The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JUNE  2004

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Schicklegruber's Gold

Bizarre, Fascinating, and Wacky World War I & ll Secrets.

by Cecil Owen

Down... down... down.. plunged the elevator! The ride was long and dark, the elevator finally stopped after dropping 2,100 ft! On board was First Lieutenant  Jack MacFarlane with a whole platoon of Army Combat Engineers. Lt. Jack exclaimed, how did I ever get into a situation like this, what will be the final outcome? Yesterday my platoon was building a bridge just outside the town of Fulda, Germany. We worked late into the night to finish the bridge. There was plenty of light to build by because about half of the town was on fire. Then we had just gone to bed, when we were shaken awake. This is an urgent message, you must leave immediately for the town of Merkers, Germany. The message did not make any sense, for we had been going east for several days. Now we were supposed to go twenty miles west to Merkers. But when an order has been issued by a U.S. Army Colonel, you certainly must obey that order.

The time was right after Easter 1945. The colonel who had summoned him so abruptly was also riding down on the elevator. "I will explain why you were called to come to this place," he said. "And why you are in the middle of a gigantic Salt Mine."

Army M.P's. (Military Police) had been patrolling the small town of Merkers

Cecil Owen

since it was captured. The night before, two German women were stopped because they were out after curfew. The women explained that they were out looking for a midwife. The M.P's were suspicious, so they escorted the women to see if they were telling the truth. They came across the entrance to the Merkers Salt Mine, right in the middle of town. One of the women casually mentioned a rumor about Nazi treasure that supposedly was buried deep in the mine. The M.P's decided to check on the rumor and found German civilians in charge of the mine. They confirmed that supposedly a hoard of Nazi treasure was buried in a huge vault. However, it was sealed behind a steel door, and of course, no one had a key. The platoon of army engineers were the closest unit available, that is why they were summoned over so quickly.

The vault deep within a salt mine in Merkers, Germany, a German bank official attempts to identify Nazi loot with an American soldier looking on.

AP/Wide World Photos

Lt. Jack was very perturbed, "you mean you got us out of bed and had us drive all night .. only on the basis of a rumor?" Jack said.

"Just look at what is in front of the door," the colonel replied haughtily, "here are around three hundred large canvas bags. And they are full of American Dollars and British Pounds! You and your men must get me inside of that vault immediately ... so hurry up!"

First Lieutenant Jack MacFarlane bit his tongue and lip in order not to tell the senior officer where to go. He thought to himself, whatever is back of that vault sure is not going anywhere. What is all the big rush, it sure isn't a matter

of life and death. He was only 20 years old, but he had been building and destroying for years, as an army combat engineer. He quickly determined that the door would be very, very hard to crack open. The Merkers Salt Mine was well constructed, built to last a lifetime. It had wide corridors and bright lights set into high ceilings. A railroad track ran down the center to help haul the

A sketch of the vault drawn by Corp. A.F. Sunshine, who was present when the vault was blasted open.

XII Corps Historical Association.

loot. The vault was a work of art not made to be broken into. The door was made of steel, about 4 feet. wide and six feet tall. It was very thick, built

to withstand tremendous pressure. And in front of the door was a huge steel bar-gate. Then on both sides of the door was a brick wall three feet thick. This vault was a well designed and sturdily constructed fortress!

"I put my men to work, using picks on the brick wall," Jack said.

It seemed like the most logical place to get through. But that wall was so tough they could not even put a dent into it. By this time there was an odd assortment of officers gathered around, including a couple of generals. They were all pacing up and down and beginning to froth at the mouth. Because "big brass" of that sort believe that all their orders should be been carried out yesterday! Lt. Jack approached the general and calmly said,  "Do you want a hole blown in that door, or do you just want to get into the vault? I cannot get to the door easily but possibly we can blast a hole through the brick wall." The colonel bellowed back at him, "I don't care where the hole will be, just hop to it now! I am very displeased with all of this delay!"

Now Jack's main concern was the fact that he did not know if explosives had been used that deep in the mine. Explosives just might bring the whole roof down on their heads. But that was the only way to reach the other side. First they had to start filling sandbags and then bring them down on the elevator. And at the same time start hauling the bags of money out. They  sure did not want to blow up any of the money, it would have given some of the "Big Brass" heart attacks for sure! The force of the blast had to be directed into the wall and not out to the sides. (It would take about 20 lb. of TNT) They carefully built a blast deflecting ring of sandbags facing the wall. This took a long time but it had to be done that way. By this time the two generals and the colonel were ringing wet with sweat, although it was rather cool that far down.

As soon as the dust from the explosion settled enough for them to see, First Lt. Jack MacFarlane was the first person to squeeze through the small hole that the blast had blown into a three foot thick brick wall. Luckily there was no damage to the interior and everything was untouched. Some of the big fat senior officers could not squeeze through the small hole! Lt. Jack silently laughed at them. As he began to look around, he was shocked and amazed at the enormous treasure trove before him. He was the first American to gaze upon "Schicklegruber's Gold"

The vault measured 75 ft. wide and was 210 ft. long. It was a vast underground cavern (and remember it was 2,100 ft. below ground). Now, this was Nazi loot from all over the old world. But who or what was Schicklegruber? Schicklegruber was Adolf Hitler's name before he had it changed to Hitler. Schicklegruber was his mother's name and Hitler was his father's name. Imagine having to salute someone and saying "Heil Schicklegruber"!

Fortunately the lighting system in the vault was undamaged by the explosion. Lt. Jack saw a well illuminated treasure trove so vast that it was mind boggling. Canvas bags filled with gold coins, gold bullion and various paper money was stacked waist high in rows. There was 27 rows of gold bars also stacked waist high on pallets. There was such a large amount it was hard to believe. The bars weighed 27 tons and were worth 100 million dollars!! There were 2 million American dollars,  Norwegian currency worth 4 million dollars,  French currency worth 1 million dollars and  German currency worth 3 million dollars! There was gold, silver and jewelry from Jewish family heirlooms stacked in suitcases and boxes. Several boxes even contained gold and silver that had been removed from their teeth. At one end of the vault there were crates of priceless paintings by Rembrandt, Raphael and Renoir.

By October more than 13,000 works of art had been recovered. In the Munich area at least 175 more caches of Schicklegruber loot were found. He wanted to build a new capital city for Germany and have several museums for art. Adolf Schicklegruber Hitler declared that the new Germany would last for at least 1000 years. It is ironic that he was not even born in Germany, but in Linz, Austria. Many reliable authorities believe that "Schicklegruber" died by his own hand! But did he........ I wonder?