In pics: Did US soldiers rob the holocaust victims? Find out!
- Nov 20, 2013, 13:57 PM IST
New Delhi: Did you know valuables such as gold watches, rings, tooth fillings, glasses, and currency were taken away from the inmates on arrival at the concentration camps? Well yes, these items were then sent back to Berlin.
In May 1945, as the war drew to a close, a train loaded with valuables with gold, jewelry, paintings and rugs that were taken by the Nazis was abandoned in a tunnel in Austria. According to President Bill Clinton's Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States, soldiers did some of their own looting in a Europe devastated by World War II.
The commission says American soldiers took control of the so-called Gold Train, but made no attempt to return the loot -- which was accompanied by a list of owners' names -- to Hungary. Part of the treasure disappeared immediately. The rest was sent to military warehouses in Austria. Some of it was requisitioned by high-ranking US Army officers for their personal use.
At the time, US policy stated that identifiable art and cultural material should be returned to the country it was taken from. However, according to the report, the property was not returned..
There were reports that wedding rings and other valuables of Nazi victims were stolen. The US Army valiantly fought to the death against Adolf Hitler to destroy evil, not to permit some of those who fought to enrich themselves at the expense of Hitler's victims.
The report said more than 1,100 paintings were given to the Austrian government, in breach of US policy, and many of the cultural valuables aboard the train, from silver platters to loose diamonds, were sold at auction in New York to benefit non-repatriable refugees.
The report said that the Austrian government told US investigators ‘a portion of this property has been restituted,’ but gave no accounting of the disposition of individual paintings, the report said. Checks with Hungarian authorities also found no record of the paintings or other items.
Appropriation of Nazi loot by US forces took place ‘at the highest levels,’ said the report, listing five US generals who ‘took valuables from the gold train to furnish their residences and offices.’
The report cited the government documents alleging that Major Gen. Harry J Collins, commander of a division in Austria, took from the confiscated goods five rugs, eight paintings, chinaware for 45 people, silverware, linens and bedding for his home, villa, office and private railroad car.
The report showed the general requisitioned items of ‘the very best quality and workmanship available in the land.’
The report stated that rugs, silverware and other items also went to Generals Luade, Hume, Howard and Linden. The report did not include the first names of these officers, and the Pentagon has not yet released any additional information.
The commission found no record of what happened to goods requisitioned by senior military personnel.
The commission staff said in the report that some valuable items, such as watches, seized from the Hungarian gold train nine days after the May 7, 1945, Allied victory in Europe were sold in the US Army Exchange.
(In picture: A few of the thousands of wedding rings the Germans removed from Holocaust Victims to salvage the gold.)
Click the slides to see the horrifying pictures of the holocaust victims…
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