cover image Cashing Out: The Flight of Nazi Treasure, 1945–1948

Cashing Out: The Flight of Nazi Treasure, 1945–1948

Neill Lochery. Public Affairs, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-541-70230-1

British historian Lochery (Out of the Shadows) presents a searing indictment of the rampant misconduct by neutral governments during and after WWII that facilitated the brazen looting of European treasure by the Nazis. According to Lochery, “none of the so-called neutral countries emerged from the war with any shred of moral credibility.” While Allied governments undertook dogged efforts to thwart the traffic in looted art, gold, jewelry, and other valuables—and the flight of many Nazi leaders themselves, fleeing postwar justice—their neutral counterparts (Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) were criminally complicit in the trade of looted treasure. Lochery tracks Nazi intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg, who, having fled to England in July 1945, gave British intelligence officers an inside view of Germany’s wartime trade with neutral countries, revealing how “gold bars looted from the central banks of Holland and Belgium” had been used to pay for shipments of iron ore, ball bearings, and synthetic oil from Sweden. (The wealth garnered by Sweden in wartime trade with Germany would fund the growth of the nation’s bountiful welfare state after the war.) Even after the war ended, Allied investigators in Operation Safehaven continued working to prevent Nazi schemes to transfer loot along “ratlines” to South America, mainly Argentina and Brazil. The author serves up an indignant blend of globe-spanning true crime, financial skullduggery, geopolitical and diplomatic history, and cloak-and-dagger intrigue. Espionage buffs will be thrilled. (Nov.)