BERN (Oct. 30)
The Swiss government is expected to decide next month how to dispose of the money and valuables of Jewish victims of Nazism still unclaimed in the vaults of Swiss banks. Parliament is expected to approve a proposal to turn over what is left of the money to Swiss Jewish organizations and the Red Cross.
According to the Federal Office for Possessions of Disinherited Foreigners, only about $700,000 remains of the millions deposited by European Jews before World War II. Money and valuables began pouring into Switzerland In the 1930s as Nazi persecution of Jews grew in intensity. Many Jews sent instructions along with their deposits to hold their funds or valuables for their heirs should they be killed. After the war, survivors, or their relatives, collected their money. But in many cases there were no survivors and the accounts remained in Swiss banks.
A Swiss government agency set up in 1962 to find the heirs of the original depositors reported $3.5 million still unclaimed. Since then, $2.5 million has been restored to the legitimate heirs Bank officials emphatically deny reports that a much higher sum still remains in the vaults. Willy Guggenheim, secretary general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Associations agreed that the reports have been “widely exaggerated.”