Hunt for the Pounds 1.4bn Nazi Loot Lying under the Sea; SUNKEN TREASURE: DIVERS SEARCH FOR GOLD STOLEN FROM JEWS
Hall, Allan, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
FROGMEN begin diving tomorrow for what could turn out to be the greatest treasure trove in history - pounds 1.4billion in stolen Nazi loot.
The treasure is believed to lie at the bottom of the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Greece.
The area was pinpointed by a mystery contact who claims to have shared a cell at the end of the war with Max Merten, the Nazi put in charge of robbing Greek Jews before they were sent to the death camps.
The contact - dubbed Phantom X by Greek newspapers - said Merten had told him that he used a U-boat to transfer 50 chests of gold and jewellery to Kalamata, on the Peloponnese. He claimed he then took out the loot in a small fishing boat and scuttled it.
The boat, the Sofia, is what the modern-day treasure hunters are searching for.
War criminal Merten, who was released by Greek authorities in 1959, died in Germany in 1976 without ever talking publicly about his wartime role.
The Greek government issued licences sanctioning the dive earlier this year in return for 50 per cent of anything recovered. The Jewish Council of Greece have also given their backing to the expedition in return for a cut of anything found, which they want to go to relatives of victims of the Holocaust.
The Greek government is laying on coastguard vessels to guard the divers.
It has also drafted in a team of experts to value anything found and has laid aside a special vault at the Bank of Greece.
Units of the Greek Air Force are also being mobilised, as the operation to recover the treasure may infringe upon a naval shooting range at sea.
An air force spokesman said: "We are on standby to work with the coastguard to ensure that treasure recovery efforts are not impeded."
As an added precaution on the part of Greek authorities, another vessel with members of a special parliamentary committee on board will put to sea alongside the divers' ship. …