The importance of gold is based on the fact that force alone will only get you so far. Force creates resistance, and sooner or later it backfires or breaks down. The real power, beyond guns, nuclear weapons, or any other murderous technology, is control of banking and currency. When this control is achieved, force only needs to be used occasionally, in order to defend your control of banking and currency.
Soon after the outbreak of the war the German national gold reserves, already substantially increased by the acquisition of Austrian gold holdings following the Anschluss, were significantly augmented by forcible acquisitions from abroad. The Nazi’s took $2,596,608 of gold from the gold reserves of the Czech National Bank and £32,200,000 from the National Bank of Hungary. They looted part of the gold reserves of Albania, Holland, the USSR and other countries overrun of the victorious Wehrmacht, and after the conquest of France they stole $225,900,000 worth of gold, comprising part of the Belgian national gold reserves, which was deposited in the Banque de France for safekeeping, by the Belgian government. The Belgian gold was taken to the Reichsbank in Berlin and resmelted. Each bar was stamped with the letters RB for Reichsbank, the German eagle, the retrospective date 1938, and its weight to three points of the decimal.
One reason why the Germans grabbed the gold in conquered countries was to force conquered peoples to use only Reichsmarks as their currency. In this way, Germany controlled the economies of conquered nations, while making sure that conquered peoples bought mainly German goods and services. This is far more powerful that stationing garrisons in every conquered city, and is what gives your empire some real claws.
And the reason why Germany allowed Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland to remain neutral was that Germany used them as "middle men" - neutral countries served as exchange points. Rather than trade directly with hostile nations, Germany in WW II, traded with neutral nations, who in turn traded with hostile nations.
Statistics recently issued by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare estimate that the Nazis looted close to $27,000,000,000 from the conquered European nations.
Much of this loot was used to pay for the war effort, but a large portion was still intact and in Nazi hands as the end of the war neared.
The British army was retreating from the Nazis who had invaded Greece with 15 divisions and 900 aircraft in April of 1941 through the mountains of Thessalonika. Among the units was a truck carrying three grey boxes and two larger cases in which were packed the British Army's payroll as well as a large quantity of gold sovereigns and bullion which was entrusted to the army for evacuation by Greek banks in Thessalonike. The truck left the main column to try and cut across the mountains to the coast where Allied warships were waiting to evacuate them, but the party became trapped and they buried the treasure in a cave near Mount Siniatsikon near Kozani. They then closed the cave entrance using hand grenades. The treasure, valued today at over $2,500,000, remains buried.
In a wooded forest called Mauerwald, during World War II, the German SS buried thousands of land mines throughout the area. Somewhere in this maze was the secret entrance to the Wolfschanze, or Wolf's Den, the eastern front headquarters of Adolf Hitler. It is said that there is a secret "bank" in this region where an immense Nazi treasure of immense value still lies hidden containing gold, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, platinum - loot from thousands of churches, museums and banks in every occupied country and vast riches accumulated from millions of concentration camp victims. The secret underground city also is said to have included a mint.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had battled in North Africa with his Afrika Korps for 2 years, first making gains, then seeing Montgomery push his Panzers back to the sea. The German adventure in the desert was ending in chaos: all the German forces in North Africa were fleeing. But did the Field Marshal, or some senior officers, take away a treasure? A legend was born that Rommel's men had not left empty-handed. Packed into ammunition boxes were gold and diamonds - fruits of their pillaging. There seems to be some evidence from Peter Fleig: He was with the SS in 1943, and he was ordered to help 4 officers hide 6 boxes in an underwater cavern near Corsica.
The mountain village of San Oreste lies north of Rome and rests at the base of Monte Soratte. The mountain is honeycombed with mine shafts. On May 3, 1944, Nazi SS troops went to Monte Sorrate and in a rock-hewn vault deep within one of its tunnels, hid a fortune worth $72,000,000. The cache consisted of 60 tons of gold bullion seized by the Germans from the National Bank of Italy, plus a huge amount of jewelry looted by the Nazis from Rome's Jewish community. After depositing the treasure deep in the mountain, they then buried it under thousands of tons of rock with a huge explosion. The lone survivor of this burial escaped only to be sought out and killed later on. Numerous treasure expeditions have sought this hoard without success.
On Christmas day, 1944, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the last commander of the dreaded Nazi SS SD arrived at Alt Aussee and rented a house. Near there he buried a large number of treasure caches, including 100 pounds of gold coins, hundreds of thousands of American dollars, several chests of diamonds and other gems and a large collection of rare and priceless stamps. Buried in the gardens of the villa Kerry which he rented, American troops found almost $3,000,000 in loot - and no one knows how much more remains.
In 1944, the Nazis loaded $200 million in gold, jewelry, furnishings and pricey art work onto dozens of railway cars bound for Germany from Budapest. The so-called "Gold Train" was abandoned by the Nazis in Austria and recovered by the U.S. Army on May 16, 1945. Sixty years later a group of Miami Beach retirees sued, and an American court pays them $25 million. The suit alleged that high-ranking U.S. Army officers, General Collins, Laude, Hume, Howard, and Linden furnished their villas and officers' clubs with Gold Train loot as they oversaw the rebuilding of Europe after the war.
