Hunting Nazi Treasure, an epic eight-part series on HISTORY from Canada’s Saloon Media, starts Sunday, September 17. But this is not a series about the same old WWII battles and generals. It’s about the systematic looting of an entire continent, and provides new insights into the greedy motivations of top Nazis like Hitler and Goering, and explores how culture and the world’s most beautiful things are targets during times of war.
The story is relevant today because hundreds of thousands of treasures looted by the Nazis are still missing, including a $100 million painting by Italian master Raphael, a $2 billion dollar hoard of stolen Italian gold, and the legendary Amber Room from the Catherine Palace in Russia. These are the last prisoners of the Nazis.
Into these confounding, historically-significant “cold cases” comes Hunting Nazi Treasure, a globe-trotting real-life investigation series on HISTORY, featuring a team of history-minded treasure hunters, working out of the Dallas-based Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.
The team is composed of investigative journalist Conor Woodman, Second World War historian James Holland and Monuments Men Foundation founder Robert M. Edsel (whose book Monuments Men inspired the George Clooney movie of the same name). Each bring their individual talents to episodes that focus on specific Nazi-related acts of unimaginable grand larceny.
Woodman is an eager adventurer, willing to scuba dive off the coast of Corsica in the search for Rommel’s Gold (a treasure that fascinated James Bond creator Ian Fleming and a story that leads to an escaped Nazi in South America) or crawl into the ruins of an underground bunker where Nazi #2 Hermann Goering once kept pet lion cubs and a huge stolen art collection.
Historian James Holland provides analysis and perspective. He interviews the British soldier who found Hitler’s last will and testament (which devoted considerable ink to the Fuhrer’s looted art collection), travels to Auschwitz to uncover the chilling story of the “Canada Commando”—the unit responsible for stealing gold from camp victims, and uncovers a Nazi looting operation in Paris so cold and so calculated, it even included stealing children’s toys.
Meanwhile, team leader Robert Edsel identifies the targets and connects the investigative dots, using his connections to gain access into the backrooms and vaults of world famous museums, access original documents and photo albums made for Hitler himself, and meet with top law enforcement officials in Italy and even secret contacts in Russia.
As the series unfolds, the viewer will be introduced to Hitler’s grand plan to become “the curator of the German people” atop the world’s most spectacular art collection, and a desperate last-act by the Nazis to hide an unimaginable trove of gold, most likely in the Bavarian Alps.
“I have studied the Second World War for over two decades, but nothing prepared me for this series,” says producer Steve Gamester. “When you follow money and treasure, it leads to unexpected and fascinating insights into how the Nazi state worked.”
As an interactive bonus, viewers will have the opportunity to join in the hunt, by calling the Nazi Treasure tipline at 1-866-994-4278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is my hope that our program will become America's Most Wanted for culture and lead to the return of priceless objects to their rightful owners,” says Edsel. “This program will present a unique opportunity to put the foundation’s extensive records and archives to use.
“George Clooney's film introduced the Monuments Men to a worldwide audience,” Edsel continues, “and now we have an opportunity to enlist the help of the public to join the hunt for some of the hundreds of thousands of objects still missing."