Here is some info I discovered regarding the history of the Lake Toplitz gold bars....
The Lake Toplitz Gold History
CBS) Imagine a lake more mysterious than Loch Ness - a lake that hides a secret no one was meant to discover. There is such a place high up in the Austrian Alps. It is a lake called Toplitz.
Early one morning in 1945, Nazi S.S. officers sank a number of wooden boxes in Toplitz. Legend has it that the lake conceals everything from Nazi gold to the darkest secrets of Hitler's Reich.
Two years ago, 60 Minutes II led an underwater expedition in search of those boxes. As first reported last fall, its crew found evidence of a Nazi plot you didn't read about in your history books. What's in Hitler's lake? CBS News Correspondent Scott Pelley reports on the secrets at the bottom of Lake Toplitz.
It is hard to imagine a better place to hide. In a dense mountain forest, Lake Toplitz lies secluded, folded deep into the Alps of western Austria. It isn't large - just a mile long. What is daunting is the depth.
Getting to the bottom of Toplitz is a journey. After 30 feet, the sun goes dark. Below 100 feet, the water is nearly freezing. At 348 feet, the bottom comes into view. There is no life (no plants and no fish) because there is no oxygen in the water. In 1945, Toplitz was practically as remote as the moon. And with secrets to keep, Toplitz was just what the Nazis were looking for.
Feb. 23, 1945: Hitler's Reich was tumbling down. The Allies were closing in and, in bombed-out Berlin, the Nazis were scrambling to truck their most valuable secrets out of town.
Adolf Burger was expecting to die at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He was the man who knew too much - a Jew who had been forced to work on a top-secret Nazi plot. "That means I am someone who is privy to state secrets, they always end up dead; they were always liquidated," said Burger.
He and several other prisoners were forced to participate in a covert Nazi project: creating fake currency to crash Allied economies - including that of the United States.
When the project was abruptly ended, Burger was told to pack the counterfeit currency into boxes. He didn't know at the time, but the product of his work was taken to the Nazis' last holdout: the Austrian mountains called the Alpine Fortress. The Nazis planned to evacuate Hitler and a guerrilla army to the region around Lake Toplitz.
In the Alpine Fortress, time ran out on the Reich. By April 1945, Hitler was dead in Berlin, and the Allies were closing in all around. You could actually hear the artillery echoing in the mountains. Many of the last leaders of the Nazi regime fled there - some to make a last stand, others to try to save some remnant of the Reich in hope of starting over one day.
And Adolf Berger's work was essential to that plan.
The cargo was so well hidden that, chances are, no one would have ever seen the boxes again if it weren't for a 21-year-old Austrian farm girl. Ida Weisenbacher saw where the boxes went. She lives in the same house near Lake Toplitz where Nazi soldiers found her 55 years ago.
"It was five o'clock in the morning, we were still in bed when we heard the knock on the door," remembered Weisenbacher. "'Get up immediately. Hitch up the horse wagon, we need you.'"
They needed the wagon because the truck had reached the end of the road. Only horses could make it to Toplitz. "A commander was there. He told us to bring these boxes as fast as possible to Lake Toplitz," added Weisenbacher.
She said each box was labeled with bold-painted letters and a corresponding number.
She carried three wagonloads to the lake. "When I brought the last load, I saw how they went on to the lake and dropped the boxes into the water.... The S.S. kept shoving me away but I saw the boxes were sunk into the lake," said Weisenbacher.
The Nazis knew that searching a place so cold, so dark, and so deep wouldn't be possible with the technology of the time. But they couldn't have foreseen a phantom in the future.
The Phantom is a deep-diving robot operated by Oceaneering Technologies in Maryland and connected by a tether to a pilot on the surface. Jeff Kowalishen is one of the pilots of the underwater craft: "It's hard to hide something from this type of equipment."
Oceaneering uses The Phantom around the world on some of the toughest jobs imaginable. It was Oceaneering that recovered the wreckage of the Space Shuttle Challenger, lifted TWA Flight 800 off the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and located the aircraft of John F. Kennedy Jr.
60 Minutes II hired Oceaneering to search every inch of Lake Toplitz and recover the boxes if they could be found. "No one has tried at Toplitz to do this, but we have done this type of work all over the world," said Kowalishen.
But in that part of the world, the project wasn't entirely welcome. The Alpine Fortress region still celebrates its traditions, but many Austrians don't like dredging up reminders of a Nazi past.
