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Nazi Gold

Nobody likes Nazis, but everybody likes gold!

During the course of World War II, the Nazis found themselves in possession of a large amount of gold, ahem, appropriated from subjugated peoples, such as their jewelry, any decorations, or sometimes literally from their mouths. Due to the economic situation in Germany just before the war, few other nations were inclined to have faith in their IOUs. So, Germany made many of its large purchases with quantities of gold, transferred to many nations and sometimes in U-boats for secrecy.

Unsurprisingly, this has excited a lot of people. Like pirates, Nazi Germany is imagined to have secreted large amounts of gold in hidden places, ripe for the avid adventurer to discover. If you find Nazi Gold, it's unequivocally yours — like finding spare change between couch cushions. At the very least, if you find this gold and turn in to the proper authorities, you'll be undercutting any of Those Wacky Nazis remnants from using it to finance any trouble.

Aside from gold, the lost Nazi treasure might also include other valuables pilfered by the Nazis, such as jewelry and priceless works of art.

Half-Truth in Television. While discoveries are not unheard of, finders does not mean keepers. The gold still has legal owners somewhere (and considering how the Nazis got some of those valuables, you'd probably be considered one of the ultimate dicks in the universe for not returning it to its pre-Nazi owners or their descendants). On the other hand, there is the possibility that the owners might give you a small reward for doing so (this is rare, but hardly unheard-of, particularly if you went to particular trouble to get it).

A specific sub-trope of Nazi Gold, popular in central and eastern Europe, involves the Amber Room, which was evacuated from Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) and never seen since. The popular theory is that it was lit on fire accidentally by the Soviets during their bloody advance into Germany, but the chaotic nature of those times makes it nearly impossible to find conclusive proof of what happened.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Lupin III (Red Jacket):
    • "To Be or Nazi Be": The gang is chasing after Hitler's legacy, expecting it to be Nazi gold.
    • "Auntie Ballistic": This time, they're chasing Rommel's hidden treasure. He buried it while fighting against the British forces in Africa.
  • Towards the end of Hellsing it's shown how Millenium has managed to fund their organization for 60+ years. Apparently they have a massive horde of stolen treasure, including a bunch of silver and gold teeth.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, a character is paid in gold for his service to the Delaz Fleet Zeon rebels. The gold looks EXACTLY like the Reichsbank gold bar the Nazis used, with the exception of the swastika replaced by the Principality of Zeon crest. Given the re-occurring allusions to Nazi Germany that Zeon used (all of which are played up to the max in 0083), this is highly appropriate.
  • The crew of the Black Lagoon are hired to recover a painting (rumored to have been painted by Hitler) from a sunken U-Boat in Die Rückkehr des Adlers. Revy decides to also grab whatever else of value she can take alongside the painting (such as looting an Iron Cross from the U-Boat captain's corpse), which creeps out Rock. They are then ambushed by Neo-Nazi's and the painting is stolen from them. Cue the next episode where Dutch and Revy go and exterminate the Neo-Nazi's and find out the person (that suspiciously looks like a certain despot) that hired them was testing the Neo-Nazi group over their effectiveness over "inferior opponents," namely the Black Dutch, the Jewish Benny, and the Asians Revy and Rock.

    Comic Books 
  • In Uncanny X-Men #161, it is revealed that Magneto stole a vast horde of Nazi gold from Baron Von Strucker that he later used to fund his terrorist activities. Considering his back story (Magneto's entire family was murdered at Auschwitz, and he was used as slave labor to transport gas chamber victims to the ovens for disposal), one is tempted to say "good for him".
  • In Warren Ellis' Ministry Of Space, it turns out the British space program was funded primarily from the assets of those who died in the Nazi concentration camps.
  • Subverted in the German comic Rudi. When they get lost in a cavern, they find two skeletons of Nazi soldiers and a huge box full of — invalid old paper money.
  • In the first "season" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics following the television series, Buffy's had the oh so brilliant idea of funding the Slayer organization by robbing Swiss banks. She justified by saying it was all probably Nazi gold anyway. The Slayers using their powers to rob banks didn't exactly endear them to the authorities.

