an excerpt from Emerald Cup-Ark of Gold
Col. Howard Buechner
At that time there was only one man in Germany who fitted the qualifications that Himmler had in mind......
Otto Skorzeny and the Last Crusade
The founders of the Third Reich were esoterically involved with matters which unavoidably skirt the mysteries associated with the valley of Rennes-le-Chateau. Their interests were not however, confined to the ephemeral, there is evidence of the tenacity with which they pursued the material associations of the valley. Many assorted books on Rennes-le-Chateau mention that a battalion of German mining engineers made excavations in the area during World War Two.
The trail leads to one Otto Rahn, a German, born in 1904 at Michelstadt, Germany. He attended university in Berlin, where he studied literature and philology (the science of language). During his youth, Otto Rahn had been attracted to studying in depth Wolfram von Eschenbach's Grail romance, Parzifal and the history of the Cathars. He became particularly intrigued by the mention of the Holy Grail being concealed, according to Parzifal, in the Holy mountain of Montsalvat. This was significant, especially when Rahn discovered that the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur boasted a nearby gigantic cave known as Montsalvat. He was at least intrigued enough to devote much time and energy in checking out the coincidence.
Although Eschenbach could allegedly neither read nor write, the Parzifal story had been passed down through the years by the 'Minnesingers', troubadours or minstrels of the medieval times. At any rate the records show that the story was first written down between 1200 and 1210, at least 33 years before the siege of Montsegur.
After many deliberations over the story, it would seem that Otto Rahn reached the conclusion that the Montsalvat of the Grail poem was in reality the Montsegur of the Cathars and he decided to visit the area to continue his research.
During his travels to the region, checking out leads to the Holy Grail, German folk legends and the history of the Cathars, he came across an elderl; former Austrian Army colonel, Karl Maria Wiligut-Weisthor, an expert in Germanic and pre-medieval history, runes, legends, magic and the occult. Weisthor soon became Rahn's most trusted friend. It was to prove a historical encounter, for Wiligut (using the name Weisthor) later joined the SS in 1933 and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1936, at which point he became an advisor to Heinrich Himmler on occult matters, later becoming better known in the inner circles as Himmler's 'Rasputin'.
Into this weird maelstrom of neo-Nazi ideas strode Otto Rahn, little aware that the Cathars he was studying had already been claimed by leading National Socialists as the originators of many Nazi customs. Indeed, Hitler was so interested in the traditions and legends of the Middle Ages that he had already engaged composer Carl Orff to scour the medieval monasteries of Europe, to gather ancient chants and folk tunes. An amalgam of this material later became known as the famous Carmina Burana and was played at almost every rally.
One can only imagine the response when, through his friend Weisthor's connection with Himmler, Otto Rahn announced that he was on to the location of the Holy Grail, the Treasures of the Temple of Solomon and the Ark of the Covenant -sacred relics without equal.
Records show that Himmler and possibly the Thule Society agreed to finance Otto Rahn's trip to the Languedoc in 1931, where he stayed in the village of Lavelanet. On that he trip he evidently satisfied himself that Montsegur was indeed the Montsalvat of the Parzifal Legend. Although he had discovered various cave systems, he had not yet found any treasure. Nevertheless, he remained convinced that he was on the right trail. He had also found, deep in the cave system, drawings on the rock surface depicting Knights Templar, including one which featured a lance - possibly the lance of Longinus, the Spear of Destiny! The outcome of his early foray into Montsegur was his first book Crusade Against the Grail published in 1933.
In it, Rahn traced the story of what he had achieved so far and speculated that the evidence showed that there were two Grails - an Emerald Cup and a stone tablet. This latter artifact was supposedly inscribed with runes by a race of pre-German supermen who had attained the ultimate knowledge of the 'law of life'. They represented 'The Great Tradition' which was only valid for certain people, a theory which tied in with German legend and the beliefs of the Thule Society that the far north was inhabited by the Hyperborean super race. Needless to say, the book found a ready made audience in Hitler, Rosenberg, Hess, Dietrich Ekhart, Himmler and other leading individuals!