It was in the winter of 1999 that negotiations were started with the Austrian government and the country's forestry service. After being assured the project wouldn't hurt the environment, the Austrians agreed to lease the lake for 30 days - an incredibly tight schedule for what the Oceaneering team was about to attempt.
There had been other dives in Lake Toplitz over the years, and artifacts related to the project had been raised before. But this expedition was to be the first comprehensive search of Toplitz. The dive would cost over $600,000, with major funding provided by the World Jewish Congress.
Toplitz doesn't seem large until you search it inch by inch. The video image relayed from the remote submarine is only three feet wide. The first thing Oceaneering found was a layer of silt on the bottom that often blew like a blizzard, blinding the camera.
Team member Ian Griffith of San Francisco is an expert on the remote-controlled subs. "If we are to high, we are not going to see anything. If we are too low, we are going to destroy the visibility and not see anything," he said.
For 12 hours a day, the crew strained for some familiar shape. "We have four pilots. You can only do it for so long, and then it really becomes monotonous," said Griffith.
But there was no hint of anything like Adolf Burger's boxes. It was possible the boxes were buried or covered in silt. It was also possible, after 55 years, they had just crumbled away.
The days turned into weeks - nearly three weeks of searching. The submarine would cover more than 35 miles altogether. The 30-day deadline imposed by the Austrians was getting closer. And Oceaneering couldn't get a break from the lake.
To the tethered mini-sub, the lake floor was a minefield. Oceaneering expected trees but not underwater forests. Trees had fallen from the mountain and were stacked 60 feet high in some places. The Phantom would spend days lost in the woods.
And when it wasn't the trees, it was the weather.
The picture-postcard lake often developed a foul mood. There were hailstorms and lightning.
The crew figured it was out of luck when a bolt of lightning struck the navigation system, and the search pattern wasn't reliable anymore. But Kowalishen wanted to press on, guiding The Phantom by dead reckoning and as it turns out, dumb luck.
Then a discovery was made - not the intact boxes the crew hoped to find, but the remains of something decades old, pieces of wood that might have come from the Nazi crates.
CBS) When 60 Minutes II went to Lake Toplitz in the Austrian Alps last summer, it was looking for secrets the Nazis had dumped there in the final days of World War II.
But if the wooden pieces the crew found were the remains of the Nazi project, the packing boxes had fallen apart and whatever was inside them was clearly in bad shape.
It seemed Hitler's secret could be lost to history. But if the high technology was being defeated by Toplitz, there was something else that could bring a conclusion to Hitler's Lake.
The memory of 83-year-old Adolf Burger is as sharp today as it was during the Holocuast. He will never forget the moment when, as a Jewish prisoner, he was ordered to pack up the secret Nazi project. "All the boxes were numbered at that time... They were all numbered according to a protocol," he recalled.
He never dreamed he would see them again.
Burger's eyes have seen a crime most of the world knows nothing about. It is a Holocaust story that he witnessed because he survived every step of the way.
"I survived five concentration camps over a period of three years. We looked at death on a daily basis. You were never sure of your life," said Burger.
Early in 1942, Burger's life was a joy. He was living in his native Czechoslovakia, a printer by trade. And he had just married Gisella, his bride, whom he describes as "in love with life and full of hope."
A few weeks after their marriage, the Gestapo came to the print shop. He was arrested the day before his 25th birthday. "I'll never forget that as long as I live. It was August 11, 1942."
The newlyweds were prodded onto a livestock train and shipped to Auschwitz. "No one can imagine such a night," said Burger. "Sixty people and 60 suitcases in a livestock car. Then the train finally stopped.... The doors were opened and they shouted 'Everyone out, everyone out.'"
On the platform at Auschwitz, the young couple was separated. "She told me, 'Think about me every night at eight o'clock, and I will think about you,'" remembered Burger. "'In this way, our thoughts will come together.'"
He never saw her again.
Gisella Burger was murdered in the gas chambers. But the Nazis had something else in mind for her husband. His journey through the death camps was just beginning, because the Nazis needed him. Fifty-five years later, 60 Minutes II brought him to the lake to help search for proof of his amazing story.
Looking at the video image relayed from the underwater vessel, Burger thought he recognized the markings on the remains of the boxes that were found
The evidence was in The Phantom's mechanical grasp. The crew brought up the one plank that could confirm the discovery of Nazi boxes.