    Film 
  • In the Postal movie, Uwe Boll confesses that he finances his movies with Nazi gold. "Someone has to spend it!"
    • Even worse, a small bag filled with gold teeth (presumably stolen from the corpses of jewish concentration camp prisoners) is shown.
  • James Bond wagers a captured bar of Nazi Gold in a golf game with Goldfinger, implying that he can supply more to the avaricious gold dealer.
  • In Kellys Heroes, A Ragtag Bunch of Misfits attempt to steal a hoard of Nazi gold for themselves while World War II is still raging. They get away with it too.
  • Armor of God II (Operation Condor to Eaglelanders), starring Jackie Chan on a quest to uncover a lost Nazi stash.
  • In Dead Snow, a group of Norwegians find Nazi gold hidden beneath their cabin. Unfortunately, the undead Nazis want it back.
  • Three Kings uses the Kelly's Heroes idea, but applies it to Saddam Hussein and gold stolen from the Sheiks of Kuwait, invaded by Iraq months prior.
  • The 1970s film Brass Target tells the (hypothetical) story of how a group of corrupt U.S. Army officers hired an assassin to kill Patton and make it look like an accident, to cover up their theft of a shipment of recovered Nazi gold.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Erik lays his hands on some Nazi gold and even trolls a Swiss bank manager with it.
  • In Hellboy, Haupstein pays a guide to the site where Rasputin could be resurrected with a bar of gold stamped with a swastika, then kills him.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan attempts to ply an Arab prince with a chest full of gold "donated by the finest families in all of Germany." A last minute edit removed the adjective "Jewish" from Donovan's description of said families.
  • The MacGuffin everyone is after (barring the daydreaming hero) in High Stakes is a treasure chest of Nazi Gold.
    Dorian: The Nazi crown jewels!
  • The Monuments Men are charged with recovering Nazi art plunder during the latter stages of World War 2 in Europe. Ironically for this trope they accidentally stumble across the entire German gold reserve hidden in a mine.
  • Lampshaded in Outpost. When the mercenaries discover a large swastika painted on the wall of an abandoned bunker, there first thought is that their mysterious employer is seeking Nazi gold. He just smirks.

    Literature 
  • In Cryptonomicon, the modern heroes search for Yamashita's gold, more or less the Far East equivalent of this trope. A smaller cache transferred from the Nazis to their Japanese allies also figures in the plot.
  • James Bond
    • In the short story "Octopussy", Bond is assigned to apprehend a hero of the Second World War implicated in a murder involving a cache of Nazi gold. Agent 007 appears briefly in this story, which is told mostly in flashback and from the point of view of Major Dexter Smythe, the villain.
      • This story is briefly mentioned in the film version, with the title character being Smythe's daughter.
    • In The Facts of Death, the father of Alfred Hutchinson was suspected of "mislayed" Nazi gold during the end of WWII. These suspicions are confirmed true when it is revealed that Alfred used the goods, with help of a criminal organization, to fund his political career.
  • In Alistair MacLean's Bear Island, a film crew is sailing to a remote arctic island. Eventually, it turns out that the film is a ruse, as the producers are in fact after a lost U-boat containing Nazi gold.
  • In the Dirk Pitt novel Dragon, Dirk helps uncover a stash of various Nazi treasures. As a reward for his help in uncovering the stash (And disabling a lethal booby trap), the German officer in charge of the excavation lets him keep one of the Me-262 fighter jets stored there.
    • Another Dirk Pitt novel, Sahara, has a plot that centres around Confederate gold. Its movie adaptation is much the same.
  • A futuristic variant occurs in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance where a massive cache of Cetagandan plunder is found, ranging from precious metals to valuable antiques to priceless historical artifacts.
  • A short story in one of Alfred Hitchcock's anthologies involved an investigator trying to track down a gold crucifix stolen from a small town by the Nazis, only to find it had apparently already been melted down into ingots. After crucifix is reforged, and a miracle occurs upon it being touched, the investigator confides to a friend that he found the original crucifix, which was actually made out of lead with gold paint, and the gold bars almost certainly came from gold stolen from Jews sent to the gas chambers.
  • The Joseph Finder novel Vanished features the Iraq war money (see Real Life below).

