Nazi Gold Legend Refuses to Die

ByABC News
July 5, 2000, 5:57 AM

V I E N N A, Austria, July 5 -- In the final days of World War II, panicked Nazis were seen dumping mysterious crates into the depths of remote Austrian lakes, high in the Alps.

At the center of the tale lies Lake Toplitz protected on three sides by impenetrable cliffs. Local legend says that here the Nazis dumped crates of gold and other riches.

And now, an extensive mission backed in part by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center is under way to find out just what secrets may be waiting hundreds of feet below the dark surface of the hidden lake.

Nazi High Command

Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Goering once had a villa not far from the lake, and often sat in the local bar and restaurant with none other than Adolf Hitler himself, communing happily with the locals.

Here, 60 miles from Salzburg, the Nazis thought they could hold out against the Allies. Vast holes in the canyon walls above the lake testify to the top-secret Nazi weapons testing facility that once sat on the lakes shores, accessible to this day only by foot via a hazardous mile-long path.

At the top of that path now sits a small lodge called the Fischerhut (see Web link) beyond that, the trail ends and there is virtually no shoreline. All exploration of the lake must be done by boat, a task complicated by the fact that the lake is frozen six months of the year.