It was at the surface, seeing daylight for the first time in five decades - and then it slipped back into the water. Pilot Jeff Kowalishen tried to catch the evidence othe fly, but it vanished, just as the Nazis had intended.
Why the S.S. dropped the boxes in the lake was still a mystery. But if it was to get rid of them forever - it was working. Solving the mystery meant Oceaneering would have to take a much bigger risk.
To get to the bottom of Toplitz and its secrets, a man would have to go down. Oceaneering called in the cavalry - a team of deep-ocean divers and their one-man submarine called a WASP.
The WASP can dive to 2,000 feet, and the air inside is recycled. At least in theory, a diver can breathe in there for three days.
Ken Tyler made the first trip down 200 feet into the debris field and discovered paper that had been soaking in water for 55 years. "It's very, very fragile. It's falling to bits," said Tyler while underwater in the one-man submarine.
Whatever it was, it was coming apart like confetti. It wasn't clear how much, if any, would make it to the surface. And if it did make it, would Burger recognize it?
As the first bundle of paper came up, it became clear what the diver had found. The notes were inscribed with the words "Bank of England." The boxes were full of cash, perhaps millions of dollars in counterfeit British pounds.
But the discovery was only one piece of an incredible story. Burger recognized the fake notes because he printed them at the point of a gun in a concentration camp. "These are the ones I was printing. That's unbelievable, 55 years later I see my own product," said Burger.
Shortly after his wife was murdered, Burger was ordered to the Auschwitz camp commandant, expecting to be sent to his death.
"He stands up and says 'Mr. Burger, you are leaving here tomorrow. We need skilled workers like you in Berlin,'" recalled Burger.
He wasn't the only one. Dozens of Jewish craftsmen were being picked out of death camps and sent to work on a secret project in Sauchsenhausen, a camp outside of Berlin. Burger's trade had saved his life.
When Burger arrived at the camp, he found himself with 140 other special prisoners, all of whom were artists in their fields. There were bookbinders, engravers and printers. They were escorted to two barracks that were sealed off from the rest of the camp behind barbed wire. The windows were painted over for absolute secrecy.
Inside the two buildings, the men found the very latest printing equipment, a photo lab, everything they would need for what would become the greatest counterfeiting operation in history.
The project was part of a Nazi scheme to print money on a vast scale (the equivalent of $4.5 billion), most of it in British pounds.
Rabbi Marvin Hier is among the world's leading Holocaust scholars and an authority on Hitler's S.S. "This was a very serious undertaking that could cripple the Allies," said Hier.
It was Hitler's secret weapon. The idea was to flood the world with bogus money to undermine the Allied currencies and, at the same time, help pay for the war. The closely guarded secret was supervised by Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler's S.S.
"You would imagine in 1943: They're defeated in Stalingrad. They're beginning to lose battles, the invincible Third Reich," said Hier. He speculates that "Himmler would inform the Fuhrer...'Hey, not to worry, my Fuhrer. We've got a plan, and it'll be very soon now that we're gonna bankrupt...all these Western economies.'"
After perfecting the British pound, the prison print shop copied the American $100 bill. By war's end, they were prepared to print $1 million a day.
According to Burger, "The first 200 bills were finished on Feb. 22, 1945. We were supposed to start printing the first million dollars the next day. But on that day, Feb. 23, there was an order from the Reich Security's main office to stop work and dismantle the machinery. The Russians are 300 kilometers from Berlin."
Before the dollars could roll off the press, the print shop was on the run.
The end of the road for the Nazis and the counterfeit prisoners came at Ebensee, Austria, which was the very last concentration camp to be liberated. When Burger finally ran through the gate, a free man, he wanted only one thing - a camera. He took pictures because he was afraid no one would ever believe his story of death camps and economic sabotage.
The evidence of this incredible scheme was being brought back from 200 feet some 55 years later. The WASP team made 15 dives and logged 34 hours on the bottom of Lake Toplitz.
60 Minutes II put the deteriorating notes into the hands of two world experts on paper conservation, Bernard Lebeau and Florence Hereenschmidt of the French company LP3. They initially doubted the notes could be saved.
Four months later, outside Paris, their work was unveiled. The pounds dried so well they could be separated. Even the fake watermarks could be seen. Hitler's bills were perfect. It turns out the Nazis used some of them to pay off spies and finance commando operations. They were in circulation from Europe to South America. There were so many that, by the end of the war, the Bank of England was forced to recall all its currency and redesign the pound.
