Treasure trove of WWII silver found in ruins of 14th century castle
A treasure chest bursting with precious silver goblets, cutlery and tableware has been unearthed in the ruins of a 14th century castle in Nowy Sącz.
The sensational find which is thought to have belonged to Jews murdered during WWII was made during archaeological work at the town’s Royal Castle by the Nowy Sącz Historical and Exploratory Association carrying out exploratory work at the ruins on Castle Hill.
Lead detectorist Stanisław Pustułka who made the discovery after unearthing old fragments of paper said: “We started to extract the paper delicately, which appeared first. It was in very poor condition. After a while, we saw silver, a lot of silver.”
The six members of the team removed the chest, which had disintegrated and rusted over time. What remained were 103 silver objects made in Poland and Austria.
Local archaeologist Bartłomiej Urbański, who was present at the search site, said: “It is Judaica, probably from the turn of the 19th and 20th century, connected to Jewish ritual and was probably buried during World War Two.
He added: “Is it connected with the buildings that used to be in this part of the city, or was it stolen by the Germans, who were then unable to take it away?”
In June 1941, Hitler’s occupying Germans turned the castle into barracks as well as an ammunition depot, and established a ghetto in the town where they gathered over 20,000 Nowy Sącz Jews.
It was liquidated in August 1942 and the entire Jewish population was sent to the Bełżec death camp.
In 1945, Polish underground soldiers blew up the ammunition depot, thereby almost completely destroying the castle.
The discovery of the silver was made just 20 metres from where 50 15th-century dinar coins were found earlier this year. The coins were discovered by the same team buried ten centimetres underground by the castle wall.
The exploration of Castle Hill is linked to the town wanting to rebuild Nowy Sącz Castle, which was built by King Kazimierz the Great in 1350-1360 on a slope in the fork of two rivers.
The outer walls and the reconstructed keep are all that remain today.
The silver treasure trove will now be handed over to archaeologists, who will identify and list all the excavated items, clean them up and then they will go to the Regional Museum in town.