The mountains of the Alt Aussee region are probably the most fertile ground for the modern treasure hunter to search for Nazi war treasure, and certainly the most dangerous. Legends and tales of hidden wealth are commonplace. Stories are of recent vintage and backed up with a great deal of historical documentation. The Allies removed ninety truckloads of the most priceless arts and treasures from the underground salt mine to safety here in 1945 - and they didn't find it all. The recovered treasure was valued at over $300,000,000 and consisted mostly of rare paintings, sculpture and other valuable artworks stolen and confiscated during World War II. The complex Nuremburg testimony disclosed that most of the Alt Aussee treasure was in the salt mine complex, "and the rest spread over the countryside".
A Nazi war treasure containing thirty-six cases of German spoils lies buried in the vicinity of Lend. A dying Nazi SS officer from Germany on his deathbed told of a World War II hoard worth $92,000,000 in gold bullion and gems, looted frorn the Hungarian National Bank in Budapest. Trying to take a boat loaded with the chests of gems and ingots to the safety of Vienna via the Danube River, the party was attacked by fighter planes. The treasure was jettisoned overboard in the shallower water near the mouth of the March River. The cache lies in thick mud in Austria, just 100 yards from the Czechoslavakian border.
During the final days of World War II, German SS officers crammed trains, cars, and trucks full of gold, currency, and jewels, and headed for the mountains of Austria. Fearful of arrest and determined to keep the stolen loot out of Allied hands, they concealed their treasures and fled. Most of these men were eventually apprehended, but many managed to evade capture. The intensive postwar Allied investigation that followed recovered only a sliver of this mountain of gold. What happened to the rest of it, and what fate befell these men?
On 3 February 1945, 937 B-17 bombers of the US Eighth Air Force dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin civilians, scoring twenty-one direct hits on the Reichsbank, and destroying its presses that printed currency. Eight days later (11 February 1945), Reichsbank president Walter Funk and his deputy Emil Puhl loaded most of the remaining hundred tons of gold reserves (gold bars) into eighteen large bags, and put the bags onto thirteen railway flat cars, along with massive amounts of paper currency. The train was sent to a potassium mine in Merkers in the state of Thuringia, central Germany, about two hundred miles southwest of Berlin. So vast were the State’s reserves that the entire process took over a week to complete. Inside the Merkers mine, the Germans placed gold, currency, and miscellaneous valuables in a special vault designated Room No. 8.
In the following days, military intelligence interviewed French displaced persons who had worked in the mine. They told them that this was where the German gold reserve and valuable artworks had been deposited several weeks before. Local civilians and displaced persons had been used to unload and store the treasure in the mine.
At the mine were Werner Veick, the head cashier of the Reichsbank's foreign notes department, and Dr Paul Ortwin Rave, curator of the German State Museum and assistant director of the National Galleries in Berlin. Rave told the Americans that he was in Merkers to care for paintings stored in the mine – between 20 and 31 March, the Germans had transported a quarter of the major holdings of 14 of the principal Prussian state museums there. Veick said that the gold in the mine constituted the entire reserve of the Reichsbank in Berlin/
The mine gave up its secret to the men of the 358th Infantry Battalion of the 90th US Infantry Division on April 8, 1945. Under shaft No 3 and 1,600 feet below ground, the American soldiers discovered a veritable treasure trove. Among the hundreds of kilometres of tunnels and chambers they found in vault No. 8 almost the entire gold and currency reserves of Hitler's Third Reich.
When the entire hoard was tallied, the inventory indicated that there were 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 $20 gold pieces; hundreds of bags of gold and silver coins and of foreign currency; nine bags of valuable coins; 2.76 billion Reichsmarks in notes; 20 loose silver bars; 40 bags containing silver bars; 63 boxes and 55 bags of silver plate; 1 bag containing six platinum bars; and 110 bags of valuables from various countries. The chief of staff of General Dwight D Eisenhower, the Allied commander, would later estimate that the value of the gold, silver, and currency was over $520 million.
In addition to this treasure, SS loot, stolen from the occupied countries of Europe was also stored here. This included over 1,000 paintings, objets d'art and 189 boxes and suitcases filled with coins, jewelry and silverware. In one vault were over two million books including the Göthe library from Weimar. The removal of this treasure, estimated at 400 tons, involved the use of thirty 10-ton trucks to transport the hoard to the American Exchange Depository building on the Adolf Hitler-Allee in Frankfurt.
This constituted the bulk of the Nazi loot, but not all of it. Some of the gold and other valuables had been left in Berlin.
It was essential to the Nazi government that the Berlin hoard should not be allowed to fall into enemy hands. But with the Allies advancing from the west and the Red Army only 55 miles east, the circle was closing tightly around Berlin. and a safe hiding place became increasingly elusive.
