Sometimes, people hide the best secrets in plain sight. This is what Stafford Sands did. To understand how a top Nazi, Hitler’s money man, the man who helped Germany find the money to rearm and unleash World War II, came to be the unknown manipulator, the economic whisperer, the architect of the modern Bahamas, you have to understand 1962.
To understand 1962, you have to understand 1960.
To understand 1960, you have to understand the growing hatred the Bay Street Boys and the ruling white oligarchs of the Bahamas, had for the British authorities who were watching and countering their political moves. Bay Street wanted the British gone.
To understand the growing hatred, we have to go back to 1958 and the aftermath of the General Strike!
1958 – Negroes Begin To Stir Up Trouble
The General Strike of January 1958, threw a monkey wrench in the wheels of greed, power and manipulation of the Bay Street oligarchs and the UBP (United Bahamian Party). The power of the negro labour force came as a surprise, but what caused even more of a surprise was the hardline the British took with the white-minority controlled government. The British said, in no uncertain terms. that more representative seats must be created in Nassau to allow for more effective political representation in the House of Assembly. With strength of people like Randol Fawkes with his labour movement party and the new PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) constantly biting at the heels of the UBP, Stafford Sands, the master manipulator, realised that he needed an ace. He needed someone to show him how to turn straw into Bay Street gold and quickly.
By May 1958, the independent Bay Street candidates were forced to organise as one political party. They became the UBP. The UBP was then was forced to rezone the then four New Providence district zones to accommodate the four new seats demanded by the British following the complaints made after the January General Strike.
Milo Butler, PLP, and senior member for the Western District was biting at the heels of the UBP when a Junior member of House of Assembly suggested that rezoning was in the works.
“As long as I remain a member of this House for the Western District in this present term,” Mr. Butler said, “No one will change the boundaries of that District.”
The member for the West warned members that if they changed the present boundaries it would be necessary to dissolve the House and call for new elections, and even then it will be resisted.
Butler’s warning came during the debate on a Progressive Liberal Party’s Resolution to bring into the Colony from the Colonial Office as expert legal draughtsman to assist in preparing a new General Assembly Act.
During the debate, Mr. Robert Symonette, Junior Member for Exuma, and a member of the Constitutional Committee, intimated that the Committee was planning to re-zone all the New Providence Districts.
The re-zoning plan was hatched soon after the Secretary of State for the Colonies made his recommendations providing for four additional seats in New Providence.
By re-zoning the Bay Street politicians hope to create a sold white district in the East in order to ensure that they gain at least one seat in that District in any election.
They also plant to move the City boundaries further North to eliminate a considerable number of coloured voters.
THE NASSAU HERALD, Saturday, May 24, 1958
1960 – Time To Get The British Out
To hear some people tell it today, Stafford Sands took the very stars out of the sky and turned them into American money. Then he took that American money and paved the streets of Nassau with pure gold. The only thing that can’t be answered without fumbling, is who did he do it for? It’s the minnow that turned into a whale, by the time the fisherman got home to his wife story. The fact is that the progression of the Bahama Islands from slavery agricultural and cotton plantation colony, to post-slavery sisal, pineapple and sponging economy, to winter tourist destination, to millionaire hideaway estates to offshore financial and tourist centre was a progressively gradual one that had as much to do with international events, outside of the Bahamas, as much as anything else Stafford Sands could have dreamed up on his own.
The Bahamas today, is a direct result of the islands for sale campaign that began from the 1800s. Grants of thousands and thousands of acres of land given to the Loyalists were being sold and resold even before slavery ended. Once slavery had ended, and the gifted families wanted to leave the rocks that had resettled them after the American war of Independence, they began to sell. In the coming decades, the land was split and resold. By the 1920s, the former slave plantations suddenly gained austere names like Westward Villas and became exclusive and restricted lots for sale. Foreign developers and land prospectors were making a fortune. The local lawyers were making a fortune. The real estate agents who were selling almost exclusively to foreign clients were making a fortune.
Foreign money was pouring into the Bahamas and leaving just as quickly. The foreign developers needed an offshore centre to park their money otherwise they would have to pay taxes in America. They parked it in the Bahamas.
This why by 1960 David Rockefeller and Chase Manhattan and others came.
The casinos and gambling came to Grand Bahama courtesy of a coup in Cuba. American gangsters needed a hole in which to operate in plain sight, and the Bay Street elite, the ruling elite of the Bahama Islands and the minority-rule government of the day, flung the doors of the Bahamas wide open.
