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> U.S. apologizes for Gold Train plunder in May 1945,
Posted: October 11, 2005 05:03 pm
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MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- The U.S. government issued a statement of regret Tuesday for the actions of soldiers who took valuables belonging to Hungarian Jews that had been seized on a Nazi "Gold Train" during the chaotic end of World War II.

The statement issued by the U.S. Justice Department said that the government "regrets the improper conduct of certain of its military personnel" who took items that had been on the train, which was carrying jewelry, gold, artwork, Oriental rugs, china, cutlery, linens and other items.

"The United States has concluded that, although the conduct of its personnel was appropriate in most respects, it was contrary to U.S. policy and the standards expected of its soldiers" in some actions, the Justice Department statement said.

The apology was required as part of a settlement approved September 26 by a federal judge in Miami between the U.S. government and about 62,000 Hungarian survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. The settlement calls for $25.5 million to be distributed to needy Jews through social service agencies around the world, with the bulk going to those in Israel, Hungary, the United States and Canada.

The "Gold Train" was captured by U.S. soldiers from pro-Nazi Hungarian forces in May 1945. A U.S. investigation found in 1999 that some Army soldiers failed to return items initially "requisitioned" from the train and used in postwar offices, such as rugs, cutlery and even typewriters.

The investigation also concluded that some property was stolen from a warehouse by soldiers. Although some personnel were caught and prosecuted, little of the property was recovered.

The government did hold an auction of remaining items in 1948 to benefit Jewish relief victims after determining that it would be impossible to identify the owners of the Gold Train property and that Hungary's then-communist government would be unlikely to cooperate.

"The United States expresses its sympathy and solidarity with these victims and hopes that the settlement approved by the district court will provide meaningful assistance to those survivors," the Justice Department statement said.

The Bush administration was under bipartisan pressure to settle what was seen as a black mark on the U.S. record in World War II. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, were among 17 senators who urged a resolution in a letter last year.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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Posted: October 13, 2005 12:35 am
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General de corp de armata

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If it would be only this...

In the "Antiques Road Show" (which I can access on PBS - Public Broadcasting Station) you can see sometimes, at these antique fares, commoners coming with Meissen porcelains, German mechanic toys from XIXth century, German silver objects, or other old German works of art.
And then they say to the reporter:
"My grandfather got it from Europe."

Needless to add, in the days of our grandfathers the trips of the commoners to Europe were only in military uniform.

This post has been edited by Florin on October 13, 2005 12:37 am
sid guttridge
Posted: October 19, 2005 11:04 am
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Hi Florin,

Germany was also a mass exporter, so it is perfectly likely that the toys, at least, were acquired legitimately. They were widely available in the UK in the first half of the century. Besides, would you loot a tin clown or toy soldier when so much more valuable stuff was available?

I also think it unlikely that Meissen would have been looted by "common" soldiers. Firstly, they wouldn't know what it was and secondly it was too fragile to carry under campaign conditions.

Soldiers tend to loot precious metals and jewelry and the likes of precision watches and jewellery.

I supect most of the loot was got in the early post war years when it could be traded for a pittance with hungry Germans. My grandfather, who was too old to serve in WWII, had an ex-SS typewriter (it has one key that has the SS runes on it) which I still have. This probably came back as booty after the war.



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