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Hitler’s Gold – Part 1

January 11, 2012

deutche_gold“Nazi Gold” is a true legend. Where it came from and what happened to it has, over the years, taken on the mantle of a near-mystical fable. However, there is nothing supernatural about it. Nazi Gold is nothing less than other countries’ gold which Hitler’s forces and apparatchiks plundered as they careered across Europe.


From 1938 to 1945 Hitler’s forces amassed a fortune in the name of the Third Reich. This wealth was not measured in hundreds of bars of stolen gold but thousands. The amount of gold stolen in this period remains the world’s biggest ever theft and is measured not just in millions of ounces or pounds – not even in Kilograms -but in tons of gold.

Hitler not only enjoyed the unswerving loyalty of his subordinates but profited from the criminal inclinations and scheming minds of those highly placed in his inner circle. They came not from political backgrounds but, as Churchill and Roosevelt both described them, were an inveterate bunch of opportunists and ‘gangsters’ – and their future actions were to prove those assessments correct. Even Hjalmer Schacht, head the Reichsbank in the 1930s and therefore with access to the heart of government, called Hitler’s retinue “gangsters.” [1] No avenue, it seems, would escape Nazi consideration if it would lead to the recovery of precious metals and hard currency for the enrichment of the Third Reich.

Germany is estimated to have had gold reserves at the beginning of the war of  US$ 120 million but acquired another US$ 661 million gold bullion during the war – most of it was looted and much of it highly suspect.

Nazi Germany also had a shadowy but very respectable ‘ally’ in the form of a Swiss organisation called the Bank for International Settlements, or BIS for short. Without the BIS the systematic thefts over 8 years would have been impossible (see Hitler’s Gold Part 2). The BIS was coy to the point of being secretiev and only first came to mild prominence in the 1980s.

1. Present day obsession

Nazism and the Third Reich appears to hold a fascination out of all proportion to other regimes and world events. Since the 1960s the evils fashioned by the Third Reich, Nazism and Hitler have been the subject of an unremitting stream of TV programmes, books and newspapers articles.

Sixty years after World War I, i.e. 1980s, public interest had all but subsided in that wolrd war, however, sixty years after the Third Reich’s disintegration World War II still holds certain people in it’s thrall.

Is it because meticulous details were kept and researchers of scholarly studies find themselves drawn as if a moth to a candle ?  Or is it because the mid 20th century allowed such a detailed chronicling (using cinematic and photographic records), that were of a depth and breadth which the technology of the First World War era was quite unable to match ?

While either of these options may be true to a greater or lesser extent to explain our cultural fascination another rarely spoken one exists – bankruptcy. Hitler’s various lunges across Europe represent such a radical departure from how ‘normal’ wars had been planned, conducted and financed that they are deserving of further examination.

Scant regard is paid, by the average citizen, to the pre-planning and the actual mechanics of launching an unlimited war on a continental scale which might involve fighting on two fronts simultaneously – something of a knack the Israeli defence forces have had to acquire and which Hitler always planned to avoid.

Fighting an ‘unlimited war’ is on a scale that dwarfs the most recent “limited” conflicts we are familiar with today, that of Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Our current ‘liberal society’ is paranoid about being seen as intolerant, or worse, bigoted towards any issue where judgemental conclusions and moral are involved. Nazi Germany, fascism and Hitler etc are more or less the only hate figures our politically correct society now allows and we are given licenced to say what we like about them.

Popular culture also gives the impression thatthe wickedness atthe core of the Nazi regime automatically predisposed them to the building up Germany’s military strength and the subsequent invading adjacent countries is a natural consequence. In fact, it was under the very ‘liberal’ , if not decadent, WeimarRepublic that plans were out in motion, in 1922, to significantly increase Germany’s warship fleet ( ).

The politics behind such moves are rarely dealt with in the media which perennially focus on the more juicy target of Hitler’s megalomania, the Nazi icons that fascism produced and what is now termed “the holocaust.”

Unemployment, the “Great Depression” hunger in the streets and the desperation that induces, can be said to be the both the driver and the excuse for electing Hitler and Germany’s rearmament programme. Politics in every European country had polarised into communist and fascist factions with pitched street battles on a scale we can hardly imagine today (far worse than Greek unrest in 2011). It wasn’t possible 40 years ago in the boom times to mentally put ourselves in to the shoes of those living through desperate times of the 1930s but since 2008 it has become easier to do so.

The Nazi Party promised of a better future for Germans with jobs for all and higher living standards were the enticement and the means was to be state control, heavy borrowing from overseas and the adoption of a ‘command economy.’ And isn’t that what is happening all over again today (2011) ?

2. 1938: The Beginning

Popular culture tells us that for those of us in Europe, World War II began in 1939 with the invasion of Poland- but for those in the United States of America, World War II started some two years later, in Dec 1941.

For the Soviet Union their Great Patriotic War (WWII), started in the same year, 1941. To the Chinese both those dates (1939, 1941) are irrelevant; their war with Japan began in the mid 1930s.

The mechanics of how Germany transformed itself from a near-bankrupt nation to one with a respectable currency and the ability to flex its political muscle rests entirely on gold and the subtle use of hidden secondary currencies which is partly detailed separately in Part 2.

Annual Accounts of Central Banks produced by the BIS (Bank for International Settlement – a transcending central bank based in Basel), reveals (p 49) that the stated gold holdings of the Reichsbank fell from 82.5 million Reichsmarks at the end of 1935 to 66.5 million at the end of 1936. The decrease is said to be accounted for by the internal requirements of gold for the arts and industry (and one suspects more industrial trade than arts).

In terms of military hardware units – tanks, bombers, and submarines etc – the build-up in the army, navy and airforce was formidable but it was mainly financed by money borrowed throughout the 1930s – and lent by countries and banks that dreaded communism and state nationalisation, more than it feared the alternative of fascism.

In other words money was loaned to the perceived lesser of two evils by countries that in less than a decade would form the Allied side of the equation, namely, France, America, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland and Britain etc.

The European map of 1938 saw Germany cut off from East Prussia under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, 1919. Poland was allowed an access port into the Baltic Sea at the city of Danzig (now called Gdańsk). This became know as the Danzig or Polish Corridor (see purple on map left).

Under the same Treaty, Germany was not allowed to have any military forces, military buildings or armaments in the Rhineland area (to ensure compliance the area was occupied by Belgian and French troops but only initially). However, in 1936 with the absence of such troops, Hitler ordered the re-occupation of the Rhineland by the German Army. The western nations did nothing but protest through diplomatic channels. Hitler was prepared to instantly remove the Werhmacht if the French or British had made serious military counter moves. So spurred on by this gamble Hitler widened his ethnic net to other native German-speakers, e.g. Austria and the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. The map above shows Germany in 1938 after the annexation of the Rhineland, Austria and (in scarlet) the Sudetenland.

a. Germany’s Secret Gold Reserves

Before the First World War the Reichsbank built up secret gold reserves which were stored in Spandau district of Berlin. Given the name ‘Juliusturm’ of “Julius Tower” the same procedure seems to have occurred in the run up to World War II when Dr. Hjalmar Schacht was in charge of the Reichsbank. [2]

Curiously, although the common consensus is that Germany defaulted on its loans in 1939, the BIS reports in 1938 that Germany had cleared RM 150 million from its debt in 1937 of RM 313 million.

The curious aspect is that at the same time the Reichsbank’s holdings of gold and foreign exchange showed an increase from RM 178 million to RM 261 million.

In 1938, one US dollar was worth 2.49 Reichsmark (2.49 RM = $1), and approx 12 marks (RM) bought £1 sterling in 1939. [3]  This would mean that 150 million RM would be the equivalent to £ 12.5 m (£ 12,500,000) and in US dollar terms, $ 60.3 million ($ 60,240,964).

During the same period the Reichsbank’s holdings of gold and foreign exchange showed an increase from RM 178 million to RM 261 million (US$ 71,485,943 and US $ 100,803,212 repetitively). Can this be explained away by the absorption of Austria, in 1938, and Czech gold reserves in 1939 ? The dates appear to clash more than they coincide.

Germany’s business leaders and Nazi officials are known to have had connections with South America, especially Argentina. One would expect a country’s  gold reserves to be static or climb gently but Argentina’s fluctuate as follows (US$ m):

But Argentina’s fluctuate as the  Table shows.

Left: Argentina’s Gold Reserves

Given the post war revelations it is possible – but admittedly highly speculative – that Argentina assisted Germany in some way. Pres. Peron was able to repay to the Bank of England a £1 billion loan in 1946 and also nationalise the banks and railways (mostly owned by British and French companies).

What popular culture does not tell us is that the annexation of Austria in 1938 and the invasion of Poland and the Baltic states in 1939 netted the Germany Treasury many millions of dollars in gold bullion and hard currency.

Gold bullion and hard currency represent the lifeblood of any economy and especially so in time of war. Gold was pivotal Nazi Germany’s war effort. Germany is thought to have started the world war in 1939 with gold reserves valued at£ 120 million (the 1997 US Eizenstat Report). [4]

However, Germany’s territorial expansion did not begin in 1939 but a year earlier in 1938 with the annexing first of Austria and then the seizure of Czechoslovakia.

The US Eizenstat Report relies on Otto Fletcher’s analysis contained in an internal report which appears not to include the amount of gold acquired by Germany after the Austrian and Czechoslovakian absorption.[5]

Austria which was annexed into the Greater Germany is said by some to have had $ 13.5m in gold reserves. Authors are not always clear is their explanations, for instance, Arthur Lee Smith in his book “Hitler’s gold: the story of the Nazi war loot” states that the Reichsbank was able to purchase $13.5 m of Czech gold . . . and together Austria’s gold and Czech gold  amounted to $146 m which was put at Germany’s disposal.

