Introduction by Robin Mackness I first met Guy Patton because he wrote to me, having read my book "Oradour: Massacre and Aftermath" published in 1988. I had received quite a few letters at that time from other people, and I had learnt to treat them with caution. Some had been overtly hostile, accusing me of being anti-Semitic, anti-French, and a few other things besides. Some had purported to ask questions about the story, only to degenerate into open hostility when I endeavoured to answer them. A French telephone campaign against my wife and myself suggested we were on some sort of French hit-list, to the extent that we felt it prudent to change address. I mention this partly to explain why I initially treated Guy with some circumspection, and partly to introduce the quite extraordinary fuss provoked in France by the book, the relevance of which was about to be revealed to me. After a few exchanges of letters and telephone calls, I arranged to meet Guy. It seemed he had been engaged for a number of years in the historical research of an intriguing sequence of events and situations, which he was convinced, amongst many other things, explained the disagreeable lengths to which the French authorities had gone when investigating my own adventures. I had been stopped on the autoroute near Lyon by French customs (although about 150 miles from the border) and accused of trying to smuggle twenty kilos of gold, some of it of Nazi provenance. What should have been a relatively simple matter, in the heart of France, became a twenty-one-month nightmare of imprisonment and interrogation. Guy suspected that he knew the reason for this treatment, and the ideas he produced at our first meeting were quite staggering. It was not very long before I saw that some areas of his historical research that ended in question marks were explained (if not answered) by my own first-hand experiences. Guy's research had been original and, as such, much of it was inevitably contentious. He was not merely serving up a rehash of well-established history, but was attempting to rethink much of what we all took for granted, and to establish some strands in an interpretation that was both new and frightening. There was clearly a case for cooperating to bring together our different parts of the same story. The book that follows is our attempt to draw together some less obvious strands of European and Middle Eastern history which have emerged and developed over the past one thousand years to affect to a quite terrifying degree a number of events happening today. The central theme of the book starts with the well-documented theft by the Romans of the Jewish treasure from the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. Looted again, this time from Rome a few hundred years later, the treasure disappeared into the Pyrenees, since which time it has never been reliably seen again. Nevertheless we believe we can identify points in time when it has surely been bubbling just beneath the surface, given the activities of various individuals. Quite apart from the myths that have surrounded the treasure (and a few other treasures that seem to have become amassed with it), history has revealed such incidents as the French noblemen in medieval times, accused of counterfeiting currency. It was discovered that the counterfeit coins contained more gold than the official currency! At another time, an alchemist claimed to have perfected the secret of transforming base metals into golden a feat that has eluded more sophisticated scientists. In more recent times, we have the impossible task of accounting for the wholly disproportionate activity on the part of Germans, including the SS, who spent years before World War II prospecting and digging in this part of the Pyrenees. During the war there continued to be much unexplained SS activity in the area. It has never been explained why such units should have been deployed so far from the front line, especially in time of crisis. The strength of these local legends attracted serious attention long before the days of the SS. In 1244, the Crusaders cornered the heretic Cathars on the impressive mountaintop of Montsegur in the name of defending 'orthodox' Christianity but probably more likely in an attempt to locate their alleged fabulous treasure. The Cathars submitted to being burnt alive, rather than reveal any details. It might seem unlikely that they would have willingly gone to such an agonizing death if they had had nothing to conceal. Again, in 1307, the French King Philip IV was envious of the vast wealth inexplicably amassed by the Knights Templar and, in an attempt to purloin it, he had as many Knights Templar as he could find arrested, tortured and put to death in a fruitless attempt to discover the source and whereabouts of their wealth. More recently, it seems highly probable from the connections we have uncovered that Francois Mitterrand7s presidential campaign was helped by the French secret society, the Priory of Sion, whose Grand Master claims to be the custodian of the treasure, and, indeed, admitted transfering a vast quantity of unexplained