The following articles were early reports (first reported in April 1945) on the plunder taken by German armies and stored in the Merckle salt mines.
Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration
Spring 1999, vol. 31, no. 1
Spring 1999, vol. 31, no. 1
Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure
By Greg Bradsher
(E T presented the news article, on captured Nazi treasure, because he thought there might be a general interest. The GIs seemed more interested in getting the war over-with and returning home.)
GALVESTON, TEXAS, MONDAY, APRIL- 9, 1945
Another Huge German
Treasure Hoard Found
Merkers, Germany, April 8.
WITH THE U. S. THIRD ARMY, April 7.—(AP)-The golden treasure
of Adolf Hitler's collapsing Reich—more than 100 tons of gold bullion, the
currencies of many nations and stacks of priceless art works—were captured
today by the Third Army in an unexpected haul that may shorten the war by robbing the German army of its payroll.
The stupendous cache, its full value as yet undetermined but possibly
worth billions of dollars, was found in a hidden salt mine at Merkers, 18
miles southeast of Hersfeld, when two talkative German women spilled the
secret to military police.
Reichbank officials on the spot said the bullion represented "all the
Gold” in Germany," and the German army gave some confirmation by
trying desperately to get back into Merkers today with a heavy counterattack
In the Muhlhausen area 30 miles north, in which the U. S. Sixth
armored and 65th Infantry divisions knocked out enemy tanks and smashed the attack.
Some 200 British prisoners of war who had been employed in the mine,
which is called the Werks Kalseroda, said they had seen 20 10-ton truckloads
of gold unloaded in the mine. This would mean 200 tons of gold,
but the German bankers Insisted that something over 100 tons was the
The gold still Is under seal In a huge subterranean vault, and Third
Army officers said Its value would not be known until American finance
officers break the seals and audit the hoard.. They expressed belief, however,
that the German bankers undoubtedly were telling the truth.
Going down into the mine in a big double-decker elevator, officers of
the 90th infantry division, which marie the find, did Inspect the vast quantities of German, U. S., British and other currencies and the great crates
of paintings and other art works.
One of the captured officials said the currency was particularly needed
by the German army to meet payrolls and buy foods from Switzerland or
Sweden, and that it could not be replaced because Allied bombings had
smashed German engraving plants.
The 90th unusual haul name about in quaint fashion. The division
entered the little salt-mining village Thursday, knowing nothing of the
casche. Last night two German women were found on the street after
curfew. They explained to military police that they were looking for a
midwife for a friend who was having a baby. During the course of the
conversation the women mentioned that something of great value had
been stored recently in the mine.
The division already had found that Dr. Fritz Vleck, one of the eight
directors of the Reichbank. two other bank officials, and Dr. P. O. Rabe
curator of the German state museum were in Merkers. Division officers
told the Germans to show up today at the mine for a treasure hunt. The
Germans did so, and—once the secret was out—talked freely.
The booty in the mine comprised 100 tons of gold bullion(about
$100,000,000); three billion German marks, two million dollars In American
currency, one hundred million French francs. 115,000 British pounds, one
million Norwegian crowns and lesser amounts In Turkish pounds, Spanish
pesetas and Portages escudos.
The art treasure, assembled from Germany's national art gallery
last February Included original; by Raphael, Van Dyke and Durer. There
also were 120 cases of Goethe's original manuscripts.
The 90th infantry division troops which marie the seizure captured
Of Nazis Studied
By GEORGE TUCKER
FRANKFURT, Germany, July
The pillaged wealth of Nazi occupied Europe, taken from the teeth of murdered Jews and the coffers of seized governments alike. was piled ceiling high today in the Reichsmark bank of Frankfurt.
Fillings From Teeth
In addition to gold and silver there were hogsheads of pearls, rubies and sapphires. Wood cases held gold and silver fillings, from the teeth of concentration camp
Currency experts from the United States Treasury and the Bank of England were identifying and making an inventory of the Nazi. loot.
