Man Stumbles Upon A Treasure Trove Hidden From German Forces For 7 Decades

During WWII, Nazi leaders found that waging a war against the world’s superpowers was a bit more expensive than they planned. Nazis started requisitioning the personal assets of non-combatants to resell and fund their war machine. As citizens of the world didn’t like their stuff being taken, they devised methods for keeping their property safe…

To avoid losing the items they cherished, those living in areas occupied by the Nazi regime hid their items from the sticky-fingered thieves. While some of those hidden valuables were eventually recovered, others were left in their hiding places. Until, years later, lucky explorers started to bring them back into the light…

In August 2016, 56-year-old Vincent Michel, a PE teacher and photographer from Belgium, explored an abandoned quarry in rural France looking for the perfect photograph. What he wound up capturing vastly exceeded his expectations…

Vincent Michel / Facebook

Inside the quarry, Vincent found more than granite walls and cavernous tunnels, the remains of hard work from decades past. Instead, he found a stockpile of vintage vehicles and took one gorgeous photo after another.

The cars wore the effects of time – dull shells that exchanged any luster or brightness for the copper-red color of rust. The cars had not seen daylight for decades, but how old were they?

Vincent Michel / Flickr

By the looks of it, the cars were manufactured in the 1930s. French in make and model, the dozens of Renaults, Peugeots, and Citroens were parked mostly in neat rows. Questions about the scene raced through Vincent’s mind.

“It felt like we were walking back in time, 70 years ago,” Vincent said, “and I just wondered how on earth it was possible!” We may never know the answer, sure, but Vincent certainly had his own ideas…

Vincent Michel / Flickr

See, Vincent knew his history. He knew that, during World War II, Nazis occupying foreign lands organized the systematic thievery of personal assets (a practice they called “requisitioning”) including hundreds of priceless artworks, books, and… cars.

Vincent Michel / Flickr

The Nazis then flipped the poached items to fund their war machine. Because of this, Vincent surmised, one French village, reeling from German occupation in nearby areas, knew their cars would be taken soon, their scrap metal sold.

Before the Nazis could get their hands on their cars, however, villagers “had the idea of hiding them in the depths of an old underground quarry that almost nobody remembered,” Vincent wrote. He continued with a vivid imagining of the event.

“It was on a dark night,” he wrote, “that a small convoy [of cars] quietly left the village in the direction of the neighboring countryside, climbed the old stone road, and plunged into the woods.” They all parked at the mouth of the quarry.

“One after the other,” he continued, “the vehicles were pulled in by tightening them as much as possible to save space.” It’s a haunting scene to imagine, and it poses a sad sort of question…

Vincent Michel / Flickr

If Vincent’s speculations were true, what happened to the owners of the vehicles? Had they perished in the war? Why hadn’t they come back for their cars? With Vincent’s speculations, a ghostly scene became even more ghostly. Still…

Vincent admitted his guess was a bit of a romanticized version of the history. So if he was wrong in his stab at the truth, who had owned these cars? How had they come to be parked so neatly in the quarry?

Others who have been so enthralled with Vincent’s photographs have taken guesses of their own. Some have surmised the cars belonged to a collector of sorts—a rich guy with money to spend. But where oh where did he go?

Vincent Michel / Flickr

While we can only guess at the cars’ true histories and the fates of the original owners, the future of the cars after they’d been parked in the quarry was a little clearer…

Vincent Michel / Flickr

“Almost all the cars were empty, with the shells being the only things remaining,” Vincent said, indicating that, someone, at some point, had gutted the car’s interiors. Meanwhile, Vincent hadn’t been the only one in the quarry post-war.

In fact, the owner of the quarry parked a few additional cars in the tunnels, like this 1960s Opel Kapitän, which kept its lovely blue coat (though a rusty hood showed it might’ve started looking like its fellow cars soon)!

Vincent Michel / Flickr

Vincent’s discovery prompted action from the most recent owner of the quarry. “Shortly after we were there,” Vincent said, “the owner pulled a few of them out to sell at auction.” Undoubtedly, he made a few dollars on those pieces of history. As for the rest of the cars?

“Most of the cars,” Vincent added, “are still at peace inside the quarry, too damaged to move.” And in a way, it was the perfect resting place for these pieces of history.

Vincent Michel / Flickr

For these cars, the quarry served as a grave; to the rest of the world, the cars and quarry served as a stark reminder of a dark war in a dark time. But that didn’t stop Vincent and others from cherishing the discovery.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” Vincent said of his time in the quarry, “I really hope to find a similar place in the future.” Indeed, this was an incredible find, and unfortunately for Vincent, not one you stumble upon every day!

What an unbelievable discovery by Vincent Michel! It makes you wonder what other historic treasures are hidden beneath the surface of France…

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