In a letter written to Weisthor in September 1935, Otto Rahn informed his friend that he was at a place where he had reason to believe the Grail might be found, and that Weisthor should keep the matter secret with the exception of mentioning it to Himmler. Thus, over the next few years, Otto Rahn, historian and philologer, became inextricably involved with the hierarchy of the Nazi party, meeting with Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg and Wolfram Sievers. He possibly did not realise that Adolf Hitler had been an avid student of the occult since his young days, and that the Führer's obsession would engulf his quest.
Otto Rahn returned to the area of Montsegur for a short while in 1937, but by this time the ominous rumblings of an imminent war could be felt throughout Europe. Himmler, meanwhile, had encountered a Dr. Hermann Wirth, who gave him the idea of creating a unit to research German history.
This was the Deutsches Ahnenerbe, a Society, which became totally dependent on the support of the SS. Rahn and Weisthor continued working on various projects, but having received no new assignments from Himmler for the previous four years, it was obvious that Rahn was considered untrustworthy as he was not an SS member. Rahn remedied the oversight by joining the SS Black Order as a private on March 12, 1936. As if by magic, once he had joined the SS club, doors began to open to Private Rahn. On April 20, 1936, he was promoted to sergeant without ever having been a corporal. Almost at once he received a mission to proceed to Iceland to investigate the land of Hyperborea.
Rahn's rise through the ranks was nothing short of spectacular. He made Technical Sergeant on January 30, 1937 and 2nd Lieutenant in the Black Order by April 20, 1937. His rise continued until September 1, 1938 when he was promoted 1st Lieutenant. His second book Lucifer's Courtiers was published in 1936 and soon became the bible of the National Socialist Party.
Meanwhile Himmler had chosen Wewelsburg Castle in Bavaria to be the future home of the Longinus Spear, the Holy Grail and the other treasures of the Temple of Solomon of which Otto Rahn had spoken. However, it was too dangerous to move them in peace time. Better to wait for the coming war with France. Rahn's 1937 expedition to the Languedoc is therefore thought to have been just to make sure that the cache had remained undiscovered by anyone else.
On March 13, 1939 Otto Rahn disappeared.
On May 18, 1939 the following death notice appeared in the Berlin edition of the "Völkischer Beobachter":
SS - Obersturmführer OTTO RAHN died tragically in a snow storm during March 1939.
We mourn for this dead comrade, decent SS-man and creator of outstanding historical-scholarly works.
WOLFF SS - Gruppenführer
However the story of the Grail did not end with the death of Otto Rahn.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 and WWII began. England and France declared war on Germany two days later. Germany invaded France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg in May 1940 and entered Paris in June. Shortly thereafter, the French asked for armistice terms and Marshall Petain ordered all troops of France to stop fighting. Within a matter of weeks all of France was under German jurisdiction but not fully occupied until November 1942.
Heinrich Himmler was now in a position to remove the treasure of Montsegur to German soil, with little fear of interference, but for some mysterious reason no action was taken. Perhaps he was preoccupied with other things as the forces of the Third Reich rolled to one success after another or perhaps he had decided to wait until Germany was all victorious before he seized the treasure and announced to the world that Germany had come into possession of the priceless relics. It is also possible that Himmler was holding back until the time when France would be fully occupied by German troops.
It is notable that the Ahnenerbe remained active during the period in question (1940-1943) and sent excavation expeditions to Biskupice, Poland; Olympia, Greece; Slovakia; the Croat fortress of Surval; Serbia and Caucasia. A second expedition to Tibet was also initiated at this time with the mission of seeking clues related to the origins of the Aryan race.
During the first part of the period referred to above, the war was going so well for Germany that Himmler saw no reason for haste in recovering the Emerald Cup. He thought that he knew exactly where it was hidden. France was under the complete control of German forces and the Cup could be easily unearthed whenever Himmler decided that the time was right.
