Sep 23, 2013 I Micah Hanks

Gold, and Gone: The Mysterious Disappearance of Nazi Wartime Hoards

Few circumstances in modern Western history have spun so many varied and detailed conspiracy theories as Hitler and the Nazis. Rumor and speculation about Hitler's death have led to questions over the time and place of the Führer's demise, and whether his remains were truly recovered by Soviet forces following the end of the war.

Much the same, few UFO conspiracy troves would be complete without the inclusion of speculation over highly advanced physics and propulsion systems the Nazis had sought to develop, which later could have been obtained secretly by Soviet and Allied powers, or perhaps continued secretly by some secretive organization that curiously managed to escape the notice of world superpowers after the conflict.

While there is much room for speculation regarding such Nazi-themed conspiracy theories, it is less easy to discount the untold millions in Nazi plunder that went missing after the fall of the Reich, a majority of which remains unaccounted for even in the present day. While there is continued hope that troves of Nazi fortune still await discovery by persistent historians and avid treasure seekers, there are also genuine mysteries associated with the momentous amounts of wealth that managed to disappear by the end of the Second World War. The trail left by the Nazi hoarders is elaborate and involved, and leads the seeker along paths that cross elegant European castles and underground passages, to the depths of scenic Alpine lakes, and even the operations and activities of the Holy Church of Rome.

What is known is that during World War II, particularly beginning with Germany's capture of France, large amounts of fine art and innumerable objects of value were obtained, and stored in a variety of locations. Perhaps chief among these locales had been the Bavarian Neuschwanstein Castle (pictured above), originally a part time home of Ludwig II, which during the war had been utilized by the German Reichsleiter Rosenberg Institute for the Occupied Territories for purposes of concealing fine art that was removed from France. Today, photo catalogues of the art hidden at Neuschwanstein Castle by the Nazis are still maintained in the U.S. National Archives. However, this wasn't the only thing kept at the picturesque destination; before the end of the war, the German Reichsbank had also used the palace to store large amounts of Nazi gold. However, before it could be recovered by the Allies, this hoard of gold, like much of the fine art which had been kept there, was removed secretly. The question remains, even today, as to where much of this gold might have been taken.


There were still other locations where Nazi gold had been kept before the fall of the Reich. While much of the loot obtained by the Nazis was carried back to their headquarters in Munich, there were still other locations abroad that they used for storage, which included Musée Jeu de Paume in Paris. But one that would remain infamous had been a secret facility operated from within a salt mine at the municipality of Merkers-Kieselbach, near Thuringia, Germany. It was from this underground fortification, much of the stolen Nazi art--and gold--was recovered following the war, prompting a personal visit and inspection by President Dwight Eisenhower.

Despite knowledge of the various facilities where Nazi plunder had been kept, this would hardly facilitate recovery of all the items of wealth they managed to obtain from territories they occupied. Even once the visions of wealth and, in accordance with Hitler's own warped visions of heritage and culture preservation, the institution of a so-called "Führermuseum", had dwindled, there were efforts to prevent capture of the wealth obtained by the Nazis. What was believed to be a large amount of the Nazi treasure had been dumped into large bodies of water, such as Austria's Lake Toplitz. Since the late 1940s, seekers of the lost Nazi hoard have continued to risk peril there, in order to prove that treasure might await in the lakes' murky depths:

[I]n 1959 a team financed by the German magazine Stern... [retrieved] £72m in forged sterling currency hidden in boxes, and a printing press.

The currency, it turned out, was part of a secret counterfeiting operation, Operation Bernhard, personally authorised by Adolf Hitler to weaken the British economy... In 1983 a German biologist accidentally discovered more forged British pounds, numerous Nazi-era rockets and missiles that had crashed into the lake, and a previously unknown worm.


Dives have continued at Lake Toplitz until as recently as 2005, though other sites of alleged submerged Nazi treasure have continued to undergo searches even more recently. In 2011, the British Daily Mail reported on an operation based on "new information" that aimed to uncover 18 boxes of gold that "were apparently thrown in Stolpsee Lake, about an hour’s drive north of Berlin in the former Communist East Germany." A local area priest, along with secret SS documents discussing the personal collections of Hermann Goering, pointed to vast amounts of wealth being given to the waters of Stolpsee:

SS documents together with post-war eye witness statements to the events on the lake in March 1945, give credence to the theory that precious material was indeed dumped into the 400-feet deep lake.

One witness, Eckhard Litz, told a post-war allied commission: 'I remember well the night that lorries with slit headlights drove up to the lakeshore and I saw about 20 to 30 skeletal figures dressed in striped concentration camp uniforms being forced to unload heavy boxes.

The "skeletal figures" were then taken back to shore, where they were executed, and finally, carried back to the same watery resting place of the boxes they had been forced to unload.

Still, there might have been locations even more inaccessible than the bottoms of lakes where Nazi gold had been carried. IN the fall of 1946, a memo issued by a US Treasury Agent named Emerson Bigelow implicated the Vatican in the transfer of Nazi funds through international banks and organizations, to the tune of 350 million Swiss francs that had been obtained "for safekeeping" by the Vatican. The Church denied this, and has continued to refute the claims asserted in the Bigelow memo.


And of course, there are the neutral countries, such as Switzerland and Portugal, which had managed to assist with the dispersal of Nazi gold just as well... but the ultimate question (and one that has quite often been asked) is where did it go? It seems very likely that this wealth, much of which arguably went into somebody's hands, rather than merely languishing at the bottom of European lakes, must have been obtained, sequestered, and utilized by someone over the years... but by whom? This may remain one of the greater existent riddles of the world of finance and fortune that remains today; and arguably, its implications could lead to talk of far more dire and strange conspiracies than the scope of this present examination alone might seek to study.

Safe it to say, if there are indeed secret societies and organizations that have sought to utilize money and power to control hidden aspects of our world, there might very well have been a source of funding over the years that could have been utilized for such things, just as well.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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