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Nazi Gold

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Nobody likes Those Wacky Nazis, but everybody likes gold!

During the course of World War II, the Nazis found themselves in possession of a large amount of gold taken/stolen 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 hand it over 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). In the cases of the above-pictured Reichsbank gold bars, however, it would be impossible to ever determine who it originally belonged to before the Nazis stole it and melted it down.note 


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. It's generally accepted that it was accidentally destroyed when General Rokossovsky's Third Ukrainian Front ground its way through the area in the monumentally bloody East Prussian Campaign of January-April 1945, but the chaotic nature of those times makes it nearly impossible to find conclusive proof of what happened. On a more positive note, Germany and Russia worked together to recreate this room, finishing decades of work in 2003.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lupin III (Red Jacket):
  • Towards the end of Hellsing it's shown how Millenium has managed to fund their organization for 60+ years. Apparently they have a massive hoard of stolen treasure, including a bunch of silver and gold teeth. This turns out to be the Captain's undoing, as silver from a tooth (taken from a Jewish martyr, natch) is just as effective as a silver bullet to a werewolf.
  • 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 framed 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. The painting itself was not actually painted by Hitler, instead, a copy of records of hidden Nazi bank accounts was hidden between the painting and the backing.

    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 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.
  • In one G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) story, the Joes are tasked with hunting down an airplane a Nazi fugitive had to prevent COBRA from getting ahold of the potent nerve gas inside. To their surprise, they end up discovering a second plane filled with this. Turns out the fugitive didn't want to die for the Furher, killed the crew and stole both and hid out in Argentina. Since they were also tasked with preventing an Israeli force from getting to him as part of their agreement, they happily followed the agreement... so that the fugitive's angry associates would get to him instead.

  • 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 Kelly's 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." (He's more interested in their Cool Car instead). 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 II in Europe. Ironically for this trope they accidentally stumble across the entire German gold reserve hidden in a mine.
    • This incident indeed happened in Real Life. A massive hoard of Nazi treasure, including the majority, if not all of, the gold and currency reserves of the Reichsbank as well as looted works of art and more grimly looted items such as gold teeth, eyeglasses and personal effects of Holocaust victims, were discovered in a salt mine in Merkers-Kieselback in the center of Germany. Monuments Men gives the idea that Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Montgomery were short-sighted and boorish for posing with the gold bars rather than with the Ghent Altarpiece. However, for all the vast importance of the art to world culture, getting the fact that the Allies had essentially seized Germany's checkbook disseminated to the wider world was more important to winning the war. With no hard currency, the few remaining creditors still willing to support Germany pulled out, turning a grim situation for the Third Reich into a utterly hopeless one.
  • Lampshaded in Outpost. When the mercenaries discover a large swastika painted on the wall of an abandoned bunker, their first thought is that their mysterious employer is seeking Nazi gold. He just smirks.
  • Below The Sea (1933) features a plot to retrieve Imperial German gold lost during World War I.
  • The 2014 movie Black Sea involves the attempt of a group of crooks to pull off a salvage mission of a long-lost U-Boat off the coast of Georgia, that was sunken early in World War Two that has two tons of gold in its cargo hold. Everything goes to hell for them almost from the word "go".
  • The plot of The Train involves the efforts of a French Resistance cell to prevent a collection of art stolen by a Wicked Cultured German general from becoming this.
  • American Renegades: In the films Distant Prologue the Nazi's massacred the population of a Serbian village to hide $360,000,000 (in 1995 dollars) inside the church, only to be killed themselves when La Résistance blew up a local dam and drowned them before they could leave. The main plot of the story features a NATO peacekeeping team trying to retrieve the money.
  • The 1946 Marx Brothers film A Night in Casablanca revolves around a load of Nazi loot. The pilot who'd been forced to fly the treasure out of France deliberately crashed his plane in Morocco and it wound up concealed in the hotel. A Nazi Nobleman hiding out in the city has been killing the hotel's managers in an effort to get himself appointed to the post so he could acquire the treasure and smuggle it to South America.