However, in the summer and fall of 1942 some ominous signs began to appear which to the astute observer pointed to the eventual defeat of Germany. During this time the mighty German advance into Russia began to grind to a halt at Stalingrad and the "Desert Fox", Marshal Erwin Rommel suffered his first defeat at El Alamein. As his army began its retreat from North Africa, Rommel came to the conclusion that the war could no longer be won. At about the same time, one of the top leaders of the Third Reich, Reich Protektor Reinhard Heydrich, was assassinated in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Before he died he predicted that the war would be lost. To make matters worse, America had entered the conflict against Germany and U.S. troops began pouring into North Africa and England. It was then only a matter of time before an Allied invasion of continental Europe would begin, probably from both the south and the north. In fact, Allied forces invaded Sicily in July 1943 and shortly thereafter, the assault on southern Italy began.
The situation was changing rapidly and, by this time, Himmler became convinced that he must make a move to recover the treasure. In June, 1943 a group of German scientists, consisting of geologists, historians, and archeologists appeared at Montsegur. They were under the protection of German troops and German controlled French militia. They explored the grottoes in the surrounding mountains and carried out excavations in various places for six months but came up empty-handed.
Simultaneously, similar teams were carrying out digs at Rennes-le-Chateau and various other locations in France, largely with negative results. The failure of his scientists to find the treasure came as a bitter disappointment to Himmler and led his advisors to the following conclusions:
1. The treasure did not exist.
2. The treasure did exist but was not in the Montsegur area.
3. The treasure was in the Montsegur area but Otto Rahn had not discovered its location.
4. The treasure was in the Montsegur area and Otto Rahn had learned enough to predict its exact place of concealment, but he had simply misinformed his superiors about its location and had taken his secret to the grave. This may have been the reason for Rahn's death.
Himmler flatly rejected the theory that the treasure did not exist. He also rejected the premise that it was located in an area other than the Montsegur region.
Rahn had undoubtedly reported to Himmler after each visit to the Languedoc.
Apparently he had told the Reichsführer that he had not actually found the treasure but sincerely believed that he had come so close to success that he knew exactly where it was located. This is the reason a third trip to the Languedoc had been planned (in 1939) but never carried out because of Rahn's death in March of that year. On the basis of Rahn's testimony, Himmler remained firmly convinced that the Emerald Cup and its associated riches were indeed hidden away in the Rennes-le-Chateau Montsegur area in a place which Rahn had not yet explored.
Himmler also believed that it was Rahn's intent to search certain specific grottoes on his return to the Languedoc and had he done so, he would have been successful in finding the long lost treasure.
Nonetheless, the always suspicious Reichsführer had long entertained the idea, albeit in secret, that Rahn knew where the treasure was hidden but had lied about its exact location in anticipation of claiming the riches for himself at some future time.
The failure of the 1943 expedition to find the treasure, even with Rahn's specific notes as a guide, brought the last postulate into sharp focus as the leading possibility. However, Rahn could not be interrogated about the matter because, by this time, he was dead (or so it was said).
Nevertheless, Himmler refused to give up the search. However, he decided that he needed a more competent and imaginative leader for what was to be his last crusade in quest of the Grail. He needed, not a scientist, but a military leader with a background of daring, resourcefulness and success. One who could solve problems, pick up clues and improvise and change course as the situation dictated.
At that time there was only one man in Germany who fitted the qualifications which Himmler had in mind. Colonel-SS, Otto Skorzeny was then the darling of Germany, noted for his skill as a commando who never failed in his mission no matter how difficult or seemingly impossible it might be.
Skorzeny had a unique approach to problem solving. He had been an engineer by profession and was also a gifted linguist. He leapt to fame by performing the successful, daring mountain top rescue of Mussolini on September 12, 1943 - a feat which was considered impossible. Indeed, such was his daring that on several occasions he had met with David Stirling, founder of Britain's Special Air Service for coffee in various European cities, whilst the war was at its height.
Skorzeny also had an Intelligence background, having worked for Admiral Canaris, Chief of German Intelligence and had sometimes received his orders direct from Himmler. From April 20, 1942, he had been promoted as 'Chief of Germany's Special Troops', operating from a hunting lodge at Friendenthal in Bavaria. So it was that in February 1944, after several other missions, Skorzeny received a call from Himmler -to recover the treasure from Montsegur.
