October 22, 2015
Ksiaz Castle In Poland Linked To WWII Secrets, Treasure & A Ghost
By Monika Scislowska
Walbrzych, Poland (AP) If you are fascinated by World War II secrets, treasures and ghosts, then Ksiaz Castle is the place for you.
The breathtaking site sits on a wooded hilltop in the city of Walbrzych, in southwestern Poland. The area drew worldwide attention recently, when two explorers announced they had located a secret tunnel that they say hides a wartime armored train with a precious load. The news revived a local legend of a train laden with gold and valuables that the Nazis reportedly hid from the Red Army in the mountains in 1945.
The authorities are taking steps to verify the explorers’ claim, but the former coal mining center of Walbrzych (known as Waldenburg in its German era) and the castle are already the richer for the tourists and reporters whose numbers soared after the news of the alleged find broke.
Even without the gold train story, visitors will enjoy the beauty of the Owl Mountains in the Sudeten Range, the area’s rich and dramatic history and a visit to the magnificent Ksiaz Castle. The castle was seized by the Nazis in 1941 as a future residence for Hitler. Many of the historic interiors were torn down in a misconceived drive for modesty. The Nazis then began to build a bunker some 50 meters (165 feet) beneath the castle to protect Hitler from Allied bombs.
Eventually a labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers was built using forced labor from the nearby Gross-Rosen concentration camp, but the complex was not completed by the war’s end and its true purpose remains a mystery 70 years after the war.
Ksiaz Castle in Poland
Some historians say the complex was to become Nazi command headquarters, others believe the tunnels were to house an armaments factory or a nuclear weapons laboratory. Some of the tall, damp tunnels can be visited by tourists, but many remain unexplored. The legend of a hidden gold train was first brought to light by a retired coal miner, Tadeusz Slowikowski, in the 1970s, but it’s been kept alive by the mysteries surrounding the complex.
The massive gray and pink castle links many architectural styles, dating back to the 13th century and Slavic rule. It passed into Austrian and then Prussian hands and was known as Schloss Furstenstein, while repeatedly being expanded, the last time in the early 20th century. It was private property of the aristocratic Hochberg family since the early 16th century, until the Nazis seized it in order to punish the Hochbergs, who did not support Hitler. When borders shifted after World War II, this Lower Silesia region became part of Poland.
The castle’s last owner, evicted by the Nazis, was Wales-born Mary Theresa Olivia Cornwallis-West, first wife of Prince Hans Heinrich XV. Bearing the title of the Princess of Pless, but popularly known as Daisy, she was a great beauty, a socialite, and related by marriage to Winston Churchill. Her brother George was the second husband of Churchill’s mother, Jennie. The princess died in 1943 and was buried in the Hochberg Mausoleum near the castle, but her servants moved the body a number of times to protect the grave from plunder by Soviet troops, who occupied the area from May 1945 until the end of 1946.
As a result, Princess Daisy’s resting place remains unknown. It’s another castle mystery with its own legend: Her spirit is said to come back for visits.
If You Go...
KSIAZ CASTLE: http://www.en.ksiaz.walbrzych.pl/ . Located in Walbrzych, Poland. Ticket office open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Variety of tours available. Accommodations on castle grounds: Hotel Ksiaz or Hotel Przy Oslej Bramie, with restaurants and a cafeteria. There are also other hotels and eateries in Walbrzych, located roughly 350 kilometers (220 miles) from Berlin and 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Warsaw. The nearest airport is in Wroclaw, which has train and bus connections to Walbrzych.
Geologist Reveals That ‘Ghost Forest’ Causes Dune Collapse
Michigan City, IN (AP) _ Trees slowly buried by windblown sand are likely the root cause of dangerous holes that have appeared in a towering sand dune on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The South Bend Tribune reports that geologist Erin Argyilan believes pockets were formed around tree branches and trunks enveloped by Mount Baldy. She says that created a ``ghost forest’’ beneath the sand.
The popular tourist destination was closed in 2013 after a boy from Illinois was buried in sand for hours before rescuers found him. Scientists have been searching for the cause ever since.
