Updated: May 30
Hello Gentle Readers and Welcome to my blog.
Readers of my novel 'A Tyranny of God' have asked about the veracity of the Nazi gold bonds that signal a major turning point in the narrative. Are the bonds a verified historical element or merely a figment of this author’s imagination? My best and most honest answer is that, to my current knowledge, they are both, and at the same time neither.
A Tyranny of God is a historical fiction novel containing many factual elements drawn on archival research and the testimony of persons known to me. For example, the protagonist, Adamo Di Domenico, is modelled on a priest I once met in a small Tuscan village. The fellow possessed a marvelous singing voice, a ruddy complexion enhanced by fondness for the grape, and claimed that his father had been a tenor at the Metropolitan Opera in New York during the early 1940’s. A powerful singing voice was his only inheritance.
The Nazi gold bonds, however, enjoy a more convoluted and rather unique origin.
One morning, while working as a licensed arms trader (among other dubious endeavours), I received a couple of fax transmissions from an associate at ING Bank in New York. One was an image of the Nazi gold bond mentioned in the novel. The second was a detailed report concerning the veracity and supposed value on maturity of said bond prepared by Ernst & Young, one of the world’s ‘Big Four’ accounting firms. My contact claimed that his client, who had inherited a number of these certificates, had queried the bank concerning the best procedures for disposal of the asset.
My first impression was of a hoax and the genesis of a great new urban legend. Remember that these were the days when the Internet was still in its infancy and wasn’t yet the potent research tool it later became. On impulse, I picked up the telephone and called Citibank. Citibank was cited as the guarantor of the bonds, given that it was the current embodiment of the merger of First City Bank and First National Bank of New York and therefore had inherited its progenitors’ financial obligations. My interest was based on pure avarice: as a middle man, I stood to ‘wet my beak a little’ as the Mafiosi say.
During many telephone calls and fax transmissions over the following days and weeks, I was passed from hand to hand among Citibank functionaries, none of whom would confirm or deny knowledge of the bond issue or offer any opinion regarding their bank’s obligation to pay. These functionaries had obviously been coached on what to say and how to avoid having to actually lie, at the same time skirting any acknowledgement of the bank’s historical involvement in the bond issue. It was a marvelous exercise in ducking and weaving that naturally lent some credence to the whole affair. Citibank was running scared.
The forensic accountant’s report contained in Chapter Eighty-Three is, of course, a novelistic rephrasing of the original document received from my friend at ING Bank. In the novel, the reworded and enhanced report contains sufficient historical evidence that the reader might understand the involvement of the international banking establishment in the financing of Hitler’s war machine. Kennedy & Kennedy’s report is, therefore, entirely my own creation and nothing to do with Ernst & Young. It is more than understandable and perfectly reasonable that the banking establishment would adopt a hands-off stance regarding what might well become a contractual obligation to pay any surviving bondholders for the instrument’s full value on maturity (roughly a thousand times face value), some fifty years after the bankruptcy and collapse of the Third Reich.
The world banking establishment is, and has always been, structured on the Mafia model, that is, orders come from top to bottom while responsibility runs from bottom to top. These institutions are rarely held accountable for the long-term consequences of their actions in the world. Where billions of dollars are concerned, sufficient to bankrupt Citibank and cause serious financial tremors for the East and West German governments of the time, what was a human life worth in comparison? It’s certainly good fodder for plot development, hence A Tyranny of God.
Then of course, the supposed bond issue and Ernst and Young report may constitute a hoax after all. But check out the world wide web. I still can’t find any information on this specific bond issue, although plenty of sites are dedicated to the subject of German pre-war securities as well as Nazi war bonds. This particular bond issue doesn’t figure in any available information on scams and hoaxes. If any of my readers have further information on this specific item, then I would be thrilled and delighted to share in it. Please leave a message on my contact page. Thanks!
For an authoritative overview of the finances of the Third Reich and the flight of German capital during the closing years of World War II, check out Paul Manning’s monumental work ‘Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile.’ You can download a free pdf copy at http://spitfirelist.com/books/manning.pdf
During the Covid-19 epidemic, you can download a free electronic copy of A TYRANNY OF GOD from my website at www.francescorizzuto.com . Please self-isolate, stay at home, and READ, READ, READ!
A free Study Guide is also available for A Tyranny of God. Download a copy from my website.