The evidence that Skorzeny did indeed receive this assignment is fragmentary, but it is not imaginary. It is based on a single sentence which appears in at least three different books by three different authors and is quoted as follows:
"Discussions were held with Skorzeny to organize an expedition with the objective of stealing the Holy Grail"." Another book says that, "Negotiations were entered into with Skorzeny with a view to stealing the Holy Grail".
~"The Order of the SS", by Frederic Reider; "The Morning of the Magicians", by Pauwels and Bergier).
It would seem almost impossible to believe that Himmler would simply "discuss" the matter with Skorzeny or "negotiate" with him about anything. When Himmler wanted something, he ordered it to be done, and he certainly wanted the Emerald Cup and the associated treasure. From foregoing descriptions of Skorzeny's ability and resourcefulness, it is clear that Skorzeny was the best man in Germany for the job and Himmler would have wanted the best man, not just someone who Skorzeny might recommend.
In addition, the situation was becoming desperate. The Allies had already invaded Italy and it was only a matter of time before they invaded France. If the treasure was ever to be recovered it must be now. It was a project of national proportions and no longer just a matter of retrieving holy relics for the glory of the Reich. Germany was running out of money and the treasure could be used to support the war effort.
There was one more factor which qualified Skorzeny for the job. He was known to have toured France in earlier years on what he called "picnic" trips and was familiar with the terrain of the Languedoc. In addition, he spoke fluent French.
On the basis of the above evidence it has been assumed that Otto Skorzeny was indeed ordered to head an expedition to Montsegur, find the treasure and bring it back to Germany. As a matter of fact, Skorzeny liked his new assignment. He could do something important, perhaps succeed where all others had failed, and train his men at the same time.
In characteristic fashion Skorzeny began making detailed plans for his new mission. He had no need for the scientists, geologists, historians, archeologists, ethnologists and intellectuals who had comprised the expedition of 1943. Instead, he carefully handpicked a group of men from his own commando force. Their qualifications were resourcefulness, ingenuity, intelligence, imagination and the ability to improvise. In addition, they were all highly skilled mountain climbers and were certainly capable of defending themselves in a hostile country should the need arise.
The commando force reached the Languedoc in early March 1944 and set up headquarters at the base of Montsegur. They spent a few days exploring the Cathar fortress and in reconnaissance of the surrounding mountains. They discovered remnants of what had once been a 3,000 step stairway which led from the castle to an exit in the valley below, but little else that was new. They also, gently but firmly, persuaded any curious onlookers to keep their distance.
Skorzeny immediately came to two major conclusions:
First, he decided that Otto Rahn and the members of the 1943 expedition had searched in the wrong places. Rahn had concentrated on the well known and more accessible grottoes of the Sabarthez. He was blinded by his conviction that the Cup was to be found in the "Cathedral" or near the "Tomb of Hercules" or the "Altar" because Wolfram von Eschenbach had located it near these places in his story of "Parzival" some 700 years ago. Skorzeny cared little about what an ancient poet had written and he viewed the situation in a more practical light. If he had been in charge of the treasure he would have avoided the more obvious hiding places and searched out a location which was more remote and less well known. Partly because Rahn and the 1943 expedition had explored the grottoes of the Sabarthez rather thoroughly, and partly because of his own ideas about treasure hiding, Skorzeny spent little time on these caverns.
Skorzeny's second conclusion was based on his military belief that all good troop commanders try to have a pre-planned escape route by which they can withdraw, from any given defensive position, if forced to do so, by the enemy. Military units in combat also do everything possible to prevent complete encirclement by the enemy in order that their escape route can be kept open. Skorzeny concluded that the Cathars must have had such a plan and that their path of retreat would lead him to the treasure.
Skorzeny also discounted the evidence that a long tunnel had once led from the fortress, down through the mountain and out into the surrounding hills. If such a passage ever existed it had probably been collapsed by the weight and shift of the mountain or filled in by the Cathars themselves before the siege of Montsegur began. Where then, was the escape route? Naturally, reasoned Skorzeny, it was where no one else expected it to be, in the most unlikely place of all. One of the four sides of the mountain was a sheer, perpendicular cliff, so smooth and bare that the soldiers of the French army considered it impossible to either ascend to the castle walls or to descend from the fortress in this area. So confident were the crusade commanders in this belief that they did not even bother to post a guard at the base of the precipice.
