From Napoleon to the Nazis:
The Mysterious Story of Marshal Beresford’s Silver
Od Napoleona do nazistów:
Tajemnicza historia sreber marszałka Beresforda
This book tells the extraordinary story of a silver collection amassed by Marshal William Carr Beresford during and subsequent to the Napoleonic wars, the subsequent gift of part of the collection to the nation and the curious events surrounding the theft of that part of the collection in World War II.
William Carr Beresford from County Waterford in Ireland, joined the British army as a young man in 1785. He fought in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars rising to become a general.
Appointed Marshal of the Portuguese army in 1809 he became Wellington’s trusted right arm in the struggle against the Napoleonic forces in the Iberian Peninsula.
During his lifetime he was gifted valuable silver by grateful governments and mercantile interests. A hundred years later a romantic attachment to Poland led Harold Beresford Hope, a young British diplomat, to gift part of that collection to the British government with the stipulation that it be used in
the British Embassy in Poland. At the time of making the gift, Poland was not a nation state, having been dismembered by Austria, Prussia and Russia in the eighteenth century; and accordingly there was no British Embassy in Warsaw or elsewhere in Poland. The peace settlement of 1918 saw Poland take her place amongst the nations of Europe once again. The silver was transported to the
British embassy in Warsaw in 1921 under armed guard.
When Harold Beresford Hope in 1917 made the gift with the stipulation that it be used in the British Embassy in Poland, he could little have imagined that it would be looted and disposed of some 25 years later, during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. In the aftermath of World War II it was the efforts of a former Miss Europe, herself the wife of a diplomat, that kick started efforts to
recover the silver. Individuals involved both during and after the war faced allegations of espionage leading to prosecution and imprisonment.
The book is based on research undertaken in Ireland, England and Poland following the story of the silver across Europe and the United States of America.
Marcus de la Poer Beresford is a distant relative of Marshal Beresford. Marcus has lectured extensively in Ireland and abroad on the Napoleonic wars, and his publications include:
Marshal William Carr Beresford ‘The ablest man I have yet seen in the army’ (2019 in English and 2021 in Portuguese),
Peninsular and Waterloo General, Sir Denis Pack and the war against Napoleon (2022)
Katarzyna Krenz, a prize winning Polish journalist, novelist and poet. Her novels include:
W ogrodzie Mirandy (In Miranda's Garden),
Lekcja tańca (Dance Lesson),
Krolowa pszczół (The Queen of Bees) and Księżyc myśliwych (Moon Hunters)