"If they had this counterfeiting operation fully organized in 1939 and early 1940, the results of World War II may have been quite different," said Hier.
Adolf Burger thinks the expedition to the bottom of Lake Toplitz was important to bring awareness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis: "Millions of people will see it again on TV, millions of people will see what the Nazis did.... I know I've done a very small bit of work in order for the young to learn the truth."
The money recovered from Hitler's counterfeiting print shop will soon be on display. The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is creating an exhibit around the artifacts from Hitler's lake.
Deep in the Austrian Alps early one morning in 1945, Ida Weisenbacher answered a knock at her door. The 21-year-old Austrian farm girl found herself confronted with a Nazi officer.
"Get up immediately," he told her. "Hitch up the horse wagon. We need you."
Weisenbacher did as she was told and pulled the family wagon up next to a military vehicle. Soldiers then loaded heavy boxes onto the wagon. Each was marked with a series of letters and numbers that gave no hint as to the contents. When the wagon was loaded the officer told the girl to drive it to nearby Lake Toplitz. Once she was given the destination the need for the wagon became obvious: The road did not go all the way to the lake. Only the horse-drawn wagon could take the cargo over the final distance.
It took three trips to transport the whole load to the lake. On the final run Weisenbacher saw that the soldiers were out on the lake and that the boxes were being dropped into the water. They quickly sunk out of sight. Weisenbacher wondered what the boxes contained that they had to be sunk to the bottom of that deep, dark, cold place. What secrets did they possess?
"The Largest Robbery in History"
During World War II German troops invaded numerous countries across Europe. As they did so they looted the bank reserves of those countries and took the gold back to Germany. Victims of the holocaust were also stripped of any valuables they had, including gold jewelry. The gold from these sources was then melted down and cast into bars with the mark of the German central bank, the Reichsbank, imprinted on them. Much of this loot was used to pay for the war effort, but a large portion was still intact and in Nazi hands as the end of the war neared.
In February of 1945 the President of the Reichsbank ordered that the majority of the gold reserves be sent to the village of Merkers some 200 miles south of Berlin. There it was concealed deep underground in a potassium mine. The mine was also used to store many art treasures, some belonging to German museums, others looted from conquered nations.
In April Merkers was captured by the U.S. Third Army commanded by Lieutenant General George Patton. French civilians who had worked at the mine told the American military what was hidden there and the hoard was soon in American hands. A tally of the treasure showed that there were 8,198 bars of gold bullion in the mine along with gold coins, silver bars, and paper money. The total value (in 1945 dollars) was estimated to be over $520 million . This constituted the bulk of the Nazi loot, but not all of it. Some of the gold and other valuables had been left in Berlin.
By April of 1945 the Allies were closing in on the German capital and Nazi officials decided to move the remaining contents of the Reichsbank to Oberbayern in southern Bavaria. There, in the mountains, the Nazis hoped to hold out and try to regroup. At least nine tons of gold were sent to Oberbayern along with bags of foreign currency and coins. This treasure, including 730 gold bars, was thought to be hidden around Lake Walchensee. After the end of the war U.S. soldiers were able to find and account for $11 million of that final hoard. Over $3 million was never found, however. Some small portion of it might have been smuggled out of the country by escaping Nazi officials, but what happened to the rest of the missing gold?
The disappearance of this treasure was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the largest robbery in the history of the world."
Lake Toplitz is one mile long and lies between steep limestone cliffs in the Salzkammergut region in Austria. It is a beautiful, but remote place. The water is over 300 feet deep and oxygenless. Without oxygen nothing can live in the lake except some specialized bacteria and one specie of worm. With its dark, deep recesses and isolated location, the lake seems the perfect place to hide something.
Were those boxes seen by Ida Weisenbacher filled with some of the missing gold? A lot of people thought they might be. In 1959 the German magazine Stern sent divers to the lake to investigate. What they found was not gold, but crates of counterfeit British pounds, secret documents and a printing press.
It was learned what that had found was remnants of a secret German project called Bernhard. The idea for the operation had come from Adolph Hitler himself. Skilled printers were recruited from concentration camps and given the best printing and graphic equipment available. Their assignment was to counterfeit enemy currency. It would be used to pay for the war effort and at the same time weaken the enemies' economies.
