An old map believed to mark the spot where German soldiers hid millions of dollars’ worth of treasure during World War II sparked the imagination of amateur treasure hunters in the Netherlands this week.

Armed with metal detectors and shovels, groups wandered through the fields surrounding the rural area of ​​Ommeren in the east of the country after the Dutch national archive released the map on Tuesday.

The file said the map was believed to indicate where Nazi soldiers had hidden four large boxes filled with diamonds, rubies, gold, silver and all manner of jewelery that they had looted after a bank explosion in August 1944.

The map was obtained from a German soldier shortly after the war by the Dutch institute that was tasked with tracking German capital in the Netherlands after the country was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1945.

A map shows a possible Nazi treasure in Ommeren, the Netherlands.
A map suggests the location of a possible Nazi treasure in Ommeren, the Netherlands.Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

The research file containing the map was released this week as the maximum period of 75 years during which it could be kept confidential had expired.

Although the existence of the hoard could never be fully confirmed, the institute made several unsuccessful attempts to find it in 1947, National Archives spokeswoman Anne-Marieke Samson told Reuters.

“We don’t know for sure if the treasure existed. But the institute did a lot of checking and found the story to be reliable,» Samson said.

«But they never found it, and if it did exist, the treasure may well have already been unearthed.»

But the slim chance of finding valuables didn’t deter amateur gold diggers.

“I see groups of people with metal detectors everywhere,” Jan Henzen, 57, told Reuters as she took a break from her own search.

“Like many people, the news of the treasure made me go looking for it on my own. I think the chance of the treasure still here after 70 years is very small, but I want to try.»

Former Ommeren mayor Klaas Tammes, who now heads the foundation that owns the land that could hide the treasure, said he had seen people from all over the country.

“A map with a row of three trees and a red cross marking a place where a treasure should be hidden sparks the imagination,” he said.

“Anyone who finds something will have to report it to us, so we’ll see. But I wouldn’t expect it to be easy.»