Hitler's Gold: The Story of the Nazi War Loot

Hitler's Gold: The Story of the Nazi War Loot

Hitler's Gold: The Story of the Nazi War Loot

Hitler's Gold: The Story of the Nazi War Loot


Nazi Germany utilized every available resource to fight the Second World War, and one significant weapon in Hitler's economic arsenal was gold - gold looted from the central banks of those European countries which were occupied by the Nazi regime between 1939 and 1942. Calculated at pre-1939 prices, the Germans gained access to about $625 million (US) in monetary gold, only about half of which was recovered by American Forces in April 1945 from a mine in central Germany. The 'Gold War' did not end then, however; it just assumed a different shape. Instead of fuelling Hitler's war effort, the recovered gold soon became a pawn in the Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union and has remained a controversial issue in international politics for years, one not completely resolved to this day.Although this is an important aspect of the Second World War and its aftermath, it has been largely neglected in historical research because of the lack of adequate source materials. The author succeeded in gaining access to hitherto unavailable but crucial records from archives in West Germany, Britain and the United States and is thus in a position to piece together, for the first time, the story of the Nazi gold loot and the long, complicated restitution of part of this gold by the Western Allies. Hitler's Gold represents an essential contribution to the economic history of the Second World War.


This book is about gold and war; how the monetary gold looted from Europe's central banks by the Nazi regime was used to bolster Hitler's war efforts, and later, how it became a pawn in the burgeoning Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The story is an important economic dimension of the Second World War and its aftermath that, to date, has not been pieced together or related as part of a historical continuity. That is to say, the "gold war" did not end in 1945, for the looted gold that was recovered from a defeated Germany continued to be a controversial factor in international politics for years afterwards. Thus, the gold story really has two halves that fit together: the gold that the Nazis looted and used during their wartime occupation of Europe and the long and complicated restitution of some of this same gold by the Western Allies after the war had ended. In tracing the events of this gold war, care has been taken to deal as closely as possible with what the Allies defined as looted monetary gold, that is, all gold which, at the time of its looting or wrongful removal, was carried as a part of the claimant country's monetary reserve either in the account of the claimant government itself or in the accounts of the claimant country's central bank or other monetary authority at home or abroad.

The twentieth century has the distinction of having introduced the world to total war, and a vital ingredient in that process is the ability to pay for it. Given certain circumstances gold could have unusual importance for a participant in such a war provided that the nation in question had access to vast quantities of monetary gold and a means to turn it into the proper credits. From 1938 until 1945 Nazi Germany met these requirements admirably as Hitler looted the central banks of occupied Europe while several neutral states, but primarily Switzerland, supplied the necessary banking services.

In the beginning, in 1938 or 1939, Hitler experienced little problem in . . .

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