Monday, April 20, 2015

"Nazi Plunder" Season 1 Episode 14

The episode "Nazi Plunder" first aired on May 29, 1977 . It was written and produced by Tyrone Fox.

A history-themed episode. I think the History Channel looked at episodes like this when it decided to start creating some of its programming like Ancient Aliens. Nimoy starts with a review of some history. World War Two is coming to an end, the Germans are ordered to defend Berlin as the Soviets and Americans converge in the spring of 1945. Archival footage from the war dances in the background.

Being Jewish himself, I can't help but think that Nimoy quietly finds a bit of satisfaction in narrating the end of the Third Reich that was supposed to last for a thousand years. We are told that many Nazi's cut out as the end came into sight. Many of them were in disguise and hoping to get away without having to pay for their crimes. Nimoy tells us about the Fall of France earlier in the war and Hitler's desire to remove many important works for art for his own enjoyment. Many pieces of art were brought from other museums in Europe and brought to the Nazi museum in Munich. Hitler had a grand plan to have the best art of the world available for his viewing pleasure.

We are also told that some of the art was taken to the Castle Neuschwanstein. This famous Castle in Germany was home to King Ludwig II in the 15th century. I have visited this Castle, and it is very beautiful!

Nimoy tells us that Americna soldiers were sent to the Castle after the war to seize the works of art and return them to their original location. We are also told that many were held in a massive vault in a salt mine. Much has been written and published about the Nazi treasures, not the least of which is the 2014 film The Monuments Men. Next an interview with art historian Walter Horn. Horn worked with U.S. military intelligence whose task was to retrieve the lost art. Horn tells us about missing gold coins and some missing art that were never found. He implies that Nazi Martin Bormann may have taken the treasure. Bormann escaped Berlin as it fell. According to his driver, Bormann escaped in disguise across the lines. 

(Martin Bormann)

 Bormann made his way to the Alps. After this, Bormann was in Austria. Historian Walter Horn tracked down Bormann to a small cabin in the Alps. A woman there admitted she knew where Bormann had hid the coins. She said she would go and find out where the coins were. She told him the coins were in the hands of authorities, and sure enough they were! I found this story a little bizarre. Where was Bormann? I did some research and found out he committed suciced in the alps to avoid capture and his remains have been found. I wonder how she knew where the coins were?

Nimoy tells us that many other treasures would not be recovered. He goes on a metaphorical connections to the Holocaust. One treasure that was lost never to be regained was humanity. Stock footage from the Holocaust is next. Nimoy details the horrors. The starvation, the work camps, and the gas chambers. "To be anything other than German was inferior. To be Jewish was to be despised. At the end of the line were the concentration camps. They were foul stockyards of humanity stripped of hope". As I said earlier, this has to be a personal thing for Nimoy.

Nimoy discusses the liberation of the camps and the difficulty therein. Fearing they would have to pay for this, many fled. Uncounted millions disappeared with Hitler's henchmen. Nimoy tells us that many are still at large. Of course this is 1977, and 32 years after the way there could be Nazis still alive and still threatening in the world. I think of the film Marathon Man that would have been less than a year old when this show aired. The film featured a villain who was suspected of being a Nazi in hiding. Nimoy says that Bormann is among them. So when this aired, Bormann's remains had not yet been conclusively identified! At Nuremberg, many Nazi's were tried and hanged for war crimes. But still many remain missing. Next we go to Lake Toplitzsee in Austria. Nimoy says that treasure hunters have been looking here for hidden Nazi treasure. In 1957, some treasure was found here.

(Lake Toplitzsee)

We are introduced to some treasure hunters who continue to dive on the lake looking for more treasure. Back to 1945 and the flight out of Berlin of some of the Nazi hierarchy. Nimoy implies they must have hidden treasure on their way out in places it has not yet been discovered. He seems to imply that treasure hunters may have found some things, and paid for it with their lives. He mentions the underground Nazi movement known as Odessa. Its not clear this group ever actually existed, but I find them to be more interesting than the search for treasure!

Nimoy introduces us to art detective Rodolfo Siviero. He has been active from Florence and actually recovered some of the lost treasure. He estimates a third of the art is still missing form Italy. He thinks it is hidden in East Germany. There is an implication that Communists refuse to let it return. I don't remember hearing about any big art recovery after the fall of the Berlin Wall, so I'm not so sure about that.

"It is important for men like Siviero to believe that beauty can endure. It must endure if man is to banish the ugliness of war. Perhaps, if beauty endures, the flaming destruction of the past can finally be cast aside." Pure poetry as usual! No shots of Nimoy in this episode. Is it the sensitive nature and connection to the Holocaust?

This was a good episode. Nazi's are always creepy, but I bet even more so back in the 70's when it was still plausible some could be alive. I liked the historical connections too. Not as mysterious as some, but a decent episode.

You can watch this episode "Nazi Plunder" below.

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