One Man's Quixotic Hunt for Sunken Nazi Treasure in Frigid Lake

IDF Man Aims To Solve a Stubborn Mystery of Holocaust

History Sleuth: Yaron Svoray wants to get to the bottom — literally — of the story of the Nazi treasure in this German lake.
Maximilian Kiewel
History Sleuth: Yaron Svoray wants to get to the bottom — literally — of the story of the Nazi treasure in this German lake.

By Maximilian Kiewel

Published November 24, 2013.
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Yaron Svoray doesn’t care if the boxes (if there are any) contain precious metals or secret documents “It’s about the people the treasure belongs to. Whatever we find has to make its way to the survivors of the Holocaust,” he says.

‘Delicate missions’

The Israeli writer and former police investigator is well experienced in what he calls “delicate missions”. In the 1990s, he spent six months undercover with German neo-Nazis. A book based on his experiences, called “In Hitler’s Shadow” was made into an HBO movie in 1995 (“The Infiltrator”).

Since then, Svoray has dedicated himself to tracking down property stolen by the Nazis. Probably his biggest find was the recovery of 40 uncut Jewish-owned diamonds in a forest in Alsace, on the border between France and Germany.

And he is convinced there are boxes at the bottom of the lake, but many have tried their hand at solving the Stolpsee enigma. In September 1981, a dubious arms dealer told the Stasi - East German secret police - about Nazi gold in the lake and even presented an alleged treasure map. In a report, today lying in the Stasi archive in Berlin, one intelligence Lieutenant-Colonel Heilmann wrote: “On 27th September 1981, the contact person told the Main Reconnaissance Administration of the State Security Ministry, Section X, that he had obtained sketches alluding to the whereabouts of Hermann Göring’s treasure. These include: 3 boxes of precious metal (450 kilogram each).”

The Stasi swings into action

The report electrified the notorious Stasi chief Erich Mielke, who immediately ordered a covert dredging operation codenamed “Autumn Wind”. For six months, military divers and the pioneer unit of the Stasi guard battalion “F. E. Dzierzynski” trawled the water, but found nothing.

Their failure dismays Svoray not at all. Visibility in the lake is terrible, he points out and adds that the shallow lake, only 40 feet in depth, is full of World War II rubble and sludge. “There is no way the Stasi could have found the boxes in using dredgers and other primitive methods,” says the Israeli.


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