The dark mystery of Rommel's gold: Where is the mythical Nazi treasure?

2024-03-05 19:32:46Histori SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
The dark mystery of Rommel's gold: Where is the mythical Nazi treasure?



One of the darkest aspects of World War II was the unimaginable destruction the Nazis inflicted on the countries they occupied. Looting that primarily targeted Jewish property, but also anything else the occupying forces saw fit to loot. A small number of all these were returned to their owners after the end of the war.

But there were also times when the Nazis took care to hide stolen valuables well, resulting in the creation of many urban legends about treasures scattered across Europe waiting to be discovered by adventurous hunters out in the open or – mostly – hidden of gold.

The Legend of "Rommel's Gold"

In this special "stellar system" of the lost treasures of the Second World War, the so-called "Rommel's gold" occupies a prominent place. A case that has captured the popular imagination for more than six decades, having already passed into the realm of myth. The treasure is valued at nearly 50 million euros in today's value. As we can see, this specific case has a name: Erwin Rommel, the general who associated his name with the German action in North Africa and whose undoubted skills earned him the nickname "Desert Fox".

The dark mystery of Rommel's gold: Where is the mythical Nazi treasure?

Despite his fearsome reputation, Rommel was not the most fanatical Nazi. On the contrary, since he was never an ardent supporter of Hitler. Something he paid for with his life, as despite the great fame he received for his military successes and his popularity, he was accused, but without proof, of participating in the plot to assassinate – ultimately unsuccessfully – Hitler on 20 July 1944.

Forced to commit suicide with a hydrogen cyanide capsule on October 14, 1944, in exchange for protecting his family from retaliation.

His presence in Africa was accompanied by atrocities against the Jews, for which the main responsibility was his deputy and Himmler's confidant, Walter Rauf, who wanted to apply the tactics of the Holocaust to Africa as well. During the period when the countries of North Africa were under German occupation, the Jews mainly from Tunisia and Libya went through great persecution; with thousands dead in the concentration camps, while their property was looted by the Germans.

The collected valuables were sealed in six metal boxes and prepared for shipment to Germany. Somewhere there begins the imaginary course of the so-called "Rommel's Gold", even if the "Fox" did not have that much involvement in his collection.

During the German occupation of Tunisia, Rommel's unit is said to have collected gold and other items worth tens of millions.

The prevailing narrative is that these six metal boxes were secretly loaded onto a ship and began their journey to Corsica, which would be the stopover for Northern Italy, and from there they would be trucked to Germany. This plan was discovered a few years later by the Czech Peter Flyg, who in 1954 was sent to the city of Bastia, Corsica, in his capacity as a diver on a secret mission. There, along with four other officers, according to Flyg, they judged the trip to Germany to be dangerous. So they decided to sink it in the sea, to come and get it at a later stage, when military operations were allowed. The young diver undertook to find a safe place, an underwater cave, about a mile off the coast of Corsica. The exact coordinates were recorded in code form by the SS officers, which were rumored to have been written on the back of a photograph belonging to one of them.

The dark mystery of Rommel's gold: Where is the mythical Nazi treasure?

After the end of the war there were many who began to search the sea area outside Bastia in search of the infamous treasure, but to no avail, leading many to assume that it was Flyg's fiction. Or that the treasure existed, but was not at that point outside of Corsica. It is more likely that the Jewish valuables had been transported much earlier by Rauf, under the nose of Rommel, who was tasked with carrying on his back the history of a treasure that bore his name. In fact, the paradox is that fate reserved for the cruel Rauf a happier ending than Rommel's motivated suicide, as he managed to survive the Nazi trials, spend much of it in Pinochet's Chile, and to die in 1984 of a heart attack without ever paying for thousands of Jewish executions.

Myth or reality

The legend of "Rommel's Gold" has also inevitably passed into mass culture through films, one of which is an early James Bond - 1963's "On Her Majesty's Service", where two divers are said to be killed while searching for the treasury. Many books have also been written, each giving its own version. Countless documentaries have been filmed, while YouTube is full of modern-day Indiana Joneses each locating treasure in most parts of the Mediterranean, from Corsica to Italy, to the coast of Africa and Greece.