The Story Behind the Nazi Gold Nazi Gold: Hard currencylooted from treasuries of countries occupied by the Axispowers during World War II. Ingots consisting of goldmelted down from the teeth of murder victims andweddings bands and jewelry.
About two thirds of anestimated $660 million ($7. 8 billion in today’s dollars) instolen Nazi gold passed through Switzerland during thewar. And like any sharp businessmen with hot goods, theSwiss disposed of much of their gold quickly – throughPortugal mainly, but also to Sweden, Spain, and othercentral banks (Hirsh 48). Probably no more that $140million remains unaccounted for, and a good portion of thatwas probably sold onward as well. But what remains of theknown Nazi hoard (none of which has been returned to theJewish community) is worth no more than about $65 millionaccording to the Brussels-based Tripartite GoldCommission, set up after World War II to return stolengold to national treasuries.
Recently the Clintonadministration created a com! mission to search for anyNazi funds that might have ended up in U. S. FederalReserve vaults. “We have to be willing not only to focus thespotlight on Switzerland,” says Under Secretary ofCommerce Stuart Eizenstat. “We have to be willing tofollow the trail of assets into our own treasury” (qtd. inHirsh 47).
This trail though, suggests that there is no hugestash of Nazi gold in Switzerland. The loot has scatteredworldwide through numerous transactions and is probablyirretrievable. Also, because so many banks were involved,the amount of gold left in Wieckowski 2 Switzerland isprobably negligible, contrary to what investigators haveuntil now presumed. At this point the cost or returning theNazi Gold to its rightful owners is not worth the trouble andinconvenience it would create. Documents released inrecent months have made it clear that Swiss banks tradedin looted Nazi-gold, and that Swiss businesses made afortune selling arms to the Nazis. In a historical reportpublished around May 9,1997, it was said that there wasno evidence that the Swiss or other neutral countries knewthat gold from the central banks had been smelted togetherwith gold fillings, wedding bands, and other jewelry stolenfrom Holocaust victims (Sanger).
But, Eizenstat found”incontrovertible evidence” that Swiss bankers knew theywere trading in gold that Germany had looted from thetreasuries of states it occupied, and also a handwrittenledger sheet from the Reichsbank showed a deposit of29,996 grams of “dental gold” into a Swiss account (Aharsh. . . ). This confirms that the Nazis melted down andrecirculated gold extracted from the teeth of murderedJews and other death camp victims. It also proves theinvolvement and knowledge of dealings with gold extractedfrom tee! th of murdered victims by the Swiss in that therewere deposits made into their accounts.
Germany also sentSwitzerland via diplomatic pouch packages of jewelry,looted from Jewish persecutees, to be exchanged forindustrial diamonds and foreign currency essential to theGerman war effort (Sanders). From this evidence we seethat the Swiss acted as the Nazis’ “principal bankers” andafter the war took a “legalistic” stance to hold onto theirill-gotten gains, returning only $58 million worth of gold(Chesnoff). Some argue that the Swiss should have givenup all of the gold, but why should they? It was businessafter all. Many Swiss argue that what Switzerland did wasdone for survival’s sake, but their critics assert that it wasWieckowski 3 done of opportunism and amorality andshould be paid for in both moral and financial terms(Cowell). During WWII, the German threat to Switzerlandwas real, not imaginary or exaggerated.
After the collapseof France in 1940, historically neutral Switzerland wasvirtually surrounded by axis-dominated territory. After theGermans occupied Vichy, France in the fall of 1942,Switzerland was entirely cut off from the outside world.