Nearly brain dead after traveling 24 hours straight from Stockholm to Monterey with only five hours sleep in my own bed, I turned on the TV to watch a show, The Nazi Jewel Heist on the American Heroes Channel.
Schloss Frederichshof was built in 1889-1893 near the town of Kronberg, north of Frankfurt, by dowager Empress Frederich, widow of Emperor Frederick III of Prussia and eldest daughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria. Following the death of Empress Frederich in 1901, the castle went to her daughter Princess Margarethe (1872-1954) and her husband Prince Frederich Karl of Hesse (1868-1940). In 1922, Margarethe transferred castle ownership to her sons.
The Nazi Jewel Heist story is how the Americans took over Germany’s Kronberg Castle in April 1945 and turned the castle into an officer’s club. Major Joseph Hartley had been tasked with setting up 14 Officers Clubs around Frankfurt. He chose Schloss Frederichshof as one of the club locations and moved the House of Hesse family out of the castle. Schloss Frederichshof was renamed the Kronberg Castle Country Club. Captain Kathleen Nash was assigned to manage Kronberg Castle Country Club. Prior to the war she had managed a country club in Arizona.
After drinking out the wine cellar within a few months, and in search for more wine in the castle and perhaps following up on rumors of a cache of hidden jewels, a concealed room was discovered and a treasure chest confiscated by a trio of American officers: Captain Kathleen Nash, Major Joseph Hartley and Colonel Jack Durant, who married Kathleen Nash after their return to the U.S. in early 1946.
The jewel heist turned into a major international incident for the U.S. Armed Forces when the treasure trove was revealed to be the historic heirlooms of the German royal family of the House of Hesse. Princess Margaret requested the family jewels be returned only to discover they had been stolen, precious gems removed from their settings for smuggling out of Germany and many had been sold by the American thieves. A major investigation ensued and in the end, three Americans went to prison. Only a small portion of the $50 million (2019 estimated value) in stolen jewels were ultimately recovered and returned to the House of Hesse family members.
In short, at the end of the AHC tv show I learned Kronberg Castle is now Schlosshotel Kronberg and affiliated with Small Luxury Hotels of the World. This is one of the properties recently affiliated with World of Hyatt.
Schlosshotel Kronberg is currently listed as a category 5 World of Hyatt property for 20,000 points.
The castle was returned to the Family of Hesse in 1953 and they converted it into a hotel in 1954.
Schlosshotel Kronberg is a hotel where you can sleep and hang out in a palace that was once the home of royals. And the site of one of the great jewel heists of the 20th century.
Soldiers of Fortune – The Hesse Jewel Heist – History.net