The Guinness Book Of Records - 1996 page 189 referred to "The Greatest Robbery on Record" was that of the Reichsbank in April/May 1945. It stated that "The Pentagon in Washington described the event as AN UNVERIFIED ALLEGATION". However, the book NAZI GOLD by Tom Sayer & Douglas Botting, and published in 1984, finally revealed full details and estimated the total haul to have been equivalent to 2.5 billion pounds sterling at 1984 values!
Briefly what happened is as follows:
The movement of gold, money and jewelery from the Reichsbank in Berlin to Mittenwald in the Alps by the SS in April 1945, and its subsequent disappearance at the end of the war, was really the beginning of widespread corruption in nearby Garmisch-Partenkirchen-the town which, until the Winter Olympics of 1936, was two villages that Hitler had joined together.
Falling within the US Zone of Occupation, governed by a four star general, Lucius D. Clay. He was in fact like a mushroom, kept in the dark and fed on Bull...t! When he eventually found out about the severe corruption going on among his subordinates, he ordered an investigation to especially concentrate to his men in Garmisch-P, which began to acquire the name "Sin City" among Allied troops. Clay had become the Commandant of the forces of lawlessness and disorder!
It wasn`t long before his investigators found that the top brass were enriching themselves. Even Clay`s own wife was found to be shipping loot back to the US via the General`s private airplane, which by-passed the normal Customs checks in Miami. The pilot even logging his trips as "Training" or "Classified Mission".
Clay then stopped the investigation, and with the aid of the US Secretary of the Army, Kenneth C. Royall, covered up the findings which had been made to date. Clay even ordered the newspaper editors not to publish any findings, un unusual curtailment of freedom of the Press in peacetime!
Meanwhile, the "Wine, Women and Song Boys", as the US troops were called in Garmisch-P in those days, continued to engage in their black-market activities. Their sole interest in life in immediate Post-War Germany and Austria appeared to be sex, booze and to having a "bloody good time", and not necessarily in that order!
The background of these troops from the top ranks to bottom, left a lot to be desired. Added to this was the chaos of the US military system, which was excessively compartmentalised, with no clear overview, direction or central coordination, not knowing what it was they were supposed to be doing now that the war was over, and that they were many miles from "home".
Different Units with different orders got on each others nerves. Black-market activity was a diversion. Many officers and men were of Jewish origin, and some were even from German and Austrian families who had fled these countries in the 1920's and 1930's. They had been drafted into the US forces to be useful in that they could speak the language. Consequently, there was very little cooperation between them and the local population. The US authorities admitted that the army lacked first-class men and women "with very few exceptions".
US personnel complained that the pay was lousy. A Colonel got US 10,000 dollars per year or 192 per week in 1945/6. (UK pounds 2,500 p.a. or 48 per week - three times what a British Colonel got, and ten times what his Russian counterpart received).
In those days the seat of Military Government in Garmisch-P was the Rathaus (Town Hall), which stood across the road from the "Weisses Rössl" (The White Horse Inn). It was a rectangular two storey building which stood at right angles along the Bahnhofstrasse opposite the Partenkirchenerhof - then the most expensive hotel in town. In 1945 the "Weisses Rössl" had a fresco painted on the outside wall and was a "Nachtlokal" (Night-club bar & restaurant), and was a den of iniquity in the "Sin City".
A woman named Zenta Hausner, a 35 year old born in Mühldorf in 1910, the daughter of the brewery owner there. Some called her "Königin der Nacht" (Queen of the Night). She leased the "Weisses Rössl" until her death in December 1947, and had been involved in all sorts of shady dealing with US servicemen. They never did find out who cut her throat in her upstairs flat in the "Weisses Rössl". It was believed that it was done by someone who feared exposure by her and did it to stop her blabbing! She had married an American Captain but he had shot through!
