Looted Assets and Stolen Gold

diese Seite deutsch   
History of Switzerland: Introduction / Sitemap A Short History of Switzerland History of Switzerland: Detailed Timeline  Early Swiss History
Prehistory: Lake-dwellings in Switzerland Swiss History: Celtic Helvetians Switzerland during the Age of Romans, Aventicum Aventicum, Old Swiss Capital in the Age of Romans Switzerland during the Middle Ages  Old Swiss History
The Old Swiss Confederacy (1291-1515) William Tell (Switzerland's National Hero) The Swiss Reformation (Calvin, Zwingli)  A Modern Constitution
Swiss Revolution and Helvetic Republic (1798) Switzerland's Federal Constitution (1848) History of Switzerland's Flag Switzerland's Political System The Long Way to Women's Right to Vote  Industrialisation
Industrialisation in Switzerland Johanna Spyri: Heidi, the girl from the alps - A bestseller about times of change  World War II
World War II: General Timeline Switzerland's Role in World War II Spiritual Defense against Nazism Switzerland's Economic Dependence and Rationing Jewish Refugees Looted Assets Switzerland's Neutrality Switzerland's National Public Radio Station Beromünster  Country & People
Basic information about Switzerland - country profile Switzerland's Population and Languages Important Swiss monuments: pictures and meaning  Links
Links: History Swiss Museums Links: Switzerland

Switzerland during World War II

Looted Assets,
Gold Transactions and
Dormant Accounts

Switzerland has been critized for the financial services provided by Swiss banks and insurance companies to Nazi Germany before and during World War II in three major points: looted assets, transactions with stolen gold and lack of cooperation with the legal heirs of dormant accounts. Did Switzerland collaborate with Nazi Germany in Holocaust?

Looted assets

The Nazi regime in Germany forced many of their victims to sign orders for the transfer of their accounts with Swiss banks to German banks. Swiss banks did not doubt these orders. This way they made it unnecessarily easy for the Nazis to loote their victims' assets.

Gold Transactions

During World War II the Swiss National Bank (SNB) bought gold worth 1,212,600 million Swiss Francs from the German Reichsbank, which was far more than the gold reserves of the Reichsbank had amounted to before the war. Buying and selling gold was a quite normal thing for a national bank at this time because gold was the very base of the international currency system. In the same period, SNB also bought much more gold (worth 2,243,900 Swiss Francs) from the USA. The problem was, that much of the gold sold by the German Reichbank was either stolen from national banks in occupied countries, especially Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and other gold was stolen from people the Nazis had murdered.

Dormant Accounts

During the Second World War, millions of Jewish and Gipsy people were deported by the Nazis from Germany and from the occupied territories in Europe to concentration camps in eastern Europe and murdered there ("Holocaust"). Some of the victims had accounts in Switzerland, but under these tragic circumstances surviving heirs were not easily able to know whether there was any account at all and exactly with which bank institute in Switzerland. After the war, Swiss bankers generally declared accounts of people that did not reply to letters or send letters to the bank with exact reference to the account number as "dormant accounts". This fact alone is a standard procedure not worth commenting. The problem is, that bankers were not very cooperative with surviving heirs who tried to find the accounts of their relatives. Only as a result of the debate on Switzerland and World War II after 1995, Swiss banks were willing to publish a list of dormant accounts and to cooperate. It seems, however, that the number of relevant accounts on the sums involved have been massively overestimated by Jewish associations.

The Washington Agreement betwenn the Allies and Switzerland (1946)

Already during the Second World War British and American officials had warned Switzerland that the Allies would not acknowledge the gold transactions between the German Reichsbank and the Swiss National Bank because most of the gold sold by Germany to Switzerland was in fact stolen. Swiss assets in the U.S.A were frozen in November 1942 and Swiss companies that had cooperated with Germany were put on black lists.

After the war the Allies and Switzerland negociated about the normalization of relations. On May, 21st 1946, an agreement was reached in Washington:

  • German assets in Switzerland were confiscated, one half fell to the Allies, one half to Switzerland (as a compensation for outstanding debts).
  • Switzerland paid 250 million Swiss Francs to settle the diffences about the transactions of stolen gold.

Literature and links on Switzerland's History / World War II:

http://history-switzerland.geschichte-schweiz.ch © 2004-2010 All Rights Reserved            Editor