Switzerland to investigate Nazi payments to Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, June 25 (JTA) — The Swiss government has decided to investigate the immediate post-World War II relationship between Argentina and alleged Nazi war criminals. The wife of Argentine leader Juan Peron is suspected of having deposited in Geneva-based banks part of the Nazi loot she received in exchange for giving safe haven to alleged war criminals in Argentina. The Swiss probe was announced Monday at the opening of a conference in Geneva on Nazi gold. The conference was organized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In 1947, then first lady Eva Peron toured Europe in a trip designed to boost the image of her husband’s regime abroad. She included a brief visit to Switzerland. Eva Peron may have opened at least one secret bank account to deposit funds she received from Nazis in exchange for Argentine passports and visas, according to historians. After her death in 1952, Juan Peron spent years trying to get the funds he believed his wife deposited in Geneva. According to Felix Luna, a well-known historian specializing in Peronism, Juan Peron sent over a period of 20 years several of his top aides to Switzerland, including his second wife, Isabel Peron. But Peron never found his wife’s stash, according to one of the envoys, businessman Jorge Antonio. “All we could get was a handful of gold coins deposited at a safe box belonging to Evita’s brother, Juan Duarte,” Antonio wrote in an unpublished memoir.

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