This would imply, given other evidence, that $13.5m was only part of the Czech gold reserves.  The Table above shows a US$ 133.4m sub-total for Austria andCzechoslovakia’s reserves which is close to US$ 146 m cited by Arthur Lee Smith. Another source puts Czechoslovakia’s central bank reserve at $25m but given the above this is doubtful.

Wikipedia puts the gain to the German gold reserves of asset stripping Austria and Czechoslovakia, between 1937 and 1939, at US $71m.[6] However, that includes US$ 4 from Danzig which was overrun only in Sept 1939. Deducting that figure produces a total of US$ 67 million (71 less 4). This is significantly less than the Arthur Lee Smith figure of US$ 146 m and the Bergier of US$ 133.4 m. (See also “Central bank cooperation at the Bank for International Settlements, 1930-1973”, by Gianni Toniolo, Piet Clement, which cites 88 & 30 tonnes respectively]

The Swiss based “Bergier Report”, which was published in 2002, puts the value of Germany’s gold at US $123.4 million in Sept 1939 with Austria’s gold at US $99 million and that of Czech at US $34.4 million as additions to that total, i.e. making a grand total of US $256 million (see Table above).

Fortunately, Poland’s gold reserves were successfully moved to safety before  German troops arrived, however, the story of Poland’s gold does not end there (as will be seen later).

In the case of Czechoslovakian gold the Nazis utilised for the first time the special powers and rights gifted, ironically, to the BIS by the League of Nations some 8 year previously (both the BIS and the League of Nations were based in Switzerland). It is thought that approx. $6m of Czechoslovakian gold was held by the Bank of England and under the terms of the BIS agreement this was transferred to Hitler’s Germany. [7] The contrary view is that the amount was very much larger but that the gold never left London – it was simply ‘earmarked’ for Berlin and thus made available for Germany’s use.

a. Austria

The Great Depression devastatedAustria on the same scale that it affectedGermany. Between 1929 and 1932 production fell 39% with foreign trade falling by 47% and unemployment reaching over 33%.

In his book, “Hitler’s Austria; popular sentiment in the Nazi era 1938 – 1945” (pub’d 2000), Evan Burr Bukey describes how Austria was “bankrupt” and how in May 1931:

  • “ the “collapse its banking system [culminated] in the spectacular failure of the Viennese Credit-Anstalt”.

Burr maintains that this chain of events drained the Austrian Treasury of gold reserves. However, this is at odds with the estimate of  US$ 99 million cited in the 1999 Bergier Report (Table 1, page 39). [8]

A contemporary  view found in the 1938 BIS Annual Accounts lists Austria’s gold reserves (for 1937, Table 3) as US$ 46 in million at$ 35 per fine ounce. [9] In the 1937  BIS annual accounts Austria gold reserves are put at 13 million Swiss Gold Francs (page 45).

The Bergier Report maintains that gold transactions at the Reichsbank between Sept 1939 and June 1940 included 99 tonnes of Austrian gold but this figure is not found anywhere else.  (“Switzerland and Gold Transactions in the Second World War – Interim Report”, Chairman Jean-François Bergier)

In an attempt to clarify the position the work and reports of the Tripartite Gold Commission of 1946 might be helpful. Its role was to make restitutions of gold to these countries that the Nazis had plundered. Without specifying size of gold bar its Report states that 953 gold bars ‘may’ have been released to Austria. The exact wording is shown below:

  •  “  . . . . .With the restitution to the Benelux countries completed, attention turned to the disposition of the remaining gold. Sometime in the latter half of 1948, 164 gold bars (Prussian Mint) may have been released to Italy, and 953 gold bars may have been released to Austria. These two transactions also may have included gold coins, with a total delivery of 689,295.906 fine ounces for Austria and 286,102.445 fine ounces for Italy.
  • At the same time the Commission set aside, as it was empowered to do under the Paris Reparations Agreement for nations not represented at the conference, 26,187 kilograms ($29.3 million) for Austria and 3,805 kilograms ($4.2 million) for Italy pending the completion of negotiations.”

In William Slany’s report to the US State Dept., he states that Austria received 26,187 kilograms (841,931.6 oz) of gold valued in 1947 at $29.3 million. No one country recovered 100% of their looted gold, so one can safely assume as that the original 1938 amount was in excess of US$ 29.3 million but a question mark hangs over the higher estimate of US$ 99m. [10]

b. Czechoslovakia

In a huge European game of chess, 1938 saw the sacrificing of Czechoslovakia as a pawn to Hitler’s ambitions for a new Germany and a new world order.

The picture of pre-war Czech gold holdings is as confused as it is for Austria. The Bergier Report states that gold transactions at the Reichsbank between Sept 1939 and June 1940 included 34.4 tonnes of Czech gold.

The Bank for International Settlement accounts for 1937 (page 45), states that Czech government reported it had gold bullion to the value of 344 million Swiss Gold Francs.

One source states that although $25 million Czechoslovakian gold was spent by the Nazi to pay for war materiel approximately US $29 million gold reserves were left unused at the end of the war and in addition the bullion looted US $7 million of foreign gold coins which were taken to Germany. This would suggest for Czechoslovakia a total of 54 tonnes of gold (25 + 29), or possibly of 61 tonnes (25 + 29 +7).

Yet another source states that US $15 million of Czechoslovakian gold was used up by the Third Reich but that“US$ 29 million worth was left untouched through out the war” (see “Hitler’s gold: the story of Nazi war loot”). This would make an initial total not of US$ 54 m but $44 million (15 +29 = 44). The one redeeming feature from this confusion is that the figure of US$ 29 million is common to both. [11]

One website says that Czechoslovakia had over 90 tonnes of gold reserves in Sept 1938, [12] while the Central Europe Review of March 2000 gives 94 tons as the total of gold for Sept 1939 and adds a different dimension:

  • “The looting of Czechoslovakia’s gold reserves began as part of the Munich Agreement of Sept 1938, . . . Czechoslovakiawas required to provide 14.5 tonnes of . . . . gold . . .”

Several sources all agree that after the infamous ‘Munich Agreement’ (Sept 1938), Czechoslovakia was obliged to give Germany14.5 tonnes of monetary gold to fund currency in the newly acquired Sudetenland areas. This enforced financial arrangement was followed by a second in March 1939 when the Wehrmacht marched into Prague and the rest of Czechoslovakia.

The march into Prague was accompanied by Reichsbank special commissioner Dr Friedrich Muller, who forced the directors of the Czech central bank at gunpoint to sign letters transferring 23 tonnes of gold from the Czech BIS account held at the Bank of England to another account – also held at the BIS – but presumably under Germany control. [13]

Thus, in one recording of events 37.5 metric tonnes of gold was gained by the Third Reich in a matter of weeks and with barely a bullet fired (23 + 14.5 tonnes), compared with 90 to 94 tonnes stated by several others (the difference could perhaps be in assets held overseas or frozen by other countries).

Despite all these various weights and values the Tripartite Commission of 1946 recognised  the Nazis had stolen ‘more than’ 45 tons of gold from Czechoslovakia and recognised most of Czechoslovakia’s claim (43.99 kg). [14]

There is little doubt that to mainstream British politicians of the 1930s, Czechoslovakiawas some far away obscure country to the east of Europe. The Munich Crisis – the world’s first Summit of world leaders meeting face to face – overshadows more important factors. Not least of these was that Czechoslovakia, in 1935, was the largest arms manufacturer and exporter in the world. The production of tanks, light arms and other weaponry at the massive Škoda works in Plzeň and the Brno arms factory dwarfed contemporary British production. To paraphrase from the Central Europe Review:

  • To underline the industrial-military complex in Czechoslovakia, when German forces later invaded France and Russia, they did so riding on Czech made tanks, carrying Czech made weapons and firing Czech made ammunition.
  • It is highly probable that Chamberlain or the Foreign Office were not fully aware of this but it is almost certain that it was this, not territory, that Adolf Hitler was really after in March 1939.
  • Czechoslovakia’s industrial and military capacity had enabled it to systematically build up it gold resaves at home and for safety abroad (or so it thought), at the BIS and the Bank of England.
  • This was the really destructive legacy of Munich and Appeasement, not the mythical belief that one cannot negotiate with dictators.

The widely held belief that Germanywas in fact a bankrupt country before the war and the invasion of Poland is confirmed by Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schacht. What is not widely understood is that even with the looting of Austria’s and Czechoslovakia’s gold, Germany was again/still bankrupt while its Fuhrer planned his New World Order. [15]

Hjalmar Schacht, writes a letter to the Fuhrer about his concerns – and for his pains is sacked. To paraphrase Schacht, his letter describes the financial situation in 1938 as this:

  1. The Reichsbank possesses no more gold or foreign exchange reserves.
  2. The reserves formed by the annexation ofAustria and the calling-in of external securities and domestic gold coins have been used up.
  3. Some six billion Mefo bills [see Part 2] are held outside the Reichsbank [ and cannot be honoured – Ed]
  4. In short, Schacht says the Reichsbank was at the end of its rope.
  5. Hyperinflation and an economy backed by paper money threatened [ the Reich, i.e. we are bankrupt -Ed].

3. Confounding researchers

Bedevilling this topic, as the reader is rapidly appreciating, are the extraordinary contradictions. One is mercilessly frustrated by the persistent inter-changing of measurements and values used.

One authoritative source will use Swiss Gold Francs, where others might use Pounds Sterling and yet others US dollars. This is then further complicated by the date of the book or report – are they using the historical gold price of $35 per oz, or the price current to the decade of the book or paper in question ?

In an attempt to ease matters it might be useful to recall that there are 32,150 Troy ounces in one metric tonne of gold. At $35 per oz this equates to US$ 1,125,250 (or $1.1m) – at1939 prices but which is, fortunately, taken as the standard inter-bank price by most publications (note, not the retail price which is much higher).

