Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Community Services, Cllr Jonathan McShane said: “This is an incredible story spanning over 70 years. Hackney has such a colourful history and this personal account gives an insight into how war affected families who had settled in the borough. Mr. Sulzbacher’s generous donation means the council can display it in Hackney Museum and keep the story alive for generations to come.”
Martin Sulzbacher bought the coins in Germany after selling all his property and smuggled them to England. When war broke out he was interned as an alien and sent abroad – first to Canada and, when the ill-fated Arandora Star he was sailing on was torpedoed and sunk, to Australia.
His wife and four children, including Max, were interned on the Isle of Man. Another five members of the family remained in Stoke Newington and buried the coins before being killed in the Blitz in September 1940. On his release Martin Sulzbacher arranged for the garden to be searched – without success.
When you consider that Swiss banks have been regularly trashed for not turning over gold of Jewish refugees without strict proof of ownership, it would have been odd for Martin Sulzbacher's son and heir not to get the coins. Mr. Sulzbacher and his family being interned by the U.K. government does lend a seedy cast to the tale.