It may have been virtually impossible for anyone to climb the steep cliff but descent was actually easy. Throughout the 10 month siege of Montsegur, and until almost the very day of capitulation, Cathars were lowered down the precipice on long ropes. Many of these men were in possession of precious items of various kinds which they carried along their escape route into the higher reaches of the Pyrenees. Since the fortress was surrounded on three sides by enemy forces, the escaping soldiers could have gone in but one direction, that is, in the one direction which led directly away from the face of the cliff.
Skorzeny and his men scouted along this path and soon discovered what appeared to be an ancient trail leading into the higher mountains. At an undisclosed distance from Montsegur they found a fortified entrance to a large grotto. Perhaps it was the grotto of Bouan, which was the last refuge of the Cathars after the fall of Montsegur.
Not far from this grotto was the mountain called La Peyre. Near the crest of this mountain was another grotto and in this cavern it is said, they found the treasure.
Skorzeny had accomplished his mission within 6 days of his arrival at Montsegur.
The next morning a message was flashed through to Himmler's headquarters in Berlin. It consisted of one word:
Back came the reply:
"Well done. Congratulations. Watch the sky tomorrow at noon. Await our arrival."
At this point a very remarkable series of events coincided. Skorzeny had discovered the treasure on the very eve of the 700th anniversary of the fall of Montsegur (March 16, 1244).
The leader of the commandos had no way of knowing that each year on March 16, the local descendants of the Cathars, often joined by pilgrims from afar, gathered in the fortress of Montsegur to pay homage to their ancestors who had died there 700 years ago. Here, they prayed for the Pure Ones who had been burned alive at the stake rather than deny their Cathar faith or disclose the location of their treasure.
This year the ceremony was of particular significance because it was the 700th celebration of the massacre of their forefathers. In addition, the number 700 was of great importance to the Cathars because of an ancient prophecy which foretold that, "At the end of 700 years, the laurel will be green once more." Presumably this meant that there would be a revival of the Cathar sect and their religion would bloom again. As a result of the importance of this day the group of worshippers was much larger than usual.
They had sent a delegation to the German General who was Military Governor of the area to ask permission to make the pilgrimage since they knew that the fortress was in a restricted area. However, the General was totally without sympathy for their cause. They were told that it was forbidden to tread on this "German Soil" because the Third Reich had "Historic Rights" on Montsegur. Little did he know that after the war, the German government would petition France to allow the Bayreuth Society (admirers of Richard Wagner) to give a concert featuring Wagnerian music atop the summit of the Sacred Mountain.Permission was granted and the concert was played in honor of the German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, who had first pointed the way to the hiding place of the Emerald Cup. ("The Occult and the Third Reich", by Jean-Michel Angebert).
The pilgrims were greatly disheartened by the decision of the German General, but so great was the importance of this day that they decided to defy the official edict and go to Montsegur at their own risk. On arrival at the only pathway by which the mountain could be ascended the members of the Cathar cult met with another surprise and possible obstacle.
They had not expected to find the mountain guarded by armed forces (Skorzeny and his men), even though it was in a forbidden zone. Nonetheless, they gathered up their courage and begged the German Commander to allow them to climb the mountain and conduct their harmless services.
They were talking to the right man. Skorzeny had nothing but contempt for bureaucratic decisions and he could see no reason to deny the request. After all, the treasure was far away and there was nothing on the mountain that the pilgrims could harm.
Thus it was that the worshippers were on top of the mountain at precisely the time when Skorzeny had been instructed to ". . . watch the sky".
At exactly high noon on March 16, 1944 a small German aircraft appeared. It flew over Montsegur several times, dipping its wings in salute. Then it used its skywriting equipment and formed a huge Celtic Cross in the sky. The Celtic Cross was a sacred emblem of the Cathars.