Admittedly there are still complications, the Metric tonne, the Imperial tons, ‘short’ tons and ‘long’ tons but for a rough rule of thumb – there being only a few hundred avoirdupois pounds difference in the various definitions –

1 x Metric tonne of gold                  = 32,150  troy ounces of gold

1 x metric tonne (1,000 kilos)     = 2,205 lbs (2,204.623 lbs.US)

1 x Kilogram (1,000 kilos)           = 2,205 lbs, i.e. a metric tonne

1 x UK Imperial ton                       = 2,240 pounds (1,016 kg) ‘long’ ton

1 x US ton                                        = 2,000 pounds (but only 907 kg) ‘short’ ton

 Arguably discrepancies of 200 lbs of gold between the various definitions of tons represent a substantial amount of money, i.e. in the region of US$ 102.60atUS$ 35 per oz. At the normal market price of $ 1,600 per oz the discrepancies become ever more severs, e.g. 200 lbs amounts to a US$ 4.6 m figure ($4,665,600).

However, when the gold in question is being measured not in ounces or in pounds but in tons a broader brush to figures is in the circumstances, acceptable.

Hereafter, all prices will be at $35 per oz, unless stated, and all weights will be in metric tonnes (unless otherwise stated).

To allow for rapid mental conversion of, for example, 50 tons simply convert the tonnage in millions of dollar and add 12%. Thus, 50 tonnes becomes US$ 50 million + 12% making $ 56 million (50 + 6). More precisely,at$35 per oz, 50 tons would be valued at US$ 56,262,500.

In the case of the gold returned to Austria (cited above at 26,187 kilograms), this is equivalent to  26.187 metric tonnes and using the 112% formula (= 26m + 3.12m) for a ball park figure of US$ 30 million.

4. 1939: Pushing East

Hitler pressed his luck still further by invading the other part of Czechoslovia in March 1939, but still no war against Germany was declared.

World War II only properly began with the invasion and rapid conquest of Poland on Sept 1st  which was followed by the dividing up of Poland between Russia and Germany as agreed under the terms of the shocking Ribbentrop Pact signed earlier in 1939. Secret clauses to this Pact envisaged the two ‘socialist’ states of Russia and Germany dividing up and looting Poland. The incentive for both Russia and Germany of conquering Poland was the benefit of allowing them to re-establish their pre-1919 borders.

Russia only joined in the invasion of Poland as a German Ally on Sept 17th when the fighting had all but ceased (an opportunist approach repeated by her declaration of war against Japan the day before Japan surrendered).

The other incentive was Poland’s not inconsiderable gold reserves. According to the 1939 accounts published by the BIS, Poland had US$ 83 million in gold reserves in 1937 (a rise of US$ 8 m from the year before), and Danzig had US$ 5m in gold reserves. More recent Swiss bank and US State Dept sources put the reserves  closer to US$ 64m. In fact, most sources put it at that figure.

The adjacent map for 1939 shows the invasion and partition of Poland. German controlled territory is shown in dark and light blue, Russian red and the division of Poland in sandy/beige.

Germany, however, did not get Poland’s gold and nor, in fact, did Russia for the Polish authorities had quickly moved their reserves overseas.

Danzig (the Polish Corridor) was not so fortunate; its gold reserves of  US$ 5m – some say US$ 4m – were immediate victims of invasion and were confiscated by the Germans.

Fighting the Wehrmacht lasted for only 2 months with the final Polish surrender in the south the country. However, this was time enough for the Polish authorities to travel southwards by truck and train through Rumania, Turkey and into Lebanon, and then finally onto Paris.

Yet another book, “The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century” by Glen Yeadon & John Hawkins, states that when later Romania was overrun (June 1941), some of the Polish gold was discovered and seized.

A further layer to this story has it that Poland’s gold reserves of 75 tons were quote “whisked out from under Nazi noses by a heroic English sea captain.” Apparently, Captain Robert E. Brett’s ship was in the Black Sea at the time, picked up the gold at Constansa in Romania and safely transported it to Istanbul, Turkey.  [16]

If we are to reconcile the Capt. Brett tale and the escape to Lebanon and Paris with “The Nazi Hydra in America:” book we first have to consider the values and the various weights.

If we assume the “75 tons” is correct but it is metric tonnes then the value (using the 112% formula) would be in the region of US$ 84m. This is remarkably close to that stated in the 1940 BIS accounts forPoland at US$ 85 million in fine gold.

The value of US$ 64 m put in the reserves by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the US authorities would put the tonnage closer to 57.2 tonnes (always assuming that ‘tonne’ is the correct base measure). Could the difference 18 tonnes be the amount left by Capt. Brett and later found by the Germans in Romania ?

Unfortunately, a table produced by the World Gold Council shows Poland’s 1935 total to be 75 tonnes of gold so this puts a question mark over the assertion of Polish gold in Romania. [17]

a. Russia and the Baltic States

Under the Ribbentrop Pact Russia had agreed to occupy easternPoland and the Baltic States. If Russia had hoped its invasion would bring it the gold reserves of the Baltic States she was to be disappointed. Lithuania reportedly had US$ 13m; Estonia US$ 15m, and Latvia US$ 15m, at the end of 1937 according to BIS records for 1939 but none of it fell into Soviet hands.

Much of their gold was held by the Bank of England and the Banque of France, both refused to credit the Soviet Union with any of the gold. Sweden on the other hand – and supposedly neutral towards Germany and her allies – immediately made over the gold to Russia that she had held on behalf of the Baltic States (Sweden did not pay back this gold until 1992).

Pivotal to the role of the BIS played for Germany was that gold the BIS held on behalf of the Baltic States was not handed over to Russia and therfore could not assist Russia’s war effort.

Polish gold should have been destined for the USA or Canada but it ended up with Belgian Gold inDakar, in French controlled West Africa.

5. 1940: Thrusting north

It is usually assumed that once Poland was quelled Hitler then turned his attention westwards to France and the Low Countries (June 1940). However, he actually first launched an invasion of both Denmark and Norway in April 1940.

From a naval point of view it is obvious that while Poland gave Germany a stronger command of the Baltic it was still vulnberable to being “bottled up”. Whereas by going north and west Germany’s U-boats and surface raiders had the posts that gave access to the Atlantic and thus to Britain’s supply routes. At the time Britain was only self-sufficient in food stuff to the level of 25% of what was consumed. This compares with the continental average of 90% – 105% (see BIS annual accounts).

Far from being bottled up in the Baltic by minefields laid around the Skagerrak, German naval units could operate in the North Sea and Atlantic and it would be Allied warships that would have to run the gaultlet of minefields and Axis Baltic forces.

In a House of Commons debate (Hansard 16 Apr 1940), regarding the invasion of Denmark and Norway the following answer was given as to the estimated gold reserves of both countries:

  • “According to the latest returns, the gold holdings of the National Banks of Denmark andNorwayamount to round about £13,000,000 and £18,000,000 or £19,000,000, respectively.”

The exchange rate at the time was about $4 to £1, so if Denmark had £13,000,000 (£13m), it would equate to about US$ 52m. Similarly, the £19m reserves of Norway would amount to approx. US$ 76m. “Morgenthau Diary” (Vol. 1) is cited by Arthur Lee Smith as an authoritive source and on page 10, Morgenthau is quoted as giving the 1940 amounts as Norway $88 m and Denmark $51m.[18]

Norway’s finance minister Oscar Torp was able to evacuate all the gold reserves first to Lillehammer where they were picked up the Royal Navy and then to England along with the King and government minister. [19] The invasion of Denmark, a military stepping stone into Norway, was successfully completed in less than six hours and was the shortest military campaign conducted by the Germans during the war. There was not enough time to move the gold reserves or evacuate the Royal family.

Wartime BIS accounts show for 1940 only the 1938 totals for Denmark and Norway. These show Denmark reportedly having US$ 59 million in gold reserves and Norway$ 94 million (in 1938).

6. Blitzkrieg westward

The Wehrmacht’s blitzkrieg though the Low Countries and into France is now the stuff of legend. The conquest of Holland took 4 days (May 10th to May 14th). The conquest of Belgium which began on the same day was concluded by May 28th.

Meanwhile a larger German force – for the Low Countries was merely a “feint” to draw French and British troops north (which it did successfully) – punched straight through the Maginot Line and the Ardennes further south (see Sedan on map) and into the heart of France. [20]

Luxembourg, a tiny Grand Duchy of only 998 sq miles, was used as the launch pad for this unexpected German attack at the “impregnable” Maginot Line at Sedan in the Ardennes. Its success put the Wehrmacht on Route E46 that leads directly into Rheims and then on to Paris (see map).

The area south of Saint Quentin was the soft underbelly of the Anglo-French military posture with the majority of French and British forces situated well to the north posed ready to defend the expected onslaught through Belgium.

Both Belgium and Holland suffered the same fate as the  previous generation’s World War, i.e. they were the funnel for the German advance and their neutrality was once again ignored by German forces. By refusing to re-arm or form a Treaty or Entente with France and Britain their victim status was guaranteed.

At the time of the German invasion (10 May 1940), only a small amount of gold is said to have remained in the Netherland Bank’s vaults, and the story of this amount is told in Part 2 as the Royal Navy (reportedly Cmdr James Hill) tried to rescue it from Rotterdam.

A modern Swiss report into events (Switzerlandand Gold Transactions in the Second World War – Interim Report, states that;

  • “The Netherlands managed to transfer part of its gold reserves to London and New York prior to the outbreak of war. The gold remaining in Amsterdamwas shipped to Berlin for the Reichsbank and reimbursed with paper currency. Gold coins and bar from the Netherlands were valued at $137.2 million.” (Sub-heading II/1. National Bank of theNetherlands. Footnote 81).

According to the National Bank of Belgium its gold reserves amounted to some 600 tonnes before the outbreak. One third of these were transferred to the UK, another third found its way to the US and Canada. The balance (approx 200 tonnes) was kept in Belgium to fulfill the statutory cover requirements in respect of the banknotes. As the situation deteriorated in early 1940 Belgium moved the remainder, 198 tonnes of fine gold, to the Banque of France. [21]

Originally Belgium had loaded the 198 tonnes of fine gold (packed into 4,944 chests) at Ostend and they were then taken to the South of France.

In view of the rapid advance of the German troops throughFrance, the Banque de France informed the French admiralty at the beginning of June 1940 that the Belgian gold stored at Bordeaux and Libourne needed to be urgently shipped overseas.

The gold was taken to Lorient, the nearest naval port, where the chests were loaded on to the auxiliary cruiser Victor-Schoelcher. Initially, the gold was to have been brought ashore in the US but the ship never crossed the Atlantic Ocean. On 18 June 1940 the ship weighed anchor, and ten days later, after a hazardous voyage, it entered the port of Dakar in French West Africa.

Addendum:  At the outbreak of World War II the newly completed ship,  the SS Pasteur was also loaded with gold ( 200 tons), from the reserves of the Bank of France and then transpaorted to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada,

From Dakar the gold was transported to the military base of Thiès, 40 miles inland. It did not stay there because the French colonial authorities considered Thiès too close to the sea and they feared a possible invasion by the enemy (British and Free French forces).

Therefore, they decided to move the Belgian gold further inland, to Kayès, on the edge of the Sahara, some 500 km from Dakar (today the contry is called Mali). However, it was not long before Berlin began to pressurise Vichy France for gold. What happened next may have been because of a clause in the surrender/armistice agreement or it may have been for another ‘technical’ reason but France decided in 1940 to send Belgium’s gold and not French gold to Berlin.

The logistics were this: the gold traveled by train downstream of the Niger river to Koulikoro in Mali and then by boat toTimbuktu and to around the region of Gao. Koulikoro is some 900 miles from Timbuktu and the distance to Gao another 400 miles.

The distance northwards across the Sahara to Colomb-Bechar (the southern most point of the West Algerian railroad) is approx 1,200 miles and the distance from Colomb-Bechar to the Vichy port of Oran on the Mediterranean coast is 240 miles. What the Germans, dressed in mufti, scheduled to take 2 months actually took 2 years.

What is omitted from the National Bank of Belgium narrative is that Poland’s gold reserves were also moved to the Bank of France in 1939 for safety and that is too was also shipped to Dakar along with Belgium’s (see above).

Occupied by the Wehrmacht and wanting its PoWs returned, Francewas not in a strong position to negotiate. Prime Minister Pierre Laval agreed the transfer in late 1940 to the Reichsbank of the Belgian gold as an “atonement.” [22]

It took until May 1942 for all the gold be transferred to the Reichsbank where Reich Marshall Hermann Göring had all the gold bars melted down and ‘hallmarked’ with the Prussian Mint dated 1936.

A map of the very circuitous routes – one using aircraft flying from Kayes to Casablanca ready for onward transportation to Marseilles and then Berlin, the other a 1,000 miles by river boat on the River Niger to Bourem, via Koulikoro and Timbuktu in Mali can be found at:  From here a convoy of trucks – probably following the old salt-gold camel route – drove north across the Sahara into Algeria.

Once the convoy has reached the railway town of Colomb-Bechar the gold could be more easily shipped using the narrow gauge Mediterranean-Niger-Railway, built in the 1930s, to the large French port of Oran. From there it was flown to Marseilles and then by train to Berlin (one account states that in total 198 tons in Belgian gold was recovered for the Nazi cause while another states the amount to be 240 tons – worth about $ 269m).

When France signed the June 1940 Armistice the country was divided into two zones – a German occupied and controlled north and a compliant south known asVichy France. Gold and hard currency reserves of the central banks of Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium and France should have been available for utilisation by the Nazi Reichsbank. However, only Luxembourg with its reserves of US$ 4.8 m was actually taken over by the German war machine. French gold reserves at Dakar seem to have escaped Nazi acquisition because of some technicality involving a Hague Convention (and is perhaps linked to the signing of an Armistice).

Some of the competing variations in gold values alleged to have been looted by the Nazis are listed in the table below. The variations are so large as to make a general comment regarding the depth of the plunder impossible.

Holland, which had US$ 137.2 million in 1939 (other sources put the figure at$163m), [23] managed to evacuate most of its gold to England and the US, though some appears to have been recovered by the Germans in 1940 fromRotterdam harbour (see Part 2).

The book by Glen Yeadon, John Hawkins says that the Nazis recovered 11 tonnes from the Rotterdam harbour.

Wikipedia states that $ 193m in gold was expropriated from the Netherlands but the BIS annual report states that Dutch gold reserves were US$ 995m in 1938 and this had reduced (perhaps due to shipping to the UK and US) to US$ 690m in 1939.

Leaving aside this last point (BIS, and the discord over the amount preceding it), it may prove more useful to consider the Nazis gained control of a minimum of $ 137 million of Netherland’s gold if only because the tonnage restored after the war, i.e. 1946 onwards, runs into thousands of Kilograms, which in British and American weights translates into millions of Troy ounces and hundreds of tons of gold to each country. For instance, Sweden alone repaid 13 tons of gold to the Allied Gold Commission.

After Britain, France was the wealthiest of the all continental central banks with a peacetime gold reserve of some US$ 2,435m.  Before its surrender, the French government was able to successfully spirit away 100% of French gold in  3,000 cases  to Canada in March 1940.

Complimenting the gold reserves in mainland France were “off-shore” gold accounts in French Martinique which stored $ 245 million and a further $ 260m held in the Federal Reserve in New York. Facilities in Dakar and Casablanca, in Africa, were also used as depositories’ by the Bank of France but no figures are given for their pre-war holdings. [24]

According to “Hitler’s gold . . . Nazi loot” by Arthur Smith, the French cruiser Émile Bertin arrived in Martinique in June 1940, with 286 tons of gold on board from the Bank of France. [25] The information comes from microfilmed German Records (Ref ‘T 501’) which by 1940 probably had control of the Bank of French ledgers, but it is not clear if this 286 tons (tonnes presumably) was an addition or represented the entire Martinique holding. Applying the 112% formula this would make the gold worth US$ 320.32 million (all these gold values are based on the inter-bank price of $35 per oz).

Troops in Operation Torch (Nov 1942) would have overrun Casablanca in the first few days and any gold would have been quickly recovered. The entire Martinique holding would also be re-allocated to the Allies once the invasion ofNorth Africa had begun and the end of the Vichy Government was inevitable.

What is indisputable about the amount of gold in Dakar is that it held the $ 64m from Poland and $ 198m from Belgium. Hence the table above showing the Nazi control of Belgium’s $198m gold is solely due to the Vichy Government in France which, under pressure from Berlin, agreed to bring back the gold back to the Banque de France and transfer to the Reichsbank. This act of collaboration saved France’s gold but sacrificed Belgium’s.

For the Vichy government returning the gold from Central Africa to Algiers and from there to Marseille was no easy transportation task. Even with the Luftwaffe making many crews and aircraft available to fly some 99 creates of gold from Dakar to Algeria via Casablanca (see River Niger secondary route above) the operation was not fully completed until May 1942 – barely 4 months before the Allied advance at El Alamein  (Oct 1942) and Operation Torch (Nov 1942). [26]

Inexplicably, Poland’s gold remained wholly, or to a goodly extent intact and  after Operation Torch of 1942 (Allied landing in North Africa) it was rediscovered by a Polish Bank official and it was then shipped to the USA.

Germany’s amassed gold reserves – its own and other countries – totalled in the region of $ 581 million by the end of 1940 and its takeover of the Balkans and countries on its south eastern flank would yield yet more gold.

7. Lebensraum

All of the above nuances and complications happened after the Fall of France and after the Battle of Britain (Sept 1940).

There is nothing in the records to show that Hitler was in the least bit interested in gold or the financing methods for his war (his crusade), except for the broad brush strokes of a military build necessary to enable invasion and realise his ambition of lebensraum. He left those details to minions with more expertise than he possessed.

He appears to have had vague ideal of a self-stuffiest Germanybased on conquered lands and depopulated nations. Lebensraum meaning “living space”, in terms of land and raw materials, was essential for the Greater Germany Hitler had outlined in his book Mein Kampf, but the term Lebensraum is believed to have been coined by Friedrich Ratzel in 1901.

France and Britain, it was reasoned, had their need for ‘expansion’ satisfied by numerous colonies which had brought both countries greatwealth – this was an option not open to the late developing German state.Germany’s route to greatness would have to be eastwards and this would mean the confiscation of Slavic lands whose peoples were not on a par with the Aryans race.

Nazis policy was to kill, deport, or enslave the Polish, Russian and other Slavic populations. It also entailed the evacuation for “Germanification” of all blond haired Polish children. Programmes included the rounding up of such children who were then sent to Germanyto be adopted by German parents (enforced adoption). ‘Lebensborn’ was another racially pure programme aimed at encouraging ‘suitable’ women to be made pregnant by suitably Aryan German soldiers. This was a problem specifically in countries such as Norway.

The first phase of this enslavement had been the Ribbentrop Pact, which was the buying-off of Russia. The second part was the invasion and confiscation ofPoland. By late 1939 this had also been achieved. The third and final part would be the invasion of Russia itself and it conquest. The entire urban populations of both countries were to be exterminated by starvation or murdered en mass.

The vacuum would be filled with German nationals incentivised to take over the expropriated land set up factories and provide an agricultural surplus to feed Germany.

8. The Balkans

However, before the third and final part (the conquest of Russia) could be put into action German concerns about their vulnerability to a Russian counter-attack from the North East and/or through countries to the South East had to be addressed.

