This page last amended: 05/04/02 03:33:30

Appropriation of Assets and Labour by the Third Reich

[Please see the note concerning the provenance of files in this presentation]

General Sites and Resources

U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II: Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park

Guide to Public Record Office Sources on Nazi Gold. Records in the UK National Archives.

Holocaust-Era Assets: Records and Research at the National Archives and Records Administration

This Web presentation by the National Archives and Records Administration is primarily directed at "helping researchers working with the original records. It's purpose is to make known the vast quantity of original records on the topic accessible at NARA. The finding aids and research papers focus on original, primary records at NARA and the process of doing research at this archives. The printed and online sources are offered to supplement the original records, to offer research background on the topic through bibliographic citations and Weblinks to related sites, and to offer access to the records through finding aids."

The information available is very comprehensive and should, undoubtedly, be a primary port of call for researchers interested in these matters. It has its origins in the work of the Interagency Group on Nazi Assets, whose report was published as U.S. and Allied Efforts to Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II: Preliminary Study [local server] Although the offline archive records include the bulk of data likely to be of main interest to those engaged in primary research, for scholars who are interested in more general aspects relating to these issues there are some useful online materials.  Particularly significant in this context are the substantial bibliographies relating to diverse aspects of Nazi appropriation, likely to be of use to many scholars and others interested in these matters who are not fortunate enough to be able to travel to the NARA:

Looted Art

This site has a significant volume of interesting materials relating to the confiscation of artistic and cultural materials.  Unfortunately, the information relating to who organises the site, its purpose, the dating of files, and similar, is poor.  As far as I can gather, it is fronted by the Koordinierungstelle der Länder für die Rückführung von Kulturgütern, which is the (Coordination Office of the [German] Federal States for the Return of Cultural Treasures).  This organisation collects information on artistic and cultural materials that have been confiscated during the period 1933-1945 and the postwar aftermath, including those taken from individuals and institutions in the vanquished Third Reich:  "The Koordinierungsstelle keeps close contact with all affected museums, libraries and archives and collects the missing objects and the research results in a database especially designed for this purpose."

Included in the resources available online is an international Newsletter "Spoils of War", which covers news items on relating to these issues, special articles, country-based articles, bibliographic lists, news reports, and similar.  Unfortunately, the newsletters are not dated, nor is their index page, so it is impossible to ascertain how frequently or when last published.   It is, however, worthwhile browsing through the resources available.  Hopefully a more adequate guide to those available here will be uploaded in the future.

Art [See also Occupation Policies below and Country Policies, and Occupied Country Policies]

Switzerland and the Looted Art Trade Linked to World War II. Switzerland Task Force. Georg Kreis

Holocaust Era Assets [See also, Country Policies, and Occupied Country Policies]

Historical and moral Settlement for the treatment in Norway of the economic liquidation of the Jewish minority during World War II. White Paper to the Storting (1997-98)

The Role of French Banks During WWII and its Aftermath. Richard Weisberg

Testimony of Jean-Pierre Landau On Behalf of French Banking Association, Before the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services. US House of Representatives, September 14, 1999

International List of Current Activities Regarding Holocaust-Era Assets

Provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it provides information on governmental and private attempts to trace Holocaust assets by country, forty-three being included in the list on 25 September, 1998.  

British Government's Listing of Enemy Property, Restitution of Assets to Victims of Nazi Persecution

"The British Government has provided summary details of some 25,000 records held at the Public Record Office in London, relating to property in the United Kingdom seized between 1939 and 1945 from commercial organizations registered and from individuals resident in countries with which Britain was at war. The data is searchable by Country and Name of Owner and/or Address. The British Government has also recently published a report by FCO historians on the history of enemy property seized during the Second World War. It has also made an initial £2m available to fund a claims procedure to allow for restitution of assets to victims of Nazi persecution. An independent third party, of appropriate stature and experience, will be appointed to make an assessment of the historians' report consulting all interested parties, and advise on the form of the scheme. Further information will be posted on the Enemy Property site as developments occur. The Enemy Property site can be accessed at "

Also available at this site is a link to the Stationary Office site where you can find particulars relating to the printed volume on the London Conference on Nazi Gold

Insurance Policies

California Faulted on Holocaust Cases. Washington Post, December 2, 1999

California Threatens Italy's Generali on Unpaid Holocaust Claims. AFP, December 1, 1999

Holocaust Victims Insurance Act of 1998, State of New York

This act, along with those enacted by other States,  has allowed pressure to be brought on insurance companies operative, in the case of the state of New York, in "Areas under Nazi influence", to settle outstanding claims and to disclose relevant records. 

Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act of 1999. California Insurance Code, and Section 790.15 of the California Insurance Code.

The significant operative clause, (e) reads: "Insurance companies doing business in the State of California have a responsibility to ensure that any involvement they or their related companies may have had with insurance policies of Holocaust victims are disclosed to the state and to ensure the rapid resolution of these questions, eliminating the further victimization of these [surviving] policyholders and their families."

Nazi Gold

"Declassified intelligence reports reveal that Swiss banks, particularly the Swiss National Bank, accepted gold looted from the national treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries and from dead Jews alike, gold they either bought outright or laundered for the Nazis before sending it on to other neutral countries.  Swiss banks supplied the foreign currency that the Third Reich needed to buy vial war material.   Swiss banks financed Nazi foreign intelligence operations by providing funds for German front companies in Spain and Portugal. ...  There is a powerful argument that, without the considerable efforts of Swiss bankers to help keep the Nazi war machine sufficiently funded the Second World War would have ended several years earlier...  No other neutral country played as crucial a role in keeping the Nazi war machine rolling as Switzerland." (Adam LeBor.  Hitler's Secret Bankers: The Myth of Swiss Neutrality During the Holocaust. Birch Lane Press Group, 1997, pp.xiv-xv)

Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure. Greg Bradsher

The Holocaust Education Trust  -   Nazi Gold.  Written and edited by Jonathan Boyd and Stephen Ward, 1997

This study of Nazi Gold documents information regarding the looting of gold and valuables during the Third Reich, from Jews and others, what happened to this at the end of the war, and how the gold that fell into Allied hands was distributed following an international conference held in Paris, under the terms of the Paris Treaty, 1946.  This brief study emphasises some of the critical errors that were made which resulted in reparations to individual victims/refugees being significantly lower than they should have been. 

The file is in PDF format. If when you select the link to the document it does not open, you probably need to download a free Acrobat Reader, available from Adobe

The Holocaust Education Trust  - "Ex-Enemy Jews" - The Fate of the Assets in Britain of Holocaust Victims and Survivors. Written and edited by Stephen Ward and Ian Locke.1998

Explores the policies adopted by the British government in respect of enemy assets that were deposited in British banks, particularly those of Jews who regarded as Britain as a safe haven for funds.  "By 1945 a proportion Jews who had put their money in Britain for safe-keeping were dead, and in cases where relatives survived, they often had no knowledge of the account.  As a result they were never re-claimed.   In the ase of Germany, Rumani, Hungary and Bulgaria, the estates of Holocaust victims went to the British creditors of these countries.  In the case of "Allied" countries, the account stayed in British banks, which have retained any dormant accountes as effectively "interest-free loans" for 50 years. (p.6. Emphasis in original)

The file is in PDF format. If when you select the link to the document it does not open, you probably need to download a free Acrobat Reader, available from Adobe

Switzerland and Jewish Funds

Various articles on Switzerland and Jewish Funds from the Journal deGenève. These deal with the controversy over Jewish assets in Swiss banks andthe attitude of the Swiss toward Jews during the period of the Third Reich.  The articles also focus on the sources of US policy respecting payments that should be made by Swiss banks to Holocaust survivors.

Switzerland-Second World War

Excellent series of files dealing with varied aspects of Swiss governmental policy during the Second World War and subsequently, arranged by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. It includes information on Swiss neutrality, refugee issues, financial and economic questions, matters relating to Nazi and other gold deposited in Swiss banks, and post-war agreements relating to the disposition of various matters arising out of the international conflict. Although, understandably, the approach tends toward  putting a positive gloss on many issues, particularly those relating to more controversial issues, there are many useful links to files relating to international agreements and those containing details on a wide range of policies.

Preliminary Study on U.S. and Allied Efforts To Recover and Restore Gold and Other Assets Stolen or Hidden by Germany During World War II May 1997. Coordinated by Stuart E. Eizenstat.  Prepared by William Z. Slany, The Historian Department of State.

This lengthy report deals in considerable depth with how Nazi Germany exprorpriated vast quantities of bullion from  central and other banks of occupied countries, and from their civilian populations, and dwells in detail also on the enrichment of the Third Reich and some of its functionaries from assets confiscated from the Jewish populations of occupied Europe.  It also details the efforts by the United States and other powers to recover some of these assets and distribute them to states and individuals.  It needs to be emphasised that it is largely through the efforts of individuals, politicians, organisations, and government departments and agencies in the United States that recently compensation to victims of the Holocaust from Swiss banks and prominent corporations have been agreed. Pressure built up in the United States on these issues has undoubtedly also been a compelling factor persuading other countries to review policies about these issues, including the British government.