'.'An accurate estimate of the total value can never be made,"
Raid Col. Bernard Bernstein, director of the finance division of the U. S. Rroup control council He said the collection included 53 separate deposits hidden by
the Nazis and unearthed by U. S.Heinrich Himmler. ES Armnl zat) on j V__.|- Cl!~.~ wn*'eti were Buried under chicken coops "1161 coops on a German farm.
Victims' Wedding Rings
In one cache, thousands of wedding rings stripped from the fingers of women victims of the Nazis in Germany. Greece. Poland and. other occupied countries were strung on ropes like country sausages.
"We have found barrels of silver and gold wrist watches, cigarette cases, wedding rings, bracelets and jewelry of every description," Bernsteinadded. "This was taken from Nazi concentration camp victim troops during the final days of the war. These included the gold bullion discovered by the U. S. Third Army in the Merkers salt mines and special hidden hoards of Heinrick Himler
GALVESTON, TEXAS, MONDAY, APRIL- 9, 1945
Another Huge German
Merkers, Germany, April 8. AP
Nobody could find the key,
United States Third Army engineers blasted a hole through a thick brick wall today and exposed Hitler's fabulous hoard of gold and money cached In the 2100-foot
Merkers salt mine.
More than 4000 bags of gold bullion were counted, a total of 50 tons. Each bag weighed 39 pounds and was worth 114,000.
It was Impossible to determine today whether there was more or less gold than the 100-plus tons that Dr. Werner Vleck of the relchsbnnk said were in the cache—but there were some indications that It was more. Each ton is worth $1,000,000.
"This Is It—
Germany's entire gold reserve," said Dr. Vleck.
"There isn't any more." American soldiers were not much impressed by the fact that they were rubbing elbows, with uncounted millions in gold and currency,
"You can't eat sold," said Lt. Col. William Depuy, Sioux Falls, C. D, commander whose men were guarding the salt mine. "Now If this were eggs It would be some-
thing different—the GIs would go for that."
Sgt. Robert McDonald, Houston. Tex., in, charge of guarding the mine's five entrances, said he was more interested in finding hot chow than in keeping watch over the German gold.
"To hell with their gold, let's go home," said Pvt. Richard Davis, Mogadore, Ohio.
The sacks were stacked along the walls of a dim-lit chamber 6ft. by 65 feet along with thousands of sacks of coins too heavy for an American soldier to lift.
Each sack bore a lead seal, a red or yellow tag and in black print "reichsbank."
In addition to the sacks of gold bullion and coins there were hun-
. The other third, he Mid, was in another salt mine which has been overrun by the Americans,
To get to the chamber it was necessary to descend in a' double-decker elevator operated by a German civilian mine employee. In the opprtssive air of the shaft
combat englneers under M. Jack McFarlane. Hollywood boulevard,
Hollywood, Ca., perspired as they planted the explosives.
The engineer had to blast the brick wall because nobody seemed to have the keys to the massive steel door to the chamber. The first charge tore a hole in the wall
big enough for a man to crawl through.
Sitting on the floor, glistening with white salt, stack after stack of gold could be counted.
The coins were In bag* about half the size of a regular potato sack and Included, many bags of gold coins.
While a colonel went about pokingbags with a walking stick,
the pop-eyed engineers looked on in amazement. "There’s gold aplenty
in this here mine," quipped Cpl. Joseph Aldridge, Columbus, Ohio.
Then, as Vleck pointed out the bags of gold, one was split open and a couple of high-ranking Third Army officers held up a 26-pound gold bar.
Here, a pale thin-faced man said he came from Berlin to Merkers with the art treasures without army guards, to avoid arousing curiosity. The old the paintings, sculpture and etchings all were crated and numbered and that he was not sure what works were here. He said definitely, however, that a tltian venus was among them.
Vleck observed: "Gold means nothing to us since we can not use it in foreign exchange.
But the government was anxious to get it out to meet obligations.
Your bombers destroyed bridges and made that impossible." The natives, most of whom apparently did not know they were sitting on top of the nation wealth.