In 1960, great things were happening in the Bahamas and they all had to do with money. Banks were parking their Rolls Royces and safety deposit boxes in Nassau. International banks were readying themselves to accept the deposits of millions from the family trusts, and the business profits, and the hidden wealth secreted away after World War II, from their international clients. Millions and millions of American dollars and European currencies were beginning to flow through the Bahamas, and the UBP, the Bay Street Boys, the ruling white elite, the top families of the Islands, were looking for unfettered access to it. To accomplish this, the UBP didn’t need the British looking over their shoulders or needed the appointment of English administrators and top brass, coming to Nassau to oversee the goings-on. The UBP knew full well that report after report were being sent back to London and discussed in the British Parliament.
American, Canadian and European investors were promising to give the UBP all the money and power they wanted.
All the UBP had to do was make new laws to accommodate their banks, their companies, their land development and their secrecy. But first, they needed to make the British the bad guys, the interlopers, the intruders. They eventually succeeded.
On Monday January 25, 1960, the rotund, one glass eye, Mr. Stafford L. Sands, C.B.E, M.H.A. and UBP., representative for the City got up in the House of Assembly to give his contribution to the debate on the constitutional issue of self-government for the Bahamas.
“I have had the pleasure of moving for the appointment of a constitution committee several times,” Mr. Sands said, “and it is always with hope that we can take another step forward towards self-government.”
“I would rather serve under a Bahamian who was my worst enemy than under another man who was my friend,” Mr. Sands went on.
“I am convinced that this Colony can only reach its fullest flowering under self-government,” he concluded.
Seconding the motion, Mr. A. R. Braynen (UBP Harbour Island) said that he hoped the Committee would be really and truly effective. “It is no use pussy-footing with the Colonial Office,” he said. “The Colonial Office will never give us any form of self-government unless we dig in our heels. It has never parted with any of its Colonies without pressure,” he added.
THE NASSAU GUARDIAN, Nassau Bahamas, Tuesday, January 26, 1960
1962 – Stafford Sands makes a Fake Trip To GERMANY TO BRING BACK an 85 year-old NAZI!
By 1962, Stafford Sands and the entire UBP/Bay Street Boys who sat in the House of Assembly were frustrated. Four new parliamentary seats demanded by the British in 1958 following the aftermath of the General Strike, had been decisively won by the PLP. The PLP won despite the UBP desperately running two negro candidates. Also, little headway had been gotten on the push for self-government. This would not come for another two years, in 1964. Stafford Sands, went about his business of wheeling and dealing and squirrelling vast amounts of monies on the side, by acting as both government official, lawyer and personal advisors to hotel, gambling underworld figures and land development investors in Grand Bahama and Nassau. Sands was pocketing millions and had a hand in just about every major deal that happened in the Bahamas.
Big things were happening in the Bahamas in which few people had any idea about; and possibly even if they did, they really didn’t care. Poor people, black and white, were interested in bread, and jobs and shoes and getting an education for their children. Global politics and international scheming were really not on their radar at all. This meant that the UBP held all the cards in the deck and played them accordingly. Stafford Sands was a genius only in the sense that he started from the top and climbed higher. He and his exclusive UBP Bay Street Owners club had a free hand. Negroes at that time were preoccupied with achieving racial parity. No one was really paying attention to the encroachment of old Nazis, who had managed to escaped justice by the skin of their teeth, moving slowly but surely into the Bahamas.
Before we go any further there are some people you must meet. (1) Mrs. Ilse Skorzeny (married to a former Nazi) and (2) Mr. Hjalmar Schacht (the Nazi banking genius)
(1) Ilse Skorzeny – wife of Hitler’s chief hitman and kidnapper, by the 1960s is a foreign investment promoter of Grand Bahama. She is friend of Stafford Sands and the UBP.
Ilse Skorzeny – third wife of Otto Skorzney, Hitler’s Chief Hitman and Kidnapper. Otto Skorzney was an Austrian SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) in the German Waffen-SS during World War II.
Ilse Skorzeny is the niece of Hjalmar Schacht, the German banker and Hitler’s chief banker who helped Germany fund its rearmament and World War II.
Ilse Skorzeny flies around the world supposedly promoting Grand Bahama to foreign investors.