gold to a Swiss bank in the years after World War II. That same Grand Master has been quoted as saying that the Jerusalem treasure will be returned to Israel and the Jews 'when the time is right' - although the criteria for that condition have not been specified. All French secret societies are obliged to register and lodge their statutes and objectives with a local police headquarters, a condition required by a central government paranoid about secret societies since the experiences of the Revolution. The Priory of Sion chose to lodge its statutes at Annemasse, near Geneva, on the Swiss border (although the statutes were actually registered at nearby St Julien en Genevoise). This choice of location was to have unfortunate consequences for me, for that is where I had told the French customs officials where I was headed, and possibly contributed to my harsh treatment, although it added enormously to the relevance of much of what follows in this book. Our story necessarily falls into two quite distinct parts: before and after 1914. They centre on the breakdown of European order brought about by the Great War. The indiscriminate and largely pointless slaughter in that conflict heralded the breakdown and eventual destruction of confidence in anything of permanence or predictability. That confidence had been the cornerstone of the former old order. The United Nations, and the League of Nations before it, were established in part as an attempt to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the old order, which had been in terminal decline since 1914. Gone were the days when a Queen Victoria, the 'Grandmother of Europe', could wag a reproving finger at some errant cousin - perhaps a Tsar or a Kaiser - thereby restoring international harmony and compliance. With the collapse of the old order, we also see the decline of faith and, more importantly, a rising skepticism in the true motives behind faith. The previous unassailability of the Vatican, for example, is now seen by many as very open to question. From its stance in World War II, the Vatican probably saw Communism as a greater ongoing threat than Nazism. This was inevitably but a small jump from the appearance of favouring Nazis over the Jews. In the context of the twentieth century, political alignments of this sort have brought into hostile question the true motives for many of the Vatican's historical actions, hostility that the Vatican has done little to quell. It remains tight-lipped about the more contentious parts of its history, on which it could certainly shed new light. It has been adamant in keeping its wartime records closed even to the extent of refusing to participate in the 1997 London conference on the so-called Jewish heirless assets (although it sent silent observers to that conference). Political expediency and faith are uneasy bedfellows; it has not gone unnoticed that with the effective demise of Communism as a world force, the Vatican appears to have regrouped to face what it probably sees as the new threat to its dominance: the rising tide of Islam. This regrouping may even involve a fragile rapprochement with the Jews; consider the declaration that Christians are no longer to hold the Jews responsible for the death of Christ. There is even the suggestion that the next pope might be of Jewish origins. The assumed existence of this vast treasure, still hidden somewhere in the Pyrenees, has been a constant factor in the shadowier areas of European politics, particularly in those areas where the influence of secret societies is felt. But the covert level of politics has always been enormously influential, and probably never more so than in the twentieth century. Mass communications and the consequent insatiable demand for information has encouraged the growth of covert organizations, whose work can only be conducted outside the glare of public attention and accountability. The last century saw a proliferation of secret or semi-secret societies, each with their own agendas and objectives. The Freemasons and the Knights Templar date back to antiquity and some branches today wield awesome power. It has been claimed - with much justification - that the P2 Masonic Lodge could have brought down the Italian government, providing as it did a government-in-waiting, in the event of a Communist takeover. It certainly shook the Vatican to its roots, almost bankrupting the Vatican's own bank. France is riddled with such secret societies, backing a range of activities, including the restoration of the monarchy (for which there is surprising support in France). It is not for nothing that France's rulers have sought to centralize everything of substance in Paris, keeping real power under their control and away from the provinces. For 200 years, France's rulers have been able to resist the spectre of over mighty provincial subjects taking to the barricades. This dread is also no doubt the reason behind the French penchant for political intervention - often-blatant - in the judicial process. And since the Revolution also dispossessed the Church of Rome, clandestine Forces have been able to