The Story Behind the Nazi Gold


The Story Behind the Nazi Gold Nazi Gold: Hard currency
looted from treasuries of countries occupied by the Axis
powers during World War II. Ingots consisting of gold
melted down from the teeth of murder victims and
weddings bands and jewelry. About two thirds of an
estimated $660 million ($7.8 billion in today\'s dollars) in
stolen Nazi gold passed through Switzerland during the
war. And like any sharp businessmen with hot goods, the
Swiss disposed of much of their gold quickly - through
Portugal mainly, but also to Sweden, Spain, and other
central banks (Hirsh 48). Probably no more that $140
million remains unaccounted for, and a good portion of that
was probably sold onward as well. But what remains of the
known Nazi hoard (none of which has been returned to the
Jewish community) is worth no more than about $65 million
according to the Brussels-based Tripartite Gold
Commission, set up after World War II to return stolen
gold to national treasuries. Recently the Clinton
administration created a com! mission to search for any
Nazi funds that might have ended up in U.S. Federal
Reserve vaults. "We have to be willing not only to focus the
spotlight on Switzerland," says Under Secretary of
Commerce Stuart Eizenstat. "We have to be willing to
follow the trail of assets into our own treasury" (qtd. in
Hirsh 47). This trail though, suggests that there is no huge
stash of Nazi gold in Switzerland. The loot has scattered
worldwide through numerous transactions and is probably
irretrievable. Also, because so many banks were involved,
the amount of gold left in Wieckowski 2 Switzerland is
probably negligible, contrary to what investigators have
until now presumed. At this point the cost or returning the
Nazi Gold to its rightful owners is not worth the trouble and
inconvenience it would create. Documents released in
recent months have made it clear that Swiss banks traded
in looted Nazi-gold, and that Swiss businesses made a
fortune selling arms to the Nazis. In a historical report
published around May 9,1997, it was said that there was
no evidence that the Swiss or other neutral countries knew
that gold from the central banks had been smelted together
with gold fillings, wedding bands, and other jewelry stolen
from Holocaust victims (Sanger). But, Eizenstat found
"incontrovertible evidence" that Swiss bankers knew they
were trading in gold that Germany had looted from the
treasuries of states it occupied, and also a handwritten
ledger sheet from the Reichsbank showed a deposit of
29,996 grams of "dental gold" into a Swiss account (A
harsh...). This confirms that the Nazis melted down and
recirculated gold extracted from the teeth of murdered
Jews and other death camp victims. It also proves the
involvement and knowledge of dealings with gold extracted
from tee! th of murdered victims by the Swiss in that there
were deposits made into their accounts. Germany also sent
Switzerland via diplomatic pouch packages of jewelry,
looted from Jewish persecutees, to be exchanged for
industrial diamonds and foreign currency essential to the
German war effort (Sanders). From this evidence we see
that the Swiss acted as the Nazis\' "principal bankers" and
after the war took a "legalistic" stance to hold onto their
ill-gotten gains, returning only $58 million worth of gold
(Chesnoff). Some argue that the Swiss should have given
up all of the gold, but why should they? It was business
after all. Many Swiss argue that what Switzerland did was
done for survival\'s sake, but their critics assert that it was
Wieckowski 3 done of opportunism and amorality and
should be paid for in both moral and financial terms
(Cowell). During WWII, the German threat to Switzerland
was real, not imaginary or exaggerated. After the collapse
of France in 1940, historically neutral Switzerland was
virtually surrounded by axis-dominated territory. After the
Germans occupied Vichy, France in the fall of 1942,
Switzerland was entirely cut off from the outside world.

Category: History