On April 14 1945, Dr. Emil Puhl, a director of the Reichsbank, entrusted Georg Netzeband, the chief cashier of Reichsbank, with 164 jute sacks containing 730 bars of gold that still remained in the Reichsbank vaults.Netzeband headed south towards the Alps with a lorry containing the gold. After many detours and some danger, the convoy reached its destination.
Colonel Franz Pfeiffer, local commander of the Alpine Regiment. had been tipped off about the gold by friends in Berlin. When Netzeband arrived in the mountains, Pfeiffer seized the valuable cargo.
Netzeband had no choice but to submit – and was horrified to realize that no one – and particularly not Pfeiffer – would give him a receipt for the gold and other valuables.
Under cover of darkness Pfeiffer dispatched a mule train to an isolated forester’s house at Einsiedl, high above Lake Walchen near the Austrian border.
The gold ingots and 164 sacks and crates full of gold coins and US currency were too bulky and heavy to be moved further through the mountains so were left buried in place.
Accompanied by a few handpicked troops, Pfeiffer set off for the higher slopes with the paper money, which was divided among three groups of men. Each group headed into the darkness, unaware of the destination of their colleagues.
Netzeband's careful report states it was not only the sacks of gold that had disappeared into the mountains. There were also great quantities of foreign currency, mainly US dollars and pounds sterling, which had been loaded up with the gold at Munich and other places where the lorry had stopped on its journey south.
The Americans learned that a substantial part of the Nazi gold hoard and other treasures were concealed in the Alps. A special unit, the ‘Goldrush Team’, was formed to track down the loot.
The 16,000 troops of the US 10th Armored 'Tiger' Division were assigned 100 square miles of occupation in southern Bavaria, with their headquarters in Garmisch. This area was where the bulk of the remaining Nazi treasure from the Reichsbank was hidden. Key officers of the division were involved in the digging up of hundreds of tons of Nazi gold, currencies, diamonds and other valuables.
During May and June 1945, US soldiers found Reichsbank gold valued at about $11 million. Altogether the Americans reckoned that they recovered 98.6% of the $255.96 million worth of gold shown on the closing balances of the Precious Metals Department of the Berlin Reichsbank. But that still meant that gold worth more than $3 million (at 1945 prices) was still missing. Where was it?
Berlin fell to the Russians on May 2, 1945. A Major Feodor Novikov of the Red Army ordered the vaults of the Reichbank to be opened. Still in the vaults were 90 gold bars worth 1.3 million dollars and gold coins worth 2.1 million dollars. Also 400 million dollars worth of negotiable bonds. Major Novikov ordered the vaults locked and demanded the keys. Shortly afterwards the entire contents of the vault disappeared. The gold was never seen again, but the bonds keep turning up even today all over the world!.
Another six and a half tons of gold, recovered from Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop's castle 'Schloss Fuschl' near Salzburg and turned over to the US Army on June 15, 1945, also disappeared and no records of it being received at the Frankfurt US Foreign Exchange Depository can be found. In 1945 it was worth over seven million dollars. Much of the gold recovered by the Americans was re-smelted and in the process all hallmarks, Nazi symbols and identification numbers were erased.
High in the mountains in the area known as Ausseerland billions of dollars worth of World War II German treasure is known to have been hidden, a great deal of it said to be sunken in the icy waters of mountain lakes. In 1946, American intelligence agents found a page torn from a Nazi financial ledger listing a single cache hidden somewhere in Austria: $166,000,000 in Swiss francs, $299,000,000 in American dollars, $31,000,000,000 in gold, $3,000,000 in diamonds, $93,000,000 in stamp collections and objects of art and $5,500,000,000 in narcotics...a total value of a fantastic $37,000,000,000. So far as is known, this tremendous treasure hoard has never been found.
The Töplitzsee, near the Devil's Trashcan in the Styrian Alps, has always been the subject of legends and rumours After the collapse of the Third Reich this speculation only increased. According to eyewitness reports of dozens of local people, a number of crates were hidden in the Töplitzsee during the last days of the Second World War. Since then there has been repeated speculation that those crates contained the last gold reserves of the Third Reich, billions in gold, gems and other valuables in addition to secret records of the Nazi party - all encased in waterproof caches. Treasure hunting in the Töplitzsee is very popular due to its unusual depth. but over the years some treasure hunters have paid with their lives while trying their luck in this lake, where diving is actually prohibited.
The story of "The Treasure of Stechovice" that was hidden by the Nazis at several locations in the valley of the Vltava River in Central Bohemia has excited treasure hunters since the end of the Second World War.
Some believe the Nazis buried priceless war booty in specially-created tunnels near the village of Hradistko near Stechovice. It is believed to include gold, diamonds, jewelry and pieces of art, as well as secret files and scientific documents. Some even believe the Nazis hid the famous "Amber Room" looted from Russia in 1941 in the tunnels.
With material from
The Lost Treasure of the Nazis by Noel Richards