The injustices committed against millions of Europe's Jews did not end with the fall of the Third Reich. Long after the Nazis had seized the belongings of Holocaust victims, Swiss banks concealed and appropriated their assets, demanding that their survivors produce the death certificates or banking records of the depositors in order to claim their family's property-demands that were usually impossible for the petitioners to meet. Now the full account of the Holocaust deposits affair is revealed by the journalist who first broke the story in 1995. Relying on archival and contemporary sources, Itamar Levin describes the Jewish people's decades-long effort to return death camp victims' assets to their rightful heirs. Levin also uncovers the truth about the behavior of Swiss banking institutions, their complicity with the Nazis, and their formidable power over even their own neutral government. From the first attempt to settle the fate of German property in neutral countries at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, through the heated negotiations following publication of Levin's investigative article in 1995, to the Swiss banks' ultimate agreement to a $1.2
5 billion payment in 1997, the pursuit of restitution is a story of delaying tactics and legal complications of almost unimaginable dimensions. Terrified that the traditional and highly marketable wall of secrecy surrounding the Swiss banks would tumble and destroy the industry, the banks' managements were dismissive and uncooperative in determining the location and extent of the assets in question, forcing the United States, other European countries, and Jewish organizations worldwide to apply tremendous pressure for a just resolution. The details and the central characters involved in this struggle, as well as new information about Switzerland's controversial policies during World War II, are fascinating reading for anyone concerned with the Holocaust and its aftermath.
ITAMAR LEVIN is Deputy Editor in Chief, Globes-Israel's Business Newspaper. Levin has led the world's media in reporting and uncovering the fate of looted Jewish property in Europe. A frequent lecturer on the subject, Levin also is an advisor to various public institutions, including the Israeli government. NATASHA DORNBERG is Managing Editor of Israel's Business Arena, Globes' internet site.
Foreword: No Greater Human Justice by Avraham Burg Foreword: Struggle for the Restoration of Human Dignity by Israel Singer and Edgar Bronfman Preface "The Encompassing Fog": Europe's Jews Transferred Millions to Switzerland "Switzerland Will Examine Favorably": Victims' Money Was Designated for Refugee Rehabilitation "Cruelly Ironic": Switzerland Exploits Property without Heirs for Its Own Purposes "Crying and Screaming": A Dozen Years of Frustration with the Swiss Banks and Government "Cold as Ice": Evading the Law for Restoration of Property "We Go to War": A New Generation Takes on Righting the Wrongs "It's the Principle": The Beginning of a Frontal Assault on the Banks "The Jews Were Betrayed": The Battle Moves to the American Front "Opening to the Wall": Neutral Switzerland Served Nazi Interests "The Parties Will Cooperate": The Beginning of Independent Investigation of the Deposits Affair "Oppression and Blackmail": Serious Blunders Cost Switzerland a Series of Crises "Easing the Suffering": First Steps towards Absolving the Signs of the Past Bibliography Index