Washington (Sep. 21)
Britain and the United States struck today at a plan for safeguarding Nazi loot by fake transfers to neutrals.
In a statement issued simultaneously here and in London, the State Department and Foreign Office said that “the two Governments reserve the right to treat as invalid any transfer to neutral ownership of any enemy-owned rights or interests in property in Italy.” It emphasized that “nationals or firms in neutral countries acquiring or purporting to acquire such rights or interests render themselves liable to all sanctions at the disposal of the Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom.”
The Nazis have regularly acquired choice property of all kinds – from sculptures to securities – in occupied countries, following “strictly legal” forms, but using extra-legal pressures including torture and threat of torture of the property’s owner. This system was first applied in Germany itself to Jews and anti-Nazis, who were thoroughly looted before they were driven from the country or imprisoned.