Finally, Bundesbank's gold goes on show

Finally, Bundesbank's gold goes on show

All that glitters is definitely gold in a new exhibition at Germany’s central bank that lifts the veil on the nation’s massive reserves of the precious metal, partly to reassure sceptics that the prized ingots are really there.

Europe’s top economy and export powerhouse has the world’s second-largest gold reserves after the United States, but for decades almost none of the roughly 3,400 tonnes of yellow metal, worth a staggering 117 billion Euros today, could be found on German soil.

To keep the gold safe from a possible Soviet invasion during the Cold War, as well as for other historical reasons, the bars were instead stored in the treasuries of central banks in New York, London and Paris.

But growing public pressure spurred the Bundesbank to decide to store half its reserves at home, a feat it completed last year through a series of cloak-and-dagger shipments from the Federal Reserve and the Banque de France. Storage fees charged by the Bank of England had already prompted Germany to repatriate most of the gold it held there in 2000.

All those bullions are now kept under lock and key in a secret location in the bank’s basement in Frankfurt--except for the eight bars on display at its Money Museum as part of the exhibition “Gold. Treasures at the Deutsche Bundesbank”, which runs until September.

“We’re doing this to show citizens that the gold bars are here, to show transparency,” Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said, standing next to the gleaming 12-kilo bars in glass display cases.

“We want there to be trust in the Bundesbank central bank as an institution, and in the reserves of the Bundesbank.” The bank has attributed its gold repatriation efforts largely to a changed geopolitical context.