occupy the vacuum. At a more personal level, it is perhaps not surprising that the cognoscenti in Paris were driven to such excitement when they learnt that I had been stopped in my Swiss car on the autoroute near Lyon, having driven from Toulouse in the Pyrenees with twenty kilos of gold. MY initial interrogation by customs centred on their wish for me to reveal where the gold had come from and to admit that I was taking it to Switzerland - a not unreasonable assumption since I lived in Lausanne at the time. In fact, I was delivering the gold to a contact in Evian, on the French southern shore of Lake Geneva, but I realized that to have admitted this would have had disagreeable consequences for my contact there. I therefore invented the destination of Annemasse to give my contact an opportunity to make himself scarce when I failed to arrive. This happenstance choice of declared destination prompted a run of telephone calls and a great deal of excitement among my inquisitors. When I met Guy ten years later he was able to suggest a possible reason for this. All I knew at the time was that the whole manner of my interrogation changed from that point on. The violence and menaces of one of my interrogators immediately abated, and there was a wholly disproportionate emphasis placed on the significance of Annemasse and why I was going there. Of course, the relevance of this escaped me at the time; I was just relieved that they were now concentrating on Annemasse rather than anywhere else and, to be frank, my very real relief that they now ceased their physical and distasteful attempts to have me admit all manner of other things. I noted all of this in the relative peace and quiet of Bonneville Prison during the following weeks, where I was able to write some 250,000 words of a diary, without appreciating more than a tiny iota the true significance of the events I was living through. This diary was posted out in installments, under the guise of letters to my wife in Lausanne. All letters (apart from letters to lawyers) went through a censor, but since I had no idea of the significance of Annemasse, those letters contained nothing that could have done anything to raise the temperature of any excitement or nervousness in Paris. Each letter reached my wife in Lausanne within two days of my posting it. Francois Mitterrand was the French president at the time, and it might not be too fanciful to imagine that his very personal interest in the gold myths in the Pyrenees, which we discuss, was not unconnected with any of this. He was still president in 1988, six years later, when all the major Paris publishers were told that they would receive a tax audit the next day, if they published the French edition of my book. Shortly after the publication of my book in Britain, I was invited with a very eminent British historian to take part in a Radio France programme concerning Oradour. On being consulted, the French customs told Radio France (who told me) that I would be arrested if I set foot in France. The threat evaporated when their bluff was called, and they were told (with something rather less than the whole truth) that we were coming anyway, surrounded by a phalanx of well-known international journalists who knew of the threat and smelt a story in it. I do not know who triggered that threat, but maybe we can guess. As my eighteen-month sentence progressed, I was subjected to mounting demands that I reveal the information that French authorities were seeking from me. This was: who had given me the gold? and why was I taking it to Annemasse? There were promises of restitution of what I had lost (however they would have quantified that), and the more sinister threat that I might not be released if I continued to refuse them. However melodramatic this might sound almost twenty years later, the chilling fact was that the eighteen months of my sentence came and went without any sign of my being released (let alone after nine months, the halfway point which is normal in France). I was in fact released after twenty-one months, but only after some reciprocal chicanery through a journalist in Paris threatened to bring considerable embarrassment down on the French authorities. Rennes-le-Chateau, a charming little hilltop village in the Cathar country of the Aude, between Carcassonne and the Pyrenees, has become a symbol for the covert activities of the Priory of Sion (whose statutes had been lodged in Annemasse). This most beautiful part of France has had a chequered history, having been dominated over the past 2000 years variously by the Visigoths, the Merovingians, the Moors, the Franks, the Cathars, the Inquisition, the Jews and even the SS. The trigger for an upsurge of interest in this region in more modern times and what it might contain was the sudden expenditure of unexplained wealth by the parish priest of Rennes-le-Chateau, about a century ago. Nobody has been able to prove what he actually discovered, but his activities for the remainder of his life suggest quite persuasively that he must have discovered something of great value. The rekindled myths have been