Thanks to US Army investigators, 31 pieces of jewels belong to the late Kaiserin Hermine were recovered. The Americans found the gems after the arrest of the "raven-haired" and "shapely" Vera Herbst, described as a friend of Prince Ferdinand of Schoeniach-Carolath, who is one of Hermine's five children. Herbst was booked on "a suspicion of murder and theft." She was charged with the "sudden death" of Ferdinand's mother. Herbst, who was released after more than 13 hours of questioning, denied that she had any involvement in Hermine's death. But she did acknowledge that she was responsible for smuggling more than $5,000.000 of jewels into Berlin's American sector. She had removed the jewels from Hermine's home in the Frankfurt-am-Oder, in the Soviet sector.
Vera Herbst told police that some of the jewels had been given to Prince Ferdinand, although some of the jewels "had been marked" for Hermine's daughter, Carmo, who lives in the American sector.
She said that she and Ferdinand had lived together for about a year, but had broken up because Ferdinand told her that he still loved his "pretty and blond" former wife, Rosa, whom he had divorced in 1941. (They remarried in December 1941.)
Six of the jewel sets that were still in Vera's possession were to have been turned over to Carmo, according to Herbst. But she never had time to give the jewels to the princess. Carmo, whose real name was Caroline, surrended to the police another 25 pieces of the "crown jewels."
The case broke when Prince Ferdinand noticed that 29 pieces that he had hidden in a strong box in his apartment were missing. He reported the theft to the police, only two days after his mother died "suddenly and mysteriously" in Frankfurt-am-Oder. The Americans, who were investigating the case, first believed that Hermine's death was connected to the jewel theft. They turned to the Russians and requested an autopsy on Hermine's body.
But this theory soon unraveled when Vera provided further information to the Americans. She acknowledged that she had made two trips to Frankfurt to bring back t0 Berlin 95 pieces of jewelery. The jewels were only a portion of a collection that Hermine had hidden in her home in Saxony at the start of the second world war.
The Americans soon withdrew from the case because no Americans were involved with the theft of the jewels. Vera Herbst told the Americans that both Ferdinand and Carmo were "trying to get a lion's share of the jewels."
Apparetly, when Princess Caroline learned that her mother had hidden the jewels, she went to visit her and brought numerous pieces back to Berlin. She returned to Frankfurt-am-Oder after her mother's death to get another part of the collection.
Military officials believe that Ferdinand and Carmo were doing the "double-double cross" by trying to obtain control of the jewels without the other knowing it. Carmo had turned over to the police the jewels in her possession, but still missing were the jewels taken from her brother's Berlin apartment.
And how did Vera get those jewels passed the Russians as she traveled into the American sector? Feminine wiles, of course. She distracted the guards by "smiling and fluttering her eyes at them to distract their attention from her luggage."