How the Bank of England helped Nazis sell looted gold: Fears bullion worth £300million today was helped to fund Hitler's war machine
* Bank of England helped Nazis sell gold looted from Czechoslovakia
* Archives show bullion sold to the national banks of Belgium and Holland
* It is believed Bank still holds some ingots of gold with swastika stamped on
By Hugo Duncan
PUBLISHED: 23:08 GMT, 30 July 2013
The Bank of England helped the Nazis sell gold plundered from the invasion of Czechoslovakia, newly-released documents revealed yesterday.
It is feared the bullion worth £5.6million – or £300million today – may have been used to finance Hitler’s war machine.
Archives show that the bullion, held in the Bank’s vaults, was sold to the national banks of Belgium and Holland and buyers here.
‘At the outbreak of war and for some time afterwards the Czech gold incident still rankled,’ the online documents state.
The Bank of England helped sell a further £860,000 of Nazi gold in June 1939 – without waiting for approval.
But the Government halted all transactions on the outbreak of the Second World War.
It is also believed the Bank of England still holds some ingots of the gold with a swastika stamped on them.
The sales have weighed on the reputation of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) – the central bankers’ bank which ordered the sale.
But less has been known about the Bank of England’s role under then governor Sir Montagu Norman.
The papers said: ‘The Bank of England referred the matter to the Chancellor, who said that he would like the opinion of the law officers of the Crown.
‘On the BIS enquiring, however, what was causing the delay and saying that inconvenience would be caused because of payments the next day, the Bank of England acted on the instructions referring to the law officers, who, however, subsequently upheld their action.’
The sale of gold looted by the Nazis after their invasion of Czechoslovakia has long been seen as one of the darkest episodes in central banking history. At the time, the Bank of England held the chair of the Swiss-based BIS and stored much of the gold held by other countries in its vaults.
Documents show the UK central bank felt it ought to do as the BIS instructed even as the British government attempted to freeze the sale of stolen Czech assets.