We proposed to organize several events to confirm, especially at the international level, that Romania has every right to claim, from a historical and legal point of view, its gold deposit evacuated to Moscow in 1916-1917, the governor of the BNR said on Monday at a special symposium.

Mugur Isarescu in TismanPhoto: HotNews / DP

Entering the war with the Entente in August 1916, Romania soon found itself in an extremely difficult situation due to fighting on two fronts in both Transylvania and the Danube. Therefore, already in September 1916, the National Bank of Romania took the first steps to preserve its gold treasure.

What else did the governor of the BNR say on Monday:

  • This year, in December, it will be 107 years since the Romanian treasures were evacuated to Moscow. Since 1991, the National Bank of Romania has consistently implemented a strategy to present to the internal and external public the problem of the treasury sent to Moscow and then captured by the Soviet Union.
  • Debt law in Romania is older than a century. We are not the first acts in this line. On the occasion of Russia’s accession to the Council of Europe in 1995, Romania, together with other former communist states, presented proposals for the restitution of goods confiscated by the Soviet Union. The Council’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights then decided that these issues should be resolved between the member states concerned.
  • Russia did not accept this discussion even at the level of experts under the pretext that Moscow is discussing a draft law on the restitution of material goods that belonged to other states and were kept in the USSR during the war.
  • Later, the draft law referred to by Russian experts was rejected by the State Duma of Russia. This development of events made it obvious the need to correctly inform international public opinion on the basis of indisputable documents.
  • And this meant informing historians, scientists, politicians, diplomats and, last but not least, those who make decisions in Europe.
  • In this regard, our main concern, I say, the concern of the National Bank, was to make public the documents we have on this issue. I mean the documents original, I emphasize the originals collected in a special file that has been kept in the storage of the Viceroy’s Office of the BNR since 1922.
  • The Treasury file has been passed from one governor to another since 1922, including the communist period. That’s how I got it too – as proof of the decision of the National Bank of Romania to return the assets belonging to it. The director of the Iasi branch of the BNR received instructions to wait for the director Teodor Kepitanovich at the station, “Thursday, September 8, at five o’clock in the afternoon, to prepare the carriages and book five numbers in the hotel.


Entering the war with the Entente in August 1916, Romania soon found itself in an extremely difficult situation due to fighting on two fronts in both Transylvania and the Danube. Therefore, already in September 1916, the National Bank of Romania took the first steps to preserve its gold treasure.

Thus, the director of the Iasi department of the BNR was instructed to wait for director Teodor Kepitanovych at the station “Thursday, September 8, five o’clock in the afternoon” in order to prepare the carriages and reserve five rooms in the hotel.

A week later, the mission to transport the treasures of the BNR to Iasi was already completed.

The special concern of the bank’s management for this treasure is explained by the fact that it was a legal metal reserve, the basis of the bank’s banknote issuance. According to the Statute of the BNR, “The Bank will have to have a stock of metallic gold of at least 40% of the number of tickets issued by it.”

In exceptional circumstances, such as during wartime, coverage was reduced to 33%. Therefore, the number of banknotes in circulation depended on the size of the metal reserve in the treasury of the National Bank, the preservation of the gold coating, which ensured the convertibility of the lei, the national currency.

Although the National Bank of Romania was a private bank between 1900 and 1925, the metal reserve did not belong to the shareholders, it was the property of the institution, “our asset”, as the head of the National Bank of Romania at that time (Ioan G. Bibicescu) called it.

Due to the advance of the troops of the Central Powers to Bucharest, the royal family, the government, the parliament and other central institutions of the Romanian state took refuge in Iasi.

On November 14, 1916, the headquarters of the National Bank of Romania also moved to the Moldavian city, which became the capital of the national resistance. On the eve of the winter of 1916, two-thirds of the national territory was occupied by the armies of the Central Powers, the Romanian army retreated to new lines for recovery, and a significant part of the population moved to the east of the country, where they endured not only the harsh winter, but also hunger and disease.

The Romanian government and representatives of the National Bank of Romania signed a convention with the representative of the Russian Empire in Iasi, which defined the conditions of the first transport to Moscow. According to her, the Romanian valuables were “under the guarantee of the Russian government regarding the safety of transportation, the safety of the deposit, as well as the return to Romania.”

This first shipment took place in December 1916 and included 1,738 boxes of the National Bank of Romania treasury (1,735 with coins and three with bullion) and two boxes with Queen Mary’s jewels. The gold of the BNR was worth 314.5 million lei, and the queen’s jewels – 7 million lei. 1,740 boxes were stored in the Kremlin, in the armory, in the branch of the Moscow branch of the State Bank of Russia, inventoried in January-February 1917, when it was recorded that “practically all values ​​​​were checked, that is, inventoried or weighed, confirmed, quantitatively and oppositely, in in full compliance with the declarations of the National Bank of Romania”.

The large number and variety of coins (British pounds, Austrian crowns, German marks, Napoleons, Carolinas, that is, the Romanian pole worth 20 lei, etc.) is explained by the fact that, according to the law, banknotes “were paid after presentation at the Bank’s institutions in the national in the free currency or in a foreign currency that is a legal tender, in accordance with the monetary legislation of the state”.

In the summer of 1917, the Romanian authorities in Iasi expected a military offensive by the Central Powers, and in this tense context, the second transport of the Romanian treasury to Moscow took place. This time, the train going to Moscow carried both the values ​​of the National Bank of Romania and other institutions (the Romanian Academy, the House of Deposits and Consignments and other banks, the National Archives of Romania, the National Museum of Antiquities, the State Art Gallery, ministries, monasteries).

In three wagons with the values ​​of the BNR, which were also stored in the Armory, in the Kremlin, according to the protocol signed this time by the representative of Russia, the Minister of Finance of Romania and representatives of the BNR, there were: “titles, effects, valuables, deposits, part of his archives and books , his papers, etc., as well as the gold part of his deposits in metals, his private property.”

The total value of Romanian valuables transported to Moscow in July 1917 was 7.5 billion lei, of which the value in three BNR cars was estimated at 1.5 billion lei, of which 575,000 lei was gold. As for gold, in total, in December 1916 and July 1917, the National Bank of Romania deposited 91.48 tons of pure gold in Moscow.

History of Operation Neptune.

From July 8 to 22, 1944, an action was held to transport BNR gold from the Tisman monastery.

Using 5 vans per day making a total of 75 trips, 192.40 tons of gold were transported to Tismana and stored in the monastery’s basement. After the events of August 23, 1944, the leadership of the BNR realized that nothing was safe for the gold stock there, so they decided to move it to a cave near the monastery.

Thus, the treasure remained hidden in the cave until January 1947. During this time, the cave was opened only once, at the beginning of 1945, when 210 boxes containing 10.2 tons of gold were taken out for the minting of the “Our Transylvania” medal. .

Operation “Neptune” ended successfully: all the gold returned to Bucharest, and the place of its storage remained a secret until the end.