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the many, many, many MacGuffins in 'Allo 'Allo! were some Nazi gold bars, which were being stolen by three different Nazi groups, a cafe owner and his waitress, and two different resistance groups. Along with some paintings and various other bits and pieces.
  • Guy Secretan of Green Wing is Swiss, and is often insulted for his heritage, including references to Nazi gold. One hurricane of stereotypes runs:
    Guy: "Shut your eyes, think of Switzerland — what do you see?"
    [...]
    Mac: I see a chocolate Phil Collins coming out of a clock every hour, to tidy up his Nazi gold."
  • In an anecdote during his Tinselworm show, Bill Bailey tells how at a corporate UBS gig he was told not to swear, which he was fine with, or mention Nazi gold, which was a problem for him as he starts his act by descending from the ceiling on a giant golden swastika, asking to open an account in NAZI GOLD!
  • In March 2008, The Colbert Report picked up a story about Nazi gold possibly being buried in a small town in Germany. It quickly turned into a parody of Indiana Jones/The Da Vinci Code/National Treasure-type plots ("Oh, they laughed at me at the academy!"), culminating with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, armed with a basketball, being sent to wrest the treasure from the hands of the Germans. It Makes Sense in Context. No it doesn't.
    Stephen: [breaking character after looking at the caption that identifies him as "Stephen Colbert, Nazi Treasure-Hunter"] That actually... I think the hyphen is in the wrong place there... this makes me seem like a Nazi who is hunting treasure, as opposed to someone who is hunting Nazi treasure. It's a small but significant difference.
  • Not gold, but the comedy Private Schulz had the protagonists seeking the forged British bank notes which had been dumped in a lake in Austria. Like every other plan of the title character to get his hands on them, it fails.
  • Defied in one episode of Hogan's Heroes, when the eponymous group is on a mission to intercept a shipment of gold from the Banque de France, which the Nazis robbed. They get it by swapping it with gilded bricks and using the gold (disguised to look like bricks) to fix Colonel Klink's patio, to keep it safe till the end of the war.
  • An episode of Foyle's War has a family of British Nazi sympathizers and some smuggled Nazi Gold.
  • A peculiar example comes from White Collar in the form of an amber-covered music box supposedly taken from the Amber Room. This music box has become the backbone of the show's developing Myth Arc.
    • The music box is one of the clues that eventually leads to a sunken Nazi submarine filled with Nazi treasure and stolen art.
  • An episode of Pawn Stars had one seller come in trying to sell off some silver pieces his grandfather got from a Nazi stronghold during World War II; not surprisingly, the pawn shop didn't take them.
  • An episode of Auction Kings had someone try to auction off a Nazi handbook his father got from the war. In this case, however, there was a buyer.
  • As part of a bizarre fake infomercial on [adult swim], there's an ad for a mom-and-pop store that specializes in exchanging Nazi gold for money.
  • The MacGyver episode "The Ten Percent Solution" had the Phoenix Foundation's attempting to auction a painting only to be interrupted by a Holocaust survivor who claims the painting was stolen from his family by the Nazis. The subsequent suspicious attempted silencing of said survivor leads Mac to discover a massive neo-Nazi conspiracy that infiltrated the entire West Coast of the US.
  • NUMB3RS had an episode where an painting was stolen from an museum. An old Jewish women who grew up in Berlin said it belonged on her home wall and it has been a court case when the episode starts. Both her son and the owner of the painting is accused of owning it, in the end it is the museum curator that found out it is a fake. The original is found to be sitting in a gallery in Budapest.
  • The Iraq War reconstruction money was featured in Nikita in which Division stole it and framed the military investigator that went looking for it.
    • Leverage also featured the Iraq war money in "The Homecoming Job." It was originally believed that it was a simple coverup of a shooting gone wrong but it was later shown to be this.
  • A season one episode of Mission: Impossible had Rollin infiltrate a Neo-Nazi band in order to track down a massive cache of this before they did.
    • This episode was reworked in the an episode of the 1988 revival called "The Legacy". Here the people attempting to retrieve the gold were the grandsons of nazi officers, rather than the sons.

    Radio 
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound (the Radio version of That Mitchell and Webb Look) featured a sketch with a Swiss radio program about the History of Switzerland. The particular episode was "The Years 1939 to 1945: The Gold Rush".
    Old Swiss Man: My brother ze bank manager came to me and said he had run out of room in his bank vault for all of ze gold. And so I hit upon an idea. I decided to move my entire family up into our attic so that we could fill ze rest of ze house with Fascist Treasure.