It is estimated that the equivalent of $4.5 billion was forged in operation Bernhard. Most of the false money were British pounds. The operation was so successful that at the end of the war the Bank of England recalled and redesigned all it's currency. The American dollar was also a target, but the war ended before any significant amount of United States currency could be made.
When operation Bernhard was moved out of Berlin, the S.S. apparently chose to hide the evidence at the bottom of Lake Toplitz. Was anything else also hidden down there?
In 1963 a German sport diver was hired to find out. Unfortunately he died in the attempt. The Austrian government responded by making it illegal to dive in the lake for the purpose of hunting treasure. They also started a search of their own. The operation located eighteen crates of counterfeit money on the bottom along with the printing plates needed to make forgeries. Rockets, projectiles, mines and other experimental weapons were also salvaged from the bottom of the lake. Apparently during the war Toplitz had been used to test torpedoes and even a missile that could be launched by a submarine from underwater.
By 1983 it was thought that the lake was completely cleaned of all Nazi material, but in that same year a biologist, Professor Hans Fricke, started diving in Toplitz and found even more items. Fricke hadn't initially been interested in treasure, but had obtained special permission to dive in the lake to research what kind of life might survive in its oxygenless depths. He discovered several types of bacteria and a worm that manage to live under the hash conditions. He also found more counterfeit British pounds along with additional military hardware. His discoveries sparked more speculation that the lake still hid gold bullion. If it did, though, Fricke never came across it.
The most complete examination of the lake came in 2000 when the American television network CBS, along with the World Jewish Congress, sponsored an exploration of the Toplitz by a company called Oceaneering Technologies. Oceaneering Technologies went over the bottom of the lake inch-by-inch using a remote-controlled submarine named Phantom. They found the floor of the lake covered with trees that had fallen off the surrounding mountains. In some places the wood was stacked as deep as sixty feet. This made using the submarine difficult. Its long tether, which connected it to the crew on the surface, was always in danger of being tangled in the dead branches and roots. When the robot submarine found what looked like the remains of a crate, Oceaneering sent down a manned submarine that found more forged British bank notes.
It would seem that with all this searching the reputation of Lake Toplitz as a location for lost treasure should be gone. This isn't the case. Some people continue to believe that the lake or others like it in Austria or Germany still hold millions in gold. Their speculation was strengthened in 2003 when an amateur diver discovered a solid gold cauldron at the bottom of Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. The cauldron was decorated with Celtic and Indo-Germanic figures and is thought to have been commissioned by a top Nazi official who drew inspiration from such mythology. It is estimated that the cauldron, which weighs 23 pounds, is worth almost $100,000.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_repo … /35981.stm
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/11/ … 1320.shtml
Monday, December 1, 1997 Published at 17:50 GMT
The greatest theft in history
It was one of the greatest thefts by a government in history; the confiscation by Nazi Germany of around $580million of central bank gold -- worth around $5.6 billion at today's prices. The gold came from governments and civilians, including Jews murdered in concentration camps, from whom everything was taken down to the gold fillings of their teeth. BBC diplomatic correspondent, Barnaby Mason, explains the issues at the core of this week's London conference, which aims to lay the issue finally to rest
What is Nazi gold?
When German troops invaded countries across Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, they looted central banks and carried off hundreds of tons of gold to finance their war machine. The Nazis had exhausted their own gold reserves, and historians believe that any gold passing through Germany after 1939 was almost certainly looted.
The Nazis sold gold to Switzerland and other neutral countries such as Sweden and Portugal. It's hard for these countries to argue now that they didn't know the gold was looted, though the Reichsbank often melted it down and put its own stamp on the bars with a fake pre-war date.
The SS also collected gold stolen from Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution, including jewellery and gold teeth from the extermination camps; some was sent to the Reichsbank and melted down.
It's impossible now to determine how much of the gold came from individual victims, even with sophisticated scientific tests. Some Jewish groups have suggested up to 10%; the British government talks of a minute proportion.
The Tripartite Gold Commission
At the end of the War the western allies recovered huge quantities of gold. The vast bulk of it had come from the central banks of ten occupied countries.
Gold which had unquestionably been taken from people in the death camps was kept separate and used to help survivors. But after some argument the United States, Britain and France decided that all gold in bar form should be treated as monetary gold -- that is, taken from central banks -- and distributed to the ten claimant governments in proportion to their losses.
They also decided that claims from individuals for this gold would not be considered, on the grounds that a huge number of small claims would be impossible to deal with, and that governments should have the job of compensating individuals.
