying there was no “concrete evidence” that it originated with the Third Reich.
Although it’s not a stretch to imagine this possibility. For decades, rumors have suggested that the Nazis stashed some booty at the bottom of a Bavarian lake, and König always been the top contender.
[Image via CHEN MIN CHUN/Shutterstock]