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  #1  
Old 11-20-2007, 04:12 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Nazi Buried Treasure?

Years ago, I read that the Nazis (at the end of WWII) knew that defeat was coming, and a number of high-ranking ones made arrangements. The story goes that large quantities of gold, diamonds, and other precious stuff was accumulated in central bank vaults, then repacked into chests, which were dumped into several alpine lakes. The idea was to retrieve the loot , a few years after the war was over. Has anything like this ever been found? I imagine that most of the stuff (gold) was looted from the central banks (of the nations that the Nazis conquered), and thus, there would be claims against the treasure. Has anyone identified a bundh of missing gold? And, has anything been found of this stuff?
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  #2  
Old 11-20-2007, 06:17 PM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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The bulk of the Reichbank's assets, including virtually all the gold reserves, [after 937 B-17 bombers of the Eighth Air Force dropped nearly twenty-three hundred tons of bombs on Berlin, causing the near demolition of the Reichsbank, including its presses for printing currency], were sent to a mine at Merkers (approx 200 miles south of Berlin). They knew the end was near and this is what they did with most of what they controlled. Bonus in that it was found about 3 weeks before Hitler's Suicide - so he likely knew of the discovery.

You can see Eisenhower poking around there here

---------------------Quote on Inventory ---------
8,198 bars of gold bullion; 55 boxes of crated gold bullion; hundreds of bags of gold items; over 1,300 bags of gold Reichsmarks, British gold pounds, and French gold francs; 711 bags of American twenty-dollar gold pieces; hundreds of bags of gold and silver coins; hundreds of bags of foreign currency; 9 bags of valuable coins; 2,380 bags and 1,300 boxes of Reichsmarks (2.76 billion Reichsmarks); 20 silver bars; 40 bags containing silver bars; 63 boxes and 55 bags of silver plate; 1 bag containing six platinum bars; and 110 bags from various countries.
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  #3  
Old 11-20-2007, 06:59 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
Has anyone identified a bundh of missing gold? And, has anything been found of this stuff?
This is going to be fairly complicated.

There have been plenty of claims over the years that vast amounts of gold went missing from the Reichsbank at the end of the war in "the biggest robbery in history". Many of the stories have the missing gold being buried in Bavaria or dumped in Alpine lakes. As is the way with such things, there's been a vast amount of exaggeration and numerous stories about the fate of the Reichsbank's holdings circulated uncorrected for decades. For instance, it was often alleged that 730 specific gold bars had been nicked, a story that even became the Guinness Book of Records's version of the "biggest robbery". Another tale fixed on the recovery of bags of foreign cash, buried in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and dug up under the auspices of one Captain von Neumann of the US Army. Allegedly, the last that was ever seen of this money was when von Neumann drove off with it in 1945 from the site it'd been found at.

While it may well indeed be the largest robbery in history, it actually remains unclear even what was stolen from the Reichsbank. In correcting much of the usual legends, the key work is Nazi Gold (1984; Mainstream, 1998) by Ian Sayer (an amateur historian) and Douglas Botting (a journalist). They pretty much conclusively disproved these earlier versions of the theft - though, as we'll see, while adding new exaggerations of their own.

