American Soldiers ponder what to do with found treasure stolen by the Nazis
April 5, 1945
Cpl. Lance Johnson, Pfc. Josh Dickerson, Pvt. Terry Parker and Pvt. Gary Daniels was sitting outside the office of Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, who is in charge of finding Nazi treasure, that was looted during the German occupation of Western Europe from 1940 to 1945.
The day before, units from the US 9th Army group, met up with the US 12th Army group, in the Ruhr area, to encircle about 370,000 German soldiers. The four American soldiers were on a routine patrol along the Rhine River south-west of Dusseldorf. Their assignment was to look for German soldiers crossing the river, attempting to avoid American capture. It had been a quiet morning for the soldiers, as nothing was happening so far, in their sector, although they could hear fighting in the distance. They suddenly hear gunfire close by, and soon they see what looks like a German soldier, on the other side of the river, running towards them. Chasing him, is a squad of German soldiers who are shooting at him. The Germans weren’t shooting at the Americans, but Corporal Johnson, orders his men to fire on the German squad. The four Americans each started firing back, using their M1 rifles, at the German soldiers across the Rhine River. After the Americans fired a few rounds, the German soldiers, noticed the Americans and proceeded to back off and retreat into town.
The American soldiers waited for the other German to swim across the Rhine River and meet them on the other side. Upon exiting the river, the Americans could see from his insignia, that he was a German colonel. The colonel told the Americans, his own SS troops had shot him, as he was trying to escape to surrender to the Americans. The colonel had two bullet wounds in his chest and one in his lower abdomen. He was bleeding profusely from his wounds and the Americans knew he would die soon if he didn’t receive immediate medical attention. The soldiers tried to administer first aid, but the German insisted that he hand over a briefcase to them first. The German explained that in the briefcase was $20,000 American and a little black notebook. The colonel told the four soldiers to take the money, but give the notebook to their superiors, as it contained the whereabouts and contents of Nazi stolen treasure. For the $20,000 and the notebook, he asked for three things in return. First, they were to get him to an American Army hospital, so that he could get proper medical attention. Second, he wanted safe passage to the United States, and third, he is given full immunity for any war crimes he may have committed.
The soldiers tried to give the German officer medical attention, but they were lacking the proper medical equipment and the colonel eventually died from his wounds. Corporal Johnson, searched through the colonel’s uniform and found his wallet which contained his id. He was Oberst Johann Schubert of the Waffen-SS.
“I am going to check what is actually in this briefcase.” Lance said, as he slowly released the latches on both sides of the briefcase. Lance opened up the briefcase and inside is a little black notebook and several thick wads of American money, each with an elastic band around them, just like the German said. Lance quickly counted the wads of currency and he counted 20. He then checked one of the wads and saw they were all $20 bills. In the wad, he counted 50 bills. “This wad has $1000 and there are 20 of them, so I guess there is $20,000 here.” Lance then opened up the notebook and started to read a few of the pages. “It looks like locations of hidden Nazi treasure. In this one hidden underground cavern, just west of Munich, are works of art, stolen from French, Belgium and Dutch museums.” Lance read another page and said, “In this storage facility close to Berlin are personal items taken from the Jews and other undesirables. These items include works of art, currency, jewelry, watches and anything else the Nazis thought had any value. It says here, over 5,000 boxes are containing these personal effects, just at this one location.”
“Shit, now what are we going to do?” Terry pondered
“We take the money and give the notebook to Captain Richardson. No one needs to know about the money. We can split the money four ways. Five thousand dollars is a lot of money for us, let’s just call it a bonus for our service in the war.” Replied Josh
“I like that idea. Five thousand dollars could buy a nice house, when we get back.” Gary said, smiling, as he thinks about what kind of house he would buy.
“Why don’t we keep the money and the notebook. We could search for the Nazi treasure ourselves. Instead of $5,000 we could get millions each.” Terry said grinning, hoping everyone would agree with him.
“You forget one thing, that Nazi treasure is stolen treasure. You heard what I read, some of these items were stolen from Jewish prisoners, some of whom were probably at that Nazi death camp, we helped liberate last month. Could you live with yourself knowing you got rich from items the Nazis stole from Jewish prisoners, many of whom died in those death camps? I know I couldn’t.” Lance said with a disgusted look.
