2. The Duce's Treasure
Who forgot it? Surely nobody! Although – in the region here in Germany the case never became really well known. Because of the Iron Curtain in 1980 the news from the West rarely made it into the East. And due to the lack of English language in the GDR barely over the Atlantic Ocean. But in the US state of Kentucky the peninsula of Wustrow was on everyone’s lips in this year.
Everything started in the spring of 1980, when the American local historian William Bathurst from the city of Louisville in Kentucky, looked through the property of a man called Mauro Franchitti. The special about it: Mauro Franchitti was for a short time the personal secretary of the Duce, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
And here Wustrow comes into play. Because Franchitti was just at the time the Duce’s secretary, when he visited the peninsula and met Hitler there. It would be best if we follow Bathurst‘s report, published on November 4th 1981 in the daily newspaper COUNTER JOURNAL:
„The notes of the Duce’s former secretary, Mauro Franchitti, reveal a sensation. Because if his data are true, on the peninsula of Wustrow at the Baltic coast of the German Reich between Wismar and Rostock, still a big treasure must be hidden. Franchitti’s diary entry from September 24th 1937:
‚Good that I can tell all this it at least to my diary: All these visits on military ranges are starting to annoy me. Today we had the next one. And tomorrow on the train again to a station called Kröpelin.
As Franchitti had spent most of his life in and around his hometown at the coast of the Mediterranean, he missed the rural region and the closeness to the beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea: At least I get close to the sea and can hear the sound of the waves. I miss Castiglione, the historic city on the hill and the great view on the delta of the river Bruna. So at least I see some sea tomorrow.’
Benito Mussolini, called Il Duce.
Did the Italian dictator bury a treasure of antique
gold coins on Wustrow?
The next entries were made on the next day and describe the dictators‘ visit on the peninsula called Wustrow, for some years then a big German air force training ground:
‚As planned, we went by train to Kröpelin, where the big convertibles were waiting, some of them Mercedes, some Horch. I was honored by being allowed to ride in the car just behind the duce, who had the biggest with this Hitler.’
Following Franchitti describes the ride to Wustrow and is surprised about the great number of security personnel. He also reports about plans, that the Germans originally had the idea, to cordon off the complete town of Alt Gaarz from the outside world by a large fence. But finally, common sense seemed to have won and the hosts were content with the regular cordon of the barracks at the so called Wustrow neck, the narrowest part between the mainland and the peninsula. Let’s listen, what Franchitti tells then:
‚After we reached the training grounds the usual ritual. The Duce, his host and his minister responsible for the air force, Hermann Göring, inspected the military formation. I followed the important men in a respectful distance of 20 meters with some German colleagues.’“
Two pictures from Bathurst’s archive verify the trip. The first shows the convoy of convertibles with Mussolini and Hitler in the first car, at the passage through Rerik, then called Alt Gaarz. At the right edge of the photo is the second car. On Franchitti’s original there is an arrow made with ink, pointing to the car with the written word ‚Io‘ – ‚meaning I‘.
On the second foto you can see Göring, Hitler, and Mussolini inspecting the military formation. On Franchitti’s original an arrow shows out of the picture to the left, also with the note ‘Io’.
The convoi passes Alt Gaarz, Franchitti noted on this picture the Duce's and his own position
Inspecting the formation by Göring, Hitler and Mussolini. Here too Franchitti marked the positions
Back to William Bathurs’s article in the COUNTER JOURNAL:
Already during the official reception, it became obvious, that the Duce and the Führer had big interest in the map of Wustrow.
The unofficial part of the visit began: ‚After the formalities the Duce and the German withdrew in one of the buildings. Just me and my Teutonic counterpart were allowed to join them. And the conversation had a big surprise for me too. Because now I understood what was in these big wooden boxes, accompanying us strictly guarded during our travel: Antique Roman gold of immeasurable value.’
Franchitti describes detailed the plan of the Italian tyrant, who wanted to be prepared for his future life for the case of a revolution. According to Franchitti Hitler should have said: “And I personally will help digging!”. Following the two alone took a truck with the boxes and started. The complete training range had been cordoned, so nobody could know where the two started digging. After about three hours the two treasure diggers returned to the officers’ mess of Wustrow.
Three Months later Mauro Franchitti retired from the service of the Duce, and joined the resistance with the start of the war. He survived as many times decorated war hero and emigrated to the US in 1951.
But what the two dictators had buried on Wustrow didn’t get completely forgotten in the public. The knowledge about it followed the peninsula. Because the trace leads from Kentucky to the capital of the Soviet Union: to Moscow.
Because the treasure was mentioned once again, namely on December 5th 1983 in a front page article in the newspaper Prawda: „Wustrow treasure finally lost” headlined the Russian journalist Dimitri Donskoi. In concise words, he described the history of the treasure, referring to William Bathurst’s American article, which after two years had made its way into the Soviet Union by the KGB agent Vladimir Punting. On Wustrow, the result was, that time and again soldiers went out to find the bounty, the Russians called Duce-Treasure. Without success.
Even rewards set up by striving Russian multimillionaires – they wanted do donate the treasure to buy the best soccer players of the World for Spartak Moscow – didn’t lead to success. And then the peninsula was returned to Germany. End of the game for Russia.
So, until today the world is waiting for the big finding. The Fundus group, today the owner of Wustrow, cordoned the peninsula completely for the public some years ago. With regard to lots of people hunting the treasure and by this endangering themselves by the ammunition still in the soil of Wustrow, surely an appropriate move.
© Mig Phönix 2007