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    Looted Gold

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    Divers start search for looted gold

    An international team of divers has been given the go-ahead to search for sunken treasure taken from Greek Jews by a Nazi officer.

    Searchers believe $2.4 million worth of gold, jewels, and other valuables were aboard a ship scuttled in 1943 by a Nazi SS officer who demanded payments from Jews to avoid sending them to death camps. The officer never kept his promise, and nearly the entire Jewish community in Greece was wiped out during World War II.

    The team of 12 divers has begun their search from the port of Kalamata, 175 miles south-east of Athens. Permission was granted for a five-day search, which will concentrate on the area around Skhiza Island off the south-western tip of the Peloponnesus, port authorities said last Thursday.

    Underwater searches -- and even scuba diving expeditions -- are prohibited without permits in most areas of Greece to avoid the theft of antiquities.

    The reputed treasure was assembled by Max Merten, an SS officer. Searchers believe Merten sank the ship, apparently intending to recover the loot later.

    Merten returned to Greece in 1958 and was arrested. He was convicted as a war criminal, but was released under a government amnesty.

    The Central Board of Jewish Communities, one of the search organisers, got information on the wreck's possible location from a Greek man who claimed to have been imprisoned with Merten.

    Fifty percent of any treasure recovered will belong to Greece. The rest will be divided between the Jewish board and the informant. Claims also may be filed by survivors of those who died on the ship.

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    Dutch to use looted gold to aid its Shoah survivors

    AMSTERDAM (JTA) -- Holland wants to use its $10 million share of an international gold pool to help its own Jewish community.

    "Part of this gold was stolen from the Jews in our country," said Joop van Kemenade, chairman of the Dutch government committee investigating restitution of Jewish property.

    His comment was to explain why Holland doesn't want to contribute the funds to a newly created international fund for Holocaust survivors.

    The United States and Britain launched the international fund at last week's Nazi gold conference in London, held under the auspices of the Tripartite Gold Commission.

    The conference was geared in part to determine how 5.6 tons of residual gold, currently worth between $55 million and $60 million, should be distributed by the commission.

    The United States, Britain and France created the commission after World War II to distribute looted Nazi gold back to its rightful owners.

    Stuart Eizenstat, the Clinton administration's point man on the Nazi gold issue, has offered the Dutch the option of spending $10 million from the new fund on projects for Dutch survivors, provided that Holland agrees to participate in the fund.

    Nine countries have so far committed more than $15 million to the fund. The United States pledged $4 million, rising to $25 million if Congress approves. And Britain said it would contribute $1.7 million.

    Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece, Poland and Austria -- which all have claims to the Tripartite gold -- said they were ready to transfer part or all of their claims to the new fund. Brazil and Argentina also said they plan to make donations.

    France, like Holland, has indicated that it would not contribute its share to the fund -- some $21 million -- but instead give it to its own Jewish population.

    Whether the United States, Britain and France will agree to the Dutch plan is uncertain, but Dutch Jewry is already debating how to distribute the funds.

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    I remember watching a TV special in the US about 10-15 years ago. They were looking for nazi gold in a lake in Austria. it lasted about 12 hours with lots of film clips and you could phone in with donations for some "Victims of the war" charity. All the time focusing on a metal container seen by a remote conrolled submersible. After 12 hours of donations and stinging this out they managed to get theis container onto the edge of the lake..... a container that had contained tank munition... filled by the Germans with gold and thrown in the lake....

    After 12 hours they opened it.....

    ... and found tank munitions....

    back to the old drawing board ;-)

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    There was one on Sky a few months back, I only caught the end of it. But again they were dving in a lake in Austria- at the bottom they found bundles and bundles of counterfeit pound notes. They had some old German guy with them, I think he was the guy that had made them, he said they were so well preserved, by the water. I assume that the Bank of England had them destroyed short afterwards?

    I`ve just bought a copy of a book called Rommel`s Gold by Peter Haining, I`ll let you know if its any good.

    Chris, putting the anti-climax aside was the programme any good?

    There was another good one on Sky a few weeks ago, called Nazi Gold which was rather good. I also have a DVD that I bought off Ebay again called Nazi Gold which is very interesting!!

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    To me, a more interesting (and important) story than any number of legendary lost treasures lies in the fate of the monies deposited by the NAZIs in swiss banks. It began as gold teeth, among other things, taken from Jews of various nationalities, and was sent to Zurich for safekeeping in case the "1000 year Reich" wasn't!

    Now the Swiss are reluctant to give it up. Go figure! They're not keeping it for the original depositers, their just keeping it! :angry:

    I take no position on who should get it or how - though I have opinions - but somebody other than the banks should be beneifitting from it. Who and how is a more complicated and less exciting story but still one worth some TV and newspaper time, i think.

    Sorry to add sucha "downer" note to a lighthearted thread!


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