The Schloss Klessheim Fraud
For some time now, the military collecting world has heard, mostly in the Maerz book on the Knights Cross, stories of fabled hordes of diamond-studded German orders and decorations found hidden in Schloss Klessheim near Salzburg. The story was that an American soldier noticed what appeared to be a false ceiling and upon ripping it apart with his field shovel, discovered a “big crate” containing hundreds of diamond-studded medals and military standards. The story continues that “The well known American dealer Jason Burmeister tracked down some of these troops that occupied Schloss Klessheim in 1945 and purchased their ‘souvenirs’.”
And also on the internet we find:
“This special grade of the gold German Cross is constructed of solid silver, with a gold wreath, hand-crafted of “dukat-gold” ( 21.6 caret gold ) which is set with 106 full-cut diamonds. Twenty such pieces were hand-made by the Munich jeweler “RATH”, circa 1942-43.
All twenty pieces were purportedly “liberated” from a safe in the Schloss Klessheim, near Salzburg, in April, 1945, by advance elements of a US Army combat engineer battalion, U.S. Army 287th Combat Engineer Battalion … Three of the captured medals ended up in the USMA Museum in West Point, New York. It is widely believed that none of this grade of the Deutsches Kreuz was ever actually awarded before the war’s end, despite rumors that suggest the existence of at least two known, “completed”, award documents in European collections. There is some research evidence to suggest that this medal was intended to fill a “gap” that the Ordenskanzlei perceived to exist between the Oakleaves, and Oakleaves w/swords of the EKI.”
It should be noted that two U.S. Army Divisions took the Salzburg/Schloss Klessheim area in April/May of 1945. The 3rd Infantry Division and a little later, the 42nd Infantry Division. Schloss Klessheim was taken over by the American military administration and subsequently given to the Austrian government.
The 3rd Infantry Division did not have any Combat Engineer battalion attached but the 42nd Division did have such a unit, the 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion. The alleged 287th Combat Engineer Battalion did not exist at that time.
What was found in the Schloss I know of, and can prove the period existence of , four German Crosses in Gold with diamonds, one Iron Cross Star and case, one Social Welfare cross with diamonds, one cased Knights Cross of the War Service Cross with Swords, two Knights Crosses of the Iron Cross, marked ‘2’ and cased, all found in a safe in Klessheim. Most of these items were turned over to the occupation officials and most ended up in the U.S. Army Museum at West Point.
I have a copy of the CID report, concerning these pieces and a full catalog of pieces located at the castle in May of 1945 will be scanned and published.
American soldiers might have found crates of rare decorations somewhere hidden in Salzburg or sitting in street corner flower boxes but there was no huge horde of treasured medals ever found at Klessheim.
Much of the glitterati in the Maerz book are alleged to have been found at Klessheim. They were not.
All of this reminds me of the Magic Closet of Pink-Shoes Paulson. If he put two Luftwaffe ace’s tunics into this closet at night, why the next morning there were five tunics, one overcoat and a pair of boots! And the Schloss Klessheim story is in the same category.
It is always better to buy an item, not a story.