Scrapbookpages Blog

February 1, 2014

“to the victor belongs the spoils” even if you have to steal gold from an ally that helped to win the war

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:58 am

In doing some research about The Monuments Men, in preparation for seeing a new movie by the same name, I learned that the art treasures and the gold bullion, stored in the Merkers salt mine in Germany, was supposed to go to the Soviet Union, because it was located in the occupation zone that had been promised to the Russians.

German  gold was hidden in the  Merkers salt mine

German gold and art treasures were hidden in the Merkers salt mine

When General Patton heard about the gold in the Merkers mine, he claimed it for the USA and then notified General (“God, I hate the Germans”) Eisenhower.

The following quote, about the gold, is from this website: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1999/spring/nazi-gold-merkers-mine-treasure.html

Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure

By Greg Bradsher

Late on the evening of March 22, 1945, elements of Lt. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army crossed the Rhine, and soon thereafter his whole army crossed the river and drove into the heart of Germany. Advancing northeast from Frankfurt, elements of the Third Army cut into the future Soviet Zone and advanced on Gotha. Just before noon on April 4, the village of Merkers fell to the Third Battalion of the 358th Infantry Regiment, Ninetieth Infantry Division, Third Army. During that day and the next the Ninetieth Infantry Division, with its command post at Keiselbach, consolidated its holdings in the Merkers area.(1)

During April 4 and 5 [1945], displaced persons in the vicinity interrogated by the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) personnel of the Ninetieth Infantry Division mentioned a recent movement of German Reichsbank gold from Berlin to the Wintershal AG’s Kaiseroda potassium mine at Merkers. In all of these instances they quoted rumors, but none stated their own knowledge that gold was present in the mine. But just before noon on April 5, a member of Military Intelligence Team 404-G, attached to the 358th Infantry Regiment, who was in Bad Salzungen, about six miles from Merkers, interviewed French displaced persons who had worked in the mine at Merkers. They told him they had heard that gold had been stored in the mine. The information was passed on to the G-2 (intelligence section) of the Ninetieth Infantry Division, and orders were issued prohibiting all civilians from circulating in the area of the mine.(2)

You can read about Gotha on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Gotha/

Note the date [April 4, 1945] that the Merkers mine was discovered by the Americans, after “displaced persons” told them about the gold.

"displaced persons" who have come back to the Ohrdruf camp

“displaced persons” who came back to the Ohrdruf camp after the Americans arrived

What is a “displaced person”?  This term refers to a former prisoner in a concentration camp, or a Nazi labor camp, who must find his way home because the Nazis have abandoned the camp where he was a prisoner.  The Nazis had abandoned the Ohrdruf  sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 4, 1945, and had marched most the prisoners to the Buchenwald camp, except for a few who were too sick to walk, or a few who had escaped from the march.

How does one justify stealing “the spoils of war” from an ally [the Soviet Union], who has helped to defeat your enemy?  I know — let’s go to visit Ohrdruf, and make a big deal out of the bodies of prisoners who had died of typhus. Let’s “build another page of the necessary evidence as to the brutality of the Germans” as General Patton wrote to General Eisenhower. Let’s take a photo of the dead bodies that were burned at Ohrdruf, and claim that the Germans had burned prisoners alive. Let’s build a museum in Washington, DC  and hang a photo of the burned bodies in front of the museum door.

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

Eisenhower views burned bodies at Ohrdruf

This quote is also from the article written by Greg Bradsher:

[Col. Bernard D.] Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

On April 11 Bernstein returned to Merkers, and that morning, after arranging with Mason for setting up a command post at the mine building for the G-5 officers, he and Rave made an inspection of the art treasures. Later that day Lt. George Stout [one of the Monuments Men], USNR, MFAA Officer, G-5, Twelfth Army Group, and the SHAEF MFAA chief, British Lt. Col. Geoffrey Webb, reported for duty, with the expectation that they would handle the art matters. After Posey’s earlier visit to Merkers, he had notified Webb of the treasure and recommended Stout, former chief of conservation at Harvard’s Fogg Museum and considered America’s greatest expert on the techniques of packing and transporting, be sent to the mine to provide technical guidance. Webb and Stout arrived at Merkers only to find that they needed Bernstein’s permission to see the art. Bernstein showed them his letter from Gay authorizing him to decide who went into the mine and the need for Eddy’s permission for Allied personnel to inspect the mine. Bernstein agreed to let Stout view the works of art, but he denied Webb access.(40)  [George Stout is played by George Clooney in the movie The Monuments Men.]

