The contents of 24 freight cars, crammed with gold, jewelry and various currencies with a total estimated value of $120,000,000, most of which was stolen from Hungarian Jews, are now in the custody of U.S. property control authorities at Salzburg. Austria, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today.
The trainload of loot was seized by the Americans on July 18 from a special force of 52 Hungarians under the command of one Lazlo Avar. Avar told American officers, at that time, that before the train was seized, Arpad Tolbi, a member of the pro-Nazi Szalasi government in Hungary, removed several cases of jewelry and diamonds from the train and hid them. (Former Premier Ferano Szalasi, leader of the anti-Semite Arrow Cross organization, was sentenced to death on Dec. 9 last by a Peoples Court at Budapest.) The whereabouts of Tolbi and his part of the loot are unknown.
The U.S. authorities say that partial lists exist of the ownership of the jewelry and cash and that some of the envelopes in which diamonds are enclosed bear the names and addresses of owners. But not all of the property can be traced, at least at this time. Officers said that apparently the greater part of the loot belongs to Hungarian Jews and the remainder to non-Jews. Many of the envelopes and other packages containing the diamonds, jewelry and cash were apparently removed from Hungarian bank vaults.
(Jewish circles in Budapest today expressed considerable concern over the eventual disposition of the loot found by the American authorities. They point to the possibility that a dispute may arise among the Allies over whether the loot should go into a common reparations pool, instead of being returned to the rightful owners.)
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.