With Zenta's death died many secrets of what went on with a lot of the wealth from the Reichsbank money. Who knows - some of the loot may still be lying about in the town, in Mittenwald or in the village of Oberau in the Loisach valley where there were many log cabins with rocks on their roofs and which were used to store hay as winter fodder for the animals. Loot was hidden in some of these cabins just days before the end of the war. Some was stashed in the farm called "Gut Buchweiss" at Oberau, and in the Hotels "Post", "Ertl" and "Wetterstein" in Mittenwald. The Familie Clausing used to own the "Hotel Post", but they never found any hidden trasure! Dream On!!
MORE ON THE REICHSBANK GOLD!
In 1939, Hitler issued a decree placing the RB under his direct control. The then President of the bank, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, and most of his fellow directors were sacked for arguing with Hitler over his financing of the war effort. Hitler replaced Schacht with the compliant economist, Dr. Walther Funk, who held a dual role, Reichs Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank. Funk, via a director who wasn`t sacked, then extended the role of the bank. It was to hold the loot acquired from the victims of the KZ`s, such as gold, jewelery, money and other valuables. Funk was an economist - not a banker. He made Emil Puhl, a director who hadn`t been sacked, his deputy President.
Shortly after the war started in September 1939, the Reichsbank took over all the gold deposits and debts of Austria, Czechoslovakia (valued at US 2,596,608 dollars), Hungary (worth US 32 million dollars), as well as part of the gold reserves of Albania, Poland, Holland and Russia, as these countris were occupied. From France was taken French & Belgian gold worth US 200,000,000 dollars. (The Belgian gold had been sent to Paris for safe-keeping). This was re-smelted by the RB in Berlin. Each bar was stamped "RB" and included the German eagle and the date "1938" plus its weight to three decimal places. When the German army was retreating from Italy in 1943, the RB took US 100,000,000 of Italy's gold.
The total for all of Europe will never be known for sure because Allied bombers destroyed the RB in Berlin on Saturday the 3rd of February 1945, and all of the bank records went up in smoke! The RB`s staff survived as did all the deposits safe in the vaults below ground. It is estimated that these vaults held deposits of some US 500,000,000 in 1945 values, most of it looted from the occupied countries. The RB also held accounts for the Wehrmacht, Foreign Office, SS, Security Service, other Government departments, businesses and thousands of ordinary German depositors.
Emil Puhl had an arrangement with Otto Pohl, the head of the WVHA, which in 1943 had taken all of the wealth hitherto stored in the KZ`s which had been confiscated from victims. He received from Pohl banknotes from 32 different countries including US dollars, English pounds, foreign exchange notes, jewelery eyc., worth US 10,004,700 dollars, and then he credited it to SS accounts held at the RB.
Because Puhl was also a German director of a private bank in Basel, Switzerland, (The Bank for International Settlements), he had an ideal opportunity to act as a fence to dispose of the gold after it had been re-smelted.
After the Allied bombing on the 3rd of February 1945, the gold, money and valuables were sent to a very deep (600 metres) , and very extensive potassium mine at Merkers in Thuringia, some 300 Kms south of Berlin and 45 Kms south of Mühlhausen - the nearest large town.It took 13 rail cars some 72 hours to transport 1,000 sacks containing US 4 million in US dollar bills, 1 billion in Reichsmark notes, a considerable amount in other currency and 100 tons of gold bars worth US 200 million dollars! It was then deposited in Room No.8. at the Kaiseroda Mine by February 18th.
On the Easter weekend 1945, 450 of the sacks containing the Reichsmarks, was taken back to Berlin and used to pay wages to the troops, because the printing presses had been destroyed in the February raid, and paper money was very scarce.
It later transpired that not all of the gold had been moved in February. Two very strange events followed:
Shortly afterwards the gold disappeared, but the bonds started to show up, and continued to show up until well into the 1980's! By then the West German Government demanded to see proof of ownership before they could be cashed, then the supply suddenly stopped!