By way of context, they point out that the fate of about 95% of the gold reserves of the Reichsbank had never been in any doubt. Together with vast amounts of looted art works, this was all recovered by the US Army in the mine system at Merkers, as explained by jimmmy. The fabled 730 bars were however not part of this stash, but had been buried in the hills near Garmisch. Still, Sayer and Botting established in detail how virtually all of this gold was found and dug up immediately after the war. More to the point, they were able to reconstruct the papertrail of documents recording its transfer to the FED in Frankfurt - the occupation's equivalent of Fort Knox and, at the time, the intended destination of all such valuables. That this gold was ever missing was simply a myth. In a similar manner, they also exonerate Captain von Neumann, since the currancy he was responsible for was delivered to the appropriate authorities in Munich and there's the paperwork to prove it.
Where the issue becomes really messy is that Sayer and Botting went on to allege that vast quantities of stuff from the Reichsbank were still stolen anyway. Their 1998 tabulation of what they reckon went missing amounted to $3.8 billion (at 1998 values, see p211-3). If correct, this would undoubtedly handily outstrip all more conventional heists. The problem is that they don't seem to apply quite the same scrutiny to these amounts as to the versions they disproved. For a start, some of this total includes stuff taken by the Red Army from Berlin. Now one doesn't have to approve of the wholesale ransacking of gold, money, artworks, libraries, equipment, factories and people from the ruins of the Reich by the Soviets to think that them making off with the remaining contents of the Reichsbank was robbery in the conventional criminal sense. If for no other reason that it then becomes difficult, by much the same standards, not to regard the Nazi's own actions in occupied Europe during the war as the "greatest robbery in history". Totalitarian states authorising looting on a vast scale for their general benefit is qualitatively different from individuals secretly and independently making off with ill-gotten gains for personal advantage. The distinction is significant, because fully $3.6 billion of that suggested total was in gold currancy bonds taken from Berlin on behalf of Red Army intelligence in a single collection. One can regard this as theft, but, still, this was a rather different matter from whatever was going on with the gold and currency buried in Bavaria. And that's just one item in their tabulation - though obviously an overwhelmingly dominant one, even if they, amazingly, hardly ever mention it otherwise. In some other instances Sayer and Botting count money handed by Nazi officials to other Nazis in the closing days of the war as theft. The fate of this may be unknown, but, again, this is hardly robbery as usually understood. At the time these transactions took place, those involved still believed they were acting on behalf of the appropriate legal authorities.

For the fundamental problem with Sayer and Botting's approach is that they regard all the money they can't account for as having been stolen. Aside from stuff taken by the Soviets, this approach gets particularly sensitive over the issue of the one set of cases where they allege wrongdoing of a form, and on a scale, akin to the legend. As mentioned above, they document how the money recovered by von Neumann was correctly passed to Munich. The key discrepency is that they can't then prove that the money was ever then passed to the FED in Frankfurt, as it should have been. They also establish a number of similar cases: stuff transfered to Munich and then no records of where it went to from there. Their big allegation is therefore that some members of the US Army in Munich were stealing part of the haul. But they've absolutely no proof. At best, it's a case of absence of evidence - when they've already shown how previous allegations of this type can be refuted by more thorough investigations in the archives. There's also the bigger loophole that this money may have been accounted for anyway. They argue, plausibly, that it should have been forwarded to Frankfurt and yet wasn't. So what should have happened to such money if that procedure wasn't followed? Come 1949 and the creation of the Federal Republic, any such items remaining in Munich should have been handed over to the new West German government. Correctly, Sayer and Botting attempted to check with the FDR authorities in 1984 as to whether they'd received this cash. On privacy grounds, they declined to say anything either way. Technically, we therefore just don't know what happened to the money. It may have been stolen in Munich. Or it may have stayed there before being passed to the new government in 1949.
Indeed, between the original edition of the book in 1984 and the 1998 reissue, some of the missing gold turned up in much this fashion. Originally, Sayer and Botting correctly realised that the bullion from the famous stash of 730 bars was 2 short by the time it reached the FED. These 2 bars were part of what they alleged went missing, presumed stolen, in Munich. The 1998 edition adds an afterword describing Sayer's involvement in the investigations into the Swiss gold deposits that led to the 1997 London Conference. In the course of sorting out who owned what of that gold, the two missing bars from the Reichsbank burial turned up in the Bank of England. It seems that having been kept in Munich and then passed to the Federal Republic in 1949, they wound up being lumped in with gold of other disputed origin and handed over to the UK for safekeeping. Now it doesn't speak for any good degree of governmental accountability that they then lay in a vault there for decades while the issue of their ownership was technically regarded as in the process of being resolved. But the two bars were thus mislaid/neglected by the system rather than being stolen - and certainly not by some enterprising cowboy GI, as suggested in 1984.
Sayer and Botting's approach does have some justification. They're right to be suspicious about amounts they can't account for. Common sense - and a knowledge of the chaos in postwar Germany - clearly suggests that some people got rich from skimming off bits of the Reichsbank's millions here and there. It would be surprising were it otherwise. But it's equally easy to exaggerate what was actually stolen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c
The story goes that large quantities of gold, diamonds, and other precious stuff was accumulated in central bank vaults, then repacked into chests, which were dumped into several alpine lakes ... Has anything like this ever been found?
Of stuff that actually was dumped in lakes and recovered later, there was the counterfeit stuff from Operation Bernhard tipped into Lake Toplitz. I'm not sure exactly what state that lot was in when it was located after the war, but it was all unusable anyway.

