About 1,320 pounds of gold bars held by Germany's largest commercial bank, Deutsche Bank AG, during World War II probably came from melted-down teeth fillings of Holocaust victims, a German researcher said Monday.
Independent researcher Hersch Fischler said it was doubtful that the management of the bank knew where the gold came from because the pre-war Reichsbank central bank, from which Deutsche Bank acquired the gold, kept the origins of these ingots top secret.Fischler's comments came after a British historian commissioned by Deutsche to investigate its pre-war gold business confirmed that the 600 kilos was "Melmer gold" - named after Bruno Melmer, the SS officer in charge of valuables stolen from Jews and other Nazi victims between 1942 and 1944.
Fischler said the Melmer gold was refined and melted by Degus-sa, one of the world's largest metals companies, and other firms and probably consisted mainly of teeth fillings from Jews at the Auschwitz and Lublin concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Deutsche and Degussa AG said they could not comment on these findings until separate independent investigations into each company had been completed.
"These 600 kilos of gold bars were probably mainly melted-down teeth fillings and came from concentration camps in Lublin and Auschwitz, according to Melmer's reports," Fischler, who is based in Duesseldorf, told Reuters.
"Jewelry, rings and household objects looted by the Nazis were generally not melted down because the Nazis thought they could make more money if they sold them off," Fischler said.
"In Auschwitz and other camps, teeth were pulled from dead prisoners and roughly melted down in makeshift forges before being handed over to be refined."
Degussa admitted last year that it had refined and melted down gold for the Nazis, which was then handed over to the Reichsbank and that its pre-war files showed some of this was from Jews.
"We know some gold taken from the Nazis' Jewish victims was refined and melted down by Degussa. But our documentation is incomplete, and we cannot give precise details," said Degussa spokeswoman Monika Hillemacher.
Deutsche Bank spokesman Walter Schumacher said he could not comment on the new findings.