Now, back to Josef Spacil's gold and other loot. He believed that the nearly US 10 millions dollar`s worth that he had taken at gun point was all that there was! On the 22nd of April his convoy of police and SS troopers escorting the loot from Berlin at last drew up outside the officers mess of the Mountain Infantry Training School in Mittenwald. Now the loot was estmated to be worth closer to US 15 million dollars! From that moment on, what happened to it is a matter of intense mystery which has defied every investigative enquiry. Well after the war was over it involved robbery, murder, corruption, racketeering, scandal and cover-up at the highest levels of the US Military Government!
Much of this loot is said to have gone to the US, South America,England and of course Garmish-Partenkirchen prospered beyond its wildest dreams in the post war years!
There have been many wild stories about the "Reichsbank Robbery". It was never a single robbery, but a series of separate incidents involving different portions of the RB gold and currency reserves between February 1945 and March 1947.
Obergruppenführer Dr. Schneid was an honourary SS officer, that is an officer without powers of command, who was a director of several companies both before and during the war, one of which was Hermsdorf-Schönburg Gmbh.
He had business connection with Krupp, Rohling, Messerschmidt, VW and more, and, along with Standartenfuhrer Kurt Becher, under Himmler`s secret authority, (Hitler, Bormann and the Party Office were not informed), arranged the transfer of millions of Reichsmarks in value of confiscated currency and valuables collected from occupied countries during the war to Swiss banks to finance ODESSA. (A fund set up by the SS to help its members escape at the end of the war).
To the Nazi Party hierachy the plan was shrouded in secrecy and known only to a few top SS men.
There was a clandestine meeting in the "Hotel Maison Rouge", Strassbourg, France on the 10th August 1944, but what transpired there was overshadowed by the round-ups and executions resulting from the July 20th bomb plot attempt on Hitler`s life.
The transferred money was also intended to be used to reimburse the big businessmen after the war "for losses because of reparations and confiscations by the victorious Allies", as the SS could see the end of the war was near - something Hitler and Bormann couldn`t!
The document detailing this activity was smuggled out of France in 1944, having been witnessed by an Allied Double Agent, and sent to SHAEF HQ, who in turn on-forwarded it to the US Secretary of State, Wasihgton, where it was dismissed as "sheer fantasy". They put it in mothballs - but classified it "Top Secret"!
Simon Wiesenthal got to hear about it in Vienna, and in 1967 mentioned it in his book, but it drew no comment from the US Intelligence Agency.
On this night, the once proud Third Reich was literally falling apart or, more correctly, being torn apart. Berlin fell to Russian forces in the north and the defense of Munich in the south collapsed before the onslaught of the U.S. 45th (Thunderbird) Division and other units. The war was effectively over at this point but the official end did not occur for six more days.
Hitler, of course, had died in Berlin on April 30, 1945. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was the new leader of the remnants of the Reich on a temporary basis. Heinrich Himmler had been stripped of power. Martin Bormann and General Heinrich Müller were on the run, and Göring and Skorzeny were hiding in the mountains waiting to surrender. There was no one left to direct the concealment of the treasures of the Reich except Professor Karl Haushofer and perhaps it was on his impetus that the commander of the secret convoy completed his mission. Haushofer himself (the wizard of Germany), would die the following year, but not before he related his death bed secrets to Julius Schaub, Adjutant and confidant of Adolf Hitler.
When the convoy arrived at the foot of the Zillertal Mountain Pass, a small group of select officers took possession of a number of heavy lead sealed boxes. Following a brief ceremony by torchlight they took the path leading to the Schleigeiss Glacier at the foot of the 9,000 foot high Hochfeiler mountain. They buried the boxes in a ledge of snow at the edge of a precipice. No one knows what the boxes contained. Some say they protect the Grail of Montsegur. Others believe that it is here that the Treasures of Jerusalem will be found. The Raiders are gone but the Lost Ark of the Covenant endures in its resting place within the mountain.