Throughout 1940 Germany mounted a campaign of courtship towards Romania, Hungary, Bulgariaand Slovakia (the rump of Czechoslovakia). Nazi Germany offered economic aid to Slovakia and military protection and Soviet territory to Romania. [27]

Germany also resorted to cajoling and pressurising reluctant states – and in difficult cases the organising of insurrections in the streets leading to the appointment of a more favourable new government, e.g.Romania. The aim was to secure raw materials (especially Romania’s oilfields), but also the critical transit rights for German troops.  By early 1941 Bulgaria had also joined the Axis and measures were in place for these sympathetic Balkan states to pay a contributions towards both occupation troop costs and the costs for the invasion of Russia.

German concerns about securing the south eastern flank in the Balkans were realised when her ally, Italy, failed in her efforts to conquer Greece in the autumn and winter of 1940 – 1941. Albania, which had already been invaded and annexed by Italy in 1939, should have made an invasion of Greece very much easier. In the same month as the Battle of Britain (Sept 1940), Italy invaded Egypt from its colony in Libya but as with her invasion of Greece her German ally had to come to her rescue.

The map above shows the secured northern and southern flanks of Greater Germany (darker blue) of 1940, i.e. Denmark, Norway and Finland in the north and to the south Albania, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. (The light blue areas on the map represents the penetration by the Wehrmacht into Russia in 1941).

Nazi Germany had gained political and industrial leverage over Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and by 1941 the Reichsbank had taken over these country’s gold reserve accounts and was operating them from Berlin. One year after the defeat of France, Germany was poised militarily to capture the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and capture its gold reserves.

Most historians give the impression that Mussolini’s ego got the better of him and he felt he needed to parade victories as often as Hitler had done. Wishing to avoid the ‘junior partner’ label precipitated Italy’s invasion of Greece in Oct 1940 but the Italians were thrown back to the Albanian border. Germany feared that the Allies would use bases in Greece to attack Romania’s oilfields which the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe heavily depended upon.

At the same time, as a prelude to invasion, German instigated street insurrections failed to work inYugoslavia in the same way as they had in other adjacent countries. Parallels might exist or be drawn between the street uprising of the Arab Spring in 2011 – 2012 and popular uprising in former Soviet satellite countries some years before, e.g. Ukraine, 2004, Georgia, 2003 (all have been acused at one time or another of being instigated from outside forces).

April 1941 saw the invasion of Yugoslavia on three fronts by German,  Italian, and Hungarian armies. Ten days later after stubborn resistance Yugoslavia surrendered. In the same month Greece was invaded by Germany using Bulgaria as the spring board. Rebuffed earlier by Franco rejection of an Axis attack on Gibraltar, German forces could at last threaten Britain’s Middle Eastern outposts in the eastern Mediterranean.

The amount of purchasing power it brought to the Third Reich is shown in the Table (right). At this point the picture becomes clouded, indeed, very confused.

Firstly, the previous reference texts relied upon omit useable details for Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Croatia. Only three sources, the BIS, the World Gold Council, and one of unknown veracity / reliability have published figures for this regiob and era (displayed in adjacent Table). Secondly, where data is available, the gold and monetary reserves of these countries appear to be used by the Reichsbank to pay for supplies and meet debts incurred by the Third Reich. For instance, the Reichsbank used Belgian gold to pay $53m to Romania for oil supplied to Germany. Thirdly, it was not simply the purchase of raw materials from neutral countries but increasingly finished goods.

Depleted production capacity within Germanywas offset by factories set up in conquered countries – much like in the film Schindler’s List where he is forced to move his factory and staff around Europe.

a. Buying production capacity

Which brings us to the larger question, namely, what was Germany getting in exchange for the gold it was looting from across Europe.

On the larger scale, Germany was funding the setting up of production facilities just over the border in Switzerland to escape aerial attacks. Switzerland herself was, by the closing years of the war, rashly supplying large quantities of finished goods to the Nazi regime, e.g. ball bearings, gauges and optical equipment. A paragraph from the EizenstatReport is quoted here but divided into its 3 main constituent parts: [28]

  1. Foreign Economic Administration (FEA) experts noted that the most important products exported to Germany required the exceptionally high degree of skill and precision for which Swiss watch and machine tool industries were famous, and, in fact, some of the products could not be produced at all in Germanyor not in sufficient quantities to meet wartime needs.
  2. In addition, Switzerland annually exported to Germany one-half billion kilowatts of electricity, or about 40% of the total power supply of southern Germany, and Swiss hydro-electric power annually produced 16,000 tons of aluminum and aluminum products for Germany during the war.
  3. Moreover, the unprecedented use by Germany of the Swiss railway to transport goods to and from Italy (apart from the transit of actual materials which Switzerland banned) allowed large quantities of raw materials, foodstuffs, chemicals, and other materials to transported to Italy and permitted Germany to mitigate some of the effects of the Allied control of the Mediterranean Sea.”

This one paragraph tells us how damaging Swiss conduct was to world peace and how the lust for monetary gain negated their sense of morality. With Russia closing in on Germany from the east and the Americans and British from the west, to be caught supplying a defeated nation with 40% of the electricity to prolong the war was diplomatically unforgiveable and commercially inexcusably stupid. But such was the lure of gold that many of the normal moral taboos appear to have been abandoned by the Swiss. It is a matter of public record that in April 1945, only days away from Hitler’s suicide, the Reichsbank was still moving gold to the Swiss National Bank and the BIS.

World War II cost 200,000 airmen their lives trying to bomb Germany’s aircraft and ball bearing factories, its railway system and oil capacity to a standstill. Without Switzerland’s long collaboration with Nazi Germany could that bombing campaign toll have been reduced to 100,000 lives ?

After the war an unrepentant Swiss banking system insisted that it owned Germany production facilities both inside Switzerland and inside Germany(and in Italy too). Loans it had made to Germany to set up factories in other countries it also claimed as Swiss assets even though they were paid for by stolen gold and blood gold from concentration camps. The Swiss resisted attempts beginning in 1946 to use the value of those factory assets to recompense the many ravaged countries and feed millions of refugees (displaced persons).

Professor Jean Ziegler of Geneva and the Sorbonne universities in his book “Switzerland, the Gold and the Dead” (1997) that supposedly neutral, Switzerland was more than happy to take German gold in return for hard currency to buy weapons.

  • “I consider it proven that the Swiss contributed significantly to the prolonging of the Second World War.”

Professor Ziegler asserts that his country enabled the Nazis to extend the Second World War by two years. In his view the war should have ended soon after the German defeats at Stalingrad and in North Africa. [29]  Without Swiss foreign currency dealings (converting gold into hard currency), Walther Funk, head of the Reichsbank also believed the Third Reich would “last no longer than two months.”

Hundreds of thousands of civilian causalities could have been avoided if the Swiss had not continued to finance Hitler’s war of aggression – and most certainly after 1943 the V1 and V2 deaths in England could have been averted and the retalitory firestorms Hamburg (1943) and Dresden (1945) need not have happened. When ‘collateral damage’ is such a hot political issue today, Swiss induced collateral damage’ is on a scale that is quite unimaginable and unforgiveable.

9. Occupation costs

Tax, that most innocuous, legitimate and legal method of funding  government schemes was put to good use to finance Germany’s war with Russia. Making countries pay for German forces billeted in their towns and country not only relieved the burden on the Reichsbank but added to Germen financal reserves.

When, for example, the French or Dutch paid for goods and paid a sales tax, or a purchase tax, or an income tax on wages it all found its way to Berlin. Those that had no work were allowed to starve, saving the Reich more money, and those that could only find work inside Germanyboosted production and Nazi GDP.

Germany set the exchange rate in its favour for all the countries it occupied so it paid, in essence, only a fraction of their true cost. Germany also altered the gold price – as had many countries previously in the 1930s to assist in measures to overcome the economic depression then being felt.

Germany appointed Reichskomissars to every country within the Third Reich and taxes were levied (a process that is being repeated in the present 2012 crisis to ensure that Greece complies). In the case of Holland 50 million Reichsmarks (RM) per month were demanded of which 10 m Reichsmarks had to be paid in gold. The website “As they saw it” states;

  •  Nazi exploitation of the Netherlands and of the Netherlanders for the purpose of winning the war was continued and intensified in 1941. Since the German occupation of the Netherlands the State debt had increased by nearly $100,000,000 per month. Expenditures for 1941 are estimated at $1,875,000,000; of this amount $875,000,000 was absorbed by maintaining the German army of occupation and paying other expenses of occupation. It was believed that there were 1,500,000 German troops quartered in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year.

Even by today’s standards $ 100 million per month is a significant sum of money, in 1940 it must has seemed astronomical.

By 1941 the larger of the countries invaded were paying Berlin 10 billion Reichsmarks per annum – a figure that would only escalate in the coming years.

The table below shows the yearly amounts paid by all “occupied  countries” recorded in BIS accounts. Included in the figures given for “other countries” are the occupation costs paid byNorway, Greece, Croatia and Serbia.

It also includes the “war contributions” of Bohemia and Moravia and of the Governor-Generalship of Poland (and probably also the payments made to the Wehrmacht by the Ukraine Central Bank from March 1942 and by the Ostland Central Bank from April 1943).

The local upkeep cost for the German troops stationed in 1). Finland, 2). Hungary, 3). Slovakia, 4). Romania and 5). Bulgaria appears to have been debited directly to the respective clearing accounts by the Reichsbank.

The aggregate occupation costs paid by Norway up to the end of 1944 seems to have been about N.Kr. 10 – 11 billion, the equivalent of some 6,000 million Reichsmarks, i.e. 6 billion RM.

Greece would appear to have paid Germany about RM 3,300 million from April 1941 to December 1942 to cover occupation costs. But getting payment from Greece which did not have the financial or commercial infrastructure to fund German and Italian troops, proved difficult. The Third Reich appears to have used the Bank of Greece almost as a corner shop and to make mandatory wholesale purchases under order from the Wehrmacht (payments obtained through “Degriges”, the Deutsch-Griechische Warenausgleichsgesellschaft).