The pilgrims on the mountain top were awestruck and reacted as if a miracle had occurred. They had no idea that the fabulous treasure of the Cathars had been discovered only a short time before and that the plane was saluting the victorious expedition. They thought that the occupants of the German aircraft were approving their mission and paying homage to their long dead ancestors. At any rate they left the mountain with a deep sense of satisfaction. Perhaps the pilgrims were not entirely wrong in their interpretation of the plane incident, since it is very probable, that Rosenberg was a passenger and quite possible that Himmler was his companion. Both of these men had great respect for the Cathars.
When the plane left the scene, it flew off to the east in the direction of Tibet like the dove which had split the mountain with its beak in the long ago ("The Occult and the Third Reich"). Everyone had had a good day with the possible exception of Skorzeny who was champing at the bit to get back to his headquarters at Friedental. His work at Montsegur was finished. Now the engineers could take over and bring the treasure down from the mountains. He wanted to get back to his normal work of fighting the enemy. However, he had been ordered to wait and so he did, but not for long.
Late the next afternoon an official delegation arrived to congratulate Skorzeny on his incredible success. He had done in six days what numerous explorers had failed to do in seven centuries. The delegation was led by none other than Reichsminister Alfred Rosenberg and Colonel Wolfram Sievers, a powerful figure in the Ahnenerbe. Himmler was not present. He had been called back to urgent duties in Berlin and had to miss his first opportunity to see the long awaited Emerald Cup.
Another medal was pinned on Skorzeny's chest in the name of the Reichsführer. Then he and his men were released from duty and allowed to proceed to their home base. A company of combat engineers had been brought up to take over the task of transporting and guarding the treasure.
The riches of Solomon and Jerusalem, Rome, Alaric, the Cathars, the Templars, the Merovingians and others was probably brought down out of the mountains by mule train. In the village of Lavelanet it was crated and transferred to a convoy of large trucks. Under heavy guard it was taken to either Toulouse or Carcassonne. Finally it was loaded into a series of box cars and transported, by train, across France and into Germany. Its final destination was not Berlin and the vaults of the Reichsbank, as might have been expected, but the small town of Merkers (about 40 miles from Berlin). Whoever was guiding the journey knew what he was doing because the riches of the Reichsbank disappeared in the final chaotic days of the war and have never been accounted for.
It is almost certain that a great number of gold coins from the treasure were distributed to the personal "care" of high ranking officials of the Third Reich. The true worth of the original treasure can only be a matter of wild speculation but an amount of 60 billion dollars does not seem unreasonable and even this figure does not take note of the fact that some items in the collection were indeed beyond price.
When Martin Bormann's wife (Frau Gerda Buch Bormann) was captured at a small hotel in Northern Italy, she had 2200 antique gold coins in her possession. These priceless coins were almost certainly a part of Hitler's personal share of the Treasure of Solomon . Bormann himself sent gold coins to Argentina by submarine where on arrival, his treasure was placed under the personal protection of Evita Peron . Adolf Hitler, Herman Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop and others also sent great riches to South America. Beyond a shadow of a doubt their wealth consisted in part of rare gold coins.
Bormann's fortune in Argentina (not including other South American countries) has been estimated at $800,000,000. This amount included 2,511 kilograms of gold ("Aftermath—Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich" by Ladislas Farago).
Countess Gisela von Westrop, the mistress of General Ernst Kaltenbrunner made innumerable trips to Switzerland in her capacity as "Social Secretary" of various escape organizations. She is known to have carried large suitcases stuffed with virtually perfect counterfeit money but she also had numerous Swiss bank accounts containing large amounts of liquid assets some of which consisted of antique gold coins.
In 1983 a former ODESSA agent, treasurer and paymaster named Albert Willi Louis Blume, died in Brazil. Although he led a life of near poverty his personal vault in the Bank of Brazil contained 141,000 ounces of gold, documents of great commercial value, valid currency, fine jewelry and a hoard of ancient gold coins. (Personal communication from Major R.H. Hodges, Pelham, N.Y.). Mr. Blume was undoubtedly only one of many "paymasters" who presided over similar riches which were used to support various former officials of the Third Reich.
Thus the gold coins of the Treasure of the Ages were dispersed forever.
