The Bank for International Settlements actually financed Hitler’s war machine
By Adam Lebor: The documents reveal a shocking story: just six months before Britain went to war with Nazi Germany, the Bank of England willingly handed over £5.6 million worth of gold to Hitler – and it belonged to another country.
The official history of the bank, written in 1950 but posted online for the first time on Tuesday, reveals how we betrayed Czechoslovakia – not just with the infamous Munich agreement of September 1938, which allowed the Nazis to annex the Sudetenland, but also in London, where Montagu Norman, the eccentric but ruthless governor of the Bank of England agreed to surrender gold owned by the National Bank of Czechoslovakia.
The Czechoslovak gold was held in London in a sub-account in the name of the Bank for International Settlements, the Basel-based bank for central banks. When the Nazis marched into Prague in March 1939 they immediately sent armed soldiers to the offices of the National Bank. The Czech directors were ordered, on pain of death, to send two transfer requests.
The first instructed the BIS to transfer 23.1 metric tons of gold from the Czechoslovak BIS account, held at the Bank of England, to the Reichsbank BIS account, also held at Threadneedle Street.
The second order instructed the Bank of England to transfer almost 27 metric tons of gold held in the National Bank of Czechoslovakia’s own name to the BIS’s gold account at the Bank of England.