Swiss Bank Helped Launder Nazi Gold, Documents Show

From Times Wire Services

The Swiss National Bank shipped 280 truckloads of Nazi gold to Spain and Portugal as part of a World War II money-laundering operation, according to newly declassified documents released Sunday.

The worth an estimated $250 million to $500 million, was carried in trucks bearing the Swiss national emblem and insured by Swiss companies, according to papers released by Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.) and Jewish leaders.

“These documents demonstrate that Switzerland was the international banking and laundering center of Hitler’s Germany,” said World Jewish Congress Executive Director Elan Steinberg. “This shatters to bits the notion that Switzerland was neutral during the Second World War. They were in full collaboration.”


D’Amato said the papers lent further credence to his allegations that Switzerland’s bankers and government knowingly helped Nazis launder gold they had plundered from occupied Europe and Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The documents include a Jan. 12, 1946, memo to the head of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, outlining evidence of the gold shipments to Madrid and Lisbon in 1943 and 1944, and the transcript of a 1945 military interrogation of the Nazi official who headed Germany’s wartime gold department.

The documents do not indicate what, if any, role officials in Spain and Portugal might have played in the laundering operation.

D’Amato declined to speculate on their involvement.

The documents were declassified at the National Archives last year and found by an archivist last week.

Many Jews put their money in Swiss banks during the Nazi era, believing their funds would be safe in the neutral country.

Families of Jews who died during the war claimed they were unable to track any assets because of banking secrecy laws.


Jewish groups claim that Swiss banks hold about $7 billion in assets and accumulated interest belonging to Jews and their survivors.

The Swiss banks say they have found only $32 million in 775 dormant accounts.

The Swiss government earlier dismissed as “blackmail” demands for a $250-million compensation fund to help Jews who lost assets during the Holocaust, but it has indicated that it might set up a smaller fund.

“We must recognize what has happened and that we cannot keep what does not belong to us,” Switzerland’s Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss said in a newspaper interview in Geneva on Sunday.

D’Amato, who heads the Senate banking committee, has demanded that Swiss officials release information on Nazi accounts held by Swiss banks during and after the war.