The remaining portions of the treasure, which had not been distributed or left behind at Merkers, were transported to Heinrich Himmler's Wewelsburg fortress near Paderborn. All of the Holy Relics, including the Emerald Cup, were contained in this shipment. The priceless collection, with the exception of the Cup, was buried deep beneath the castle wall. The exact hiding place has never been precisely determined but it is believed to be somewhere under the steep rocky slope which supports the great north tower of the castle and plunges precipitously into the river valley below . According to persistent rumors, at least a part of the treasure was sent to the "Externsteine" where it was sealed off in one of the many grottoes which pock-mark the great rock formation.
The Cup is believed to have been exhibited to Himmler's innermost circle of senior Knights of the Holy Lance on several occasions. Between these rare ceremonies the Emerald Cup and Himmler's duplicate Holy Lance were kept in a large safe which was imbedded deep within the castle's thick walls. Only the Reichsführer had a key to the safe and its very existence was known only to him and General Siegfried Taubert, the castle warden.
Near the end of the war, when Wewelsburg was overrun by American forces, on April 2, 1956, the safe was blown open by soldiers of the U.S. 3rd Armored Division. It was found to contain a large quantity of documents. These papers promptly disappeared. It is unknown whether or not they contained information about the Lance or the Cup or the Holy Relics of Solomon's Treasure.
Just a few weeks prior to the capture of Wewelsburg castle, Allied troops had stepped onto German soil and breached the Siegfried Line. Only the Rhine river remained as a barrier to their penetration of the very heart of the Fatherland.
Hitler was then living in his underground bunker in Berlin. He knew that the war was hopelessly lost and all thought of victory had disappeared from his mind, whether he admitted it or not. The same was true of even the most aggressive, loyal and optimistic leaders of the Third Reich. It was time to think of hiding their wealth and saving their lives. There was a desperate need to make haste. On March 16, 1945 the treasure of Wewelsburg was exhumed. Whether this was a total or partial removal of the collection has never been definitely established. It was one year to the day since the priceless hoard had been discovered by Otto Skorzeny near the citadel of Montsegur.
The treasure and the Emerald Cup were placed in the care of one of only two persons in Germany who Himmler considered to be completely trustworthy. The one would deliver the Cup to the other, after he had secured the treasure in its temporary resting place
As a final act, Himmler dispatched his duplicate, but still cherished, Holy Lance to Nurnberg. Here it joined the insignia of the Holy Roman Emperors, dating back to the days of Charlemagne. The successive German Emperors who owned the insignia reigned for 1000 years and comprised the First Reich. The items consisted, in part, of the Holy Lance, a sword, scepter, crown, cloak, sphere, cross and gauntlets. The above items were eventually discovered in a tunnel deep beneath the walls of Nurnberg castle by elements of the 7th U.S. Army (of which the author was a member) The personal insignia of Charlemagne were found in a cave at Siegen. This great treasure, along with the imitation Holy Lance, was returned to the government of Austria in 1946 by General Mark Clark. It is still there to-day where it can be seen in the Schatzkammer (treasure rooms) of the Hofburg Palace.
The royal emblems of the Holy Roman Emperors had been stored in Nurnberg, Germany for hundreds of years. In 1806 they were sent to Vienna, Austria to keep them from falling into the hands of Napoleon. When Napoleon lost power in 1814, Austria refused to return the insignia to Germany. Hitler saw the collection in 1938 when Austria was annexed to Germany and brought it back to Nurnberg. He kept the Holy Lance in his personal possession but allowed Himmler to have a perfect copy made for use in his ceremonies at Wewelsburg (for further information on this subject see "Adolf Hitler and the Holy Lance", by Buechner and Bernhart).
Himmler did not have time to remove other items of great value from Wewelsburg Castle or from a nearby fortress-like building known as Boddeken. He decided that if he could not have them, at least he could prevent them from falling into the hands of his hated enemies.
On March 29, 1945 he sent a team of demolition experts to destroy his beloved castle. Under the command of Captain Heinz Macher this group seemed to have had a singular lack of enthusiasm for what they considered to be a senseless mission of destruction. As a result the castle was rather badly damaged but not destroyed. Nevertheless, Macher reported a successful mission and was promoted to Major on the spot. Since Macher wore the Knights Cross with Oakleaves his word was never doubted. Perhaps Himmler never knew that the mission has actually failed.
