It is said that “truth is the first casualty of war.” But it could also be said that the second casualty of war is the theft of the wealth of those countries which have been invaded. And because the Second World War saw many countries within Europe invaded by the Nazis, they also had their wealth plundered. Vast amounts of gold were stolen. Even from 1937, places like Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia had up to $71 million of gold taken to Germany. In all, it is believed that up to $550 million was stolen from the invaded countries of Europe.
So, what happened to it? And remember, that was the value eighty years ago. It will be worth much, much more now; in fact, many billions. Only a small amount has been recovered. In 1945, the Allies discovered a huge hoard of the precious metal hidden in the Merkers salt mine in Germany.
It is thought that up to $5.6 billion lies at the bottom of Lake Toplitz in the Alps. In 1959, £700 million in counterfeit currency was discovered there by divers. It is believed it was bound for the UK in order to ruin the British economy but never got there. If the rest of it is below the surface, it will not be easy to find as the depth of the lake is about three hundred feet. That doesn’t mean to say that attempts have not been made to find it. But so far, nothing else has been found.
It is also said that $50 million worth of gold was lost in the sinking of a ship near the coast of Corsica. The ship or gold has not be found. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond attempted to find it but failed. However, he does mention it in his 007 book “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
As the war drew to an end and it became obvious that the Germans would lose, they tried to get it away to safer places. Therefore, the search for this lost treasure could take you to almost anywhere in the world. And remember, that we are not talking just about gold. The lost treasures include jewellery and masterpieces of art.
One of the stories has it that there was a train loaded with valuables which was taken out of Germany and the whole train was sealed in a mine or disused tunnel somewhere in the Central Sudetes mountain range near the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia. If it exists, it is still there waiting for someone to discover it. High-tech searches are still being carried out though, so, watch this space.
Finally, perhaps much of the looted gold is hidden in plain sight, so to speak and is much closer to where it was plundered. There are some who believe that large amounts were deposited in banks in Switzerland, including the Swiss National Bank and in the Vatican Bank. No real evidence for this has been uncovered and a civil court case brought against the Vatican Bank in the year 2000 failed.
So, somewhere out there in the world, hidden troves of treasure probably still exist, their exact locations lost to history. So, start digging.