BOE Facilitated Nazi Sale of Plundered Czech Gold Before WWIIFergal O’Brien and Scott Hamilton
The Bank of England facilitated the transfer of gold to Germany plundered from Czechoslovakia shortly before the outbreak of World War II, according to an archived history of the U.K. central bank.
The document posted online by the central bank shows it received a request from the Bank for International Settlements on March 21, 1939, to transfer 5.6 million pounds of gold from its “No. 2” account to its “No. 17” account.
“The bank -- although it was no business of theirs -- were fairly sure that the No. 2 account was a Czech National Bank Account and they believed, although they were not sure at the time, that No. 17 account was a Reichsbank” account, according to the document.
The central bank’s historians said it could not have turned down the request as “it is clear from the (general) immunity granted to the BIS” that no government “could have taken any action” unless they were prepared to violate peacetime treaties.
The gold in No. 17 was “disposed of” over the following 10 days, with about 4 million pounds going to Belgium, Netherlands and London, the history said. Germany invaded Poland less than six months later and Britain subsequently declared war on Germany.
“At the outbreak of war and for some time afterwards the Czech gold incident still rankled,” the historians wrote. “Outside the bank and the government, the bank’s position has probably never been thoroughly appreciated and their action at the time was widely misunderstood.”