“You’re right, we can’t take the Nazi treasure, we would be profiting off of the evil deeds of the Nazis.” Terry said remorsefully
“But what about the $20,000? It is American money, so it probably wasn’t taken from Jewish prisoners. Surely, we can keep the money?” Josh asked in an almost begging fashion.
“No, I think the American money was probably stolen from American POWs. Do you want to steal from other American soldiers?” Lance asked, staring at each of his three buddies.
“But there is no way to know where that money came from, so why can’t we keep it. If we give the money to our superiors, what are they going to do with it? There is no way to know who that money belongs to.” Terry pleaded
“That is true, but do you want to take this money, knowing it probably came from other American soldiers, who were taken prisoner and then had their money stolen by the Nazis? Besides, if we give this money and notebook to Captain Richardson, I am sure we will get some kind of reward from the military.” Lance said trying to convince his friends not to take the money.
“Are you sure about that? I know how the US Army works. I highly doubt the military will reward us for what we stumbled upon today.” Josh said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“You’re probably right, but I still think it is in our best interest to give everything to Captain Richardson, including the money, and let the military deal with it.” Lance said
“And what if Captain Richardson gives the notebook to his superior officer, but keeps the money for himself?” Gary asked
“I don’t think Captain Richardson would do something like that. Besides, headquarters will probably want to question us about the circumstances surrounding this incident, and when we ask about the $20,000, if they don’t know anything about it, Captain Richardson could find himself in deep trouble.” Lance said
“I still think we should keep the $20,000.” Says Josh emphatically
“As the ranking soldier here, I can make the decision myself, but I won’t. We will put it to a vote and do what the majority thinks.” Lance said, as he looks at his three compatriots.
“And what if it is a tie vote, two against two?” Josh asked
“Then as the ranking soldier, my vote will decide it.” Lance said
“So, the only way we keep the money is if all three of us vote against you. If just one of us goes along with you, we give everything to Captain Richardson.” Josh said
“Yes, that is what I am saying.” Lance said
“Fine! I say we keep the $20,000.” Josh said defiantly.
Gary and Terry look at each other and Gary leans over and whispers into Terry’s ear. Terry nods his head in agreement leans over and whispers into Gary’s ear.
“Terry and I both vote that we give the money and the notebook to Captain Richardson and we keep nothing for ourselves.” Gary said
“Majority rules, we give everything to Captain Richardson.” Lance said with a smirked grin
“You guys are all fucking idiots.” Josh said angrily
“You will feel better about doing the right thing later on.” Lance said, trying to calm his friend.
“No! I would feel better if I had $5,000 right now.” Josh said, now fuming with rage
“You may hate us now, but I think eventually you will forgive us for our decision.” Terry said, trying not to piss off Josh even more.
“Yeah sure! … What do we do now?” Josh murmured with a still grumpy expression.
“We head back to base. I will take the briefcase. I need two of you to carry the German soldier.” Lance said
“Why do we need to bring the body?” Terry asked
“Headquarters might want to check out this German, so I think it is best if we bring his body along.” Lance said
“I didn’t vote for this, so you two idiots carry the body.” Josh said as he looks over at Gary and Terry, as he is still not happy with what is going on.
Gary looks over to Terry and says, “You take his legs and I will grab his arms.” Terry nods in agreement, as the four soldiers begin the journey back to camp, with their bounty in hand.
Back in General Taylor’s office, the four soldiers, after waiting several hours, have finally been called in to see the general.
General Taylor’s Headquarters was back in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. General Taylor and his command, occupied a hotel in the city and his office was on the top floor, which was the sixth floor. His office was in a hotel suite and it was luxurious as it was decorated with works of art and had several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and fancy drapery hanging around the windows. As the soldiers enter the general’s office, they see Captain Richardson standing on one side of the general’s desk, which looked like it was an antique as it looked really old and was large and looked very heavy. The desk had gold trimming around it and had fancy curved legs which also had gold trimming down each side. Standing on the other side of the desk was Colonel Stevens, Captain Richardson’s commanding officer. They all assume the three-star general sitting behind the desk is General Taylor.
