Lake Toplitz May Be Site of Nazi Treasure

The film Monuments Men has appeared to many as just another “based on a true story” film which will require heavy research to weed out the fact from the fiction; however, one bit of interesting fact has come to light not long after the film’s release. MichlKaltenbrunner, the nephew of a Nazi war officer, has informed the press of potential treasure in the Austrian Lake Toplitz, and his decision to come forth was partially inspired by the film.

Lake Toplitz has been rumored to house Nazi treasure for some time, and Kaltenbrunner has kept his knowledge a secret for many years. It was only when reading a news report on the Hollywood film that he felt motivated to share the information. Some of the loot has already been discovered in 1959, when a salvage team discovered £700 million worth of banknotes at the bottom, the Express reports.

Kaltenbrunner believes, however, that the salvage team only chipped the tip off the iceberg, as he believes more Nazi treasure—part of Operation Bernhard, an attempt to boost the economic status of Germany by diminishing that of the United Kingdom—is still lying in wait at the bottom of Lake Toplitz. There is evidence that he may be telling the truth, for as recently as 2001, his uncle’s war medal was found by a diver not far from the discovery site.

His uncle, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, has one more interesting tie to the film Monuments Men, and one that has little to do with Lake Toplitz or the gold his nephew claims is lying at the bottom of it. Ernst had been known as one of the most trustworthy associates of Adolf Hitler, but he actually went against command to preserve artwork that was supposed to be destroyed in the war. In other words, Ernst did much the same thing as the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA) upon which the film is based. With the aid of Austrian miners from the Altaussee mines, Ernst took several art pieces hidden there away from the site of a planned explosion which had been intended to work toward their destruction.

Kaltenbrunner’s story has yet to be certified, but the whereabouts of his uncle at various periods of the war certainly present some plausibility. If there truly is Nazi treasure on the bottom of Lake Toplitz, simply lying in wait to be found, it will not likely be too long before someone makes a move to find it. Whether this move is made by the government or by opportunistic divers has yet to be determined.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE