The Führer’s Forgers

Posted: February 7, 2011 in World War 2
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Of all Hitler’s operations this was surely the most audacious: seconding Jewish prisoners from Auschwitz to forge £135 million in pound sterling & parachuting the notes into Britain.

An August sun was shining through the forest of pines but Wolfgang Löhde was still very glad it wasn’t him wading into the black waters of Lake Toplitz.

He leant against one of the pines & observed the rituals of the frogmen: climbing into their rubber suits, checking oxygen tanks, tapping gauges, swapping technical jargon. Then he saw them slide beneath the surface of the water.

Despite the presence of his camera team, he felt suddenly alone. He looked back for the security of the fleet of squat VW minibuses that had brought them all here.

Each was garishly emblazoned with the white star on a red background of his employers at Stern magazine. He reflected on the emblems of the previous convoy that had come here 14 years earlier at the close of World War II in May 1945: swastikas & SS double-lightning stripes.

Löhde was a highly accomplished reporter for Germany‘s biggest-selling magazine. He sensed he was on the precipice of a major story. Over the previous months he & his editors had pieced together a mosaic of anecdotes from peasants, documents from Nazi bureaucrats & speculation from historians that had convinced them that an El Dorado of stolen Nazi gold lay beneath the 328ft depth of Lake Toplitz’s oxygen-starved water.

In 1945, the Third Reich‘s end-station was on the fringes of this little Austrian lake, nestling appropriately in a range of peaks called the Dead Mountains. Was there gold here? What else could explain the arrival from a burning Berlin of the SS men in a village beside Lake Toplitz on May 5, 1945?

Locals spoke of Nazi troops, Schmeisser machine-pistols draped around their necks, sitting idly on boxes on flatbed Maybach trucks, eyes red-rimmed from fatigue, smoking as their officers barked commands. Peasants were ordered to hitch horses to wagons to transport these same boxes from the place where the VW vans of Stern now stood at the water’s edge. [Read More]

  1. Another Oklahoma Rose says:

    Highly informative!! Was not aware of this aspect of Shoah/WWII history. Awesome site and an intellectual pleasure to read. Well researched. Thank you!

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