Document reveals Nazi gold trail

Click to follow
Governments due to receive pounds 40m of gold recaptured from the Nazis at the end of the war need full access to archives to decide its fate, Jewish organisations said yesterday. Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, has launched a fund for Holocaust survivors, and suggested that the outstanding gold could be donated for the benefit of victims of the Nazis.

The final payout of 5.6 tons of gold is due within months under the auspices of the Tripartite Gold Commission of America, Britain and France who were charged with administering it at the end of the war. But Elan Steinberg, of the World Jewish Congress, produced a previously unknown document yesterday which showed that the Allies knew that at least 55 tons of the gold in German reserves had come originally from the accounts of private individuals. He said it should have been returned to them in 1945 and it was obvious the pounds 40m remaining should be returned to survivors now.

The discovery of the document, from files not yet published, also threw weight behind demands to open the archives. "We are trying to reconstruct the Nazi gold trail.That was the job of the TGC. We're trying to reinvent the wheel," Mr Steinberg said. America supports this move. But British delegates said the records must be secret until after the work of the commission was complete. Its work was held up for many years after the war by disputes over competing claims and the British did not want that to happen again if negotiations became public.

Croatia also announced that it would be donating its share of the gold to the fund. The second day of the conference investigating Nazi gold, hosted by Mr Cook, saw the Vatican coming under fire from delegates from Britain, Israel and the Romanies. Dr Donald Kenrick, of the International Romani Union, said its research suggested gold and jewellery taken from gypsies in the Jasenovac camp in Croatia, had been sent to the Vatican. The union has confirmed records of 250,000 deaths in concentration camps and believes up to 500,000 gypsies may have lost their lives.