“Captain Richardson tells me; you boys came upon a German SS officer with some interesting items in a briefcase.” General Taylor said
“Yes sir, we came upon a wounded German officer and he gave us the briefcase before he died.” Lance said
“What did the German officer say to you?” General Taylor asked
“He told us in the briefcase was $20,000 and a notebook containing the whereabouts and contents of Nazi stolen treasure. He told us to keep the money, but give the notebook to our commanding officer. All he asked for in return was safe passage back to the US and full immunity for any war crimes he committed.” Lance said
“So, you took the briefcase and then killed the German SS officer?” General Taylor asked suspiciously
“No sir! We tried to give the German soldier first aid, but his wounds were too severe, so he died.” Lance said
“Why didn’t you take the money as the German told you to?” Captain Richardson asked
“We thought about it, but in the end, we thought it was best not to take the money and hand everything over to you sir.” Lance said
“You’re trying to tell us that you four soldiers are honest Americans trying to do the right thing?” Colonel Stevens asked in disbelief.
“Yes sir. We didn’t think it was right taking the money as it probably came from Jewish prisoners from those Nazi death camps or American prisoners of war.” Lance said
“You know most soldiers would have taken the money and not think twice about who it was stolen from. Shit, some soldiers would have kept the notebook as well and go for the big score.” Colonel Stevens said
“Well, not us sir.” Lance said
“Are you sure you aren’t hiding anything from us?” Captain Richardson asked suspiciously.
“What is there to hide? We gave you everything that was in his briefcase, the money and the notebook. Why are you questioning our motives?” Lance asked as he starts to get angry.
“Calm down son, no one is questioning your motives, we just want to make sure we have all the facts.” General Taylor said as he tries to ease the tension building in the room.
“You have everything the German gave us and you have our statements we gave to Captain Richardson. What else do you need?” Lance said, trying to contain his growing anger.
“We just want to make sure you did not leave anything out.” Captain Richardson said
“We didn’t leave anything out! We have nothing to hide!” Lance said defiantly
“Ok son, I think we have heard enough. I think we can let you soldiers get back to your duties.” General Taylor said knowing he wasn’t going to get any more information from the soldiers.
“Thank you, sir.” Says Lance as he salutes the general and turns and gets ready to leave.
“Excuse me, sir, we were wondering if there was any reward for finding this German soldier and the valuable document, he had with him?” Terry asked inquisitively.
The general laughs and said, “So, that is why you didn’t take the money, you thought there was a reward waiting for you back at headquarters.”
“The Army does not give rewards to soldiers for doing their duty.” Colonel Stevens said sternly.
“Wait a minute colonel. The war is almost over, so why don’t we cut these boys some slack. Instead of sending them back to the front, let’s give them a pass and send them to the rear, so they don’t have to see any more action. Is that a good enough reward for you son?” General Taylor asked looking over at Terry.
“Yes sir.” Says a dejected Terry.
The four soldiers leave the general’s office and as they get outside, they all stand around wondering what to do.
“So, was it worth it?” Josh asked sarcastically.
“Well, at least we won’t be seeing any more action.” Gary said sheepishly.
“We got more than that.” Lance said with an evil grin.
“What do you mean?” Terry asked
“What I didn’t tell any of you is that when I was searching the German’s uniform, I also found a locker key and a note, showing the locker number for a locker located at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris. In the locker are two suitcases and a duffle bag full of American and British money. In total there are over five million dollars.” Lance said trying to hold back his enthusiasm.
“And why didn’t you tell us this before?” Josh asked, sounding a bit perturbed.
“Because I knew if we got questioned, you guys wouldn’t be able to keep five million dollars a secret. That is why I wanted to give the $20,000 back. If we gave the money back, headquarters would think we weren’t hiding anything, and we could then keep the five million dollars for ourselves.” Lance said with a big grin.
“You’re a fucking asshole.” Gary said shaking his head in disbelief.
“A rich fucking asshole.” Lance said as he laughs.
“I guess that makes us all rich assholes.” Josh said, now laughing along with Lance
“See, I told you, you would feel better about doing the right thing.” Lance said
“I guess that means we should take our leave, back in Paris.” Terry said
"You bet. Let's head back to our unit and get our papers in order. Then it is off to Paris, to find our Nazi Treasure." Lance Said