The debt total in 1943 was 1,499 billion Drachma – 318 billion Drachma in “interim payments” towards occupation costs and 1,068 billion Drachma in interest free loans. By the time German occupation ended Greece had paid Germany 3.4 trillion Drachma for the privilege of being occupied.

The amount paid by Croatia for its occupation troop costs during 1943 approached RM 600 million, though the 1944 BIS source also states that some of this amount might have gone to Italy(but no explanation is given) and in the first six months of 1944 a further RM 570 million was paid by Croatia.

The BIS accounts for 1944 has no figures for Serbia but a report issued in Belgrade in December 1944 placed the total costs of occupation paid by Yugoslavia as a whole since March 1941 at Dinars 82 billion,

10. Russia

Twelve month after defeating France, Hitler’s blitzkrieg was unleashed on its former ally, the Soviet Union (June 1940 and June 1941 respectively). As can be seen by the detail in the above text the Nazi regime was active, successful and very busy securing all the countries on its south eastern flank. Now was the moment to launch a surprise attack on Russia, Operation Barbarossa.

Finland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italycombined with Germany in the attack involving 3 million men. Later those forces would be reinforced by “legions” (a term for a company of about 1,000 strong) from occupied countries such as the Baltic States, France, Spain and Holland. The Spanish Blue Division and the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism, the Croatia Volunteers Regiment etc, all became part of the Waffen SS divisions (see Annex A for list of other legions).

While Hitler’s personal attention and ambition was the crushing of all things Soviet his subordinates in the Reichsbank and Nazi financial advisers were very much aware of the treasures Russia held for the German war machine.

The Soviet Union had almost limitless quantities of raw materials; from diamonds and gold down to the most mundane of ores and food stuffs, e.g. wheat. Published central bank gold reserves for 1935 showed Russia to have 7,456 metric tonnes of fine gold. [30] BIS accounts for 1937 reveal that the gold Russia mined that year exceeded its GNP by $ 28m. Russian gold exports through London in the 1930s were valued at about $200 million per the year.

a. ‘Moscow Gold’

Only a year earlier, Nov 1936, Russia had been the beneficiary of panic caused by the Spanish civil war. The central bank inMadrid held the world’s 4th largest gold reserves estimated at US$ 750 million in 1936. With Franco’s army approaching the majority of this, circa 70%, was shipped to Moscow for safe keeping (27.4% amounting to 174 tonnes of fine gold, i.e. 193 tonnes of crude gold, was shipped to the Bank of France). The discrepancy between fine gold and crude gold is probably due to the fact that most of Spain’s gold reserves were held in the form of foreign coins (70% were British gold sovereigns and thus had a market price many times their face value). Spanish gold reserves included only 64 ingots.

Stalinist Russia, which was one of the Republic’s arms suppliers and was paid in what has since become known as Moscow gold. France too supplied military materials and provisions and in exchange for gold Spain received 3,922 million francs (approximately US$ 196 million), with which to buy them (this implies that the gold shipped to Russia had a face value of $ 640 million). However, BIS accounts refer obliquely to Spanish ‘gold movements’ in 1938 as being only in the region of $200 million.

Whatever the true reason for moving 510 tonnes of gold to Russia, it was an attraction that must have been known to the Reichsbank as indeed it was to the BIS which noted that in 1935 Spain had gold reserves of $ 2,255 million ($2.2 billion) – gold reserves that by 1940 and 1941 BIS accounts reveal as shrinking to nothing (Spain is no longer listed with other nations after 1940). [31]

Whether the Republican government of Spain actually got full value for it millions in gold is still open to speculation. [32] According to Wikipedia, Spain never did gets it gold reserves returned by the Soviet Union, which claimed, in 1956, that Spain still owed $50,000,000 for the armaments sent (which is unlikely given the low level of support and the contrasting bills presented to Franco by Italy and $215,000,000 at 1939 prices by Germany). [33]

Bank of Spain functionaries also retrieved at the time the Bank’s silver valued in 1936 at 656m Spanish pesetas (P 656,708,702), which was later sold to the United States and France between June 1938 and July 1939 for a sum slightly exceeding US$ 20 million (a portion of the silver was confiscated by French authorities and Nazi Germany might have gained some of this amount with the defeat of France in June 1940).

It is not clear how much Russia actually suffered in terms of looted gold and silver or its reserves (probably none for the latter. But religious icons that had survived Stalinist repression would have been a clear target for the art snatch squads of the Wehrmacht.

Notwithstanding this uncertainty what is clear is thatby the summer of 1943 the German Wehrmacht found itself stalled and then in retreat– a retreat that was protracted through Poland and Germany’s south eastern flank during 1944 and ending in Berlin in the Spring of 1945.

11. Cultural cost

Hitler’s forces brought down a ‘scorched earth’ policy upon Russia on both sides of Barbarossa, that is to say during the advance to Moscow and then again during the retreat to Berlin. Notable confiscations of wealth are confined to the Ukraine’s central bank, as mentioned above, and smaller regional banks and depositories in Belarus. But Nazi thefts were not restricted to gold or silver; inPoland it is estimated that Germany stole 43% of its cultural heritage, its irreplaceable manuscripts and tapestries.

  • “The total cost of Nazi theft and destruction of Polish art is estimatedat$ 20 billion, or an estimated 43% of Polish cultural heritage; over 516,000 individual art pieces were looted, including 2,800 paintings by European painters; 11,000 paintings by Polish painters; 1,400 sculptures; 75,000 manuscripts; 25,000 maps; 90,000 books, including over 20,000 printed before 1800; and hundreds of thousands of other items of artistic and historical value. Germany still has a great deal Polish material looted during World War II. For decades there have been mostly futile negotiations between Poland and Germany concerning the return of the looted property.”

Hundreds of museums all over occupied Europe- itself a treasure house of the arts and the aesthetic – were ransacked and artwork stolen. Unique collections and archives were scooped up and shipped back to Germany– many never to be seen again, some to mysteriously appear in Western art collections. A Russian commission put the figure at1,148,908 items of lost artworks in Russia alone with perhaps the Amber Room from the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, being one of the most infamous thefts.

The cultural cost must also include the damage done to the Jewish and Slavic psyche and to the consciousness of both nations that did nothing during World War II or honourably fought against Nazism. Perhaps that is why, although repugnant, Nazism is still an obsessive subject to this day.

12. The Final Reckoning

By the summer of 1944 even the pro-German directors at the BIS could see that for Germanythe war was all but lost. It was obvious to the Allies thatby 1944 that Germanyhad already run out of its own money – its war chest of $70,000,000 long since been exhausted – but the German Swiss Trade Agreement was still in force and operating. Somehow the Reichsbank had managed to send (probably using gold requisitioned from the Dutch) $ 120,000,000 in gold to Switzerland in the previous year, ie 1943 (“Hitler’s gold: the story of the Nazi war loot” by Arthur Lee Smith, “Swiss Connection”, p 62, Ref Omgus AG, 1945- 46, Heath to Robinson Feb 1946).

Nazi Germany and the BIS appear to have used “sight accounts” and “earmarked accounts” of Germany and other countries to fund the war. There is a suspiscion that the Reichsbank might convert one type of account into another giving it greater access to other countries gold and to then be able to spend it how it chose. To explain these terms here might prove a distraction so they have been relegated to Annex B.

The BIS interpreted its methods and protocols purposefully. They could grant more credit to Germany’s Reichsbank by accepting the ‘sight account’ of others had been credited to the Reichsbank. The BIS then felt free to provide gold and hard currency as demanded of them. One possibility is thatconfiscated gold would be transferred to the Reichsbank ledgers where a manipulative or sight account would be opened up in the name of the country enabling it to be transformed and it would lose it original identity.

Gold was accepted by the BIS that had been transferred from the central banks of Argentina, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungaryand Norway. The intermingling of ownership caused by sight accounts allowed Germany a greater freedom of operation in capital and currency markets. It could claim, for instance, that the hard currency requested was intended for the Bank of Norway wishing to import much needed materials.

What can be said of the BIS during the war is that:

  • The BIS sold gold to the Reichsbank on a numerous occasions.
  • The BIS know or suspected the gold traded did not legitimately belong to Germany.
  • The BIS operated in concert with the SNB (Swiss National Bank) to store and distribute Nazi gold.
  • Germany relied on the BIS (and the SNB) throughout the war – unlike the Allies.
  • The BIS traded in blood gold, gold it knew was suspect – Raubgold, stolen gold and Totengold, gold taken from dead slave labourers / extermination camps victims.
  • Overall the BIS sold a total of 5,479 Kilograms of fine gold to the Reichsbank.
  • New deposits of fine gold totalling 13,542 Kilograms were received by the BIS from the Reichsbank.
  • Of the 13,542 Kilograms, 9,649 Kilos was transferred to the BIS in various amounts to the national banks of Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria Portugal and the SNB.
  • The remaining 3,894 kilos remained in the possession of the BIS at the end of the war.
  • Reichsbank was still making gold payments in April 1945 and the Swiss were still taking the money.

The question of Argentina’s gold reserves being linked to the Third Reich is interesting as it was among only a very few number of nations which saw their gold reserves climb during the war before falling, or in some instances remaining high, e.g. Switzerland.

Argentina’s Gold Reserves (BIS Annual Accounts 1935 – 1949) US$m
Year 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947


501 469 431 466 353

– –

– –

939 1,111 1,351 1,185 319

Bolivia, another country that fell under scrutiny and asset freezing action by the US during World War II is not listed in any of the BIS accounts for 1938 – 1947 making comparisons difficult.

Hitler’s outrageous dreams of conquest cost Europe$ 1,140.9 million in gold alone, and when the ‘occupations costs’ levied on the population of around $ 8 billion are included this rises to $  9.1 billion ($9,149.9 million).

