A section from
‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II
‘In the United States and Europe the fortunes of respectable business empires thrive today on the proceeds of the Nazi looting during World War 2. Yet the wartime Allies have decided that the scandalous details of history's most massive unsolved robberies will never be published. At the headquarters of the British secret service and the World War 2 Records Division of the National Archives in Washington, the files holding the names of the worst criminals and the details of their crimes will remain Most Secret until at least the 21st century - and probably well beyond.’ - The World’s Greatest Unsolved Crimes (R. Boar & N. Blundell, 2003)
Arthur Case has a secret in locker number 392 in a bank whose board he is chairman of. But when Dalton Russel his associates stage a hold-up at the bank and take all customers present at the time hostage Arthur Case begins to feel the heat. And with good reason.
Russel’s associates go to work in the bank accessing the vault and digging up the floors. The bank meanwhile is surrounded by the police and two detectives open negotiations. Russel asks for a getaway plane and makes other demands which makes detective Frazier suspect that Russel is trying to buy time, but he doesn't know why. Unknown to the police, Russel has already planted a trojan-horse in their midst and knows everything that the police are planning.
Arthur Case meanwhile is busy trying to protect his secret. He engages ace-fixer Madeleine White to extract the contents of his safe deposit box without anyone knowing. With contacts in high places and ruthless negotiating skills White easily accesses Frazier at the crime scene and even manages a private audience inside the bank with Russel himself.
No doubt then that when Russel and White do meet, Russel is holding the secrets of locker number 392 and taunting White with it. The contents include an official Nazi document bearing the Swastika symbol and proof of Case’s war profiteering activities. White leaves shortly afterword, with an understanding between them that the documents and other contents can make Russel a rich man - if he decides to deal.
Meanwhile Frazier suspicions are getting the better of him, and he decides to call Russels bluff. He tells Russel that the plane is ready but the safety of the hostages has to be personally verified by Frazier himself. Russel agrees and gives the detective a tour of the hostages, all of them kept in different rooms in the bank. At the end of the meeting Frazier antagonizes Russel by trying to tear off his mask. Luckily Russels face remains hidden from Frazier, who is thrown off the bank premises. As punishment for Frazier’s attempt, Russel publicly shows a hostage executed.
The situation suddenly takes a turn for the worst. Frazier is relieved of his position in the case and the police decide to storm the bank. Russel who hears of the plan beforehand releases the hostages who run out of the bank and into the cops’ arms. Among them are Russel’s associates.
All the hostages are rounded up and taken in for questioning. The bank’s vault is examined and nothing is found stolen. Russel’s associates mixed with the hostages are questioned, but manage to keep themselves from being discovered. The other hostages also fail to identify the bank robbers, because at the beginning of the heist all of them were made to change into the same type of uniforms as the bank robbers’. Neither can Russel’s associates be identified by omission because all of them were rotated disguised as hostages in rooms which housed the hostages; the disguised bank robbers and hostages were then routinely and randomly rotated, severely disorienting them.
Since no money was stolen, no hostages were actually harmed, no ‘bank-robbers’ were apprehended and the chairman was only too happy to have the matter end, the case is closed.
But detective Frazier cannot seem to leave the case at that and his investigations lead him to the truth about Arthur Case. Madeleine White confronts Case with the truth who admits to profiting from the Nazis by betraying his friends and other Jews to them. Russel emerges a week later from the bowels of the bank where he has been hiding, coincidentally bumping into Frazier at the bank. Frazier doesn’t recognise him but that doesn’t prevent Russel from secretly depositing a diamond (from Arthur Case’ deposit box) in Frazier’s pocket. The gesture being a continuation of their face-to-face conversation at the bank during the heist.
