Way up in the Austrian Alps sits the picturesque Lake Toplitz. While beautiful to look at, the lake is actually a dangerous area with a storied history, and possibly a fortune in lost gold bullion.
The story starts back in 1943, during World War II, when the Nazi’s set up a naval testing base at Lake Toplitz. Around the same time, they began work on Operation Bernhard – a secret project that could have had a dramatic impact on the outcome of the war. The purpose of the project was to destabilize the economies of the US and England via a large scale counterfeiting operation. The Nazis developed nearly indistinguishable forgeries and planned to spread them throughout the Allied nations, causing inflation. Enough forgeries were circulated that the Bank of England began to issue new currency starting in 1957 to counter it. However in 1945, just before Operation Bernhard went into full swing, it was shut down and shipped out. The Russians were just 300 kilometers outside of Berlin and the Nazi regime was crumbling fast.
Due to its remoteness, the base at Lake Toplitz was one of last strongholds the Nazis could flee to. Rather than circulate through Europe, millions of fake British pounds were packed up and shipped to Lake Toplitz alongside the state-of-the-art printing press. The lake was the last place the Nazis could hide and the last place they could bury their secrets and keep their assets out of enemy hands. To those ends, they took everything from Operation Bernhard out on a boat and dumped it at the bottom of Lake Toplitz. Allegedly, under the same motives, they also dumped gold bullion, stolen artwork, and other incriminating secrets.
If there really is Nazi gold sitting at the bottom of Lake Toplitz, why hasn’t it been retrieved? Find out in our next blog post.