Over at the National Archives there is an in depth article up, published in 1999 on the real life background of the so-called Monuments Men featured in a movie that came out this week.
Merkers, Germany: U.S. Soldiers examine a famous painting, “Wintergarden,” by the French Impressionist Edouard Manet, in the collection of Reichbank wealth, SS loot, and paintings removed by the Nazis from Berlin to a salt mine vault. The 90th Div, U.S. Third Army, discovered the gold and other treasure. 04/15/45. Photographer: Cpl. Ornitz. RG-111-SC-203453-5.tif
” Late on the evening of March 22, 1945, elements of Lt. Gen. George Patton’s Third Army crossed the Rhine, and soon thereafter his whole army crossed the river and drove into the heart of Germany. Advancing northeast from Frankfurt, elements of the Third Army cut into the future Soviet Zone and advanced on Gotha. Just before noon on April 4, the village of Merkers fell to the Third Battalion of the 358th Infantry Regiment, Ninetieth Infantry Division, Third Army. During that day and the next the Ninetieth Infantry Division, with its command post at Keiselbach, consolidated its holdings in the Merkers area.
During April 4 and 5, displaced persons in the vicinity interrogated by the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) personnel of the Ninetieth Infantry Division mentioned a recent movement of German Reichsbank gold from Berlin to the Wintershal AG’s Kaiseroda potassium mine at Merkers. In all of these instances they quoted rumors, but none stated their own knowledge that gold was present in the mine. But just before noon on April 5, a member of Military Intelligence Team 404-G, attached to the 358th Infantry Regiment, who was in Bad Salzungen, about six miles from Merkers, interviewed French displaced persons who had worked in the mine at Merkers. They told him they had heard that gold had been stored in the mine. The information was passed on to the G-2 (intelligence section) of the Ninetieth Infantry Division, and orders were issued prohibiting all civilians from circulating in the area of the mine.
Early the next morning, two military policemen guarding the road entering Keiselbach from Merkers saw two women approaching and promptly challenged and stopped them. Upon questioning, the women stated that they were French displaced persons. One of the women was pregnant and said she was being accompanied by the other to see a midwife in Keiselbach. After being questioned at the XII Corps Provost Marshal Office, they were driven back into Merkers. Upon entering Merkers, their driver saw the Kaiseroda mine and asked the women what sort of a mine it was. They said it was the mine in which the German gold reserve and valuable artworks had been deposited several weeks before and added that local civilians and displaced persons had been used for labor in unloading and storing the treasure in the mine…”
The rest here