NAZI GOLD by Ian & Douglas Botting with the London Sunday Times Sayer


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Stirred by an entry in the Guinness Book of Records citing the postwar disappearance of Reichsbank gold as the world's biggest unsolved robbery, British writer/historian Botting and businessman/sleuth Sayer independently looked into the matter; Botting concluded that the story was a Soviet anti-American canard (as did Guinness, in 1970), but Sayer persevered; they met by chance on Corfu--and the present, intricate unraveling and broadside indictment is the result. It's more a book for accountants, and puzzle addicts, than for thriller buffs: figures and names, buryings and unburyings, with almost no sustained narrative or overall framing. And in fact the larger part of the Reichsbank reserves (bullion, coins, foreign banknotes), hidden in the German Alps in the war's final days--including the 728 gold bars that gave rise to the ""great robbery"" mystery--turns out to have gone with little ado into the proper American-occupation hands. (The receipt for the 728 bars came to light in 1976.) But, say the authors upon this disclosure (two-fifths of the way through the book), the ""false legend"" led investigators astray and prevented them from discovering ""the crime that had taken place."" Pressing on, the reader will encounter further minute descriptions of immaterial finds, and further elaborate computations, before reaching the authors' inference that more gold and currency was buried than the Reichsbank inventory listed (the occupation authorities contented themselves with a false balancing-of-the-books). Then, with periodic teasers, we have the successive, inconclusive investigations into the misconstrued mystery. . . before reaching the authors' conjectural conclusion that 14 separate portions of the hoard--to a sum of $432 million--vanished or were stolen, in various possible ways. How come? ""American military government attracted rascals and rogues. These were the men who were destined to take advantage of their privileges and power in Germany to operate the most outrageous rackets and biggest robberies in history""--chiefly according to the testimony of one hapless ""Don Quixote."" Even apart from that overheated pronouncement (the prelude to accounts of the dire deeds), the circumstantial detail doesn't add up to a tight story or a solid case.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Congdon & Weed--dist. by St. Martin's