Argyilan, who worked alongside the National Parks Service, will soon have her findings published by an international journal on dunes studies. The National Parks Service is also expected to release its own findings at some point.
Mt. Baldy in Indiana
Argyilan’s research shows a line of trees standing near the dune in the 1930s was slowly buried, creating unstable areas that could act like a trap door. At one point while studying the dune, an eight-foot hole open up near Argyilan, though she avoided falling in.
The geologist says 11 holes have been discovered and she is certain more exist in the dune, which moves about 4 feet a year, according to the National Park Service.
`’I’d bet any amount of money there are still holes out there,’’ she said.
The 126-foot-tall dune—located about midway between South Bend and Chicago—covers about 100 acres of the 15,000-acre Indian Dunes National Lakeshore, which includes other dunes, wetlands, prairies, forests and hiking trails.
Park rangers have given guided tours of Mount Baldy since Nathan Woessner, who was six at the time, was trapped under 11 feet of sand for more than three hours on July 12, 2013. But it has remained closed as a general attraction.
Argyilan said she did not know what actions might be taken to make Mount Baldy safe, or and if it will ever reopen.
Buffalo Bill Deservedly To Be Member Of Business Hall Of Fame
By LEW FREEDMAN
Cody, WY (AP) Buffalo Bill Cody died in 1917, but he is still accruing new honors.
Although Cody has not done anything lately to enhance his candidacy, on Nov. 17 he will be inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame.
Cody goes into the Hall in the pioneer category and his selection might go far to rehabilitate any image of him being reckless in business.
``I do think it is a valid recognition of Buffalo Bill,’’ said Jeremy Johnston, curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. ``For many years I think he has received a bad rap as a businessman.’’
Johnston called Cody a ``true entrepreneur.’’
Bill Schilling, president of the Wyoming Business Alliance, agreed, calling Cody a ``consummate entrepreneur’’ with an ``adventuristic spirit. He was a visionary and he commanded a world stage.’’
During his lifetime, Cody was among the most famous Americans in the world. His leadership and development of the Wild West show that traveled throughout the United States and to dozens of other countries essentially established the Old West of myth and history in the minds of millions.
Sitting Bull & Buffalo Bill Cody
Johnston told the Cody Enterprise that there may have been as many as 100 show imitators or competitors to the Wild West, but as Schilling put it, ``His is the one of lasting memory.’’
A winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his war service, rider for the Pony Express and buffalo hunter for the cavalry, Cody was a co-founder of the city that bears his name and helped secure the water rights to develop it. The Buffalo Bill Reservoir and the Buffalo Bill Dam were named after him.
Buffalo Bill in 1902 also built the Irma Hotel, which remains the cornerstone of the downtown Cody business district, naming it for one of his daughters, and Pahaska Teepee, located near the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
Cody took physical risks in the field as a cavalry scout, in the Civil War and as an Indian fighter. He took risks in business, too, and some of his investments went belly-up. Notably, mining investments in Arizona were costly.
Nearing the end of his life Cody did lose financial control of the Wild West in highly publicized circumstances.
``Contrary to popular thought, he did not die penniless,’’ Johnston said. ``(This) is really going to poke holes in that myth that he died penniless.’’
This will be the second class inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame, which chose its first group of enshrinees in 2013. The Hall was founded by the Wyoming Business Alliance, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming.
``Overall, the No. 1 business success was the Wild West,’’ Johnston said. ``If you mention Wild West to anyone, Buffalo Bill comes to mind. He was at the top of his game.’’
Over a several-decade period Cody changed the players, the content and adapted the approach of the touring troupe.
From a real estate development perspective, Cody, along with George Beck and other town fathers, founded Cody, something which Johnston said had to be a tough sell in the 1890s.
``Making or breaking communities in the West has always been a challenge,’’ Johnston said.
The sales pitch for Cody was that it would thrive because it was near Yellowstone, but prospective settlers were asked to envision farm land converting from sage brush and put their faith in a river referred to as the Stinking Water River. The name was changed to Shoshone in 1901.
``Definitely, Cody did have quite a vision for this area, along with George Beck,’’ Johnston said. ``He had the foresight to recognize it was going to be a main route into Yellowstone.
``He deserves his place in the Hall.’’