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Czech Official: Swiss Agreement Involving Jewish Assets Possible

The foreign minister of the Czech Republic has said it is possible that the Swiss and Czechoslovakian governments signed a post-World War II agreement enabling Swiss citizens to be compensated with assets in Swiss banks that belonged to Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Josef Zieleniec said last week that such an agreement would have allowed for compensation to Swiss citizens whose property in Czechoslovakia was contiscated by the Communist regime.

The statement comes in the wake of allegations that a similar deal between Poland and Switzerland enabled the Swiss to use Polish Jewish assets deposited in Swiss banks to compensate Swiss citizens whose property in Poland was nationalized.

The foreign minister’s remark also comes just days after it was suggested at a news conference in New York that the Czechoslovakian government might have made such a deal with the Swiss. The Hungarian government was also mentioned as having possibly made a similar deal.

“I cannot rule anything out,” Zieleniec said, adding that such activities “were going on after the war.”

The Czech government said it is now looking through various archives to see whether an agreement existed.

Meanwhile, Switzerland’s foreign minister, Flavio Cotti, told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung that both the Swiss and the United States were to blame for the bad blood that has put the countries at loggerheads over missing assets of Jewish victims of the Nazis.

In a related development, the Swiss minister of transport and energy, Moritz Leuenberger, told a gathering in Zurich of the European Council of Jewish Communities, “We still bear a heavy burden of shame when we think of the `J’ stamp in Jewish passports” and of the policy “which barred a great number of Jews from escaping to our country” during World War II.

“The truth must be known about the role our country played, and we must support all historical investigation to get to the bottom of it,” he told Jewish representatives from 30 European nations.

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