In 1943, at the height of World War II, Otto Skorzeny was called the most dangerous man in Europe. Skorzeny even tried to kidnap, the American Allied commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Skorzeny died of lung cancer on 5 July 1975 in Madrid. He was 67 years old. At no point in his life did Skorzeny ever denounce Nazism. Ilse Luthje, the “Countess” Fincke von Finckenstein, born 1919 Kiel, died c.2001. Ilse me Skorzeny in 1949 (Bavaria); married him in Madrid, c. March 1954.
Mrs. Ilse Skorzeny was Hjalmar Schacht’s niece.
From the BBC article December 2014:
“Born in Vienna in 1908, Otto Skorzeny joined the Austrian Nazi party in the early 1930s. At the outbreak of WW2 he was initially involved in fighting on the Eastern Front, taking part in the German invasions of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union.
‘Most dangerous man in Europe’
By April 1943, he had been made head of German special forces, in charge of a unit of elite SS commandos.
When Hitler’s ally Benito Mussolini was overthrown and imprisoned in Italy, Skorzeny was chosen by Hitler to lead the rescue mission.
Skorzeny and his men descended in gliders upon the remote Italian mountain-top hotel where Mussolini was held captive, overwhelming the Italian guards with the surprise attack and freeing the deposed dictator.
With this success, Skorzeny further enhanced his reputation with Hitler and was promoted to major.
He gained international renown when Mussolini was paraded in front of the media with Skorzeny at his side. Winston Churchill even described the mission as “one of great daring”.
(2) Hjalmar Schacht – The Nazi Banker
“Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht (22 January 1877 – 3 June 1970) was Currency Commissioner and President of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic, and President of the Reichsbank under the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1939. Schacht was one of the primary drivers of Germany’s policy of redevelopment, reindustrialization and rearmament, and was a fierce critic of his country’s post-WW1 reparation obligations. Released from effective service to the Nazi government in 1939, Schacht ended WWII in a concentration camp, and was tried and acquitted at Nuremberg for his role in Germany’s war economy. Schacht died in Munich, Germany on June 3, 1970.”
“Hjalmar Schacht was the President of the Riechsbank in Nazi Germany. A supporter of Hitler, he was rewarded with the position inMarch 1933, just 2 months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor.
Hjalmar Schacht was born on January 22nd 1877 in Tingleff, Schleswig (now Tinglev in Denmark). Schacht did not come from an economics background as would befit a man who was to be put in charge of the main bank of Nazi Germany. After high school in Berlin, Schacht studied medicine at Kiel, German philosophy at Berlin and political science at Munich. It was only after this that he studied for a doctorate in economics at Berlin. After his years of studying, Schacht started work for the Dresdner Bank in 1903 and became a deputy director in 1908.
During World War One, Schacht worked as part of the occupying German force in Belgium. Schacht worked under the command of General von Lumm and it was von Lumm who dismissed Schacht when he found out that Schacht was using the Dresdner Bank to channel national bonds worth 500 million Belgium francs that were used to pay for requisitions.
In 1916, he was appointed director of the National Bank of Germany at the age of 39. Schacht did what he could to socially advance himself and while publicly professing that he was a monarchist, he helped to found the German Democratic Party.
As a senior German banker, Schacht had to deal with the hyperinflation of 1923 which wiped out the savings of very many people in Weimar Germany. He was officially the Currency Commissioner for Weimar Germany. It was Schacht who took the credit for the introduction of the ‘Retenmark’ that helped to stabilise Weimar’s currency. His secretary of the time later said that while he was trying to broker deals to drag the republic out of the financial mess it was in, he worked very long hours, barely ate and left his office just in time to catch the last tram home.
His reward came in December 1923 when Schacht was appointed President of the Reichsbank, Germany’s leading financial institution, by President Hindenburg and Chancellor Gustav Stresemann. Schacht had developed a reputation as a highly successful financial ‘Mr Fix-It’ and his reputation went before him. However, Schacht resigned in March 1930 because he did not agree with the terms of the Young Plan. While he had been in favour of theYoung Plan in its original form, he objected to the final version that he believed was being imposed on Weimar by the Americans as opposed to being negotiated by both parties. Schacht was primarily concerned at the growing foreign debt that had been created by the Weimar government.”
Below is a portion of Schacht’s Nurembourg trial transcript:
“Our proof against the Defendant Schacht is confined to planning and preparation of aggressive war.
THE PRESIDENT: What was it you said about the trial brief?
LT. BRYSON: We ask permission to file a trial brief within the next few days, as our brief is not yet ready.
THE PRESIDENT: I see.