"The report documents one of the greatest thefts by a government in history: the
confiscation by Nazi Germany of an estimated $580 million of central bank gold¾around $5.6
billion in today's values¾along with indeterminate amounts in other assets during World War II.
These goods were stolen from governments and civilians in the countries Germany overran and
from Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Nazis alike, including Jews murdered in
extermination camps, from whom everything was taken down to the gold fillings of their teeth."

U.S. and Allied Wartime and Postwar Relations and Negotiations With Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey on Looted Gold and German External Assets and U.S. Concerns About the Fate of the Wartime Ustasha Treasury

Closing Plenary Statement at the London Conference on Nazi Gold, December 4, 1997. US Under Secretary Stuart Eizenstat

Vatican Faces Lawsuit for Alleged Nazi-Era War Crimes. CNSNews, 23 November 1999

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Vatican Bank Alleges Complicity in Holocaust Era War Crimes. PRWeb, November 20, 1999


Occupation Policies

Secured Objects of Art in the Government-General [Poland] , [no date available]

Himmler Decree Concerning Procedures for Confiscation of Works of Art, Archives and Documents, 1 December 1939

Copy of Letter from Keitel to Commanding General, Netherlands, Concerning Cooperation with Einsatzstab Rosenberg, 5 July 1940

Order Concerning Treatment of Property of Nationals of the Former Polish State, 17 September 1940

Copy of Order from Keitel to Chief Army High Command Occupied France Concerning Ownership Tranfers of Libraries and Possessions, 17 September 1940

Goering Order Concerning Distribution of Jewish Art Treasures, 5 November 1940

Seizure of Cultural Items by Einsatzstab Rosenberg, September 1940/January 1941

Report from Rosenberg to Hitler Concerning Shipment of Jewish Property, 20 March 1941

Goering Order Requesting Cooperation with Einsatzstab Rosenberg, 1 May 1941

Rosenberg Order Concerning Establishment and Role of Einsatzstab in Eastern Occupied Territories, 20 August 1941

Communication from the Commissar for White Ruthenia, Kube, to Rosenberg, Concerning Appropriation of Cultural Objects by the SS and the Wehrmacht, 29 September 1941

Memorandum from Rosenberg to Hitler Concerning Jewish Possessions in France, 18 December 1941

Hitler Order, 1 March 1942, Establishing Authority of Einsatzstab Rosenberg

Rosenberg Order, 7 April 1942, Concerning Safeguarding of Cultural Goods, etc

Rosenberg Order, 27 April 1942,  for Formation of Central Unit for Seizure of Art Treasures in Occupied Eastern Territories

Correspondence between Alfred Rosenberg and Hermann Goering relating to Einsatzstab Rosenberg, 30 May 1942-11 January 1943

Letter from Lammers to High State and Party Authorities, 5 July 1942, Confirming Rosenberg's Powers

Einsatzstab Rosenberg Administrative Regulations 30 September 1942

Rosenberg Memorandum Concerning Action "M", Redistribution of Confiscated Jewish Property to Bomb-Damaged Persons in the Reich, 3 October 1942

Rosenberg Letter and Report to Hitler on Progress in Appropriating and Cataloguing Art Treasures, Primarily from Jewish Owners in France, 16 April 1943

Supervision by Ministry of Eastern Territories over Appropriated Cultural Objects, 17 May 1944 (1107-PS)

Rosenberg Letter to Seyss-Inquart Concerning Removal of Marxism Library from Amsterdam to the Reich, 11 September 1944

Correspondence Concerning Art Works Seized in the Ukraine and Fuehrer Decree, 12 September 1944

Library for Exploration of the Jewish Question "Hohe Schule", District Office, Frankfurt/ Main. Undated

Report on Einsatzstab Rosenberg Working Group in the Occupied Western Territories and the Netherlands (Undated/1940-41?)

Individual Responsibility of Alfred Rosenberg, Nuremberg Tribunal Charges, 1945

Artur Seyss-Inquart, Nuremberg Indictment Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV (Parts III and IV deal with policies relating to occupied countries, Poland and the Netherlands)

Third Reich

Decree for the Reporting of Jewish Owned Property of 26 April 1938

Stenographic Report of the Meeting on "The Jewish Question" Under the Chairmanship of Field Marshall Goering in the Reichs Air Force. 12 November 1938. Part I, Part II Missing from Original, Part III, Part IV Missing from Original, Part V, Part VI Missing from Original, Part VII

Regulations Concerning Jewish Housing and Property, 28 December 1938

Report of Goering Inquiry into Aryanization in the Gau of Franconia, 1939

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 05/04/02 03:33:30
©S D Stein

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