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History of the Gold Train

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From the Archives : Originally published December 12th, 2007
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Category : History of Gold

The story of the Gold Train you will read is the greatest theft of a people's personal and national treasure in the history of the world. And sadly, it was accomplished by American European occupation troops.

Related link: NYT, 1999, G.I.'s Are Called Looters of Jewish Riches

Wikipedia: Hungarian Gold Train

 for the complete story, go here. Here's a snippet below & contains a partial list of the booty:


24hGold - History of the Gold ...

The story of the Gold Train was summarized in a poignantly written report by the Central Board of Jews in Hungary to the State Department, on July 28, 1947:

In April 1944, after the invasion of Hungary by the Germans, the Fascist Government of Hungary of those days issued a discriminatory decree against the Jewish population obliging them to deposit their gems, their golden jewels ornamented with gems, and generally all their valuables made of gold with the Authorities. This provision went so far, as to oblige Jewish individuals to deliver their wedding rings.

Accordingly the jewels and other valuables of 800,000 Hungarian Jews were seized by the Fascist Government.

On the approach of our liberators, the Nazi government of Szalasi had these valuables laden on a train consisting of 44 cars and had them abducted westward under military escort. This railway train was seized in May 1945 by the U.S. troops of occupation. This was the so-called 'Gold Train'. The wagons contained other valuables, too, besides the jewels e.g. oriental carpets silver, furs, etc....[T]he Hungarian military escort handed over the train pushed into the railway tunnel near Boeckstein intact apart from minor cases of theft and blackmail and without its doors having been forced open, to the American troops of occupation at the railway station of Werfen. 4

The Central Board also referred to various reports available on the Gold Train:

There is a report available on the jewels and golden valuables ordered by Commander Arpad Toldy to be laden on two lorries and carried to the French zone, where they were seized by the French troops.

According to these reports the following valuables were taken under control by the United States Military Authorities:

10 Cases with markings indicating contents of gold. Average weight of cases 45 kg.

1 case containing golden coins. Average weight 100 kg.

18 cases marked as containing golden jewels. Average weight

35 kg.

32 cases containing golden watches, weight varying from

30 to 60 kg.

The following amounts of foreign currencies were handed over in a closed trunk: $ 44, 600, Swiss Francs 52, 360, L 84, Palestinian L 10, Canadian Dollars 66, Swedish Kronen 5, Reichsmark 15, Pengo 260,484. This trunk contained a sealed package, containing brilliants.

1560 cases containing silver with different weights.

1 case of silver bricks

About 100 artistic pictures

About 3000 knotted Persian and Oriental carpets and some home- manufactured carpets sporadically, among them.

I cannot tell exactly the number of the cases. According to the reports received from the officials, there were also clothes, fur-coats, made of noble furs, stamp-collections, collections of laces. Cameras, gramophons [sic], silver-jewels, porcelains, pocket and wrist watches (about 8-10.000) laden into the wagons. The contents of two wagons were not assorted, they contained every sort of valuables mixed. 5 (Top of Page)

According to the Central Board, the following assets were transported into the French Zone where they were seized by French troops in St. Anton:

31 cases with markings of gold

2 cases containing golden coins

3 cases containing golden watches

8 cases of brilliants

2 cases containing selected pieces of brilliants and pearls.6

On July 27, 1948 Secretary of State George C. Marshall described his own understanding of the fate of the Gold Train in a cable sent to the U.S. Legation in Budapest:

Prior to their withdrawal from Hungary the Nazis had collected a considerable quantity of movable property belonging to Jewish victims of Nazi action. It is understood that this property belonged to Jewish victims in all parts of so-called Greater Hungary. It was removed by train to Austria, where, having been separated into two trains, it was found by American and French forces. 7

The U.S. forces removed the assets found on the Gold Train to storage facilities in Salzburg, Austria. The majority of the assets were stored in the Military Government Warehouse (also referred to as MG Warehouse or the Property Control Warehouse). The paintings from the Gold Train were stored elsewhere, according to undated notes from Ardelia Hall, the State Department’s Advisor for Restitution issues. Hall’s notes detail the storage of the Gold Train paintings:

Train - Wurfen - stopped there in Wurfen [sic]. Mostly property Nazis looted from Jews. Paintings brought to Salzburg in storage in Karabinersaal in Residenz.8

The paintings stored in the Residenz were ignored and not inventoried until 1947, but the assets stored in the MG warehouse attracted the immediate attention of the American forces.

Marshall’s July 1948 cable described the assumptions that lay behind U.S. treatment of the assets on the Gold Train:

American Forces having examined the portion of the Hungarian train in the American Zone of Austria, the U.S. Commander [General Mark Clark] determined that the contents therefore were unidentifiable as to owners and, in view of the territorial changes in Hungary, as to national origin; restitution to Hungary being therefore not feasible, it was determined, with the approval of this government, that the property in question would be given to the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees [IGCR]. The basis for this action was the decision of this Government to apply to so-called non-monetary gold found in Austria the principle of Article 8 of the Paris Reparation Agreement of December 1945 and of the Power Agreement of June 1946 for the implementation of this provision.9

The U.S. Government and military authorities maintained that it was not possible to identify the ownership of the property on the Gold Train. The representatives of the Hungarian Jewish community and the Hungarian Government, however, vigorously protested otherwise...

[end snippet]

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