Last edited by bonzer; 11-20-2007 at 07:01 PM..
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  #4  
Old 11-20-2007, 07:14 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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I may as well add a titbit that I believe nobody else has ever noted: one of the better documented dumps of either gold or currency (I can't remember which) was buried in an isolated Bavarian forest, yet literally only a couple of miles through the woods from the house Werner Heisenberg was holed up in when tracked down the US Alsos mission at much the same time.

Complete coincidence, apart from that being an attractive bit of Bavaria to lie low in at the end of the war. Though there's presumably a conspiracy theory to be spun out of it ...
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  #5  
Old 11-20-2007, 10:20 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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The OP may have heard of the supposed Stechovice treasure, which some people believe might contain the lost Amber Room.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 11-20-2007 at 10:22 PM..
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  #6  
Old 11-21-2007, 08:14 AM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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The best part of the missing gold could be attributed to skim.

Graft was a constant in Germany, & it started from the top down.

Also, a fair amount of the pounds recovered are likely counterfeit.
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  #7  
Old 11-21-2007, 08:27 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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Three years ago, a fiend of mine was hired by the Discovery Channel to find Nazi Gold that had been lost in an Italian lake. I haven't heard from him since.
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  #8  
Old 11-21-2007, 12:19 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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OK, a bit of a hijack here, but what about Japanese gold? There was a popular novel written a few years ago where the plot revolved around the Japanese burying a large hoard of gold in the Philippines. This gold had mostly been looted from various banks in conquered territories (Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, etc.).

Now the novel is historically inaccurate on many other topics, so I doubt if it's accurate on this one. But it did make me wonder if Japan had looted such gold and what happened to it. Anyone know?
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  #9  
Old 11-21-2007, 12:36 PM
mlees mlees is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque
OK, a bit of a hijack here, but what about Japanese gold? There was a popular novel written a few years ago where the plot revolved around the Japanese burying a large hoard of gold in the Philippines. This gold had mostly been looted from various banks in conquered territories (Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, etc.).

Now the novel is historically inaccurate on many other topics, so I doubt if it's accurate on this one. But it did make me wonder if Japan had looted such gold and what happened to it. Anyone know?
USS Trout (SS 202) evacuated 20 tons of Phillippine gold and silver from Corregidor on 3 Feb, '42. She arrived in Pearl Harbor on 3 March, attacking and sinking two ships along the way.

I don't know if that was the entirety of the Phillippino Treasury, but it makes for great Clive Cussler books.

http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/submar/ss202.txt
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  #10  
Old 11-21-2007, 12:57 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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What about The Russians?

As the Russian army groundits way across Germany, did the Germans evacuate the loot from local banks? I would think that bank vaults would have been pretty easy things to rob, given the confusion of war going on at the same time. By the way, has Switzerland handed over the last of the unclaimed accounts from WWII? I wonder if some high ranking Nazis stashed loot in Swiss banks.
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  #11  
Old 11-21-2007, 01:13 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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dtilque, you're surely thinking of the alleged Yamashita Treasure. (I presume the book was Cryptonomicon?)

Similar unverified stories are told about a fabulous cache of Yamamoto's gold in New Guinea. There are probably similar tales told elsewhere as well.
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  #12  
Old 11-21-2007, 09:28 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonzer
dtilque, you're surely thinking of the alleged Yamashita Treasure. (I presume the book was Cryptonomicon?)
Yup. I didn't know it by that name, though.
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