enough to sustain generations of frustrated treasure hunters, who are now banned, allegedly because of the damage they caused. It also sustained the otherwise disproportionate interest of the SS from 1933. I know from my meetings in more recent years with the widow of Raoul, the man who had helped me with his version of events leading to the massacre at Oradour, that German activity in this part of the Pyrenees became more frantic in 1944. The advance north by the allies in Italy and the certainty of invasion in the West, can only have rung out the unwelcome message to the Germans that their time in the Pyrenees was running out, and whatever they were going to find there had to be found very quickly before the opportunity was lost to them for ever. Another factor that Guy and I discussed was the unlikely posting of SS General Heinz Lammerding and his Second SS Panzer Division to Montauban, near Toulouse. Conventional history suggests that this was to regroup and retrain the division, which had had a very tough time on the Eastern Front. The same conventional history suggests that this posting placed them midway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, well-positioned in the event of an invasion on either of those coasts. This is not very persuasive. An invasion of the south of France would have been rather pointless when such excellent progress was already being made in Italy. There would have been horrendous logistical difficulties in invading front the Bay of Biscay. Even if successful, this would have then resulted in a prolonged fight through France, before reaching the real goal of Germany. It does seem much more likely that, at a time when Germany was clearly running out of money as targets for looting dried up, the Pyrenees might have offered a last-stand answer. Lammerding was very close to the Nazi inner sanctum, and he would have been trusted absolutely for a mission of such sensitivity. When the merest possibility of such a vast cumulative treasure is at stake, there are inevitably many agendas at work. This book tries to pull together some of these strands. It is a bizarre and sometimes frightening story. Unlike most stories, it has a beginning; we have not yet seen its end. Robin Mackness Compton, Berkshire, 1999 =========================== INTRODUCTION by Guy Patton IN 1989, I was living on Malta - the island home of the Hospitaller Knights of St John, from 1530 to 1789. The imposing fortifications, palaces and other buildings constructed by the Knights fascinated me, and I undertook some basic research into the Order's history, and that of their main rival, the Knights Templar. I already had an interest in comparative religion, especially Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and had also read a number of books on politics, psychology, and the esoteric. The addition of the history of the medieval Knights to my previous interests aroused some interesting lines of thought. Knowing of my interests, a friend recommended that I should read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I found the book compelling, especially the story of Abbe Sauniere, priest of Rennes-le-Chateau in the late nineteenth century. The main thesis of the book, that Jesus may have married Mary Magdalene, and that possibly, after the crucifixion, they (or at least the Magdalene) escaped from Palestine to the south of France, is a long-held tradition in that part of the country. Rather more contentious is the suggestion that Jesus' bloodline, having continued through his children, resurfaced in the dynasty of the fifth century Frankish kings, the Merovingians. Furthermore, the book proposes that a secret society, closely associated with the Knights Templar, was established to act as guardian of this Merovingian bloodline, the Merovingian dynasty having been toppled from power in the seventh century by the Carolingians - with the approval of the Roman Catholic Church. But despite my reservations, I found the many strands of research within the book enthralling, and was determined to visit the village of Rennes-le-Chateau as soon as circumstances allowed. This I was finally able to do in September 1991, when returning from London to Malta by car. Impressed by Sauniere's church renovation and his other building, I was very pleased to learn more of the Rennes-le-Chateau mysteries from some local people - both French and English. I was particularly struck by the profusion of symbolism in the church, and by the geometrical layout of Sauniere's domain. Without doubt there appeared to be some hidden meaning in all this. Before leaving the village, I joined the Terre de Rhedae Association, a French organization that produces a first-class annual bulletin dedicated to researching, protecting, and promoting the village. I also met local Templar historian George Keiss, and subscribed to his research society CERT (Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Templieres). Both these associations have provided a wealth of research and more importantly, personal contact with very knowledgeable locals. OII my eventual return to England, in 1992, I