LT. BRYSON: Our proof against the Defendant Schacht is limited to planning and preparation for aggressive war and to membership in a conspiracy for aggressive war.
The extent of Schacht’s criminal responsibility as a matter of law, under the Charter of the Tribunal, will be developed in our brief. Only a few of our 50-odd documents have been previously submitted in evidence. We have taken special pains to avoid repetition and cumulative proof; but for the sake of continuity we would like, in several instances, simply to draw the Tribunal’s attention to evidence previously received, with an appropriate reference to the transcript of the Record.
Before commencing our proof, we wish to state our understanding that the Defendant Schacht’s control over the German economy was on the wane after November 1937, and that by the time of the aggression on Poland his official status had been reduced to that of Minister without Portfolio and personal adviser to Hitler. We know too that he is sometimes credited with opposition to certain of the more radical elements of the Nazi Party; and I further understand that at the time of capture by United States forces he was under German detention in a prison camp, having been arrested by the Gestapo in July 1944.
Be this as it may, our proof will show that at least up until the end of 1937 Schacht was the dominant figure in the rearming of Germany and in the economic planning and preparation for war, that without his work the Nazis would not have been able to wring from
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their depressed economy the tremendous material requirements of armed aggression, and that Schacht contributed his efforts with full knowledge of the aggressive purposes which he was serving.
The details of this proof will be presented in four parts:
First, we will very briefly show that Schacht accepted the Nazi philosophy prior to 1933 and supported Hitler’s rise to power.
Second, proof of the contribution of Schacht to German rearmanment and preparation for war will be submitted. This evidence will also be brief, since the facts in this respect are well known and have already been touched upon by Mr. Dodd in his presentation of the case on economic preparation for war.
Third, we will show that Schacht assisted the Nazi conspiracy purposely and willingly with knowledge of, and sympathy for, its illegal ends.
And last, we will prove that Schacht’s loss of power in the German Government did not in any sense imply disagreement with the policy of aggressive war.
We turn now to our proof that Schacht helped Hitler to power.
Schacht met Goering for the first time in December 1930, and Hitler early in January 1931 at Goering’s house. His impression of Hitler was favorable. I offer in evidence Exhibit USA-615 (Document 3725-PS), consisting of an excerpt from a pre-trial interrogation of Schacht under date of 20 July 1945, and quote two questions and answers related to this meeting, near the middle of the first page of the interrogation.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you going to give us the Exhibit number? You haven’t given us the other number?
LT. BRYSON: This is an interrogation, Sir, and it will not have two.
THE PRESIDENT: Have you got a number for it?
LT. BRYSON: You will find it in your document book in the back, labeled “Schacht Interrogation of 20 July 1945.” I quote from the middle of the first page:
“Q: ‘What did he”‘ that is, Hitler “‘say?’
“A: ‘Oh, ideas he expressed before, but it was full of will and spirit.”‘
And near the bottom of the page:
“Q: ‘What was your impression at the end of that evening?’
“A: ‘I thought that Hitler was a man with whom one could co-operate.”‘
After this meeting Schacht allied himself with Hitler; and at a crucial political moment in November 1932, he lent the prestige of
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his name, which was widely known in banking, financial, and business circles throughout the world, to Hitler’s cause. I offer in evidence Exhibit USA-616 (Document 3729-PS) consisting of excerpts from a pre-trial interrogation of Schacht on 17 October 1945. I wish to quote, beginning at the top of Page 36 of this interrogation. This is the interrogation of 17 October 1945, at Page 36. I may say that when I refer to the page numbers, I speak of the page of the document book:
“Q: ‘Yes, and at that time”‘ referring to January 1931 “‘you became a supporter, I take it, of . . . ‘
“A: ‘In the course…’
“Q: ‘Of Hitler’s coming to power?’
“A: ‘Especially in the course of the years 1931 and 1932.”‘
And I quote further from the lower half of Page 37 of the same interrogation: “Q: ‘But what I mean –
to make it very brief – did you lend the prestige of your name to help Hitler come to power?’
“A: ‘I have publicly stated that I expected Hitler to come to power; for the first time, if I remember, in November ’32.’
“Q: ‘And you know, or perhaps you don’t, that Goebbels in his diary records with great affection…’ “A: ‘Yes.’
“Q: ‘… the help that you gave him at the time?’
“A: ‘Yes, I know that.’
“Q: ‘November 1932?’
“A: ‘From the Kaiserhof to the Chancellery and back.’
“Q: ‘That’s right. You have read that?’ “A: ‘Yes.’
