Delaware Man Played Key Role in 'The Monuments Men' Saga - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Man Played Key Role in 'The Monuments Men' Saga

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MILFORD, Del. - It's been just one week since the star-studded movie, "The Monuments Men" debuted, offering an interesting snap shot into a unique part of World War II. And now WBOC has found out that this movie wouldn't have been possible without the help of one former soldier who lives on Delmarva. 

Richard Mootz, of Milford, was right at the center of this remarkable tale. It all began in Merkers, Germany as the war neared its end. Mootz was serving in Merkers when he struck up a conversation with two German women. 

Mootz had the great advantage of speaking German, something that allowed him to learn some key information from these two women. He was told that a nearby mine was filled to the brim with stolen Nazi treasures.

Mootz, always a story teller, sat down with WBOC Friday afternoon showing photographs and past documents. This story of Nazi gold has always been one of his favorite tales to tell. 

When he heard about this nearby mine, he rushed back to camp to tell his fellow soldiers.

"When I went back to the boys, they were playing some craps," he said. "And I told them I think there's some gold in that mine. They thought I was nuts."

But he wasn't nuts. As his comrades went back to their card game, Mootz decided to do something about the mine. He jumped in his Jeep and told his superiors about the site. And the rest was history. 

His report, opened the door to the Monuments Men. They then came to the site, and were able to retrieve the loot. And according to Mootz there was a lot of treasure recovered.  

"It was tons of everything," he said. "It took 32 10-ton GI Trucks to haul that stuff to Frankfurt. That is the gold bricks and the gold money, and the paper money, and the art treasure." 

On Friday afternoon, Mootz was joined by friends and family, as they sifted through the various documents and historical relics. 

The family had heard the story for decades, but never had there been any proof until this movie was released. In the research for this movie, the military record of this loot recovery was finally declassified after about 60 years. 

And if you look at this document, you'll see Mootz's name spattered throughout. His daughter Freda Norris, picked up the document with pride. 

"He's been searching for this his whole life and now we have the proof,"she said. 

Although she's happy for the confirmation, she said she never had her doubts about her father's story. 

"We're extremely proud of my father, she said. "And his entire life he's tried to document his role in finding the Nazi treasure in World War II." 

Now he's done it. He hasn't seen the movie yet, but said he will eventually. And while many will see the movie for actors like Matt Damon and George Clooney, countless others will do so in the name of those characters they represent such as Mootz.

 

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