Nazi gold

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Nazi gold (German: Raubgold, "stolen gold") is the gold transferred by Nazi Germany to overseas banks during World War II. The regime executed a policy of looting the assets of its victims to finance the war, collecting the looted assets in central depositories. The occasional transfer of gold in return for currency took place in collusion with many individual collaborative institutions. The precise identities of those institutions, as well as the exact extent of the transactions, remain unclear.

The present whereabouts of Nazi gold that disappeared into European banking institutions in 1945 has been the subject of several books, conspiracy theories, and a civil suit brought in January 2000 against the Vatican Bank, the Franciscan Order, and other defendants.

Acquisition[edit]

Nazi gold stored in Merkers Salt Mine
As Minister of Economics, Walther Funk accelerated the pace of rearmament and as Reichsbank president banked for the SS the gold rings of Buchenwald victims

The draining of Germany's gold and foreign exchange reserves inhibited the acquisition of materiel, and the Nazi economy, focused on militon, could not afford to deplete the means to procure foreign machinery and parts. Nonetheless, towards the end

Disposal[edit]

The present whereabouts of the Nazi gold that disappeared into European banking institutions in 1945 has been the subject of several books, conspiracy theories, and a civil suit brought in January 2000 in California against the Vatican Bank, the Franciscan Order and other defendants.[1] The suit against the Vatican Bank did not claim that the gold was then in its possession and has since been dismissed.[2][3]

The Swiss National Bank, the largest gold distribution centre in continental Europe before the war, was the logical venue through which Nazi Germany could dispose of its gold.[4] During the war, the SNB received $440m in gold from Nazi sources, of which $316m is estimated to have been looted.[5]

Vatican[edit]

On October 21, 1946, the U.S. State Department received a Top Secret report from US Treasury Agent Emerson Bigelow.[6][7] The report, released by the U.S. government finally in 1997, established that Bigelow received reliable information on the matter from the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) or CIC intelligence officials of the US Army.[8] The document, referred to as the "Bigelow Report", was declassified on December 31, 1996, and released in 1997.

The report asserted that in 1945, the Vatican had confiscated 350 million Swiss francs in Nazi gold for "safekeeping," of which 150 million Swiss francs had been impounded by British authorities at the Austro-Swiss border. The report also stated that the balance of the gold was held in one of the Vatican’s numbered Swiss bank accounts. Intelligence reports, which corroborated the Bigelow Report, also suggested that more than 200 million Swiss francs, a sum largely in gold coins, were eventually transferred to Vatican City or to the Institute for Works of Religion (aka the Vatican Bank), with the assistance of Roman Catholic clergy and the Franciscan Order.[9][10][11]

Such claims, however, are denied by the Vatican Bank. "There is no basis in reality to the [Bigelow] report", said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, as reported in Time magazine.[12]

Portugal[edit]

During the war, Portugal, with neutral status, was one of the centres of tungsten production and sold to both Allied and Axis powers. Tungsten is a critical metal for armaments, especially for armour-piercing bullets and shells. Much of the Axis tungsten was purchased with Nazi gold bullion, which was looted from the countries they had invaded as well as their dead victims. It is estimated that nearly 100 tons of Nazi gold were laundered through Swiss banks, with only four tons being returned at the end of the war.[13]

A counterfeit £5 (White fiver) note forged by the Jewish Sachsenhausen concentration camp prisoners.

During the war, Portugal was the second largest recipient of Nazi gold, after Switzerland; this came through the sale of wolfram, with the German armaments industry nearly entirely dependent on the supplies from Portugal.[14] Initially the Nazi trade with Portugal was in hard currency, but in 1941 the central Bank of Portugal established that much of this was counterfeit and Portuguese leader António de Oliveira Salazar demanded all further payments in gold.[15] Presumably the counterfeit currency were the infamous banknotes produced by Sachsenhausen concentration camp victims in Operation Bernhard.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Text of the Civil Action of January 21, 2000: Factual Allegations, nos. 25 – 38.
  2. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  3. ^ Slovodna Dalmacija
  4. ^ Eizenstat Special Briefing on Nazi Gold. Stuart Eizenstat, US State Department, 2 June 1998. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  5. ^ "Switzerland and Gold Transactions in the Second World War" PDF (1.18 MiB). Bergier Commission, May 1998. Retrieved on 5 July 2006.
  6. ^ "CNN:"Vatican drawn into scandal over Nazi-era gold"". July 22, 1997. 
  7. ^ "Inquiry Into Vatican Link to Looted Gold," The Guardian, July 23, 1997, p. 11
  8. ^ Aarons, Mark; Loftus, John (1992). Unholy Trinity: How the Vatican's Nazi Networks Betrayed Western Intelligence to the Soviets (revised, 1993 ed.). New York: St.Martin's Press. p. 297. ISBN 0-312-09407-8. 
  9. ^ Paris, Edmond; Perkins, Lois (1961). Genocide in Satellite Croatia 1941-1945: A Record of Racial and Religious Persecutions and Massacres (reissued, 1990 ed.). The American Institute for Balkan Affairs. p. 306.  ASIN B0007DWXR8
  10. ^ Aarons, Mark; Loftus, John (1993). Unholy Trinity: How the Vatican's Nazi Networks Betrayed Western Intelligence to the Soviets (Revised Edition ed.). New York: St.Martin's Press. pp. (432 pages). ISBN 0-312-09407-8. 
  11. ^ Manhattan, Avro (1986). The Vatican's Holocaust: The Sensational Account of the Most Horrifying Religious Massacre of the 20th Century (1988, paperback edition ed.). Ozark Books. pp. 237 total.  ASIN B000KOOLWE
  12. ^ "The Vatican Pipeline by Frank Pellegrini". Time. July 22, 1997. 
  13. ^ Simons, Marlise (10 January 1997). "Nazi Gold and Portugal's Murky Role". New York Times. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  14. ^ Gonçalves, Eduardo (2 April 2000). "Britain allowed Portugal to keep Nazi gold". The Observer. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Lochery, Neill (17 May 2011). "Portugal's Golden Dilemma". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 

References[edit]

  • Yeadon, Glen (2008). The Nazi Hydra in America. Progressive Press. p. 700. ISBN 0-930852-43-5. 

External links[edit]