“Q: ‘And you don’t deny that Goebbels was right?’
“A: ‘I think his impression was that that was correct at that time.”‘
I now refer the Tribunal to this statement of Goebbels, set forth in 2409(a)-PS. The entire diary of Goebbels is in evidence as Exhibit Number USA-262. The entry I wish to read, which appears in 2409(a)-PS, was made on 21 November 1932:
“In a conversation with Dr. Schacht I assured myself that he absolutely shares our point of view. He is one of the few who stand immovable behind the Fuehrer.”
What few biographies fail to spell out about Hjalmar Schacht is that he spent a great deal of his time as special advisor and consultant to despots and dictators. Then he came to the Bahamas.
Stafford Sands and some old Nazis had big plans for the Bahamas in 1962.
Stafford Sands in August 1962 announces that as Chairman, the Bahamas Development Board, was making a tourism trip to England to try and drum up business. He then announces that based on some fantastic new intelligence, he has come across, there was the potential for 25,000 German tourists to come running to the Bahamas to vacation. The only thing the Bahamas had to do was to spend a lot of money over the next four to five years on intensive promotion.
One of the people who accompanies Sands to the secret meeting with Hjalmar Schacht is Mrs. Ilse Skorzeny. Unbeknownst to anyone in the Bahamas, Ilse is still married to Hitler’s notorious scar-faced assassin and kidnapper now living in Madrid. Ilse had been travelling back and forth to Freeport, doing what, we do not know.
“Our assessment is that after four to five years of intensive promotion, we can expect between twelve and fifteen thousand visitors a year from the United Kingdom and about double that number from north-western Europe.”
However Mr. Sands wanted Chamber members not to be over-optimistic about these figures:
The Nassau Guardian, Nassau, Bahamas, Thursday, August 16, 1962
HOW THE OPPOSITION PLP SAW IT – SEPTEMBER 1962
Cyril Stevenson, writing in the Nassau Herald, on Saturday, September 22, 1962 wrote
SANDS ‘ROYAL TOUR’ NETS ONE TOURIST
“When Stafford Sands and his “team” took off on a Junkanoo tour of Europe a few months ago The Herald spoke out strongly against this waste of the taxpayer’s money. It was a royal tour. No expense was spared to give the team “first class” treatment wherever they went. And look where they went! To such unlikely places as Stockholm and Hamburg to promote tourists to the Bahamas…
…And when ONE MAN, a German economist , came to Nassau recently the daily press dutifully stressed that the had come as a result of Mr. Sands’ frolicing band of “tourist promotors.”
In short, all the entire escapade has given us is ONE TOURIST.”
What the opposition PLP and Cyril Stevenson didn’t realise in 1962, was that Stafford Sands only ever intended to go to Germany for one person.
Sands went to meet and bring back Hitler’s money man, the banking genius that helped Germany to rearm and wage global war. Hjalmar Schacht laid out his vision for the Bahamas to Sands personally. Dr. Schacht was Stafford Sands’ “Rumpelstiltskin.” Sands needed Schacht to show him how to spin straw into gold. Sands needed something to keep the masses of negroes, who were crying out for jobs and money, appeased with minimal jobs. If achievable, it would put a halt to the progress of the opposition PLP. Sands also needed an economic vehicle by which the commercial powerhouse of the Bay Street Boys could wheel and deal in banking, offshore laundering, gambling, casinos, major land investment and big businesses, without anyone being the wiser.
Time was running out for the old UBP and Sands knew it. They needed money and they needed it fast. Somehow, dragging an 85 year old Nazi out of his bed, from Germany to Nassau, was going to make the UBP dreams come true!
So what was the vision an 85 year-old old Nazi had for the Bahamas!
Stafford Sands went all the way to Germany to bring this 85 year-old man back to the Bahamas. Sands must have been desperate. All of his tricks and manoeuvres were not enough to keep the Bahamian economy where the UBP needed it to be. Either that or Schacht was promising something incredible.
The two lead newspapers of the day, the Tribune and the Guardian, didn’t have much to say. What had transpired between Schacht and Sands remained private. What happened as Schacht toured Nassau and of course Grand Bahama. We know he met with other foreign investors living in the Nassau and Grand Bahama.
According to The Nassau Daily Tribune, the only meagre part of Schacht’s grand plan that they were made privy to was “Freedom from taxation, favourable geographical location, easy transportation and a good settling market, that is what the investor wanted and that is what the Bahamas had.”