As soon as the demolition team departed from the area, the townspeople of Wewelsburg village swarmed in and began to strip the castle of its rich furnishings.
On April 2, 1945 when American soldiers arrived they released a number of inmates from a nearby concentration camp known as Niederhagen. The released prisoners, and the American soldiers, completed the job of picking the castle clean.
Among items which disappeared were paintings, statues, rugs, tapestries, procelain, silverware, coats of arms, 16,000 priceless books, 40,000 bottles of vintage wine, a large number of silver SS honor rings, a solid gold bathtub Samurai swords, antique armor, firearms, fine furniture and other objects.
Thus, Himmler's personal treasure was dispersed, or passed out of his control. Barely one month later he would become a fugitive, stripped of office, rank and authority.
Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler also had precious items to dispose of before he died (on April 30, 1945) and before his Berlin bunker was overrun by Russian troops.
He was still in possession of the real Holy Lance, but the time had come for him to part with it, lest it fall into the hands of his despised enemies. In mid April, 1945 he sent it to the port of Kiel in the custody of one of his most trusted officers. It was then carried by submarine (U-530) to Antarctica where it found repose in a cave of ice in the Muhlig Hoffman mountains. A second vessel (U-977) sailed on the same day (May 2, 1945) and for the same destination. She was carrying a canister of the mixed ashes of Hitler and Eva Braun. In 1979, a German expedition recovered the Lance and the ashes. These objects are now hidden at an unknown site in Germany (for details see "Adolf Hitler and the Holy Lance" and "Hitler's Ashes"', by Buechner and Bernhart).
Other valuables, which Hitler felt compelled to safeguard were primarily those which were to be a part of his proposed museum in Linz. These were near and dear to his heart and the thought still lingered that he might survive or return someday to build the greatest art center in the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Col. Buechner is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He received his education at Tulane University (B.S.) and Louisiana State University (M.D.). He was formerly a Professor of Medicine at Tulane University and currently is an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at L.S.U., where an honorary Professorship has been established in his name. He is an internationally recognized expert on tuberculosis and other diseases of the lungs.
During World War II, Dr. Buechner was a Medical Officer with the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division. This unit liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp, and Dr. Buechner was the first American physician to enter this infamous prison. He was later promoted to the rank of Colonel, in 1958, while serving with the Reserve Forces of the United States. He was recalled to active duty during the "Berlin and Cuban Missile Crisis" of 1961-1962. His awards include the Medical Combat Badge, the Bronze Star, three battle stars, the Army Commendation Medal and the War Cross and Distinguished Service Cross of Louisiana. He has also been awarded the Cross of Merit of the Order of the Holy Lance for contributions to the cause of world peace and truth in history. This honor has been bestowed on only 18 other individuals who are non-members of the Order. The award itself was hand carved from metal taken from the box in which the Holy Lance was contained.
Dr. Buechner is the author of a medical textbook and approximately 200 scientific articles. He is listed in Who's Who in America and many other references.
His non-medical books include Daniel Anton Buechner—Master Lithographer of Old New Orleans (1856-1937), Creator of Mardi Gras Art and the Famous Labels,1983; Drysdale (1870-1934)— Artist of Myth and Legend, 1985; Dachau—The Hour of the Avenger—An Eye Witness Account, 1986; Adolf Hitler and the Secrets of the Holy Lance, 1988, and Hitler's Ashes—Seeds of a New Reich, 1989.
Dr. Buechner is the illustrator of Mexican Cooking—Authentic Sonoran Style, by Emajean Jordan Buechner and publisher of The Fort Polk Sampler.
Dr. Buechner is currently President of the 157th Infantry Association. During a recent visit to France to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the liberation of the southern portion of that country from enemy occupation during World War II, he was presented with the "Eagle of Nice" award. He was so honored for his role in helping to liberate 3,918 French citizens from the prison camp at Dachau on April 29, 1945.