Israeli scours German lake for Jewish gold looted by Nazis

 

Berlin

An Israeli investigative journalist has launched a search for nearly half-a-ton of Jewish-owned gold and platinum believed to have been stolen by the Nazis and dumped in a remote lake north of Berlin during the last days of the Second World War.

Yaron Svoray, who is also an anti-Nazi campaigner, announced that he has begun a new attempt to find the stolen gold using sophisticated sonar equipment, following a number of previous failed bids.

“It’s about the people the treasure belongs to. It is time that they obtained a little justice,” Mr Svoray told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

The lost gold and platinum is thought to be encased in 18 crates lying at the bottom of eastern Germany’s Stolpsee lake. In 1981, the Stasi – the hated Communist secret police – used army dredging barges to scour the 40ft-deep lake but found nothing.

Mr  Svoray’s previous efforts to track down property stolen by the Nazis resulted in the recovery of 40 uncut Jewish-owned diamonds decades after the end of the war. Having infiltrated neo-Nazi groups in Europe and South America, the 59-year-old has also written a book entitled In  Hitler’s Shadow, which was later turned into a film.

The author, who lost several of his relatives in the Holocaust, said he would be using professional divers and the latest sonar detectors to conduct his search of the Stolpsee. German authorities in the state of Brandenburg said they were assisting him.

According to some reports, the crates contain 350kg of gold and 100kg of platinum in bars which were stolen from prisoners at the Ravensbrück concentration camp near the Stolpsee. Another version holds that the precious metals were seized during the Kristallnacht pogrom in which countless Jewish businesses were ransacked by the Nazis in November 1938.

A German eyewitness named Eckard Litz told Allied investigators after the war that, on one night in March 1945, he had seen SS troops forcing emaciated concentration camp prisoners to load inflatable boats with heavy crates which were then ferried to the centre of the Stolpsee and thrown overboard. The boats made six such journeys. The SS then shot all the prisoners dead and sank their bodies in the lake together with the shot-through boats.

The sunken treasure saga remained almost forgotten until 1981 when a West German journalist named Gerd Heidemann rediscovered the story. Mr Heidemann, who obtained dubious notoriety for his role in the faked “Hitler Diaries” scandal of the mid 1980s, travelled to Communist East Berlin and proclaimed to the Stasi that he had a map showing the spot in the lake where the treasure lay.

The news reportedly “electrified” the infamous East German Stasi chief Erich Mielke who dispatched a unit of Stasi officers to the Stolpsee and ordered them to oversee a covert dredging operation code named “autumn wind”. After weeks, the Stasi abandoned the attempt empty-handed.

Erich Köhler, a local historian from the town of Himmelpfort near Stolpsee, said residents had confirmed the murderous SS cloak-and-dagger operation to sink the crates.

But he said he believed the boxes more probably contained concentration camp files which the Nazis were trying to dispose of before the Red Army invaded.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape