The Delaware General Assembly honored an unsung hero last week. Richard Mootz, a Milford veteran, received a tribute from the Delaware House of Representatives for his role in an astonishing find from World War II. The House Republicans sent this in their weekly email last week.
The House of Representatives this week honored a man whose discovery of a vast cache of hidden German treasure may have helped end World War II and limited the spread of Nazi ideology in the conflict’s aftermath.
In February 1945, more than 3,900 Flying Fortress bombers attached to the U.S. Eighth Air Force dropped hundreds of tons of munitions on the German capital of Berlin.
To safeguard the monetary assets of the waning Third Reich, currency and gold from the Reichsbank — the central bank of Germany — were sent to a deep salt mine at Merkers, located about two hundred miles southwest.
Two months later, General George Patton’s 3rd Army swept into the region, moving so rapidly the Germans were unable to relocate the concealed hoard.
Enter Private First Class Richard C. Mootz, a Delawarean serving as an infantryman with the 3rd Army’s 90th Division. On April 6th, Pvt. Mootz was escorting two women who had just been questioned by the 12th Corps Provost Marshal’s Office back to Merkers. As they neared the Kaiseroda Salt Mine, he asked the women about the facility. They told him that weeks earlier German officials had used local and displaced civilians as labor for storing treasure in the mine.
Pvt. Mootz passed the information to his superior. Later that day, American forces entered the mine. What they found was startling.
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the mine contained over eleven thousand containers, including: 3,682 bags and cartons of Germany currency; 80 bags of foreign currency; 4,173 bags containing 8,307 gold bars; 55 boxes of gold bullion; 3,326 bags of gold coins; 63 bags of silver; and one bag of platinum bars.
The money and precious metals were in the company of an immense collection of valuable artwork. Sheltered in the mine were one-fourth of the major holdings of 14 state museums.
The find was so extraordinary that General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Omar N. Bradley, and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, toured the site together.
The mine’s shafts, some 1,600-feet below the surface, also housed an estimated 400-tons of intellectual riches in the form of patent volumes from Germany, France, and Austria.
“Germany was one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world at this time,” said David Deputy, a former Delaware National Guard brigadier general and Mr. Mootz’s nephew. “Information on rocketry and other German advances were being sought by both the Americans and Russians. It was the sensitive nature of this data that resulted in some details of the discovery being kept secret,” he said.
Mr. Deputy said it was not until military records were declassified decades later that Mr. Mootz’s role in the discovery became evident.
To give Mr. Mootz his overdue recognition, State Reps. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Tim Dukes (R-Laurel) sponsored a House of Representatives’ Tribute presented in the House Chamber Thursday afternoon. Mr. Mootz was a long-time resident of Laurel and currently lives in Milford.
“We recognize this exceptional individual for his outstanding service to his country while serving in the United States Army,” said Rep. Kenton. “Private Mootz assisted the ‘Monuments Men’ in the discovery of a massive collection of gold, silver, artwork, and German currency. This was the remaining paper currency and gold reserves of the Nazi regime, hence, this discovery bankrupted the German Army, bringing an earlier end to the war.”
The find may have had repercussions beyond the war.
In internal correspondence a week following the discovery at Merkers, Col. Bernard D. Bernstein (deputy chief, Financial Branch, G-5 Division) wrote the finding of the trove “confirms previous intelligence reports and censorship intercepts indicating that the Germans were planning to use these foreign exchange assets, including works of art, as a means of perpetuating the Nazism and Nazi influence both in Germany and abroad.”
“The assessment program shall be designed and operated to provide the General Assembly, the Governor, the Secretary, the State Board of Education, educational administrators, teachers, parents and the public with timely and accurate information on student achievement and educational attainments.” -From Delaware Title 14, § 151 State assessment system; rules and regulations (a).
The Delaware blogger Kavips has been following other states that belong to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as they release the scores from their own Smarter Balanced tests. To date, Delaware has not release their own. Nobody in the public knew why…until now.
Apparently, states could pay extra money to have their scores released early. Delaware Governor Jack Markell did not do this. While some could say he is a financial hero, this is hardly the case. This will end up costing Delaware much more, and this is why. School districts and charters in other states who have this data can plan for the next year. Delaware can not. Because next year will already be here when the scores are released.
For a Governor who spends money on education like it just falls from trees, he sure is picky about test score information. What was that part about House Bill 334 when it was approved by the 147th General Assembly and signed by Governor Markell last year? Oh yeah…see above. Timely scores are not being provided to students, parents, teachers and schools. And this is a Governor people want to trust? Who won’t pay to have our schools run the same as others in the country? Wasn’t that the whole point of implementing the Common Core State Standards, so we could all be on the same level playing field as other states? Silly me, it’s about the money. It’s always been about the money.
So education is a mess in Delaware. It has basically come down to two sides: the moneymakers who want to make more money off education and those who just want education to be about teachers teaching and students learning with no high-stakes attached other than the student’s actual grades they receive based on the quality of work they put out. This is it in a nutshell. Sure, there are a million other variables in-between but this is the crux of the issues.
One side says what we have isn’t good enough while the other disagrees. I’ve heard legislators say that both sides need to get together and compromise. But how do you compromise when your very ethics and morals are questioned? How do you put what you believe and you know in your heart of hearts to be true? When does a financial reason ever replace what is actually good for a student?
In the 1960’s, people were very good about rising up when civil rights issues came up. They stood up and rallied and rioted and marched and talked. They said no to the big man and changed the face of the country. Now many of the same people who advocated for change are the ones telling us how to run schools and what we need to do. What changed? Money. They got a sniff of it, ran with it, kept it, invested it, and based their lives on it. But they also achieved a level of power. They got used to getting their way, and woe to anyone who gets in their way. The only difference is now they are controlling events through money and power, as opposed to their hearts and convictions. I think they believe the lies they tell us about our children and schools because the overwhelming need to control the scene is the mindset they have always had.
Is it even possible to change that kind of mindset? Is there a way to convince these people they are wrong? I don’t think so. They will plot and scheme, and come up with other accountability measures designed to get what they want. The difference is people are hip to their credo. We are rising up, just as they did fifty years ago, to protest what they once believed to be wrong. Will it be enough? My best advice is to get together again. Not those who will destroy public education, but all those who are opposed to what they are doing.
We need our own march that will go down in the annals of history as a catalyst for change. We need to rally and protest. We need to say no…together, as one voice.