Operation Bernhard, The Underwater Treasure of Nazi Counterfeiters
In 1942, a German team led by an SS made counterfeit notes during a secret operation. Part of this treasure will be found under water years later in a lake of Austria.
Every year, missions are carried out by individuals or private companies in order to find the secrets of German scientific advances … or the treasures hidden by the Nazis. For example, the famous Operation Bernhard, conducted in 1942. This German top secret project was designed to destabilize the British and American economies by flooding these countries with counterfeit notes. Led by SS Bernhard Kruger. The project required a team of 142 counterfeiters chosen from prisoners in the Sachsenhausen camp. They engraved plaques reproducing the motif of the notes and printed them almost perfectly. To disseminate them, the Germans initially planned to jettison these tickets by plane but decided to put them in the economy by purchasing goods or paying salaries. A total of 8,965,080 tickets were produced for a total amount of £ 134 million.
After the evacuation of the camp in April 1945, the team of counterfeiters was transferred to Austria. In May 1945, the execution of the members of the team was ordered, but the liberation of the camp by the American army saved their lives and the press was dismantled. Some time later, witnesses saw SS soldiers throwing “things” resembling heavy boxes into the deep, cold waters of Lake Toplitz. Thus was born one of the many legends about the hidden treasures of the III Reich. For 70 years, many researchers have dived into Lake Toplitz without finding anything. So myth or reality?
The sunken treasure discovered
In 1959, serious research was undertaken with considerable technical means. Underwater cameras visualized forms that could actually look like boxes. They tried to bring the boxes to the surface but they yielded and broke under the weight and the notes, nonchalantly, began to rise up to the surface. In order to avoid sowing them at all costs, scuba divers descended into the almost opaque water of the lake and passed slings under the crates to secure them. The mission was a success. Dozens of small boxes surfaced. Clearly, the other members of the team opened the boxes and discovered a lot of counterfeit banknotes mainly English books as well as printing plates. This story was not a legend. But nothing else was found in Lake Toplitz.
Another underwater treasure and diving adventure
On the other hand, in the town of Altaussee, still in Austria, was sought and found the treasure of the Austrian Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the Gestapo, captured by the Americans on May 12, 1945. The Americans first discovered, in his residence , 76 kilos of gold buried in the garden, 50 boxes containing 2 tons of gold bullion, and a collection of stamps worth 5 million gold marks. Had he hidden other treasures? In 2001, in a neighboring lake on the property, an underwater diver found Kaltenbrunner’s personal seal, which had to be thrown when he approached the American troops in order not to be identified. Some think that there are probably other precious objects left in this lake. If you have the soul of a treasure hunter, you know where to go.