Germany has the world’s second-largest gold reserves, but since the Cold War, no one has seen it on German soil.
Until this weekend, when the country’s central bank, Bundesbank, put eight bars on display at its Money Museum.
“We’re doing this to show citizens that the gold bars are here, to show transparency,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele told reporters.
The exhibition “Gold. Treasures at the Deutsche Bundesbank”, runs until September, and yes, you read that correctly, there has been mounting pressure from critics and conspiracy theorists for Bundesbank to prove all its gold is accounted for.
Roughly 3,400 tonnes of gold worth 117 billion euros ($187 billion) has been stashed in central bank treasuries in New York, London and Paris since the Cold War, to keep it safe from a possible Soviet invasion.
But since 2013, the Bundesbank has been covertly repatriating half its 270,000 ingots in shipments from the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Banque de France.
It completed the mission late last year, but would prefer to have its efforts seen as a response to “a changed geopolitical cloud”.
There are still 1,200 tonnes held in New York and around 430 tonnes in London. According to AFP, the Bundesbank said having gold in French vaults “would be of little use to Germany in a crisis when the metal would need to be quickly converted into liquidity”.
“Especially during the years of the financial and sovereign debt crisis, the Bundesbank was confronted with the desire for detailed information about the gold,” said Thiele.
“We want there to be trust in the Bundesbank central bank as an institution, and in the reserves of the Bundesbank. And you can only win trust through transparency.”