continued to research the subject by reading whatever English or French books I could gain access to. The reliability of the information contained in these books varies enormously, but there are valuable insights to be gleaned from them all. I then discovered a group of English researchers known as the Rennes Group (now the Rennes-le-Chateau Research Group), whose chairman, Jonothan Boulter, lives in London. I joined them in active research and debate on the various aspects of the mystery. Many of its members have great expertise in the diverse fields encountered in Rennes research, and have greatly contributed to my own acquisition of knowledge. The Group publishes the Rennes Observer, a quarterly magazine which contains details of members' findings. I have since become the group's secretary. I first contacted Roger-Rene Dagobert after reading a series of three articles he had contributed to the Terre de Rhedae bulletins. These articles raised some interesting points, not least his assertion of the continual involvement of the Dagobert family since the early seventh century in the mystery of the lost treasure of the Temple of Jerusalem. Subsequent meetings in England and France, access to Roger-Rene's archives, and regular correspondence with him, has revealed a most remarkable story. This story extends over nearly 1400 years, from the assassination of Dagobert II, through the activities of General Dagobert in the 1780s, to the actions of Nazi SS, and others, in Limoges in 1944, that lead to the massacre at Oradour. In November 1995, Roger-Rene advised me to read Oradour: Massacre and Aftermath, by Robin Mackness. This book deals with the tragic events of June 1944 of which Roger-Rene was acutely aware, having been a fourteen-year-old living in Limoges at the time of the Oradour massacre. Furthermore, his father had been closely involved with key people and events of that time. Robin Mackness had also uncovered, through bitter experience, the ongoing repercussions of the Oradour incident. Robin's revelations, and the researches of Roger-Rene, coupled with my previous researches, revealed the existence of a web of secrecy and deception. What had begun as a fascinating tale about a simple country priest had now grown into a most extraordinary re-evaluation of European politics, especially the role played by secret societies. I was soon to form a mental picture that could at least in part explain the so-called mysteries of Rennes-leChateau. Having put together a chronological outline of events, and the activities of various groups and individuals, I contacted Robin Mackness through his publisher. I was interested to learn whether he had any information, not revealed in his book, that might confirm some of Roger-Rene's assertions. I was also interested to know what he thought of the scenario that I had constructed. This initial contact with Robin was cautious but, after a couple of phone calls and letters, we finally met in September 1996. However, it was not until a year later that we formed a collaboration to get this extraordinary story into print. In the course of writing, I have endeavoured to take into consideration further developments pertinent to the story. Recently published books and current events in French politics, such as the resignation of Roland Dumas (a key figure in the story), have added confirmation to the conclusion of this work. This book cannot offer concrete proof of the continuing existence of the treasure that is its theme, but it does provide extensive evidence of a powerful belief in it. Throughout the centuries this belief has drawn diverse people to the Corbieres in search of the treasure. This belief has also motivated various groups to work under the cover of secret societies or to work conspiratorially and disguise their actions. Unwittingly, many innocent and sometimes prominent individuals have become involved in these conspiracies or secret societies, supporting them in the first instance in good faith. This book also highlights the dangers of extremism in its many forms. Whether in politics, religion, commerce, or the world of finance, there exist those who, driven by an extreme passion that makes them lose sight of 'moral values', can endanger their own cause, not to mention society at large. There are, of course, those who will not accept some of the interpretations and speculations made in this book. However, to my knowledge they have failed so far to offer a convincing alternative. All the research has been gathered in good faith - every effort has been taken to avoid betraying any confidences - and I readily acknowledge the help given by all those whom I have been privileged to meet in the course of this quest. I hope that they will not be disappointed by what I suggest, even if it is at times controversial. What I hope is that it will open up the debate on the Rennes mysteries to a wider forum. This is certainly not the last word on the subject, and as research reveals more pieces of the puzzle, the web in which the thread of gold is woven will become even clearer. Guy Patton London, 1999 From "Web of Gold"