Bally has asked the World Jewish Congress for “general guidance” after the Swiss shoe company recently was accused of taking over Jewish companies during World War II, said Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director.
The Jewish organization will send Bally, a division of Oerlikon-Buehrle Holding AG, information that surfaced as a result of newly declassified U.S. intelligence reports from 1945 and 1946, Steinberg said in an interview Tuesday. The just-unearthed files from 1945 include charges that Bally had received “millions of square feet of booty leather” in Switzerland.
Steinberg said his advice to Bally would include that the company admit and recognize the “wrongs that happened” and seek to “make reparations to those who have been harmed.”
The Oerlikon-Buehrle chairman, Hans Widmer, reportedly said, “Our archives are fundamentally open for professional historians.”
SonntagsZeitung, Switzerland’s largest newspaper, has run a series since April claiming that Swiss firms took over Jewish companies seized by the Nazis and that Swiss banks handled Nazi cash and gold.
The WJC and the Jewish Agency for Israel have been at the forefront of efforts to compel Switzerland to return the bank accounts of Holocaust victims to their rightful heirs.
Earlier this month, Swiss banking officials and Jewish leaders penned a historic agreement in New York to create a committee to oversee the “unfettered” search for the World War II accounts.