  • 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.
    • The gold recovered from the sunken German submarine also turns out to be the Solomonic gold that much of the plot of The Baroque Cycle revolved around.
  • 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 "mislaying" 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.
  • Dirk Pitt Adventures
    • In 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 on a planet they'd previously invaded and occupied, ranging from precious metals to valuable antiques to priceless historical artifacts.
  • The Substance of Martyrs, by William Sambrot, collected in Alfred Hitchcock's anthology Stories Not for the Nervous, 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 the crucifix is reforged, and a miracle occurs upon it being touched, the investigator confides to the narrator 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 explains how at one gig he was told not to swear or mention Nazi gold. Bill chose to begin the gig by descending from the ceiling on a giant golden swastika, singing "Nah-nah-nah-Nazi Gold/Nazi Gold/Gold, gold/always believe in your soul/you're indestructible - like the Third Reich!" Eventually, it was revealed that the gig was sponsored by a Swiss bank directly implicated in the laundering of Nazi gold during World War II and apparently their support of the Nazis helped prolong the war by at least two years. Bill then called upon the audience members to pay a visit to their local branch of the bank and ask to open an account with...
  • 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. The man had been protected from prosecution for his secret business deal with Nazis, but the discovery of a gold box given to him as a gift destroys it. Foyle investigates the box itself and discovers it was the holder for a prayer-book, which was stolen from a murdered Jewish family.
  • 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.
  • A plot point in season 2 of Detectorists. When suspicions are raised about the motives of a German visitor in wanting to excavate the site of a crashed WWII German aeroplane, a normally silent member of the metal detecting club suggests that he might be searching for Nazi gold smuggled out of Germany by the Luftwaffe. This is dismissed by the other members on the grounds that surely everyone knows it's a myth. But she's right - there's no gold at the crash site, but that is what the visitor is looking for. It turns out that he's got a criminal record in Germany for disturbing war graves in his quest.
  • The Villain Protagonist of Kessler (a spin-off of Secret Army) has access to a Swiss Bank Account containing wealth looted from occupied Europe during WW2. Considerable dramatic tension is made of what Kessler might do with these funds — use them to live comfortably in exile, or fund a neo-Nazi resurgence?
  • The Mandalorian: Sci-fi variant. A small cell of the Imperial Remnant has almost nothing; they've been reduced to hiding in a small warehouse in the slums, and their once pristine white Stormtrooper armor is dirty and scarred. They do, however, have a large cache of beskar steel, an extremely rare and valuable metal that the Empire stole from the Mandalorians in the Great Purge. They are therefore able to hire quite a few bounty hunters, including the title Mandalorian. Mandalorians are too pragmatic to turn down such a lucrative job, but his tribe is not happy that he is working for the Empire that slaughtered their people and stole their treasures. Just to drive the comparison, each beskar ingot is even stamped with the Imperial logo.
  • Unsolved Mysteries profiled a few of these cases. Among them are:
    • Yamashita's treasure was a stash of gold bars, jewels and a golden Buddha found by amateur treasure hunters in the Phillipines in 1971; these had been left behind by General Tomoyuki Yamashita during the Second World War. The entire treasure was confiscated by Ferdinand Marcos, who had one of the finders brutally tortured until he revealed its location. The Buddha has never been found since the end of Marcos' reign. More details can be read here.
    • The Lunersee Lake Treasure is believed to be a cache of gold hidden by Nazis in a lake in Brand, Austria. It too has never been found.

  • 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 
  • Medal of Honor: Rising Sun has Yamashita's gold, gold looted from Southeast Asia by the Japanese Army general of the same name, which becomes the MacGuffin of the second half of the game. The game's Big Bad, Commander Shima, hopes to use the stolen treasure as a trump card into helping overthrow the German and Soviet governments through the help of bribed accomplices.
  • 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.
  • Used to varying degrees in the Wolfenstein games:
  • In The Saboteur Nazi Gold is one of the items found in a crate of contraband.
  • Sniper Elite V2 has exactly 100 bars of Nazi gold scattered around Berlin for the player to find. Gameplay-wise, they do nothing; they're just a collectible to find.

    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 

    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.
  • One episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force has Carl purchase a storage unit, hoping to find something valuable to sell, including Nazi gold.
    Carl: If you see anything with a swastika on it, tell me. I know a guy.

    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'.
    • Immediately after the end of World War II, a lot of new-looking Swiss gold coins with dates from late 1930s stamped on them appeared in circulation. There was much suspicion that the coins were product of the Swiss government attempting to launder the ill-gotten Nazi gold in their (or their banks') vaults.
  • On the other side of the Axis, Imperial Japan too was known to have looted quite a bit from much of Eastern and Southeast Asia (this includes the priceless paleontological fossil artifact "The Peking Man", as well as the prized Yamashita's gold) 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, despite General MacArthur's occupation authority attempting to preserve the most culturally and artistically significant swords. Swords worth millions are still lost, many probably in the attics of the sons and daughters of servicemen who don't know the difference between a truly priceless sword and a run of the mill one. 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 disappeared 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. And legal to own specifically because the design is out of circulation.
  • 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.
  • A German metal detector operator in southern Hamburg found a cache of about 200 Nazi gold coins in a burial mound in July 2015 that ended up appraised at €45,000 and pocketed a nice €2,500 as his finder's fee.
  • The S.S. Republic sunk on October 25, 1865, loaded with gold and silver coins for use as hard currency to bolster the reformed United States's economy following the end of the Civil War a few months prior. This is an example of a lost hoard which was successfully found; after being located in 2003, a salvage operation recovered most of the coins, which are now quite desired by numismatic collectors.
  • In August 2015, Polish officials confirmed the existence of a Nazi gold train near the town of Walbrzych, allegedly detected by a ground-penetrating radar, containing weapons, jewellery, artwork and archive documents. They also warn that the train could be mined and ridden with hazardous materials, in order to deter treasure hunters. The original finders were two treasure hunters, a German and a Pole, who tipped off the government after they had gotten an alleged Deathbed Confession from a man who claimed to be one of the people who helped hide away the train in 1945. Prior to this, the train had been nothing more than the subject of rumors and Urban Legends in Poland. Unfortunately, excavations revealed nothing, and the radar results were said to have been due to underground ice deposits.


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