This total of over US$ 9 billion applies only to occupied nations, the gold expended by the UK, Russia and USA in the prosecution of the war dwarfs even this huge amount.

a.  Lunar lanscape

For Europe generally, the money was irredeemable and irreplaceable. Once spent it could not be recaptured – goods and services had been provided for the money. Only a fraction would ever be recovered and only a further fraction would be forced out of the hands of those governments, e.g. Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, which the Nazis had been paid in stolen gold. These few recipient countries must have guessed, if not known, by the large quantities entailed, that it could not be Germany’s own money.

Hitler and Nazism had bankrupted all of Europe. Even his supplier nations -Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal,S pain, and Turkey etc. suffered economic hardship and currency stresses in the post-war period. Every country, including Germany, was the losers. A breakdown of gold stolen by country is given in a Table found in Annex C.

The practical implications of war invariably means added hardships; livestock neglected or slaughtered; fields not ploughed; no harvests to gathered in. Workforces depleted by death, torture or maiming lead to  and factories, farms, fishing fleets and coal mines etc working at reduced capacity. Europe could not feed herslf nor warm herself and in many places half of all homes were damaged and uninhabitable.

Denmark which suffered only slightly under Germans occupation had, for instance, 300,000 German refugees or DPs at the end of 1945. To feed them meant they could no longer export their food surplus. The essential imported agricultural feedstuffs for farmers could no longer be afforded. Britain was paying to feed over 1 million former Wehrmacht soldiers and Kreigmarine sailors, plus refugees  and DPs in their Military Zone of responsibility after 1945 (northern Germany) – this was at a time when Britain hadn’t enough money left to buy food for its own people.

  • “At the end of 1938 Europe (without the U.S.S.R.) had gold reserves amounting to about $10,400 million. Ten years later, by the end of 1948, the corresponding reserves were about half as high — not exceeding $5,300 million.”
  • The United Kingdom has a little more than half its holdings (from $3,450 million at the end of September 1938 to $1,610 million at the end of 1948) while Switzerland has practically doubled its holdings (from $700 million at the end of 1938 to $1,390 million at the end of 1948).
  • These two countries, together with Belgium, now hold $3,620 million or 70%, of Europe’s gold.” – BIS annual accounts (p153).

Yet the same BIS source lists – but on another page – that Britain has gold reserves  of just US$ 1 million – in fact, this was at a time when France and the Benelux countries were recorded as having had over $200 million repaid to each. Britain had troops stationed in Germany and 100,000 in Palestine. Switzerland faced none of these military peace time costs

Germany and the Allies held millions of prisoners-of-war who were part of the over 7 million individuals (displaced persons and alien refugees/nationals), on the move within the borders of defeated Germanyin 1945. All had to be housed and fed.

European Recovery Programme of 1948, more popularly known as Marshall Aid, handed out billions of US dollars to devastated European nations that tendered for the grants. The $2.7 billion that Britain received was comparable to the money expended during the war. Germany which received a lesser amount ($1.7 billion) was nonetheless put in a better position than she had been prior to war being declared in Sept 1939. Germany had spent other countries’ money more than her own. She, together with the US and other countries were able to export in teh folllowing years manufactured goods to countries of the Empire which before the war had been closed markets to them (a condition of the 1945 Washington Loan Agreement).

When  National Socialism (Nazi Party) came into power in Germany the amount of currency notes in circulation was RM 3.9 billion (at the beginning of 1933). By the end of 1938 this figure had increased to RM 8.6 billion and in the spring of 1948 it had risen still further to RM 65 billion. With wage rates effectively frozen throughout the war years in Germany, the BIS observes:

  • As a result of the redundancy of circulating media after 1945, the currency became less and less useful as a medium of exchange; but it was still needed for the payment of money wages, taxes and rents as well as for the purchase of the meagre official rations — not to speak of the transactions in the black market — since it is almost impossible to do without money in a modern country. It must be said, however, that the currency in existence could no longer serve as a unit of account and, of course, even less as a store of value. The German economy was increasingly run by way of “barter”; private individuals and firms had to learn how to carry out so-called “compensation affairs”, which were complicated, mostly illegal, and, therefore, costly.

The dollars of the Marshall Aid was ‘good money’, it restored confidence and drove out bad currency.

It took until Sept 1945 for the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to offer to, “cooperate unreservedly with such central banks as had notified it that they were looking for monetary gold of which Germany had deprived them during the occupation of their respective countries.”

But the actualitie was not real ‘cooperation’ with the conquering forces and nor was it ‘unreserved.’ By the time the day of reckoning had arrived the BIS was found to have diversified. Far from being a mere conduit for the smooth transfer of gold payments, as laid down in the Young and Dawes Plan, the BIS was an active international merchant banker and investment house. It believed it had permission to engage in these types of financial operations:

  • “At the time, these operations gave rise to a series of investments and during the war the Reichsbank continued to effect transfers in the form of remittances of gold or Swiss francs (against Reichsmarks) corresponding to the interest earned on these investments together with a very limited repayment of capital.”

13. Profit – a Swiss vice

Juding actual deeds rather than words or relying on promises is the surest way to objectively assess a person or a country’s intentions. The words that best describe Switzerland’s intentions and probity can be summed up ain a few harsh words Unrepentant, Unashamed, Unapologetic, Self-serving and not in a small way contrite.

The  BIS and SNB were jointly party to the handling – if not laundering – of over US$ 500 million in gold alone. The promises of full co-operation and restitution never materialised and only a small fraction was paid over to the Allies by the Swiss. The deceitfulness, deception and downright dishonesty of the Swiss authorities persisted after the surrender of Germany and well beyond the bounds of acceptable human behaviour.

In the face of mass starvation and decimated economies, the BIS records making dividend payments 33.4 million Swiss gold francs which can only have come directly out of profits made. The following extract is taken from BIS annual accounts for just one year:

  • After deduction of the looted gold received from the Reichsbank, the amounts transferred from Germany have still been sufficient to cover almost the whole of the interest earned on the Reichsmark investments up to 31st March 1945, the last date to which such interest has been brought to account.
  • During the period from 1st September 1939 to 31st March 1948 the Bank has been able, even after deducting the gold to be restituted, to increase the total of its net assets in gold and currencies other than Reichsmarks by over 21 million Swiss gold francs. In addition, the Bank distributed as dividend in respect of the years 1939-40 to 1943-44, amounts totalling 33.4 million Swiss gold francs.

The latter paragraph (“even after deducting”) reflects either a the high level of profiteering in a supposed not-for-profit agency working on behalf of national governments, or the unwillingness to recognise that much of the gold handled was blood money.

The 18th Annual Report of the BIS goes on to explain their long investment of millions of US dollars in Nazi German in these terms:

  • “Funds invested in Germany in execution of the Hague Agreements of 1930 rose from 291.2 million Swiss gold francs on 31st March 1948 to 297.2 million on 31st March 1949. This  increase of 6 million, already announced in the preceding Report, reflects the incorporation in the Bank’ s claim against the Reichsbank of the part of the gold restituted by the Bank [BIS] for its own account under the Agreement of 13th May  1948 which had not already been included in the balance sheet asat 31st March 1948.” – page 159 – 216.

Throughout the wartime period and afterwards, the BIS made astronomically large profits by comparisons of the day and the Directors received handsome fees.

Net Profit after all deductions for wages and costs in 1938 were 9 million Swiss gold francs or approx US$ 9m.

The 1948 Profit & Loss Account for the BIS reveals that on a turnover of 11.7 million Swiss gold francs, it set aside it profits of 9.5m in a ‘suspense account’ of which, “500,000 Swiss gold francs [were diverted] to an account for exceptional costs of administration.”

The level of BIS investment in pre-war Germany can be noted in this rueful comment concerning the suspension of interest payments in the post-1945 era:

  • “ . . . It must be emphasised that although the surplus for the year is almost comparable in amount with those shown in the years prior to the war, it is derived to a much smaller extent from income of a regular nature and to a much greater measure from income arising from occasional operations. This position is the result of the suspension of the interest on the funds invested by the Bank in Germany in 1930-31 in application of the provisions of the Hague Agreements. It is to be expected, therefore, that there will be wider fluctuations in the financial results achieved than was previously the case.”

14. Nazi rejection of gold

At the heart of Hitler’s new world order lies a contradiction. Paradoxically it was the stated intention of the Third Reich, once victory was achieved to then abandon or sideline all reliance on gold for future monetary issues.

Gold would no longer play a dominant role in world trade expansion, or in the settling of debts, or the setting of exchange rates or in the setting of commodity prices.

One assumes that at the time when the US was no where near the significant world currency it was to become after 1945, e.g. setting oil prices in dollars, the only tradable currency widely accepted in the West for commodities and national debt payments was gold and Sterling. Was the ambition, after absorbing Great Britain by invasion in 1940 to transform what was termed the “Sterling area” and empire trade into the “Reichsmark area” ?

In 1941 the BIS also posed the question of how could “Germany  . . .. finance rearmament and war with very slight gold reserves” and how could its foreign trade have been carried on using only the clearing basis ? The BIS believed it begged the question of whether a new monetary system had been developed which had dispensed altogether with the need for gold. In authoritative statements made on this subject in Germany and Italy a distinction is drawn between different functions of gold. [34]

They pointed to a speech made by the President of the Reichsbank, on 26th July 1940, in which he said:

  •   ” . . .  in any case gold will in the future play no rôle as a basis of European currencies, for a currency is not dependent upon its cover but on the value which is given to it by the state, i.e. by the economic order as regulated by the state.”
  • “It is another matter whether gold should be regarded as a suitable medium for the settlement of debit balances between countries; but we shall never pursue a monetary policy which makes us in any way dependent upon gold, for it is impossible to tie oneself to a medium the value of which one cannot determine oneself.”