The three powers set up a Tripartite Gold Commission to examine and validate claims from the governments of Albania, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland and Yugoslavia. (There are now fifteen claimants because Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia have split.)
The total amount of gold in bars and coins eventually available to the Commission, and deposited in the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, was about 337 tonnes.
This was only enough to meet 64% of the validated claims. The distribution went slowly, delayed partly by disputes between governments and counter-claims by the three big powers (the argument with Albania was settled only last year). But the Commission is now ready to make its final distribution of the remaining 2% of the original pool -- five-and-a-half tonnes of gold worth just under $70 million.
So why has all this re-surfaced now?
The London conference is the culmination of an unprecedented campaign of the past two years to force out the truth of dealings with the Nazi regime fifty years ago, especially on the part of the Swiss. The campaign was prompted by the availability of new evidence and the release of previously secret official documentation.
Jewish groups have worked strenuously to highlight the issue, on behalf of the remaining survivors of the holocaust. The Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Greville Janner (now Lord Janner) put the idea of a conference to the British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook before Mr Cook became British Foreign Secretary last May.
The conference was announced within a week of the Labour government taking office. It fits in well with the government's commitment to openness and an ethical foreign policy. The conference also coincides with the end of the work of the Tripartite Gold Commission -- on which the Foreign Office has produced two volumes of "History Notes" over the past year.
So what's at stake?
Officials and academics from 41 countries are discussing of a proposal by the United States, Britain and France to use the remaining gold to set up a new fund to help needy victims of Nazi persecution and their families.
The proposal, which was put to the claimant governments last August, is to set up a fund which would be used in particular to help people in the former communist states of eastern Europe (so-called double victims), who didn't benefit from the compensation available to those in the west. Other countries will also be invited to contribute to the fund.
An informal count at the end of last week indicated three of the fifteen claimants were favourable to the plan, three others would probably support it, while the rest were still in the process of deciding. A few weeks ago, Poland's representative queried an initial list of organisations which would take part in distributing the money, suggesting that Jewish groups were too dominant.
Six NGOs have been invited to attend the conference, five of them Jewish, the other being the International Romany Union.
Do we know everything now?
The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, says he wants the conference to bring all the facts about Nazi gold into the open. A State Department official said the United States was pushing for the greatest openness and candour by all nations.
In advance of the conference, Britain asked all the participants to say in advance what relevant archives they held; some countries had not opened their archives, one official said, and Britain hoped they would. There's also the question of archives held by institutions, including Swiss banks.
A historian on the British delegation said he doubted if the banks would produce significant new material on this occasion; he expected at least ten years of international research work would be needed before the whole issue of Nazi gold could be resolved.
The Swiss on the Spot
Some countries, especially the wartime neutrals, were wary about the London conference at first, fearing that it would turn into a kangaroo court.
Switzerland is emphasising the range of inquiries it is now carrying out, including the opening-up of dormant accounts, and insists it is coming to terms with its past. All we ask is fair play, the Swiss say -- that the same standards should be applied to everybody else.
But the Swiss also say that all questions regarding their gold transactions with the Nazis were settled by the Washington agreement of 1946, by which Switzerland handed over gold worth (then) 250 million Swiss francs to the Tripartite Gold Commission.
Other countries may be put on the spot too. One of the official observers at the conference, the writer Ian Sayer, intends to present a paper on the alleged large-scale theft of gold by American officers in Germany as the Nazi regime collapsed. He says it's been covered up by the United States.
The British government has carried out an inquiry into assets confiscated during the war from Jews and others under enemy aliens legislation, but it says the report is not ready to be presented to the conference.
How will the conference work?
The organisers emphasise that it is not a decision-making conference, though they hope that an agreement on setting up the new fund will be announced during the course of it.
There will be an initial open, televised session at 1000 GMT on Tuesday. It will be addressed by Robin Cook, by the American Under-Secretary of State, Stuart Eizenstat, and by Greville Janner. After that the sessions will be closed, consisting of the presentation of papers by delegations and discussion of them.
The first part of the conference, until lunch-time on Wednesday, deals with the question of where the looted gold came from and what happened to it; the second part on Wednesday afternoon with the steps taken so far to compensate occupied countries and individual victims; and the third part on Thursday morning with the steps to be taken in the future. The chairman, Lord Mackay of Clashfern (the former Lord Chancellor) will then sum up and give a news conference (at 1500 GMT).