    Video Games 
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune sees the hero on the trail of El Dorado — and following in the footsteps of the Nazis who got there first.
  • Deus Ex featured the Templar Gold which had been hidden from the Nazis.
  • Wolfenstein 3D allowed the player to collect oodles of gold trinkets to gain points; if they got enough gold, they got an extra life bonus. Return to Castle Wolfenstein also included collectible gold and other precious things (including some bottles of Saint-Émilion 1938, a great Bordeaux wine) as a nod to its predecessor, but here it was primarily used as an Easter Egg and gave no benefit to the player.
  • In The Saboteur Nazi Gold is one of the items found in a crate of contraband.

    Visual Novels 
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Episode 7, Requiem of the Golden Witch, reveals that Kinzo's ten tons of hidden gold is, while not quite Nazi gold, gold that belonged to the Italian Social Republicnote  that was smuggled by U-boat out of Italy before it fell. The impression on the gold bars is not actually the Ushiromiya one-winged eagle crest, but a partially faded imprint of the ISR eagle that Kinzo later adopted as the family symbol.

    Web Original 
  • In one episode of Freemans Mind, Gordon Freeman speculates that there's Nazi Gold hidden somewhere in Black Mesa. "Ziegen Sie Mir das Geld!"
  • The Chaos Timeline has fascist gold, which is discovered by Red Pirates who decide to take off for Braseal (sic) instead of giving it back.
  • slowbeef of Retsupurae speculates that this is how the company that made Gaming In The Clinton Years was funded.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in The Simpsons episode "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'"; when Abe finally unlocks his stash of priceless Nazi paintings, he is immediately stopped by State Department agents who confiscate and return them to their rightful owner, a spoiled and obnoxious German yuppie, for diplomatic purposes.
    Agent: Baron von Wortzenberger, on behalf of the American people, I apologize for —
    Baron: Ja ja ja, mach schnell mit der art things, huh? I must get back to Dancecentrum in Stuttgart in time to see Kraftwerk. (they begin loading paintings into his car) ...Hey, watch out for the CD-changer in mein trunk! Idiot.

    Real Life 
  • On the subject of not giving Nazi Gold to its rightful owners, Swiss banks held onto their stashes for quite some time, albeit on the somewhat reasonable grounds that it was extremely difficult to prove exactly who the rightful owners were. When they finally did return the gold to the estates of the claimants, it was considered 'too little, too late'.
  • On the other side of the Axis, Imperial Japan too was known to have looted quite a bit from much of Eastern Asia and there are occasional stories of finding hidden caches of Imperial Gold. This was the basis for part of the plot in Cryptonomicon.
    • Better yet are the missing Swords. So at the end of World War 2, after the Japanese surrendered, all arms had to be turned in, this was interpreted to include swords, and cultural treasures were not spared. American servicemen tended to look for souvenirs and grab the nicest swords they could. Swords worth millions are still lost. Honjo Masamune is the equivalent of the Mona Lisa of swords and still missing.
  • Russia goes through upheavals very regularly, and every time a lot of gold belonging to a dead regime allegedly vanishes into nowhere. The two latest examples are Admiral Kolchak's Gold (actually the Russian Imperial gold), and the Soviet "Gold of the Party". Both are memetic treasures with unknown whereabouts.
  • Tremendous stashes of gold from fallen regimes are hardly limited to those countries. The US has Confederate gold, Scotland has a huge dissapeared donation towards the Jacobite Uprising, and the Inca Empire has the Treasure of the Llanganatis.
  • There are still expeditions launched every other year to find the Nazi Gold supposedly hidden in Lake Toplitz in the Austrian alps. A reference to this myth is made in Goldfinger. There is a good reason for this. In the 1950s divers discovered over 100 million UK Pounds of face value Five Pound notes in the lake. These bills were intended to be circulated in the UK in an attempt to destabilize the British financial system. When it became obvious that the war was lost, the counterfeit notes were dumped in an attempt to hide the entire scheme's existence. While that particular design of Five Pound note has long since been removed from circulation, the surviving Nazi counterfeit notes are now collectors' items.
  • A more recent variation involves stolen US cash after the 2003 Iraq War. The US government sent 12 billion dollars into Iraq and 6.6 billion of that went missing. Due to the fact that it was needed urgently, the money had no controls and was simply thrown around. A similar play was done in Afghanistan but with smaller amounts. In that case CIA agents were parachuted into the country with millions of dollars in cash strapped to them.


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