A new history of the many schemes to preserve the looted wealth of the Third Reich as it approached its doom, and why some of those assets were never recovered and instead became the foundation of post-war Germany.
With the failure of the Ardennes Offensive in January 1945, many Germans knew the war was not just lost but that they would be utterly defeated. Some then firmed up exit plans to try to evade Allied justice before the catastrophe was inescapable. Central to the plans of many leading Nazi officers.
By 1945, sales in art auction houses houses were dominated by German efforts to launder the stolen property. Rare artworks, gold and silver, diamonds as well as other jewels flooded the market until prices collapsed. As a result, fleeing Germans realized it was more prudent from a financial point of view to simply smuggle the goods out of Europe and worry about selling them later. The Allies, realizing the looting had begun, commenced Operation Safehaven to try to intercept and recover the wealth before it disappeared. An effort that persisted until 1948, when ex-Nazi officials, scientists and businessmen became important to the NATO-led resistance to the Soviet threat.
Cashing Out traces the cat and mouse game as the stolen wealth of the Third Reich passed through neutral European cities such as Stockholm, Zurich, and Lisbon, to safe havens in Latin America. It also reveals the gross injustice committed when the world forgot about the case for restitution–allowing Nazi sympathizers to keep their wealth intact– when the Cold War began.