21st March 1939. Nazi Gold.
Today in 1939 the President of the Bank of International Settlement (BIS) required the Bank of England to transfer £5.6m of gold (1) from Number 2 to Number 17 Account.
A seeming innocuous and routine banking operation, except it was a transfer of gold, from the recently invaded Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, into German funds. The following ten days saw £4m sold to help Nazi re-armament.
This requirement to transfer the gold, came after Hitler had invaded Sudetenland, in breach of the Treaty of Munich of September 1938, when Germany had been given the territory, in exchange for peace.
Moreover edicts from the BIS (2) set up after the First World War, were protected by international protocol, and had to be obeyed. Also Sir Otto Niemeyer happened to be Chairman at the time.
According to the Bank of England ‘s own records, the Governor at that time, Sir Montague Norman (3) told the Treasury on March 22nd, that he ‘had received a telephone call from the Governor of the Bank of France, a proposal that they make a joint protest to the President of the BIS against a possible delivery of Czech assets to Germany.’
Also that they ‘should join in making a specific request to transfer no Czech assets pending the next meeting.’
Thus France was willing to withstand pressure to sell the gold. However Norman ‘declined’, his position being: ’It would be wrong and dangerous to attempt for political reasons to influence the decision of the President of the BIS.’
Though Norman was a known German sympathiser, being a friend of Schacht, the German Economics Minister and Reichsbank President, he was also aware that the banks, in Britain, were owed a considerable sum by Germany.
However by May it had become a political issue and on May 26th Chancellor, Sir John Simon asked Norman if we still had the gold, Norman obfuscated the issue which he was able to do in that it was still held here in our vaults: technically, it was only an account transfer, but still a change of real ownership.
The Press tipped off George Strauss Labour MP who asked Prime Minister Chamberlain about the Czech treasure, but was met with no proper answer, Norman advising the government that it was impossible to determine the real owner of the gold.
In the summer of 1942 President Roosevelt reported Norman’s activities to Churchill, who asked Secretary of War, Anthony Eden to investigate, in particular that Norman had secretly met Schacht in neutral Sweden.(4)
Eden quizzed Norman, but then the records cease, no doubt Churchill didn’t want the Americans to know our concerns about Norman.
And all the time the public was oblivious and would remain so!
(1) £735m in modern terms.
(2) The BIS was and is the central banks, central banker, and the Presidency is held by members on a rota basis.
(3) Montague hated politicians and regarded the Bank as an arm of the State and his own fief.He was in office until 1944. He used to disappear on foreign cruises under the name of Professor Clarence Skinner.
A photo of him on board a cruise ship, suited and holding a homburg hat, shows him with a beard and looking the typical professor of those times.
(4) As revealed in Edens Files kept at Birmingham (England) University. The original files are at BIS in Switzerland.
Ref Independent Article Ref: The Nazis: British Bankers Article. The Independent, Chris Blackhurst, 30th March 1997.
Ref: Article Daily Telegraph, 30.7.2013, Steve Hawkes when official history of BoE 1939-45 Vol 1 went On- Line.
Ref: thestar.com/Bank of England help sell Nazi gold.
Ref: Daily Telegraph, 31.7.2013, Phil Aldrick