In the closing months of World War II, the defeated Nazi Army scrambled to hide the hundreds of tons of gold they had despicably stripped from various nations during their occupation. As they hurriedly stashed their ill-gotten gains, they were unaware that the Allies were drawing near.
Operation Safe Haven was well under way. Allies were on the hunt to locate the enormous amount of looted wealth the Germans viciously seized and stored and put it into the hands of humanitarian groups who would, hopefully, send the wealth to its rightful owners. U.S. troops were trained to search for assets in the form of paper money, coins, and gold bullion.
Troops from the Army's 90th Infantry Division as they push their way through enemy lines.
On April, 6, 1945, MPs from the 3rd Army's 90th Infantry Division were on a foot patrol in the town of Merkers, Germany when they discovered a useful clue. They spotted two women walking down the street and soon found out that the ladies were French DPs, or "displaced persons."
These DPs were taken from their French home and transported to Germany to do forced labor. They informed the MPs about a salt mine that hid a surplus of gold — and that the Germans would frequently bring in truckloads of precious metals. The MPs quickly relayed this information to higher command.
Soon after, Generals Eisenhower and Patton traveled to the mine and discovered years' worth of stolen gold.
Generals Eisenhower and Patton inside the Merker's mine.
U.S. troops found roughly 7,000 sacks of gold bullion neatly piled in the underground area, measuring approximately 75-feet deep and 150-feet wide.
Additionally, the mine contained 98 million French Francs. However, that enormous sum of cash wasn't the most shocking thing found down there. Allied troops found luggage containing gold fillings extracted from those forced into the concentration camps.
It's believed that the gold fillings were to be used in the dental care of several SS officers.
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