It is widely known that SS leader Heinrich Himmler was obsessed with the occult, and employed various occultists to assist in the efforts to build a “thousand-year Reich”. Himmler even went as far as to hire a man who could allegedly turn sand into gold, which could then be used to buy weapons for the Nazi war machine.
The man in question was Karl Malchus, a British citizen. Shortly before World War II broke out, he approached Himmler and offered him his amazing talent. He claimed he could use various substances found on the riverbed of the Isar River near Munich to manufacture an effectively endless amount of gold.
Himmler agreed to this proposal and provided Malchus with a salary and lodgings as well as a lab within the Dachau concentration camp (this camp was originally used to hold political prisoners). For a while, Malchus allegedly managed to fool Himmler by smuggling tiny gold nuggets in his cigarettes.
Malchus was eventually exposed as a fraud and imprisoned in the same concentration camp. Surprisingly, he was released after several months, but was ordered on pain of death to keep silent about the fact that he tricked Himmler.
After the end of World War II, Malchus allegedly tried to make a career in Germany as an alchemist, but didn’t enjoy much success. All traces of him disappear after 1954, and some believe he may have actually been a British agent.
Malchus wasn’t the first man who managed to swindle Himmler in this way. Another one was Heinrich “Heinz” Kurschildgen, who claimed he was able to produce petrol out of water.
Kurschildgen was well-known as a charlatan, and had tricked many people with his schemes to make gold or synthesize radium as early as the 1920s. It is a testament to Himmler’s gullibility that he failed to check on Kurschildgen’s history before employing him.