Ed Wight  - An 85-year-old man who spent half his life searching for the missing Nazi gold train has revealed the murder, secret police intimidation and deathbed confession that led to its sensational discovery under a hillside in Poland.
The sprightly pensioner, who has an unrivalled insight into the hunt for the train, added that not only does he know where the train is hidden, but he also knows the identity of the two men who two weeks ago claimed to have found it - as well as the man who is said to have given a deathbed confession about its location.
As the world’s press descend upon the small town of Walbrzych in southwest Poland, the country’s equivalent of MI5, the Internal Security Service (ABW), have now moved into the area where the train is said to have disappeared 70 years ago, leading to speculation that secret Third Reich documents may be among its precious cargo.
Tadeusz Slowikowski revealed to MailOnline how he first heard about the train hidden in the tunnel, and its dark and dangerous history, back in the 1950s. Slowikowski said: ‘I became aware of the tunnel after saving a German man named Schulz from being attacked by two men. As gratitude for saving him, he told me about the tunnel.’
The story Schulz told him was one of murder, fear and secrets, beginning in the dying days of the Second World War when another German man, then working on the railways, found the tunnel’s entrance.
‘A few Germans carried on living in the area after the war and this one had been working on the railways when he came across the entrance to the tunnel,’ Slowikowski explained to MailOnline. ‘He saw two tracks leading into the tunnel. The tunnel was blocked up very shortly afterwards.’ But the railway worker didn’t say anything because he was afraid of what might happen - and with good reason: he feared he would meet the same fate as a family murdered in cold blood, apparently to keep the existence of the tunnel secret.
Holding up an old black and white wartime photo showing a man and two young boys standing outside a house with a tiled roof, Slowikowski said: ‘This house used to overlook the track.
‘From the top window you could see everything coming and going on the railway line. On the 5th of May 1945, the family living there were all shot dead and the house razed to the ground. It was three days before the Soviets took the town. ‘Whoever killed them didn’t want them talking about anything they had seen. There is nothing there now. Just an empty space where the house used to be. Nothing has been built there since.’ But the elderly German man eventually plucked up the courage to tell Schulz what he had seen on his deathbed - and this was the information now passed onto Slowikowski.
It was enough to pique Slowikowski’s interest in the train, which local legend says is filled with Nazi gold, stolen from the Jews they sent to their deaths in their millions.
In the four decades since, Slowikowski, who is widely recognised in Poland as being one of the leading experts on the missing train, has studied maps and data from the area. Poring over a yellowing, dog-eared map from 1928, he outlined the route from Wroclaw to Walbrzych which clearly shows a siding going into the hillside.
The siding and the tunnel have now both gone. After presenting his findings to the government, Slowikowski said he was given official permission in 2003 to begin exploring the area. But it seems there were still those who wanted to keep the existence of the train secret. Asking not to be named for fear of reprisals, the treasure hunter said: ‘I received a phone call from a mysterious man who warned me to stay away from the story and to not get involved.
‘A lot of dangerous people are interested in finding this train, this could have been a warning from one of them. This man who called me knows that I know something.’
But this hasn’t stopped gentle, grey-haired Slowikowski from speaking out. He has even had a model railway set designed to show the location in a garage behind the house.
The model, a replica of the 1928 map, shows two railway tracks running parallel to each other as they enter a section lined by hills on either side. As the tracks enter the area, one branches off on a siding and disappears into a tunnel.
That location has now been officially named by the Polish government as being on a 4km stretch of railway from the city of Wroclaw, where the so-called gold train is said to have started its journey before disappearing under the hill.
Asked whether he thought the trains would be booby-trapped or that amateur treasure hunters were in danger from unexploded bombs, Slowikowski points to a concrete, football-shaped block on the ground. There could also be more than just the one 100-metre long train hidden in the complex network of tunnels built under the Nazi’s local headquarters at the castle of Ksiaz and deep into the surrounding hills. Local lore says Nazi Germany ordered the vast underground network, which snakes around the massive castle, be built to hide Third Reich valuables.
Magdalena Woch, director of culture at the castle, told The Telegraph: ‘There is a story that in 1945 there were three trains which came into the town and have never been found. ‘It is possible there are more trains in Walbrzych.’
Ms Woch suggested, even if gold is not found in this particular train, it could still be found. Robert Singer, head of the World Jewish Congress said: ‘To the extent that any items now being discovered in Poland may have been stolen from Jews before they were sent to death ... it is essential that every measure is taken to return the property to its rightful owners or to their heirs.
‘We very much hope that the Polish authorities will take the appropriate action in that respect,’ he added. But another theory suggests it is more likely the train contains artworks, and perhaps even the Amber Room, which once stood in pride of place in the Cahterine Palace, near St Petersburg, but has not been seen since 1945.
The room, made of amber, gold and precious jewels, was stolen by the Nazis in 1941, and taken by rail to Koenigsberg Castle, in what was then East Prussia. Now, the castle is found in the city of Kaliningrad.
But it disappeared In January 1945, after air raids and a savage ground assault on the city. While some claimed it had been destroyed in the raids, others reported seeing 40 wagons moving away from the castle under a cloak of secrecy after the city fell to the Red Army.
It follows that a Russian lawyer has also laid claim to any booty found.
Mikhail Joffe was quoted by Russian media as arguing that ‘if the property has been taken from the USSR, then the cargo, in accordance with international law, must be passed to the Russian side.’ But, according to one local expert in Walbrzych, the train could contain secret documents.
Former policeman Andrzej Gaik, who has also spent many years investigating the missing train, told the MailOnline: ‘It is both possible and likely that this train was carrying important information which the Polish State would be very interested in. This could include secret documents about the Riese project.’
All of these questions could soon be answered, as the Polish government prepares to explore the tunnels.
But the identity of the two men who awakened the mystery that has gripped the world after revealing they had found it and demanded 10 per cent of its value still remains a closely guarded secret.
Many of the train hunters MailOnline has spoken to have said they have they think they know who the men are.
One insider said: ‘The gold community hunting these secrets is pretty small. Everyone knows everyone. And everyone has their suspicions about who this pair are.
‘But there is, for want of a better expression, a conspiracy of silence. No-one dare name them. Look, as I say, the community is small. People talk. Journalists have been all over this for two weeks and yet no one has put forward any names.’
Back in his garden, octogenarian Slowikowski smiles when asked if he knows the identity. ‘Of course I do,’ he said. ‘Two weeks ago they came to my house to apologise. They said they were sorry for revealing the location without consulting me.
‘But I don’t mind. After all my work I am happy the location will now be revealed. But I won’t reveal them.’–Mail Online