Loot, gold, and tradition in the United Kingdom's financial warfare strategy, 1939-1945



Wylie N (2009) Loot, gold, and tradition in the United Kingdom's financial warfare strategy, 1939-1945. International History Review, 31 (2), pp. 299-328.

First paragraph: The Third Reich's gold sales during the Second World War came to public notice in the 1990s, owing to growing interest in the fate of personal assets - bank accounts, properties, paintings, and other works of art - stolen by the Nazi regime and its collaborators, which had remained beyond the reach of their rightful owners. The investigations then carried out, often officially sponsored, shed light on the murky world of international finance during and immediately after the war, and exposed an unknown chapter in gold's long history as the currency of first choice in times of war or political uncertainty. In light of the research, estimates of the financial resources available to Germany during the war have been revised upwards. Besides occupation costs, levied from territories directly under German control, and the financial credits extorted from neutrals and satellites, the Third Reich both ransacked Europe's state gold reserves and extracted smaller, though significant, quantities of gold from private individuals, some of whom perished in the gas chambers. As a result, Germany was able to more than treble its pre-war holdings of gold, estimated at about $298.9 million in 1939 values, by adding some $614 million worth to its war chest. Of this impressive haul, approximately two-thirds is believed to have been sold to third parties - predominantly neutral central banks - by the time the war ended.

International History Review: Volume 31, Issue 2

FundersUniversity of Nottingham
Publication date31/12/2009
Publication date online01/12/2010

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Professor Neville Wylie

Professor Neville Wylie

Deputy Principal