London, July 20(ANI): A book has claimed that Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS - a major Nazi organization under Adolf Hitler- had set up a secret unit in the Dachau concentration camp before the Second World War after becoming convinced that he could turn sand into gold.
Gold was vital for the Nazi regime in Germany to use to buy armaments and technology from abroad.
The book, Hilter's Alchemists - The Secret Attempts to manufacture gold in Dachau, by Helmut Werner, claims that Himmler's personal alchemist, Karl Malchus, convinced the SS chief that he could make the metal.
Himmler was inspired about the project after minute nuggets of gold had been found in the rivers and streams of Bavaria.
He met with Malchus, who told him that a process involving paraffin, stones and the soil from the bed of the Isar River in Munich "will allow me to produce gold in abundance for the future and security of the Third Reich", The Telegraph reports.
Werner, who has written previous works on the history of alchemy, said it was possible that Malchus himself may have been working for British intelligence when he received the go-ahead to begin his bizarre quest in a barracks at Dachau in 1938.
"He was living in England up until the first months of that year and on his return made contact with Himmler about his unique talents, but of course, it was all a huge swindle," Werner said.
The Nazis set up a secret unit in the Dachau concentration camp, where everyone involved was searched to make sure that no gold was smuggled in that could later be claimed to have been manufactured from dirt.
However, Malchus hid gold nuggets in his cigarettes, and after he had smoked them, presented them to Himmler as the result of his 'experiments'.
It took a few weeks for Himmler to realise that he had been conned.
Malchus was kept in Dachau for several months as a prisoner, and was warned on his release that he would face death if he ever spoke of his relationship with the SS chief. (ANI)