News, WW2

Man Goes on a 20-Year Hunt for Buried WWII Treasure

  • The Glazewskis hid their valuables when Russia invaded Poland in WWII
  • Jan Glazewski, the grandson, went on a 20-year hunt to find his family’s treasure.
  • Gustaw, Jan’s father, had drawn a rough treasure map buried in the family estate.
  • Finally, Jan, his niece, and Ukrainian metal detectorists found the treasure that contained silver worth thousands.

Jan Glazewski went on a 20-year hunt to find his family’s treasure buried during WWII. Finally, after 80 years, he discovered the valuables using his father’s hand-drawn map.  

The Glazewskis hid their valuables when they heard the Russians were invading Poland at the start of WWII in September 1939. In an hurry, they hid their valuables and fled their home in eastern Poland. 

Treasure Map
WWII Treasure: The hand drawn treasure map by Jan’s father showing the Family’s hidden silver and hunting guns (photo Jan Glazewski)

Only Adam Glazewski – the head of the family – stayed to face the Red Army. The Russians threw him off his land and almost executed him before his staff intervened. Faced with life under Soviet rule, Adam’s four sons never returned to their home near Lviv – today, part of Ukraine.

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Each son settled in different corners of the world, but the legend of the family treasure survived. Adam Glazewski never saw his four sons again and died in Lviv in 1961. After that, the sons saw each other only once, reuniting in France in 1967.

Now more than 80 years on, Adam’s grandson, Jan, rediscovered the hoard of treasure using a treasure map drawn by his father, Gustaw Glazewski.

The WWII Treasure Hunt

Jan, now 69, explained: “My father was getting old, and I nagged him. Finally, I said, ‘please draw me a map – one day I might be able to go to the estate and look for it.”

“He gave me that map in 1989, accompanied by some instructions, and he drew it from memory 50 years after he had left.”

The buried treasure was found near the family estate which had been destroyed in former Lvov.

Jan added: “The last sentence of these instructions said, ‘you must find our silver and my hunting guns. And when I read that, it was like a directive, and I got very emotional that I’ve got to fulfill this dream.”

Gustaw settled in South Africa after fighting the Allies in World War Two. He died in 1991, the same year Ukraine gained its independence. However, it was not until another ten years that Jan first visited the former family estate.

Jan officially began his treasure hunt in 2019. He said it seemed like an “almost impossible task” as the landscape had changed so much.

WWII Tresure: A family jewellery box which was buried near Lviv for 80 years. It contained silverware worth thousands’.(photo Jan Glazewski)

Jan, a retired environmental law professor at the University of Cape Town, said: “It was a needle in a haystack situation.”

“On this map, he drew where the original manor house was – destroyed by the Russians, but we found the foundations. But then there was a dotted line going across a cultivated field.”

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“Today it’s a bush – about 100 metres. So first, you had to walk down a slope. And then the instructions said, ‘where the forest starts, you must dig for our silver.”

“And, of course, 80 years later, when I was there, one doesn’t know whether the forest has receded or come up the slope,” he added. 

However, there was also the possibility that someone had already salvaged the treasure. Jan said: “I thought, ‘look, this is a bit of a wild goose chase.'”

“The people who worked there would’ve seen all the silver removed. They would have put two and two together.”

“They would have gone down the slope and found it.”

Emotional Finds

Jan went on the search with his niece Layla and two Ukrainian metal detectorists. The man had an instinct that his father and uncles would have stayed within the slope as it was steeper and covered with bushes.

And he was not wrong! 

The metal detector picked something. He recalled: “I was very, very emotional.”

WWII Treasure: Part of the Glazewski family’s treasure collection, that they buried in 1939 (Photo Jan Glazewski)

As Jan salvaged the hoard, he found items packed by his mother, who fled alongside Gustaw but died when Jan was seven. He said: “One of the things we pulled out was a jewellery box, and inside were all kinds of trinkets.”

“And my niece said, ‘your mother probably packed those. That’s your mother’s jewellery.'”

“So here I was, touching stuff that she had packed away 80 years previously. So it was a very emotional thing for me.”

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Jan also found a christening spoon with his father’s name engraved and numerous more artefacts bearing the initials of his grandmother, who died of Spanish Flu in 1918.

According to reports, the hoard is worth thousands of pounds. However, the treasure is priceless to Jan. He hopes the gems will one day be exhibited in Ivano-Frankivsk, the closest town to the old family estate.