A year later the Governor of the Banca d’Italia, in a speech on 29th March 1941, also pointed out that, although the possibility of a development of this kind could not be excluded in connection with European trade with overseas countries. He believed it was difficult to envisage that this would occur immediately after the cessation of hostilities, when payment in gold to correct disequilibria would in all probability be necessary. The need of maintaining a metallic reserve would, however, be concentrated more and more on the clearing centres:

  • “For years now the importance of gold as backing for the currency and as basis of the credit structure has been non-existent, the automatic working of the system having failed to stand the test just when exceptional circumstances called for its efficient functioning: under state control credit has been commensurate with production and labour, and the stability of the currency has been maintained independently of the amount of the gold reserves.”

How prescient to our present situation this proved to be. The economic crisis of 2008 is one of debt and paper wealth, i.e. fiat currency and worthless mortgages, futures and derivatives. The unreality of it continued into 2011 with EU ministers meeting dozens of time but never having a plan for Greece while their national banks sit on hundreds of tons of gold (Italy 2,451 tonnes, Germany 3,401 tonnes, France 2,435 tonnes, as at 2010).

How post-war events actually unfolded were not too dissimilar. The US became the defacto reserve currency ushering in the demise of Sterling but it could so easily have been the Reichsmark.

It could have been Euro-marks or Euro-Reichsmarks instead of “Eurodollars” that created the expanding world economy after 1945. Eurodollars are US dollars that have been spent or earned overseas and were then left in overseas banks (usually European). Companies and agencies were happy to leave them “offshore” because of the higher returns that could be obtained.

US dollars were also left in Europe to avoid tight domestic regulations and avoid ‘double taxation’ penalties and investment premiums/ obstacles.

An adjunct to this development was the emergence of Eurobonds in the 1960s. The driving force behind the creation of the Eurobond market was an unfavourable tax regime introduced in the USAin the early 1960s, effectively forcing international borrowing in US dollars offshore. The first Eurobond is generally considered to have been an issue by Autostrade in 1963. London become eh home for the Eurodollar and Eurobond market and enhanced its position as the international capital market leader. The matter of Eurobonds has been clouded by the creation of bonds issued by the EU denominated in Euros.

It is both worrying and ironic that in today’s Euro zone crisis it is Germany which is insisting on sending a Kommissioner to oversee tax gathering in Greece as it did in 1941.
Will Germany be more successful than then ? Greece,  like Franco’s Spain of the 1960s, is notorious for setting tax rates but no one paying them.
Has Germany finally realised that empire and colonialisation can be achieved economically and not out of the barrel of a gun ?

Annex A

 National of the following countries volunteered to fight on the side of the Nazis and were absorbed as elements of the Waffen SS. Many fought heroically and on a par with the best SS units. Their battle survival rate was very low. But for all of them the post-war experience was difficult, marked by ostracisation, recriminations, and even retribution. Often they volunteered for personal reason but those fromEastern Europejoined believing they might shake off the Soviet yoke.

Non-German Legions in Waffen SS Units – in alphabetical order
Country Strength


Belgian: Flemish


Belgium: Walloon


British Commonwealth: (English)
































Sweden, Switzerland & Luxemburg:




Annex B.

Gold: “Sight accounts” and “Earmarked accounts”

The BIS offered, and still does to this day, two different types of account to central banks: “sight” and “earmarked” accounts.

It is perhaps better to start by explaining ‘earmarked’ accounts. These are recorded gold accounts held separately and specifically for a central bank, for example, 170 tonnes for the Bank of Spain and valued at say US$ 200 million. ‘Earmarked’ gold is specific and as it name implies ownership and value, allocated to a specific country.

‘Sight’ accounts on the other hand are non-specific accounts, meaning that the gold is unallocated

In short ‘earmarked’ account gold is custodial / proprietary and sight accounts are co-mingled and non-custodial. [35]  A useful analogy would be a person paying in bank notesat one bank and drawing out the same amount in notesat another bankat a later date.

The BIS is not very forthcoming on the uses and distinction of these two accounts but the following regarding ‘sight accounts’ was published by them in 1997 (for the period 1930  – 1945):

Gold on sight accounts is unallocated gold. The Bank’s obligation with respect to gold held in such accounts is to place on demand at the disposal of its depositors, atthe central bank where the deposit was constituted, gold bars of the same type as it has received, up to the total fine weight standing to the credit of the account. [36]

Where the central bank concerned was the Reichsbank, the BIS was obliged to pay out in gold or currency the amount stipulated by the Reichsbank. When the Reichsbank made a deposit of gold in a ‘sight’ account it could very easily have been stolen gold from, say, Belgium or Italy.

Gold in earmarked accounts is allocated and from the BIS transcript this would appear to make the BIS liable to hand over the identical gold bars “which had originally been deposited” with the BIS, i.e. not someone elses’ or a bar of equal weight but the very exact some bar deposited.

It is therefore of little surprise that the Reichsbank would choose to use ‘sight’ accounts rather than ‘earmarked’ accounts.

Japan, which was once forbidden to hold reserves in the form of gold following the terms of the 1945 surrender, opened a gold account with the BIS in 2000.

This seems to be how such accounts are operated:

  1. The Bank of Japan opened its sight account at the BIS by paying US dollar in cash into that account.
  2. The Bank of Japan then asked the BIS to purchase gold using the cash (sight account holders can withdraw the equivalent amount of gold at any time).
  3. On the Bank of Japan’s balance sheet, the Gold Sight Account is been classified as “foreign currency assets (foreign currency deposits)”. NB. This is not strictly true as the “foreign currency” has in fact been converted into gold.
  4. All gold bars produced for banking / investment have serial numbers.
  5. When an earmarked account is later opened by the Bank of Japan, the gold sitting in the site account can be transferred and becomes the sole property of the Bank of Japan, with all serial numbers listed.
  6. For accounting purposes the gold can no longer be referred to as ‘foreign currency’ but has to be listed in the balance sheet as gold.
  7. It is for this reason that the Bank of Japan’s gold balance has increased by 11,651,494 thousand yen as shown in the “Bank of Japan’s Accounts” as of July 20, 2000.

Annex C

Hitler and Nazism bankrupted all of Europe. Even his supplier nations, namely Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey etc. suffered economic hardship and currency stresses. Every country, including Germany, was the losers. A breakdown of gold stolen by country is given below:

Germany’s gold  confiscation / usage  (1938 – 1945)


US$ m

Published  reserves         


Hidden reserves


Other German bank reserves











$ 256.8 m


88 / nil











Sub-total to 6/1940

$ 745.8 m

1941 Balkans  



– –










– –


– –

Other state banks eg Danzig ?


Italy (1943)


Gold reserves utilised

$ 1,140.9 m

Occupation Costs Est’d

$ 8,000 m


$ 9,149.9 m

Not yet spent

$ 238 m

Switzerlandand Gold Transactions in the Second World War – Interim Report  (Bergier).

[2] “Switzerland and Gold Transactions in the Second World War” – Interim Report (Bergier report).

[4] See, U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II – Preliminary Study [1997] ( and prepared by William Z. Slany, of  US State Dept

[5] “German Gold Movements (Estimate),” prepared by Otto Fletcher, US State Dept Feb 5, 1946, and “Allied Claims Against Swiss for Return of Looted Gold,” prepared by J.H. Mann.

[14]CzechRepublic: Czechoslovak gold reserves and their surrender to Nazi Germany” by Eduard. Kubu, London Conference, 2 – 4 Dec 1997, HMSO, 1997. See also NARA Libraryat HV6665.G3L66 1997

[15] Prof. Jean Ziegler, “Switzerland, the Gold and the Dead” (1997)

[16] Captain Robert E. Brett (DSO, DSC, RNR),    

[18] Henry Morgenthau, Jr Secretary of the Treasury 1934 and adviser to Pres. Roosevelt

[19]  “Norway 1940” by François Kersaudy

[20] For the rapid conquest of Belgium see also references to Fort Eben-Emael

[21] The gold was packed into 4,944 chests and brought via Ostend to the South of France. It was then stored in the cellars of the Bordeaux and Libourne branches of the Banque de France.

[22] Atonement for what is not revealed

[23] Bergier Report states Nazis gained US$ 137.2 million from Netherlands gold reserves but Arthur Lee Smith in “Hitler’s gold: the story of the Nazi war loot” puts the figureat $ 163m

[24] Britain also held gold in the Sterling Equalisation Account, inEgypt and in India.

[25]Hitler’s gold: the story of the Nazi war loot” see also

[29]How Swiss oiled Hitler’s killing machine’, 23 March 1997

[30]Central Bank Gold Reserves. An Historical Perspective” by T. Green

[31] Franco inherited only 40.2 tonnes of gold in 1939 which had been deposited in Mont de Marsan, France.

[32] Spanish Gold: 510 tonnes of gold, corresponding to 72.6% of Spain’s gold reserves were transferred to the Soviet Union. See

4 Comments leave one →
  1. steve Morris permalink
    December 29, 2012 9:39 pm

    Very interesting, I have just read a book by British John Coventry called “” I was I am I will be,” Now whats got me hocked was the follow up book which I was shown a pirate copy,this is amazing and he knows now alright just where a huge block of Nazi gold lies..will he tell? I doubt it !

  2. Hugh Christie permalink
    August 7, 2013 9:53 am

    If you care to look at history parts of Germany were under Czech, Polish and the of course the Holy Roman Empire. Germans do not want to admit that they had more Slavic tribes than any other country. Please Google search Sorbs wends Obotrites Limes Saxoniae Rani Gords Bolesław I Chrobry Lusatia Glomacze Polans Pomerania Polabian Milceni Margraviate of Brandenburg Mecklenburg King Charles IV Wenceslaus II Přemyslid West Slavs Bavaria Slavica Germania Slavica Germanisation Ostsiedlung

    • rwhiston permalink*
      September 5, 2013 11:45 pm

      Good point. We tend to forget in the hurly-burly of today’s politics that Germany does not a long pedigree as a nation state which we usually associate with, say, France, Sweden or Spain etc.


  1. Biggest Gold Heists Ever (Video)

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