[…]
Bernstein and Bartlett arrived at the 357th Infantry Regiment Command Post in Merkers at 5 p.m. on April 10. Accompanied by Mason, they went on a tour of the mine to see the vault containing the gold, currency, and art treasure. That evening Bernstein interviewed Veick and Reimer about the gold, currency, and other valuables, as well as any records relating to the gold. Veick provided detailed information about the transportation of the Reichsbank treasure to Merkers and the currency transactions during March and the first days of April. He said he did not know that much about the gold, but Thoms did; “He knows all,” Veick said. Reimer told Bernstein that “the records of the sale of the gold are with Thoms.”(38)

Bernstein, that evening, drove to Patton’s headquarters. Patton told Bernstein that he was very glad Eisenhower was taking responsibility for the gold. Bernstein told him that he wanted to move the Merkers treasure to Frankfurt as quickly as possible and that under the Big Three arrangements at Yalta, the Merkers part of Germany would be taken over by the Russians after the war and that they certainly needed to get the treasure out of the area before the Russians got there. Astounded at what Bernstein told him, not knowing about the postwar arrangements, Patton said he would do everything possible to facilitate Bernstein’s mission.(39)

June 30, 2010

Lest We Forget… the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:54 pm

Lest We Forget... Dwight Eisenhower was a great president who is not often given the credit he deserves to receive. I am grateful for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.  General Eisenhower realized that someday there would be those who deny the holocaust even happened, therefore he took action. Citizens were made aware of the atrocities and pictures were taken. The following was taken from the commission’s website. Reports on the massive genocide inflic … Read More

My comments regarding this post on Jlue’s Weblog which I am re-blogging:

I used to be a great admirer of Dwight D. Eisenhower; he was the first president, for whom I ever voted.  I wore my “I Like Ike” button proudly and I had not one, but two, Eisenhower jackets.

In 1993, I got a computer with a modem and accessed the Internet for the first time.  I got an AOL account and started reading the online newsgroups.  That’s when I learned  about Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “death camps” where German POWs were deliberately denied their rights  under the Geneva Convention.

For a long time, I couldn’t believe it.  Eisenhower had the highest approval rating of any president that America has ever had.  Everybody liked Ike.  As the Toby Keith song goes, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

Why did Eisenhower famously predict that some day there would be people who denied what happened in World War II?  It was because Eisenhower knew that the propaganda campaign that he was planning was based on lies.

An American soldier, who was there when Eisenhower toured Ohrdruf, reported that Eisenhower was rubbing his hands together as he walked around the camp.  Apparently, Ike started planning his propaganda campaign the moment that he saw Ohrdruf.

Almost every word on the Eisenhower Memorial Commission web site, which is quoted on Jlue’s blog, is incorrect.

Jlue wrote:

…Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald…

On the contrary, Ohrdruf was a forced labor camp, which was a sub-camp of the huge Buchenwald concentration camp. Ohrdruf was opened in November 1944 when prisoners were brought from Buchenwald to work on the construction of a vast underground bunker to house a new Führer headquarters for Adolf Hitler.

Ohrdruf was in the vicinity of a secret Nazi communications center and it was also near the Merkers salt mine where the Nazis had stored their gold and art treasures.

There were no gas chambers at Buchenwald; no Holocaust historian makes that claim today.

Jlue wrote:

…When General Eisenhower learned about the camp, he immediately arranged to meet Generals Bradley and Patton at Ohrdruf on the morning of April 12th. By that time, Buchenwald itself had been captured. Consequently, Ike decided to extend the group’s visit to include a tour of the Buchenwald extermination camp the next day. Eisenhower also ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see for themselves what they were fighting against…

Eisenhower did NOT make the arrangement, himself, to meet the generals at Ohrdruf and he did NOT visit Buchenwald the next day.  At that point, Eisenhower could not have cared less about the Nazi concentration camps.

On the morning of April 12, 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the Merkers salt mine near Ohrdruf, along with General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, and other high-ranking American Army officers. The Nazis had hidden valuable paintings and 250 million dollars worth of gold bars inside the salt mine, all of which was confiscated by America as the “spoils of war.”  The location of the mine was in the future zone of occupation of the Soviets, and the “spoils of war” in the mine was supposed to go to the Soviets, but Eisenhower made sure that the Americans got there first.

Eisenhower examines the Nazi gold found in a salt mine on April 12, 1945

The soldier on the far left in the photo above is Benjamin B. Ferencz. In the center is General Eisenhower and behind him, wearing a helmet with four stars is General Omar Bradley. In 1945, Ferencz had been transferred from General Patton’s army to the newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army, where his job was to gather evidence for future trials of German war criminals. A Jew from Transylvania, Ferencz had moved with his family to America at the age of 10 months.

The Kaiseroda salt mine, aka the Merkers mine, shown in the photo above, was found by the 90th Infantry Division near the little town of Merkers, Germany a few days before the Buchenwald camp was discovered by American troops on April 11, 1945.

Hidden deep inside the salt mine was virtually the entire gold and currency reserves of the German Reichsbank, together with all of the priceless art treasures which had been removed from Berlin’s museums for protection against Allied bombing raids and possible capture by the Allied armies.

On the same day that the top American Generals visited the salt mine, they made a side trip to the Ohrdruf forced labor camp after lunch. Except for General Patton, who visited Buchenwald on April 15, 1945, none of the top American Army Generals ever visited another forced labor camp, nor any of the concentration camps.

Although Buchenwald was more important and had more evidence of Nazi atrocities, it was due to the efforts of Captain Alois Liethen that the generals visited Ohrdruf instead. Liethen was one of the first Americans to see Ohrdruf, a few days before the Generals arrived; he was an interpreter and an interrogator in the XX Corp, G-2 Section of the US Third Army.  There were rumors that the Nazis were building an atomic bomb in the vicinity of Ohrdruf, which may have been why Captain Liethen wanted to take the Generals there.