Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis
Subject: Swiss kept billions in looted Nazi gold - report
Date: Fri, 2 May 1997 19:11:45 PDT
NEW YORK (Reuter) - A long-awaited U.S. government report will state there is conclusive evidence that the Nazis sold Switzerland gold stolen from individual Holocaust victims, sources close to the State Department said Friday.
The sources said the 11-agency report will also show that after the war, Switzerland failed to return billions of dollars worth of looted Nazi gold it received during the war.
The sources' comments were denounced by the U.S. official preparing the report. Under Secretary of Commerce Stuart Eizenstat, in a statement issued by the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, said the sources' comments reported earlier Friday by Reuters were inaccurate.
The sources contacted by Reuters said they stood by their account.
``The Reuters story is based on pure speculation, contains inaccuracies and should be given no credence,'' the statement by Eizenstat to the Embassy said.
Eizenstat did not specify what the inaccuracies were but he cautioned that in the coming days interested parties would attempt to put their own slant on the report.
The Swiss Embassy declined comment.
The more than 200-page report, based on 14 million pages of U.S. government documents, was prepared under Eizenstat's direction. It is expected to be released next Wednesday, and the sources said it will be very harsh on the Swiss role in the war as bankers and even money-launderers for the Third Reich.
The report, however, will not make any recommendations as to whether the United States should reopen a 1946 treaty with Switzerland in which the Swiss agreed to return $58 million of the Nazi gold received during the war. Documents in the report will show that the Swiss took in $425 million in looted gold -- worth more than $4.25 billion by today's prices.
Sources who have read the report told Reuters it will contain proof that Germany not only sent Switzerland gold looted from the national treasuries of the countries it occupied, but also gold taken by the Nazi SS as loot from individual victims, something that the Swiss National Bank has previously denied as late as a month ago.
The SS looted personal jewelry, watches, rings and even the gold dental fillings of their victims, many of them Jews herded into notorious death camps like Auschwitz.
The gold from the camps was then sent to the German central bank where it was resmelted. Some of the items arriving at the Reichsbank bore the stamp Auschwitz as well as the names of other concentration camps, U.S. archival documents said.
The sources told Reuters that investigators had found the smelting records of gold sold to Switzerland by the Nazis and it showed conclusively that victim gold was mixed in with bank gold.
Documents to be appended to the report show that after the war, Switzerland returned to the Allies only about 15 percent of the looted gold it bought from Germany in return for Swiss francs, which were used to buy war materials and food.
According to documents, including some previously released ones, Switzerland knowingly received looted gold and in certain cases even asked the Germans to obtain it for them.
Documents also showed that Swiss commercial banks as well as the National Bank received the looted gold.
A World Jewish Congress official said that while he had not seen the report, he could confirm that documents the group had submitted to the U.S. government also showed that victim gold was sent for processing to the Reichsbank.
``One document revealed that 76 shipments of looted gold, including dental gold, were sent to the German Central Bank valued at more than $150 million today and some of the items even bore the stamp Auschwitz,'' Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director, said.
Meanwhile, sources close to the U.S. State Department said other documents showed that victim gold wound up in the gold pool of the commission set up by the Allies after the war to return the looted metal to its rightful owners.
The Allied-established Tripartite Gold Commission also has long maintained that all the captured Nazi gold in its holdings were from the banks of Europe and none came from individuals.
The distinction is important because all of the $4 billion worth of gold it has distributed went to central banks and not one ounce went to Holocaust survivors.
The commission has distributed all but 5.5 tons of some 377 tons it received from Britain, France and the United States.
Most of the captured gold was located in hiding places in Germany and Austria while some of it was handed over by the Swiss and the other neutral countries who did business with the Nazis during the war. The WJC has called on the commission to use the remaining gold for the benefit of Holocaust victims.
The sources said the report will also document that other neutral countries during the war -- Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Turkey -- received looted Nazi gold but returned only a tiny fraction after the war.
Steinberg said, ``We are confident this report underscores the continuing commitment of the Clinton administration to secure justice for Holocaust victims. Special praise must be accorded to Ambassador Eizenstat and to Attorney General Janet Reno's Nazi hunting unit for their extraordinary efforts in this investigation.''
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