Fact behind fiction
Top ranks of the Hitler’s Nazi regime would be seen as multi-billionaires in today’s terms. This was not the case of corrupt politicians siphoning off public funds, it was a case of plundering the wealth of targeted groups of people - people belonging to another race (Semites) and other governments. Their loot included gold, works of art and diamonds from sources like the palaces of Russians czars, culture capitals like Vienna and Paris, and vaults from European banks.
These crimes escaped public attention during the immediate aftermath of the war because the Allied forces and the world at large were preoccupied with the inhuman physical atrocities. The case of Nazi looting came into public attention much after the war was over, during the course of bringing Nazis to justice after 1945. The sheer quantity of wealth that was looted could have only been made possible by a thorough and thought out plan. Robbery was the Nazi’s war policy as much as conquest and racism.
Once Germany was defeated the Nazis fled to South America, buying their asylum with their stolen but massive wealth. Their money was brought into legitimate channels by Swiss banking systems which guarantee anonymity. Through the banks the wealth entered legitimate enterprise and possibly became the base on which many large corporations rest today.
By the time the victors of war got around to realizing the scale of robbery, the stolen money, gold, art and diamonds were already in the economy hidden in commercial ventures under a cloak of legitimacy. The wealth that was recovered was mainly the gold which because of its large quantity couldn't be secretly transported anywhere and had to be abandoned on the roadside or dumped into rivers.
Most governments don’t disclose the extent of Nazi plundering from their coffers.
Only when 60 tons of gold were discovered in northern Italy in 1983 did the government of Italy admit that the Nazis had stolen 120 tons of gold from the Central Bank of Rome. Trying to claim the recovered bullion, the government of Yugoslavia disclosed the extent of gold from it’s banks by the Nazis during the war.
Sonderauftrag Linz - the Linz Special Mission
Hitler spent his teenage years in the town of Linz where he pursued art. He failed miserably after being rejected by a premier art school in Vienna and the trauma stayed with him. All of his frustration came out once he began to unleash his war machine of Europe. He planned to make his former hometown the art capital of the world, and to put his plans into effect he dispatched his deputy - Martin Bormann, that where ever German tanks went they were to bring back the treasures of that place. The Linz Special Mission was a select group of professional thieves with access to government equipment and arms with official orders to plunder and bring back their loot. Their first target were German Jews after which they turned their attention beyond Germany.
One of Hitler’s first German Jewish targets was Baron Louis von Rothschild, who was relieved of his assets including gold and works of art as a ‘ransom’ for allowing him to leave the country with his family.
Seeing the powerful and wealthy brought to their knees, Jews and non-Jews who feared persecution at the hands of the Nazis rushed to sell off their properties and escape with their lives. Mass panic sales of homes and other assets made values crash.
The Louvre, Versailles and French vaults
Even before the Nazis entered France they were overwhelmed with the loot they already had. Till yet they hadn't accessed the museums, palaces and vaults of France and they already had their hands full with their ill-gotten gains. So Hitler was compelled to start a new division to relieve France of it’s national wealth and cultural treasures. This new division was hampered only by the greed of Luftwaffe boss Hermann Goering who took for his personal collection by the trainload.
By this time greed had overtaken national interest. Resources available for the army were diverted and used from transporting riches of other countries to Nazi warehouses. Consequently the troops began to suffer as the did trying to capture Leningrad and Stalingrad.
Towards the end of the war the Nazi’s were short on storage space. They were losing the war and in the panic they dumped the treasure where ever they could. Salt mines, monasteries and castles were crammed with their loot and abandoned. These abandoned dumpsites have attracted a fair share of modern day treasure hunters, and some have been discovered by accident.
The panic-stricken Nazi leaders met in Berlin to buy their escape. They knew that once the Allies won the war Hitler would not be spared, but they figured that their safety could be bought . Asylum could be secured in far-away nations like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay. The organisation code-named ‘Odessa’ was formed to finance the escape of these soon-to-be most wanted Nazis.
Sources and further reading
2. The World’s Greatest Unsolved Crimes - R. Boar & N. Blundell
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