Jon Clarke: Nazi Gold Train bound for Gibraltar

Roundup: Talking About History

THE meeting WAS HELD in the centre of Madrid on a shivery cold morning in February 1945.

Taking place in the plush top floor office of the Instituto de la Moneda, the director was meeting with the heads of both the German and British secret services.

The topic: to decide, allegedly, how to divide up the enormous piles of Nazi gold – much of it looted from Jews – that had found its way into Spain towards the end of the Second World War.

“There were two British agents and four German agents,” claims Dr Shimon Samuels, who has investigated the movement of looted gold for decades. “Each of them were making offers. The British wanted the Gold, insisting it should not fall into the hands of the Americans, while the Germans wanted their gold protected by Franco, officially to be used for post war reconstruction in Germany.

“But we think it went to oPERATION Odessa to help Nazis escape to South America.”

The piles of gold in question – conservatively estimated to have a value of at least 138 million dollars – had been amassed in a series of safe deposit boxes in the insitute over the previous few years.

While many of the gold ingots had been looted from the bank accounts of Jews across Eastern Europe and Germany through the 1930s and early 1940s, much of it had come from a much more sinister source.

“A lot of it was tooth gold seized from people who had been exterminated in the concentration camps,” explains Dr Samuels, the Director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem.

“This was looted gold and it should not have been here in Spain, nor most pertinently should the British have had anything to do with it. There was clearly a lot of hanky panky going on.”

The fascinating chain of events had come to light when Samuels and his colleague Dr Ephraim Zuroff, the world’s most famous Nazi-hunter, had spent time in Spain, alongside Spanish investigator Jose Maria Irujo.

The group had been trying to ascertain how and where the billions of dollars worth of Nazi gold had ended up after the Second World War ended in September 1945.

Most importantly they wanted to know which of the Nazi hierachy might have benefited from it and they spent a number of months compiling a list of ten key Nazis, who were allegedly still living in Spain in the 1990s.

Scattered around the country – but most in Andalucia – they eventually handed their list in person to former PP President Aznar, who insisted there was little that could be done.

The gold trail however, drew more success.

The team of investigators had literally struck gold, if you’ll excuse the pun when they stumbled upon the ageing widow of the former director of the Instituto de la Moneda....

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